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Why Watching Porn Stops Me from Loving My Own Body

By February 25, 2021February 26th, 2021No Comments

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 recently received this true story that shows how harmful it can be to not learn about sex and porn's effects from a trusted source. This Fighter's experience illustrates how porn can leave a lasting mark on the consumer that negatively affects how they see themselves.

It took me a bit of time to write it, but here is my story:

When I was in the third grade, I was sexually assaulted. These two older boys in my class decided it would be funny to try and grope me while playing outside at recess while the teachers weren’t looking. That may seem like nothing. And to be honest, if some guys tried to do that to me today, I might cuss at them and that would be that. But as a child, this was absolutely mortifying.

At that sheltered age, I didn’t know what the big deal was about my body and why these boys wanted to touch me. But most importantly, why those two boys kept laughing about it. I became very self-conscious about my body. Was something wrong with me? Did my chest look funny? Did my butt look weird? Whatever their reason, though, my conscience told me that what they were doing was wrong.

Related: Parents: If You Don’t Teach Your Kids About Sex, Porn Will

I finally told my parents after a month of this continued harassment. After I initially told my parents, they were furious. Absolutely livid. My mother consulted the principal, and the principal sat me down with my father and asked me a few questions about some of the things they had done to me. As a result, one of those boys was expelled.

Everyone told me that it was wrong of them to grope me, and that they should not have done that…but they forgot to tell me why it was awful for those boys to touch me without my consent.

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Left in the dark

I still didn’t know about sex. I didn’t know that those parts of the body were often tied with physical expressions of love between consenting individuals. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know anything.

All I knew about those parts of my body was that they were private. For me only. So I was left to assume as to why it was so bad for these boys to be putting their hands where they did.

I finally came to a conclusion, the only one that I could muster-up with my limited 9-year-old knowledge. For years, I believed that it was because my body was shameful. That somehow, my body was unacceptable or repulsive. I believed that I had “private parts” because those parts of me were somehow ugly and humiliating, or abnormal.

My first exposure

Two years later, I was at a sleepover with my best friend. We were talking late at night, and then out of nowhere, she pulls out a book. The pages contained photographs of people—nude. People showing their “private parts.” I was appalled. Apparently, it was normal for private parts to not even be considered “private.”

As the pages continued, men and women started moving into odd positions with one another. My friend proceeded to tell me that this was called, “sex.”

Related: What’s The Average Age Of Someone’s First Exposure To Porn?

I was always a very curious individual, and so I began doing my own research about this whole “sex” thing…and I was quickly introduced to the multi-million dollar porn industry.

Nothing like the photos

I was very lucky, in that I never became addicted to pornography. In fact, my only first-hand experiences/usage with porn only total up to about two hours. But those two hours forever affected the way I saw myself and my own body.

As a 12-year-old, I began comparing myself to the images of women that I saw—surgically manipulated, and perfectly posed by photographers. I understood instantly that I looked nothing like the women who seemed to be desired by the men on the screen.

For years, I tried earnestly to be able to look at my naked body and see beauty, but I was always reminded of the women that I would never compare to. Disappointment pressed upon my self-esteem. I believed that men would never find me desirable, and so I shut them out. I avoided intimacy.

Related: “No Harm In Looking, Right?” A Study Of Porn’s Impact On Self-Esteem

Give One For Love

Porn destroys vulnerability

I found myself unable to dive deep into loving relationship because to love, completely and purely, means to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable means showing everything—your flaws, your imperfections, your insecurities, your weaknesses…but also your strengths, your talents, your intelligence, and your value.

How ironic. I feared the one, beautiful thing that pornography will never be able to offer. Vulnerability. Pornography shows none of that. Porn, in fact, kills the beautiful side of vulnerability. Or in other words, love.

B.

Porn reshapes expectations, even of yourself

This Fighter’s story is as common as it is heartbreaking.

The fact is, porn reshapes expectations about sex and attraction by presenting an unrealistic picture. In porn, men and women always look their best. They are forever young, surgically enhanced, airbrushed, and Photoshopped to perfection. [1] So it’s not hard to see why, according to a national poll, six out of seven women believe that porn has changed men’s expectations of how women should look. [2]

As writer Naomi Wolf points out, “Today real naked women are just bad porn.” [3]

Related: 10 Reasons Why Porn Is Trash And You Deserve Better

Fortify

If you think porn’s unrealistic depictions don’t work their way into consumers’ beliefs, expectations, and actions, consider this. [4] In a 2016 survey of 16 to 18-year-old Americans, nearly every participant reported learning how to have sex by watching porn, [5] and many of the young women said they were pressured to play out the “scripts” their male partners had learned from porn. [6] They felt pressured into having sex in uncomfortable positions, faking sexual responses, and consenting to unpleasant or painful acts.

The sad reality is that this Fighter’s trauma from her childhood was fueled by the toxic and dangerous depictions of sex that the mainstream porn industry sells as “fantasy.” For her, and countless others like her, we fight for open communication about sex and porn within relationships and communities. After all, raising awareness is the first step of realizing that porn is trash and you deserve better.

Citations

[1] 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; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 145.
[2] Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In Stoner, J. Stoner & Hughes, D. (Eds.), The Social Cost Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3-20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute.
[3] Wolf, N. (2003). The Porn Myth. New York Magazine. June 14. Retrieved From Http://Nymag.Com/Nymetro/News/Trends/N_9437/
[4] See, E.G. Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. M., (2016) Adolescents And Pornography: A Review Of 20 Years Of Research. Journal Of Sex Research, 53(4-5), 509-531. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441 (Pointing Out That “Existing Research Has Produced Consistent Evidence That Adolescents’ Pornography Use Is Related To Their Sexual Attitudes.”)
[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
[6] 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
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