Simple answer: Nope!
We often hear things like: “Always the same, moralistic prudes…trying to tell grown adults they know what’s best for them…their goal is controlling other people’s sex lives.”
And since some people over the years have called for the censorship of pornography, some might assume that Fight the New Drug’s approach to educating on porn’s harmful effects must also include the desire to control people’s access to porn, or their sex lives altogether.
The opposite is actually true.
Firstly, it’s important for you to know that censorship is simply not our goal. We’ve always believed that education is the key to allowing individuals the right to make informed decisions and meaningful change—and that’s what ultimately what we’re all about as an organization.
This issue is much bigger than that, though–especially when understanding who actually is “attempting to control” how people express themselves sexually. Even a casual understanding of the scientific literature in this area tells us that something is, in fact, having a massive success in controlling people’s sexuality—and that is pornography.
Surprised? Allow us to explain.
No matter how many times the pornography industry tells us that “sexual freedom” is their aim, science and research keep confirming the opposite reality. In a number of ways, the porn industry continues to be scientifically proven to be exerting considerable influence on people’s sexuality.
This is particularly true of children and teens. The porn industry makes no meaningful efforts to keep their products out of the hands of children and youth. Our generation and the upcoming generations are coming of age with views and understandings of sex that are significantly shaped by porn. How is that healthy? Plus, only the porn industry stands to financially profit off of becoming entangled in people’s sex lives. The idea that the porn industry is simply reflecting sexual culture, rather than shaping it, is naïve.
So, what is true sexual freedom? For most people, sexual freedom involves being free to make choices about when and how they express themselves sexually. It involves sharing sex to express attraction and affection, not using it to self-medicate stress and depression. In later life, sexual freedom for most people involves being satisfied in an enduring relationship. It involves sexual pleasure that is deeply connected to emotional closeness and a full relationship. It involves being able to be physically aroused in a real relationship with a real person.
The simple fact is that this kind of a basic “freedom” to give and receive intimate love is threatened substantially by chronic porn consumption. According to at least 40 peer-reviewed studies (a preponderance of the evidence to date) linking pornography use to lower relationship well-being and decreased sexual satisfaction. Another 17 studies specifically link porn consumption to sexual problems and lower arousal. Indeed, virtually all studies looking at basic sexual function, sexual satisfaction, and sexual wellness point in the same direction—showing profound and consistently striking ways in which the presence of pornography distorts and thwarts otherwise satisfying intimacy between couples.
If that is true, then maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that many “free porn” sites were intentionally created to “hook” people—especially teens and young adults—before they can even pay for something online. The younger that people get involved, the more difficult and more pronounced the effects are—limiting the actual chance of enjoying a lasting, satisfying relationship with another human being. And these hooked individuals become the porn industry’s best-paying customers.
So who is actually standing in the way of sexual choice and committed, intimate relationships? Is it organizations like Fight the New Drug, who are raising awareness about pornography’s harms using science, facts, and personal accounts? Or is it the industry that aggressively promotes this product’s so-called “benefits?”
Based on a thorough understanding of the science regarding this issue, we believe our work expands people’s sexual freedom—in large part, by fighting against an industry so effective at manipulating and shaping sexuality for its own purposes and profit.