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How My Porn Habit Normalized Sexual Objectification

“For one thing, my brain has been rewired so much, everything in the world is sexualized. I am acutely aware of physical space and read into body language too much.”

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Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

This month, we invite you to educate yourself and others on how the porn industry normalizes and fuels the demand for exploitation in various forms. Together, we can stop the demand. Learn More

 

I was about 7 years old the first time I was exposed to porn, right before I was sexually abused. However, the sexual abuse is another story.

I became hooked to porn before I even understood what I was watching. By the time I was 9 years old, I was completely compulsively watching porn. Again, I still didn’t comprehend exactly what I was watching, but I couldn’t stop.

After watching porn, I would feel disgusted with myself and promise myself I wouldn’t watch it again, but that was a promise I continuously broke. My early years of watching porn started with the soft side of porn, but it’s true what they say—porn is a slippery slope. When I was about 15, porn wasn’t enough anymore and I began seeking out anyone to video chat or send pictures or videos.

Related: Let’s Talk About Porn. Is It As Harmless As Society Says It Is?

Porn was a factor leading to my low self-esteem. I felt so dirty, and the dirtier I felt, the more I hid my feelings into porn. It became a vicious cycle affecting my life until I was 17. I realized how disgusting and revolting porn really was, and finally found the willpower to always fight against that urge.

In my experience, a porn addict is similar in some ways to a drug addict in which you will always struggle with choosing no.

I have been porn-free for about two years, and yet the side effects of constantly watching porn still affect me daily. For one thing, my brain has been rewired so much, everything in the world is sexualized. I am acutely aware of physical space and read into body language too much.

Give One For Love

Porn has greatly affected my life, and it makes me sick. The reason I want to share my story is that porn has recently arisen in my life when I found out my boyfriend watches porn. And of course, when I called him out on it he had the typical responses of “everyone watches it, it’s not a big deal.” But it is a big deal. I have ridden that roller coaster and I’m not getting back on it.

My boyfriend also said that the only reason I am against porn is because of being sexually abused—so this is my coming out story. I am against porn because I know what porn does to a person. I hated who I was and what I did for fleeting, revolting pleasure.

Related: How Porn Can Normalize Sexual Objectification

I am against porn because it is a toxic habit that took me years to break, and yet I still suffer from the repercussions.

I am against porn because it turns real people into just sexual objects.

I am against porn because it is a socially acceptable compulsion that is a growing problem, and yet is always defended with, “Everyone watches it, so it’s not a big deal.”

Whether you think you’re hooked to porn or not, it affects you more than you may realize. And to anyone who is currently struggling with porn, you have the power to stop, no matter how many times you slip up, or however long it takes you, you can stop and you will be glad when you do.

So from one Fighter to another, stay strong and keep fighting.

T.

Object! Long Sleeve

Object to objectification

Sexual objectification occurs when people perceive others as sex objects, rather than complex human beings deserving of dignity and respect. In fact, in a review of research on sexual violence, two leading experts called sexual objectification the “common thread” that connects different forms of sexual violence.Gervais, S. J., & Eagan, S. (2017). Sexual objectification: The common thread connecting myriad forms of sexual violence against women. The American journal of orthopsychiatry, 87(3), 226–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000257COPY 

Research consistently shows that porn can play a big role in teaching viewers to consume people as products for their own personal sexual satisfaction, which can ultimately have unhealthy consequences for individuals, relationships, and for the cultures in which we live.Skorska, M.N., Hodson, M.N., & Hoffarth, M.N. (2018). Experimental effects of degrading versus erotic pornography exposure in men on reactions toward women (objectification, sexism, discrimination). The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 27, 261 - 276.COPY Seabrook, R. C., Ward, L. M., & Giaccardi, S. (2019). Less than human? Media use, objectification of women, and men’s acceptance of sexual aggression. Psychology of Violence, 9(5), 536-545. doi:10.1037/vio0000198COPY 

Not long ago, Princeton and Stanford psychologists performed a study showing a group of men two sets of pictures, some of fully-clothed women and others of women who had been sexualized and were barely clothed. The psychologists monitored their medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), which is the part of the brain involved in recognizing human faces and distinguishing one person from another. For the most part, the mPFC part of the brain was activated with each picture. However, when the subjects of the study were shown the pictures of sexualized women, this part of the brain was not activated. Basically, the automatic reaction in their brains suggested that they didn’t perceive the sexualized women as fully human, rather they saw them as objects, focusing on their bodies and body parts. The researchers concluded, “sexualized women were perceived as having the least control over their own lives” and “this suggests that sexualized women are more closely associated with being the objects, not the agents, of action as compared to clothed women.Cikara, M., Eberhardt, J. L., & Fiske, S. T. (2011). From agents to objects: sexist attitudes and neural responses to sexualized targets. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 23(3), 540–551. https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2010.21497COPY 

Related: Study Shows Men’s Porn Habits Increase Their Partner’s Objectification & Body Shame

Obviously, porn is not an accurate representation of how everyday people look or how sex and intimacy work in real-life relationships, yet the research shows that porn can, and does, shape the way that consumers think about others and about sex.

Real connection starts with seeing others as whole people with unique thoughts, feelings, dreams, struggles, and lives. Viewing people as products is harmful to individuals, relationships and ultimately society as a whole.

The collective private actions of millions affect the larger culture—objectifying others privately on our screens doesn’t inspire respect and dignity in public. The private impacts the public—that’s how culture works. If we want a culture of true respect and equality, then we need to make sure we think about, talk about, and treat others as whole people—not as objects.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.

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