Cover photo: Warner Bros. Television Distribution

For those of you who watched the TV show Friends back in the day, (or are currently binging, re-watching, or re-binging on Netflix) you’ll remember the episode when Chandler and Joey stumble upon free porn on their TV. They comically spend all of their free time watching it and refuse to turn off the TV for fear of losing the signal to the free porn.

When the episode premiered back in the late 90’s, porn wasn’t a huge issue and could still get a laugh. The ending scene even comically depicts Joey and Chandler talking about the warped perceptions frequent porn viewers have about women not instantly being up for sex at the drop of a hat. Little did Joey and Chandler know that they were putting the spotlight on a growing problem in society.

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Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Watching that episode today, it’s a different story.  Unfortunately, the normalization of porn in our society—this “pornification,” so to speak—has grown exponentially since then.

Porn Is Literally Everywhere

We are so surrounded by porn and porn culture in today’s society that it’s hard to even recognize what we are actually hearing or seeing sometimes. Think about it. Look at today’s most popular TV shows, the lyrics of the most popular songs on Spotify, and the content of some of the blockbuster movies in theaters. You’ll find one overarching theme:

Sex. Sex. And more graphic sex.

It’s so crazy to think that content that was once totally unheard of, is now widely accepted, embraced, and promoted daily in our media.

Here’s an interesting example to show what we mean.

You know the old 70’s TV show, The Brady Bunch? In several episodes of the show, the Brady’s are shown getting ready in their bathroom—brushing their teeth, combing their hair, etc. Normal right? But one thing was always noticeably missing from the bathroom. Can you spot it?

brady-bathroom

Yes, the Brady’s enjoyed a toilet-less bathroom. The reason? The network that aired The Brady Bunch did not allow a toilet on their popularly televised program. It was seen as inappropriate, tacky, and in bad taste.

Now, we realize that might be a pretty extreme example but it draws a pretty eye-opening to comparison.

Fast forward to today.

We have television shows showing graphic sex scenes that often include themes of rape and even incest. Fifty Shades of Grey became a bestselling book and then two blockbuster films. The sex-filled movie opened on Valentine’s Day a couple years ago in every theater in the country, its sequel earlier this year, and both showed sadomasochistic softcore porn to anyone old enough to buy a ticket.

The list of shows and movies that are blatantly crossing the line between porn and entertainment goes on and on. Not to mention pornographic names of household products and cosmetics that are coming out every day, like a blush named “Deepthroat” and another named “Underage” carried by your regular cosmetics stores.

Basically, the things that are now commonplace on regular daytime television would make Mr. and Mrs. Brady’s heads explode. And thats not necessarily a good thing.

Sexual Objectification Sells

The problem here lies in the blurring of the lines between entertainment and pornography. Porn is bleeding into every single aspect of our society, contributing to the objectification of the human body, rape culture, and basic desensitization to sexual material.

This societal shift warps ideas and perceptions, such as the idea that women are here to please men, and that the human body is an object separate from thoughts, emotions, and personality. After all, those ideas are blatantly promoted by pornography and consumed en masse.

RelatedStudy Shows Porn Magazines & Rapists Use Similar Language To Describe Women

There is clear evidence that shows how porn can make many users more likely to support violence against women, to believe that women secretly enjoy being raped, [1] and to actually be sexually aggressive in real life. [2] The aggression may take many forms including verbally harassing or pressuring someone for sex, emotionally manipulating them, threatening to end the relationship unless they grant favors, deceiving them or lying to them about sex, or even physically assaulting them. [3]

The website “Culture Reframed” asks us to consider the broader issue:

“While mainstream pop culture grows increasingly pornographic, the pornography industry produces hardcore material that is both more overtly cruel toward women and more widely accepted than ever. Have you ever tried to talk about this issue, only to be told that you’re a prude, or that pornography is liberating? What will happen now that the first generation of men raised on internet porn is making its way into adulthood?”

Good point. And scary thought. Same goes for women, too, and the increasingly younger children that are exposed to porn.

Porn Is Now Mainstream

Our viral blog post on Fifty Shades of Grey talks about what the message of the book/movie is teaching society. Dawn Hawkins, founder of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, summed it up perfectly when she said, “While some Americans may not realize it, bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism are a huge part of mainstream pornography and they have been for quite a while.”

So apparently now they are just mainstream, period? Basically, a person doesn’t even need to go to a porn site to see these things anymore, they can just go to their local movie theater.

Starting to see how prevalent this pornification really is?

Pornographic media and entertainment is also a massive step backwards for equality and respect for the sexes due to the fact that the vast majority of porn—violent or not—portrays men as powerful and in charge; while women are submissive and obedient. [4] Watching scene after scene of dehumanizing submission makes it start to seem normal. [5] It sets the stage for lopsided power dynamics in couple relationships and the gradual acceptance of verbal and physical aggression against women. [6] Research has confirmed that those who watch porn (even if it’s nonviolent) are more likely to support statements that promote abuse and sexual aggression toward women and girls. [7]. Porn treats humans as nothing more than discardable sex objects to be acted upon for selfish pleasure.

We are smarter than that. We don’t need to accept the pornification of our society.

What YOU Can Do

Take a stand against this harmful pornification in our society. SHARE this article and add your voice to those who are trying to enact change.

