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This Woman’s Seatmate Used Porn Next To Her on an Airplane—What Would You Do In This Situation?

By May 30, 2018 No Comments

If you’ve been scrolling through social media since yesterday, you may have noticed a trending story involving a woman on a flight and her seat mate’s choice of in-flight entertainment: hardcore porn.

When Elly Shariat boarded her 5 hour-long Southwest flight from Las Vegas to Philadelphia and sat in a middle seat, she didn’t expect her window seat neighbor to expose himself and start watching porn. She didn’t expect this, but that’s exactly what happened.

She claims that almost immediately after the aircraft took off, the man in the window seat next to her pulled out his iPad and immediately began watching porn. At first, she thought it was a mistake on the guy’s part, and felt briefly embarrassed for him. That is until he started watching it “like it was nothing,” without headphones and without making any attempt to tilt his screen away to keep other passengers from seeing. She says that he watched “video after video” of porn. Wow.

Here’s her call for help, posted on Twitter. Click for the full thread:

As weird and awkward as this situation is, it definitely isn’t an isolated incident, if you can believe it. Public porn consumption is something that we’re hearing more and more about—it happens on public transportation, in restaurants, in public libraries, even in every day errands.

For instance, earlier this year, ABC News reported on a story of a five-year-old girl who was shown a sexually explicit video by a stranger who “motioned for the child to come watch with him” while she and her mother were in the waiting room of a car dealership. So not okay.

These situations—including the guy above who felt like it was totally acceptable to watch porn and expose himself on a Southwest flight—illustrate two things: either that the consumer is so compulsively obsessed with porn that they can’t wait to get somewhere private to log on, or that porn is assumed to be so acceptable and such a non-issue in public that consumers feel free to view anywhere.

As you can imagine, both are problematic. Here’s why.

Porn is more accessible than ever, anywhere you are

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that porn is more affordable, available, accessible, and anonymous than ever before in history.

Before, porn was only accessible with an ID proving the consumer was over the age of 18, and available in limited quantities—whether it was an explicit magazines available behind the counter at the local store, in movie theaters specifically dedicated to showing porn, or on single DVDs and VHS tapes, there was always accountability and some kind of limited access to hardcore content.

Related: Report: Almost Half Of Kids Surveyed Say They Were First Exposed To Porn By Accident

Now, anyone of any age in any location with an internet signal can click past the “Are you over 18?” button, and have instant and repeated access to the most graphic, violent content the world has ever seen.

See the difference?

We hear people say all the time that porn has been “around forever,” but comparing erotic pottery from Pompeii and today’s endless stream of hardcore, explicit, and increasingly violent content is not comparing the same things.

Regardless of where you stand on the porn issue, and whether you’re a regular consumer or not, it can’t be denied that we are currently in uncharted territory. The world has never seen content like this in such an uncontrollable and immeasurable quantity and science and research are just starting to recognize the measurable impact on consumers and our world.

It also can’t be denied that porn is more harmful than the industry would have you believe.

Compulsive or obsessive porn habits are a thing

A lot of people are convinced that there’s no such thing as an addiction to porn, and that porn is completely harmless. But science disproved the old belief that in order to have an addiction to something it has to involve a substance that is physically put into the body; like with cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. Excessive consumption of internet porn bears all of the signs, and dangers, of a true addiction.

Click here to learn the full background of why porn can be an obsession, compulsion, or addiction.

Basically, your brain comes equipped with something called a “reward center.” [1]

When porn enters the brain, it triggers the reward center to start pumping out dopamine, which sets off a cascade of chemicals including a protein called DeltaFosB. [2] DeltaFosB’s regular job is to build new nerve pathways to mentally connect what someone is doing (i.e. consuming porn) to the pleasure he or she feels. [3] Those strong new memories outcompete other connections in the brain, making it easier and easier to return to porn. [4] (See How Porn Changes The Brain.)

Related: Is There A Connection Between Porn Themes And Sex Offender Characteristics?

But DeltaFosB has another job, and this is why its nickname is “the molecular switch for addiction.” [5] If enough DeltaFosB builds up, it flips a genetic switch, causing lasting changes in the brain that leave the user more vulnerable to addiction. [6] For teens, this risk is especially high because a teen’s reward center in the brain responds two to four times more powerfully than an adult’s brain, releases higher levels of dopamine and produces more DeltaFosB. [7]

Overloaded with dopamine, the brain will try to defend itself by releasing another chemical called CREB, [8] CREB is like the brakes on a runaway reward center; it slows the pleasure response. [9]With CREB onboard, porn that once excited a person stops having the same effect. [10] Scientists believe that CREB is partly why consumers have to keep increasing their porn intake to get aroused. [11] That numbed-out state is called “tolerance,” and it’s part of any kind of addiction. [12]

Talk about something that you won’t see in the description box of a video on a hardcore porn site. And talk about something that this guy on the Southwest flight may not know for himself.

What’s the big deal?

The Southwest flight situation is problematic for more reason than one. For us, it’s an example of how normalized porn is becoming, seeing as some consumers feel the freedom and empowerment to visibly take their porn habit with them anywhere, and it’s also an example of how an unhealthy habit can turn possibly compulsive, or addictive.

Even so, we want to be clear when we say this: as an organization, we are anti-shaming as well as anti-porn. This guy’s actions are not okay, though we don’t truly know him or his story, and none of us can make a judgement call on him as a whole person. We want to be clear when we say that shaming him in response is not a healthy or lasting answer to his possible compulsion to porn. Drawing attention to this situation, and situations like it, is a part of our larger global awareness campaign that shines a light on how porn is more acceptable, accessible, and normalized than ever.

