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Billie Eilish Began Watching Porn at 11, These are the Devastating Impacts She Says It Had on Her

“As a woman, I think porn is a disgrace, and I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest,” the pop star told Howard Stern in an interview.

By January 14, 2022No Comments
TRIGGER WARNING
Billie Eilish's interview contains graphic language, reader discretion is encouraged.
“As a woman, I think porn is a disgrace, and I used to watch a lot of porn, to be honest.”

Billie Eilish, 19, was interviewed on the Howard Stern Show in December and gave listeners a glimpse into her life, talking about issues relating to turning 20 a few days after their conversation, appearing on SNL last weekend, and opening up about her struggles with porn.

“I started watching porn when I was like 11,” she told Stern. “I was an advocate and I thought I was one of the guys and would talk about it and think I was really cool for not having a problem with it and not seeing why it was ‘bad,’ you know?”

In the joint interview with her brother, Eilish goes on to describe how she was personally impacted by consuming what she says was “so much” BDSM porn.

“I think it really destroyed my brain, and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn. I think that I had sleep paralysis and almost night terrors and nightmares because of it. I think that’s how they started because I would watch abusive BDSM and that’s what I thought was attractive. It got to a point where I couldn’t watch anything else—unless it was violent, I didn’t think it was attractive.”

Related: We Need To Talk About Our Culture’s Sexual Obsession With Barely-18-Year-Olds

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Porn’s impacts on her understanding of and experience with sex

Like so many of her peers, Eilish’s understanding of sex and her first sexual experiences were heavily influenced by porn. She says that she couldn’t speak up about not wanting to do certain things because she felt pressure to perform.

“I was a virgin, I had never done anything, and so it led to problems where the first few times I had sex,” she explained, “I was not saying no to things that were not good. It’s because I thought that was what I was supposed to be attracted to.”

Before moving on to discussing her dating life, Eilish talked more about the unrealistic and unattainable standards porn influences in our culture.

Related: 12 Hollywood Stars Who Have Spoken Out On Porn’s Harms

“I am so angry that porn is so loved and I’m so angry at myself for thinking it was okay. The way that vaginas look in porn is f—ing crazy, no vaginas look like that, women’s bodies don’t look like that, we don’t [orgasm] like that, and we don’t f—ing enjoy things that are what it looks like people are enjoying.”

As someone so prominent in pop culture and a public personality that teens look to, her words are sure to have a powerful impact and normalize talking about porn’s potential negative personal impacts on consumers.

Listen to this part of the interview, here. Note that this portion of the interview contains graphic and descriptive language:

As bold and honest as Billie’s comments to Stern about porn and its personal effects were, it’s not the first time she’s mentioned the issue.

In her second album that came out this summer, Happier Than Ever, the final song, “Male Fantasy” opens with a verse about porn:

Home alone, tryin’ not to eat,
Distract myself with pornography,
I hate the way she looks at me.
I can’t stand the dialogue, she would never be,
That satisfied, it’s a male fantasy.
I’m goin’ back to therapy.

Related: The Porn Industry Doesn’t Just Sell Sex, It Sells Violent Abuse Of Women

Rolling Stone describes “Male Fantasy” as being about “the unrealistic standards set by pornography and the discomfort that lingers around the topic despite its prevalence.” It also delves into the issue of depression and mental illness, topics Billie hasn’t shied away from talking about.

“It was hard to write because we wanted it to be as revealing as possible. It’s difficult to be vulnerable and honest and open about my life right now. I find it much easier to write about my past and how I used to feel and to find a new perspective on something that happened to me, to take myself out of a situation,” Eilish told i-D of the song earlier this year. “I don’t usually write about what I’m going through in the moment because it’s hard to process it. So this was also about saying how I felt. It was hard and satisfying and revealing and exposing and also incredibly cathartic, too.”

Here’s the music video she directed and stars in:

The growing list of celebs who recognize porn’s harms

Billie Eilish joins with a growing list of celebrities who have directly and publicly discussed the issue of pornography and the negative impacts they say it’s had on them and our world.

Any time a celebrity speaks up about porn’s harmful effects, countless more people have the opportunity to see what the research is saying.

It isn’t common that you’ll hear a public statement, though, given the taboo and sometimes controversial topic of porn. These high-profile public figures are usually pretty careful with what they say to the media, especially when talking about subjects that a lot of people aren’t eager to chat about.

Related: Does The Porn Industry Really Care About Empowering Women?

However, due to the science and research that is coming out regularly on the harmful effects of porn, more and more celebrities are starting to voice their experiences and opinions about the prevalence of porn in our society and share how it has affected them personally.

Given that an estimated 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women consume porn,Solano, I., Eaton, N. R., & O'Leary, K. D. (2020). Pornography Consumption, Modality and Function in a Large Internet Sample. Journal of sex research, 57(1), 92–103. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1532488COPY  and the average age of first exposure is before age 13 with some exposed as young as seven,British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFCCOPY  it’s worth examining how porn may be affecting its consumers.

Porn normalizes sexual violence

Consider that, according to a number of studies analyzing the content of popular porn videos, as few as 1 in 3 and as many as 9 in 10 porn videos depict sexual violence or aggression.Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2020). A Descriptive Analysis of the Types, Targets, and Relative Frequency of Aggression in Mainstream Pornography. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(8), 3041–3053. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01773-0COPY Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C. & Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women, 16(10), 1065–1085. doi:10.1177/1077801210382866COPY  And as each of these studies agreed, women were almost always the targets—about 97% of the time.Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2020). A Descriptive Analysis of the Types, Targets, and Relative Frequency of Aggression in Mainstream Pornography. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(8), 3041–3053. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01773-0COPY 

While the amount of violence shown in porn is troubling, what is perhaps even more disturbing is the portrayed reactions to that violence. One study found that 95% of the targets of violence or aggression in porn appeared either neutral or appeared to respond with pleasure.Bridges, A. J., Wosnitzer, R., Scharrer, E., Sun, C. & Liberman, R. (2010). Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best Selling Pornography Videos: A Content Analysis Update. Violence Against Women, 16(10), 1065–1085. doi:10.1177/1077801210382866COPY  In other words, porn is sending the message that sexual violence is just a part of sexual pleasure.

Related: The Reason Billie Eilish Only Wears Baggy Clothes May Surprise You

We raise awareness on the harms of porn precisely because we are pro-love and pro-sex, and people deserve better than what they see in porn.

Given what research is showing and the countless personal accounts like Billie Eilish’s, it’s worth considering the facts before consuming.

This isn’t a moral argument, nor is it some kind of strategy for censorship or banning porn, it’s simply something we’re inviting you to consider. Are you in?

To learn more about porn’s negative impacts on consumers, relationships, and society, click here.

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