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How Hardcore Porn is Sexually Crippling the Upcoming Generation

By August 13, 2019 No Comments
Portions of this article were originally posted on The Telegraph by . It has been edited for content and clarity. 5 minute read.

“I know the other boys watch it, but he doesn’t.”

A mom was sharing her concerns over what material her 13-year-old son might—or might not—be viewing online. “I don’t think he has any interest in that stuff.”

The likelihood is that she’s probably wrong.

Porn as the new norm

About 90% of 8 to 16-year-olds have consumed pornography, many while on the internet doing their homework. Research from the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals has found that the average age of first exposure to pornographic images is 11, and the largest consumers of internet porn are the 12 to 17 age group.

In 2016, Utah became the first US state to designate pornography a public health hazard, declaring it an “epidemic that normalizes violence against women and children.” Since then, 15 states have followed suit.

Related: Here Are The States That Have Passed Resolutions Declaring Porn A Public Health Issue

When I heard about the ruling, I immediately thought of one of my closest male friends. Cambridge-educated, 37-years-old and with a successful career, he’s also addicted to porn. I’d known him for years before we discussed why he never dates women: was he gay, I asked, or just not that interested?

In fact, he’s crippled with shame about his reliance on porn. It has wrecked his intimate relationships with women to such an extent that he has not had sex for nearly a decade.

“Adult movies have raised the bar for what turns me on,” he says. “I suppose I’m desensitized now to regular nudity. When I think back to my last girlfriend, that kind of vanilla sex seems boring.”

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I think he’s wrong. A real woman’s body is far more erotic and challenging than any surgically enhanced version simulating pleasure. But it’s clear that porn has made his life easier. It’s hard-core and highly visual, it demands no emotional investment—no asking someone out, going for dinner and getting to know them before having sex. No seduction, romance or feelings. How much simpler to get your kicks alone, in front of an adult movie, than plunge into the messy uncertainty of a real relationship.

If porn can have this deadening effect on a normal adult male, what is it doing to inexperienced young men during their formative years? At a time when they should be learning about what physical intimacy with another person truly means, many of them are consuming explicit, even violent, sexual acts online.

Related: How Porn Twisted My Sexuality

Professor Barrie Gunter, author of Media and the Sexualization of Childhood, has described the “casual and emotionally vacant orientation towards sex,” and the dysfunctional sexual expectations that may follow.

It’s no coincidence that the latest figures for the UK show a rise in violent and sexual crimes (reaching 100,000 for the first time) which represents a 29% year-on-year increase.

Teen boys and teen girls

Forget flirting and asking each other out: sexting is the trend: “When you like a guy you text a picture of your boobs or whatever, he’ll text back his genitals—sounds bizarre but everyone does it.”

Related: Sex Before Kissing— 15-Year-Old Girls Dealing With Porn Addicted Boys

None of the girls say they enjoy watching porn, but they know what their boyfriends are seeing online and they feel the pressure to measure up; in terms of what they look like and how they ‘perform’ in bed.

Perform? I can’t help but compare this with my own experience as a teenager and the inevitable discussions with friends about when and with whom we might lose our virginity. There was a dim awareness of top-shelf material—we suspected that our boyfriends and brothers passed smutty copies of Playboy around—but no one felt the pressure to look or have sex like a porn star.

Consider Before Consuming

The expectation—and the reality—was that seeing their girlfriend’s naked body, no matter how imperfect, would be a dream-come-true for any 17-year-old boy.

But these were the days before the internet. Boyfriends can now see women of any and every shape performing sex acts that are as unrealistic as they are unimaginable. Comparatively, their naked girlfriend isn’t much to write home about, so to speak.

The immeasurable damage of XXX content

The recent rulings in states around the U.S. raise important questions about what effect early exposure to porn is having on children and young people, and what damage it can do to the healthy social and sexual interactions between adults.

Porn is now the most powerful form of sex education around. When I was researching male attitudes to female bodies for a recent book, I spoke to a 25-year-old who’d never had a girlfriend with pubic hair. From watching porn and his real-life experiences, he genuinely thought all women were hairless. I find that shocking, but also really sad. Waxing is a porn aesthetic, driven by the needs of directors to get a closer shot on the action: it has nothing to do with pleasure. But, as one of my students told me, “It’s hard to enjoy sex when you’re trying to keep your hair and make-up perfect, and when you’re sore down there from waxing.”

Related: Growing Up Fast: Why 12-Year-Old Girls Are Having Sex Rougher, Earlier

If girls and women can’t feel comfortable in their own bodies, if boys and young men aren’t able to initiate real relationships, and if both genders feel they need to play out the sex-roles they see on-screen, how will they ever enjoy loving physical and emotional intimacy?

Truly, 21st century porn is taking all the joy out of sex. When considering the states’ resolutions in this light, they might just be onto something.

Read the original version of this article in The Telegraph by Jane Wilson by clicking here.

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