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 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 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 his audience laugh about uncomfortable things. But that shouldn’t take away the impact of what he says.
While we don’t know the exact details of his struggle or of his personal life, Rock was bold enough to share his experiences, and though he did not say 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 research consistently shows that porn consumers are twice as likely to later report experiencing a divorce or breakup—even after controlling for marital happiness, sexual satisfaction, and other relevant factors.Perry, S. L. (2018). Pornography use and marital separation: Evidence from two-wave panel data. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 47(6), 1869-1880. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-1080-8Copy Perry, S. L., & Davis, J. T. (2017). Are pornography users more likely to experience a romantic breakup? Evidence from longitudinal data. Sexuality & Culture, 21(4), 1157-1176. doi:10.1007/s12119-017-9444-8Copy Perry, S. L., & Schleifer, C. (2018). Till porn do us part? A longitudinal examination of pornography use and divorce. 55(3), 284-296. doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1317709Copy
We know porn harms relationships, sometimes beyond repair, though not always. 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.
Many porn consumers are surprised to find that porn can be incredibly difficult to quit. While most porn consumers are not addicts in a clinically diagnosable sense,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring Trajectories of Pornography Use Through Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of sex research, 55(3), 297–309. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977Copy many experts agree that pornography consumption is a behavior that can, in fact, qualify as an addiction in serious cases.Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review and Update. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 5(3), 388–433. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs5030388Copy Stark R., Klucken T. (2017) Neuroscientific Approaches to (Online) Pornography Addiction. In: Montag C., Reuter M. (eds) Internet Addiction. Studies in Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioral Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46276-9_7Copy De Sousa, A., & Lodha, P. (2017). Neurobiology of Pornography Addiction - A clinical review. Telangana Journal of Psychiatry, 3(2), 66-70. doi:10.18231/2455-8559.2017.0016Copy
This obsessive porn consumption can lead to an increase in mental health struggles,Koletić G. (2017). Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents' attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. Journal of adolescence, 57, 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.006Copy or to the things Rock talked about in his show—apathy, neglect, and lack of commitment.
How relationships suffer
Some porn-fueled issues can be tangibly harmful to people and relationships.
As another real-life example, read about how actor Terry Crews saved his marriage after years of struggle with porn. Because porn can negatively affects a relationship, it’s not just a personal hobby.
According to study that tracked couples over time, porn consumption was the second strongest indicator that a relationship would suffer.Perry, S. (2017). Does Viewing Pornography Reduce Marital Quality Over Time? Evidence From Longitudinal Data. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 549-559. Doi: 10.1007/S10508-016-0770-YCopy There is no substitute for real connection, and porn isn’t worth risking that.
“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 struggle through therapy. Both of their stories are good reminders 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,” conversation.
It’s great to see Chris Rock speaking out on porn’s effect on his life and humanizing this global issue, and we hope that his experience would help others who might be struggling with the same thing.
If you struggle with porn, there is hope and help for healing.
For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out 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 unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.
Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.