Related: Force, Fraud, And Coercion: Uncovering When Sex Trafficking And Porn Production Overlap

We want to live in a society where porn is seen as the unhealthy, harmful issue that it is, and where consumers think twice about their own health and the health of those around them before logging on. We’re fighting to make that society a reality, and we’re already making amazing progress.

Join us in shining a spotlight on the proven harmful effects of porn, and choose to fight for love along side us. It’s worth fighting for.

Get Involved

Share this post and raise your voice about the normalization and acceptability of porn in society. Porn is not healthy or harmless, and consumers deserve to know before clicking.

Spark Conversations

This movement is all about changing the conversation about pornography and stopping the demand for sexual exploitation. When you rep a tee, you can spark meaningful conversation on porn’s harms and inspire lasting change in individuals’ lives, and our world. Are you in? Check out all our styles in our online store, or click below to shop:

Citations

[1] National Institute On Drug Abuse: The Reward Pathway. (2016). Retrieved From Http://Www.Drugabuse.Gov/Publications/Teaching-Packets/Understanding-Drug-Abuse-Addiction/Section-I/4-Reward-Pathway; Volkow, N. D., & Morales, M. (2015). The Brain On Drugs: From Reward To Addiction. Cell, 162 (8), 712-725. Doi:10.1016/J.Cell.2015.07.046; Pitchers, K. K., Et Al. (2013). Natural And Drug Rewards Act On Common Neural Plasticity Mechanisms With DeltaFosB As A Key Mediator. Journal Of Neuroscience, 33 (8), 3434-3442. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4881-12.2013
[2] Negash, S., Van Ness Sheppard, N., Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2016). Trading Later Rewards For Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption And Delay Discounting. The Journal Of Sex Research, 53(6), 698-700. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2015.1025123; Nestler, E. J., (2008) Transcriptional Mechanisms Of Addiction: Role Of DeltaFosB, Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363(1507) 3245-3255. Doi:10.1098/Rstb.2008.0067
[3] Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review With Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Pitchers, K. K., Et Al. (2013). Natural And Drug Rewards Act On Common Neural Plasticity Mechanisms With DeltaFosB As A Key Mediator. Journal Of Neuroscience, 33(8), 3434-3442. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4881-12.2013; Hilton, D. L. (2013) Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience And Technology 3. 20767. Doi:10.3402/Snp.V3i0.20767; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. (208-209) New York: Penguin Books.
[4] Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review With Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Nestler, E. J., (2015). Role Of The Brain’s Reward Circuitry In Depression: Transcriptional Mechanism. International Review Of Neurobiology, 124: 151-170. Doi:10.1016/Bs.Irn.2015.07.003; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 108.
[5] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388
[6] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388; Hilton, D. L. (2013). Pornography Addiction—A Supranormal Stimulus Considered In The Context Of Neuroplasticity. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 3, 20767. Doi:10.3402/Snp.V3i0.20767; Nestler, E. J. (2008). Transcriptional Mechanisms Of Addiction: Role Of DeltaFosB. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363: 3245–56. Retrieved From Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pmc/Articles/PMC2607320/; Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself. New York: Penguin Books, 107.
[7] Volkow, N. D., Koob, G. F., & McLellan, A. T. (2016). Neurobiological Advances From The Brain Disease Model Of Addiction. New England Journal Of Medicine, 374: 363-371. Doi:10.1056/NEJMra1511480; Sturman, D., & Moghaddam, B. (2011). Reduced Neuronal Inhibition And Coordination Of Adolescent Prefrontal Cortex During Motivated Behavior. The Journal Of Neuroscience 31, 4: 1471-1478. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4210-10.2011; Ehrlich, M. E., Sommer, J., Canas, E., & Unterwald, E. M. (2002). Periadolescent Mice Show Enhanced DeltaFosB Upregulation In Response To Cocaine And Amphetamine. The Journal Of Neuroscience 22(21). 9155–9159. Retrieved From Http://Www.Jneurosci.Org/Content/22/21/9155
[8] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388
[9] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388
[10] Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388
[11] Park, B. Y., Et Al. (2016). Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review With Clinical Reports. Behavioral Sciences, 6, 17. Doi:10.3390/Bs6030017; Negash, S., Van Ness Sheppard, N., Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2016). Trading Later Rewards For Current Pleasure: Pornography Consumption And Delay Discounting. The Journal Of Sex Research, 53(6), 698-700. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2015.1025123
[12] Volkow, N. D., Koob, G. F., & McLellan, A. T. (2016). Neurobiological Advances From The Brain Disease Model Of Addiction. New England Journal Of Medicine, 374, 363-371. Doi:10.1056/NEJMra1511480; Nestler, E. J., (2015). Role Of The Brain’s Reward Circuitry In Depression: Transcriptional Mechanism. International Review Of Neurobiology, 124: 151-170. Doi:10.1016/Bs.Irn.2015.07.003; Love, T., Laier, C., Brand, M., Hatch, L., & Hajela, R. (2015). Neuroscience Of Internet Pornography Addiction: A Review And Update, Behavioral Sciences, 5(3), 388-433. Doi: 10.3390/Bs5030388; Kuss, D. J., & Griffiths, M. D. (2012). Internet And Gaming Addiction: A Systematic Literature Review Of Neuroimaging Studies. Brain Sciences, 2(3) 347-374. Doi:10.3390/Brainsci2030347

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