Image from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. 4-minute read.
“One of the things I’ve done in the last year, not just going to therapy, I’ve gotten off of social media. I got off all social media, I don’t watch pornography anymore, and my brain is like—I’m focused, man.”
This quote is from Chris Rock during a podcast interview in September 2020 (FTND note: the content in the interview discusses political and religious issues on which FTND has no stance as a non-religious and non-legislative nonprofit).
In the last couple of years, comedian Chris Rock has joined with other celebrities in speaking out on the life-changing harmful effects of pornography.
He isn’t just talking about quitting his porn habit in podcasts though, he’s taken his experiences to the main stage. In his Netflix special, Rock opened up in his first tell-all stand-up routine in almost a decade.
Rock divorced from his wife of 16 years in 2016, and in the special called “Tamborine,” he cites porn as a big reason why. Among a range of topics he opens up about, Rock talks about his self-described addiction to porn in the routine, as well as cheating on his wife several times while he was on tour, being 15 minutes late to everything because of porn, being unable to look people in the eye, and failing to notice normal social cues.
With counseling, he was able to overcome his porn struggle, but it came at a serious price—the end of a marriage that had lasted nearly two decades.
Here’s an excerpt from the special, edited for graphic language:
“When you watch too much porn, you know what happens? You become, like, sexually autistic. You develop sexual autism. You have a hard time with eye contact and verbal cues … You get desensitized. When you start watching porn, any porn will do. Then, later on, you’re all f—ed up and you need a perfect porn cocktail to get [aroused]. I was so f—ed up … I’m a lot better now.”
Porn’s harms are no joke
Now, we know that Chris Rock is a comedian—his business is to tell jokes, to make us laugh about uncomfortable things. But that shouldn’t take away the impact of what he says, though.
While we don’t know the exact details of his struggle or of his personal life, Rock was bold enough to lay his experiences out for all to see, and though he might not have said that porn was the sole reason his marriage ended, he made it clear that it was a contributing factor. And his situation would be in good company, seeing as porn has been be shown to possibly double a marriage’s chances for ending in divorce.
We know porn damages relationships, sometimes beyond repair. The evidence is overwhelming—just read this personal account about watching porn together, or this woman’s experience with her husband’s disinterest in sex, or this story about feelings of betrayal as a result of porn use in the relationship. The addictive nature of porn can physically change your brain, making it desire more extreme content to achieve ever-diminishing amounts of pleasure. This can lead to an increase in real-life violent and extreme acts, or to the things Rock talked about in his show—apathy, neglect, and lack of commitment.
How relationships suffer
They’re not physical violence, but these porn-fueled behaviors can be just as damaging to people and relationships.
If you need more proof, read about how actor Terry Crews saved his marriage after years of struggle with porn, but just barely. When porn negatively affects a relationship, it’s not just a personal hobby anymore. Two people are now feeling the effects, and the fact is, porn is like a wedge that can slowly drive a relationship apart. It might not even be noticeable while it’s happening, but it can become obvious, and at that point it might be past the point of reconciliation.
“My wife was literally like, ‘I don’t know you anymore, I’m out of here,’” said Crews of his porn-addicted past.
Like Rock, Crews was only able to overcome his addiction through therapy. The difference, of course, is that Crews was able to save his marriage before it was too late, a good reminder that seeking help is a much better alternative to being ashamed and waiting too long to save a relationship.
This growing movement
The understanding that porn isn’t harmless personal entertainment is growing in our culture. States, organizations, and individuals are becoming more and more aware of the harmful social, mental, and physical effects of pornography, and it’s becoming more and more common to see new stories of public figures adding their two cents to the ever-expanding, “Hey, maybe porn is actually a real problem,” piggy bank.
These personal experiences aren’t always coming from the most traditional sources, either, which just goes to show that porn negatively affects a broad cross-section of people—just take a look at this short list of celebrities who have recently spoken out against porn. Add their names to the list of multiple states that have declared porn a “public health issue,” and you’ll see this movement of education and awareness is growing every day.
We applaud Chris Rock for speaking out on porn’s effect on his life, and we hope that his experience would help others who might be struggling with the same thing.
For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out our friends at Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.