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“No” Means “Yes”: 6 Messed-Up Ideas About Sex That Porn Normalizes

By June 29, 2018 December 13th, 2018 No Comments

Did you know that pornography has the potential to actually reprogram the way consumers think about sex?

Studies have shown the sheer suggestive power of porn. It turns out that pornography is a powerful teacher, and causes a mental shift that makes consumers more accepting of and more willing to try out what extreme acts they see. And the more porn consumers think of what they see as being realistic and useful, the more influence it has on their beliefs about how sex should be. [1] And this influence isn’t limited to individuals and couples; it’s impacting entire societies, countries, and the world.

Don’t believe what the research is saying about porn? Then let’s take a look at a few of the toxic ideas porn promotes about sex:

1. Sex is just about having an orgasm.

Not true. Sex is about relationships as well as physical, mental, and social well-being. [2]

Humans are wired for connection. Not just any connection—connection with other people, and our sexual nature is a part of that. Our brains are programmed to get the most satisfaction from the relational bonding that committed relationships and love provide. If you don’t believe us, look at the facts. Porn can leave consumers lonely and dissatisfied, but love can help them to thrive and give them health and well-being. We are fighting for our generation to not settle for anything less than real and authentic connections, not shallow and synthetic digital sex.

2. Attraction is about physical appearance, and that’s it.

Nope. Whether or not someone wants to be in a relationship with you ideally depends on more than just your physical characteristics or sexual capabilities.

How shallow and hurtful would it be if someone only wanted to be with you because they thought you looked good, and that was it? There are lots of different qualities that people can look for in a partner, including if they’re friendly, honest, kind, understanding, social, creative, smart, healthy, self-confident, funny, emotionally stable, and so many other traits. [3] Porn teaches consumers that other people’s bodies are more important than their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs. Love and true attraction say otherwise.

3. Behaviors don’t have consequences.

False. Pornography doesn’t show what happens next—good or bad. A lot of the things people do in pornography would never fly in real life without some serious repercussions.

Think about it this way: why is it that the most popular porn genres are some of the most disturbing acts in real life? It’s easy to see when you think about it in terms of what would happen next if you did that to someone you really cared about, or how it would make them feel, or even what kind of risks the person is taking. Porn doesn’t show people being prosecuted for serious crimes like rape or sexual assault, or the physical injuries that porn stars live with because of what they do on set.

In porn videos, no one contracts sexually transmitted infections; there are no unwanted pregnancies, no cervical cancer, no intestinal parasites, and no skin tearing or bruises. And no matter how rough a person treats their partner, in porn, nearly everything looks like it feels good. [4] In porn, everything’s game, nothing’s off-limits or too far passed unhealthy or unsafe. And that’s completely unrealistic.

4. Every sexual experience is totally satisfying.

Seriously? Sex in real life isn’t always flawless and perfect for those involved, and that’s okay as long as there’s full consent, communication, and intimacy involved.

Many sexual experiences do feel good, but there are also a lot of ways to hurt your partner physically or emotionally. Plus, everyone has personal preferences that need to be talked about and communicated for the sake of the relationship. That can be awkward, but it’s always healthier for building a deeper connection. Sex, where both partners are constantly exhilarated every single time, isn’t possible, but it’s all part of the process of figuring each other out. [5]

5. People are replaceable, disposable, and expendable.

Not even close. Porn isn’t about the humanity of the people on screen, it’s about their exaggerated performance.

Nobody wants to even be around someone who doesn’t care about them as a person, so why would you want to be intimate with them? Love is about having a partner who cares for you as you are, as an irreplaceable and unique part of their life—your personality, talents, ideas, and other great traits are what they love. Porn doesn’t care or show any of that. It removes the humanity from people and presents them like objects to be used and discarded. [6] No commitment, no selflessness, no discussion about feelings, hopes, or desires. Just discardable physical pleasure, and that’s it. How could watching that be healthy for a consumer’s perception about sex?

6. “No” can turn into “yes.”

Only in the world of porn is a lack of consent considered “sexy.” Consider this: a more common situation depicted in porn is a teen girl getting taken advantage of against her will. Yikes. And a few years ago, researchers did a study of the most popular porn videos at the time. [7] Of the 304 porn scenes examined, 88% contained physical violence and 49% contained verbal aggression. And the most disturbing part? At least 95% of the victims responded neutrally or with pleasure in the scenes. What ideas does this promote about what is and isn’t acceptable for sexual encounters? It sells the idea that abuse can be sexy, and consent is merely optional in a sexual encounter.

Today’s porn sells the idea that your pleasure is more important than anyone else’s pain or abuse. It teaches consumers to minimize the sexual trauma of others because in porn, “no” eventually turns into “yes.” How is this a healthy lesson for anyone watching? Why is it that society openly speaks out against rape and abuse, yet doesn’t condemn porn that fetishizes and promotes this exact behavior and worse? If our generation is learning about sex from porn, consent is definitely not something that’s part of the “curriculum.”

Why This Matters

Those are just a few of the totally shallow, unrealistic and unhealthy ideas that pornography promotes about sexuality and how to treat a sexual partner. If you care about what happens to your brain, your relationships, or your perceptions of what healthy sexuality is, porn has nothing beneficial for you.

Research is showing us that people with a healthy sense of their sexuality are attracted to other people who have also developed healthy sexuality. [8] The best way to learn how to have great sex is not by watching porn, but instead, building a relationship by getting to know someone, trusting them, and figuring out what works best for your unique partnership.

Get Involved

Porn promotes unhealthy and unsafe ideas about sexuality. SHARE this article and get the facts out there that porn kills love!

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Citations

[1] Bridges, A. J. (2010). Pornography’s Effect on Interpersonal Relationships. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 89-110). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute.
[2] Berlin, F.S. (2008). Basic science and neurobiological research: Potential relevance to sexual compulsivity. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 31(4), 623-642.
[3] Regan, P. C., Medina, R. & Joshi, A. (2001). Partner preferences among homosexual men and women: What is desirable in a sex partner is not necessarily desirable in a romantic partner. Social Behavior and Personality, 29(7), 625-634.
[4] Harvard Health Publications (2010). Sexuality in midlife and beyond. Boston, MA: Harvard Medical School.
[5] Zillmann, D. (1994). Erotica and family values. In D. Zillmann, B. Jennings, & A. C. Huston (Eds.), Media, children, and the family: Social scientific psychodynamic, and clinical perspectives (pp. 199-213). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
[6] Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Chyng, S., and Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women 16, 10: 1065–1085; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography and Violence: A New look at the Research. In J. Stoner and D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs of Pornography: A Collection of Papers (pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute.
[7] Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Chyng, S., And Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression And Sexual Behavior In Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women 16, 10: 1065–1085.
[8] Regan, P. C., Medina, R. & Joshi, A. (2001). Partner preferences among homosexual men and women: What is desirable in a sex partner is not necessarily desirable in a romantic partner. Social Behavior and Personality, 29(7), 625-634.

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