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.
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?
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.
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,  and to actually be sexually aggressive in real life.  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. 
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 backward 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.  Watching scene after scene of dehumanizing submission makes it start to seem normal.  It sets the stage for lopsided power dynamics in couple relationships and the gradual acceptance of verbal and physical aggression against women.  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. . 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.