Citations

[1] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Milburn, M., Mather, R., & Conrad, S. (2000). The Effects Of Viewing R-Rated Movie Scenes That Objectify Women On Perceptions Of Date Rape. Sex Roles, 43(9-10), 645–664. 10.1023/A:1007152507914; Weisz, M. G. & Earls, C. (1995). The Effects Of Exposure To Filmed Sexual Violence On Attitudes Toward Rape. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence, 10(1), 71–84; Doi:10.1177/088626095010001005; Ohbuchi, K. I., Et Al. (1994). Effects Of Violent Pornography Upon Viewers’ Rape Myth Beliefs: A Study Of Japanese Males. Psychology, Crime, And Law 7(1), 71–81; Doi:10.1080/10683169408411937; Corne, S., Et Al. (1992). Women’s Attitudes And Fantasies About Rape As A Function Of Early Exposure To Pornography. Journal Of Interpersonal Violence 7(4), 454–61. Doi:10.1177/088626092007004002; Check, J. & Guloien, T. (1989). The Effects Of Repeated Exposure To Sexually Violent Pornography, Nonviolent Dehumanizing Pornography, And Erotica. In D. Zillmann & J. Bryant (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances And Policy Considerations (Pp. 159–84). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Check, J. & Malamuth, N. M. (1985). An Empirical Assessment Of Some Feminist Hypotheses About Rape. International Journal Of Women’s Studies 8, 4: 414–23.
[2] Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. M., & Yuen, C. (2010). Pornography And Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting The Relationship In Nonexperimental Studies. Aggression And Behavior 36(1), 14–20. Doi:10.1002/Ab.20328; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Boeringer, S. B. (1994). Pornography And Sexual Aggression: Associations Of Violent And Nonviolent Depictions With Rape And Rape Proclivity. Deviant Behavior 15(3), 289–304. Doi:10.1080/01639625.1994.9967974; Check, J. & Guloien, T. (1989). The Effects Of Repeated Exposure To Sexually Violent Pornography, Nonviolent Dehumanizing Pornography, And Erotica. In D. Zillmann & J. Bryant (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances And Policy Considerations (Pp. 159–84). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Marshall, W. L. (1988). The Use Of Sexually Explicit Stimuli By Rapists, Child Molesters, And Non-Offenders. Journal Of Sex Research, 25(2): 267–88. Doi:10.1080/00224498809551459
[3] Wright, P.J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2016). A Meta-Analysis Of Pornography Consumption And Actual Acts Of Sexual Aggression In General Population Studies. Journal Of Communication, 66(1), 183-205. Doi:10.1111/Jcom.12201; DeKeseredy, W. (2015). Critical Criminological Understandings Of Adult Pornography And Women Abuse: New Progressive Directions In Research And Theory. International Journal For Crime, Justice, And Social Democracy, 4(4) 4-21. Doi:10.5204/Ijcjsd.V4i4.184; Barak, A., Fisher, W. A., Belfry, S., & Lashambe, D. R. (1999). Sex, Guys, And Cyberspace: Effects Of Internet Pornography And Individual Differences On Men’s Attitudes Toward Women. Journal Of Psychology And Human Sexuality, 11(1),63–91. 10.1300/J056v11n01_04
[4] DeKeseredy, W. (2015). Critical Criminological Understandings Of Adult Pornography And Women Abuse: New Progressive Directions In Research And Theory. International Journal For Crime, Justice, And Social Democracy, 4(4) 4-21. Doi:10.5204/Ijcjsd.V4i4.184; Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Layden, M. A. (2010) Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In Stoner, J. & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57-68). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Ryu, E. (2008). Spousal Use Of Pornography And Its Clinical Significance For Asian-American Women: Korean Woman As An Illustration. Journal Of Feminist Family Therapy, 16(4), 75. Doi:10.1300/J086v16n04_05; Shope, J. H. (2004). When Words Are Not Enough: The Search For The Effect Of Pornography On Abused Women. Violence Against Women, 10(1), 56-72. Doi:10.1177/1077801203256003
[5] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization And Empowerment. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s Impact On Sexuality: A Critical Review Of 15 Years Of Research. Computers In Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2009.04.003; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27, 2: 41–44. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/10904205
[6] Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner And D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Berkel, L. A., Vandiver, B. J., & Bahner, A. D. (2004). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, And Spirituality As Predictors Of Domestic Violence Attitudes In White College Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 45:119–131. Doi:10.1353/Csd.2004.0019 ; Allen, M., Emmers, T., Gebhardt, L., And Giery, M. A. (1995). Exposure To Pornography And Acceptance Of The Rape Myth. Journal Of Communication, 45(1), 5–26. Doi:10.1111/J.1460-2466.1995.Tb00711.X
[7] Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. M., And Yuen, C. (2010). Pornography And Attitudes Supporting Violence Against Women: Revisiting The Relationship In Nonexperimental Studies. Aggression And Behavior, 36(1), 14–20. Doi:10.1002/Ab.20328; Berkel, L. A., Vandiver, B. J., And Bahner, A. D. (2004). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, And Spirituality As Predictors Of Domestic Violence Attitudes In White College Students. Journal Of College Student Development, 45(2), 119–131. Doi:10.1353/Csd.2004.0019; Zillmann, D. (2004). Pornografie. In R. Mangold, P. Vorderer, & G. Bente (Eds.) Lehrbuch Der Medienpsychologie (Pp. 565–85). Gottingen, Germany: Hogrefe Verlag; Zillmann, D. (1989). Effects Of Prolonged Consumption Of Pornography. In D. Zillmann & J. Bryant, (Eds.) Pornography: Research Advances And Policy Considerations (P. 155). Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.

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