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Why Porn Did the Opposite of Educating Me About Real Sex

Porn is exaggerated, inaccurate, and it isn’t produced for educational purposes—it’s produced for entertainment.

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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.

We received this true story from a Fighter whose experience shows the powerful effect that porn can have on the viewer’s mindset. Some stories, like this one, shed light on the deep harm and unhealthiness that porn brings individuals and their relationships, and how porn makes for low-quality sex education.

Hey FTND,

Would love to share my story. It all started when I was 13 years old. I had moved to a new middle school and made a friend. One time we had a conversation about porn and he convinced me to watch it.

From then on it became an integral part of my life. I didn’t see it as something wrong, it was just a part of who I was and what I did.

RelatedHelp! I’m A 21-Year-Old Guy With Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction

I didn’t feel a lot of guilt because at the time I didn’t understand sex and what it was really like, so all my fantasies were based on false premises. I found it difficult to talk to girls because I saw them as objects. But eventually, I met my first girlfriend.

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With that relationship, and most relationships after, my primary focus was on having sex. Yet, I didn’t understand how to have real sex because of what I had seen in porn over all the years.

A girl that I had fallen in love with broke up with me because of the way I had acted. Porn gives a false view of what a man is supposed to be to his lover, like some sort of macho GI Joe figure in action.

Related3 Ways Porn Damaged Our Relationship & Killed Our Sex Life

It’s difficult to imagine how I couldn’t see it as something sinister for all those years. But one winter night before Christmas, I was in Europe and I saw a video about sex trafficking. It was a short movie that shows the kidnapping of a girl from her family and her family trying to get her back. I slowly started to see that the porn videos I was watching were directly fueling a multi-billion dollar sexual exploitation industry.

The sex trafficking, my diminishing self-esteem, and the realization that what I was doing was totally unhealthy were what finally led me to breaking free. Going to college was the real eye-opener for me as well. I became involved with people who understood my struggle and I started taking internet filtering programs seriously.

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However, that part of finding people that would hold me accountable was what made the difference. It was clear that this was an endless cycle and that I needed help. I realized that the only thing that could break the cycle for me was finding a community whose actions speak louder than their words.

RelatedI Realized Porn Is Tied To Exploitation, And That Was My First Step To Ditching It

I was on Facebook this summer and that’s when I came across Fight the New Drug. I’ve been using Fortify since that time and it’s been so incredible seeing the growth I’ve made in this short amount of time. I really feel like I’m breaking free.

It’s still an evolving process, but part of being human is never giving up and always moving forward. And I plan on doing just that.

Thanks for everything,

T.

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Why This Matters

How can you know whether the porn you’re watching is truly consensual? Well, the unfortunate truth is that in the porn industry, there is no guarantee.

Not all sex trafficking happens through kidnapping and forced servitude, the only elements that need to be present for a commercial sex act to legally be considered trafficking is force, fraud, or coercion.Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106–386, Section 102(a), 114 Stat. 1464. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-106hr3244enr/pdf/BILLS-106hr3244enr.pdfCOPY  That means that sex trafficking doesn’t require kidnapping or threats of violence—if there is any level of force, fraud, or coercion involved in the production of porn, it legally counts as sex trafficking.

Related: Tatiana’s Story: “Pornography Was My Main Education For Sex And Love”

And unfortunately, even with adults who consent to be in porn, many performers are abused or taken advantage of on-set.Lange, A. (2018). This woman says authorities doubted her sexual assault claim because she does porn. Buzzfeed News. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/arianelange/nikki-benz-porn-defamation-lawsuit-metoo#.ldPVz1Yg0YCOPY  At the end of the day, it is virtually impossible to know whether any piece of pornographic content is truly consensual, ethical, or even legal.

Brain Heart World

But aside from the trafficking and exploitation issue, watching porn to learn about sex is like watching hospital drama shows to learn how to be a doctor or watching the Fast and the Furious movies to learn how to drive. Porn is exaggerated, inaccurate, and it isn’t produced for educational purposes—it’s produced for entertainment.

Still, most young people are getting at least some of their education about sex from porn, whether they mean to or not. In fact, one study shows that approximately 45% of teens who consumed porn did so in part to learn about sex.British Board of Film Classification. (2020). Young people, pornography & age-verification. BBFC. Retrieved from https://www.bbfc.co.uk/about-classification/researchCOPY 

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

Survey results also revealed that over half of 11 to 16-year-old boys (53%) and over a third of 11 to 16-year-old girls (39%) reported believing that pornography was a realistic depiction of sex.Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J. R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R., & Horvath, M. A. H. (2016). 'I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it'. London: NSPCC. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/2016/i-wasn-t-sure-it-was-normal-to-watch-itCOPY 

In fact, 44% of boys who watched porn reported that online pornography gave them ideas about the type of sex they wanted to try.Martellozzo, E., Monaghan, A., Adler, J. R., Davidson, J., Leyva, R., & Horvath, M. A. H. (2016). 'I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it'. London: NSPCC. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/2016/i-wasn-t-sure-it-was-normal-to-watch-itCOPY 

Related: 10 Things Porn Gets Completely Wrong About Real Sex

This is especially concerning considering how wildly unrealistic and toxic porn can be. According to a 2021 study, 1 out of every 8 porn titles shown to first-time visitors to porn sites described acts of sexual violence.Vera-Gray, F., McGlynn, C., Kureshi, I., & Butterby, K. (2021). Sexual violence as a sexual script in mainstream online pornography. The British Journal of Criminology, doi:10.1093/bjc/azab035COPY  In addition to the sexual violence shown in porn, porn also promotes sexist narratives, racist tropes, and other harmful ideas about sex and consent.

What type of message does that send to young people who turn to porn to learn about sex?

Bottom line: porn is trash, and you deserve better.

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.

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