Why “Live and Let Live” Doesn’t Work for Porn

Historically speaking, I am not the type of person to tell other people how to live their life. In fact, as long as someone is operating within the rules of a community – that is, whatever they’re choosing to do with their time isn’t inflicting unnecessary pain or suffering on others— I vehemently support the “live and let live” motto. Most social protestations fall under the “don’t like it? Don’t do it/look at it” category, and therefore, aren’t on my radar, which is why the topic of porn gets me so riled up. People treat it like it’s a personal habit and doesn’t affect anyone outside of the user and that it’s “natural”, when in fact, that is so far from the truth: porn is as far away from the “don’t like it, don’t do it” category as you can get, because,

  1. You can’t avoid it. I’m all for will power and not blaming your circumstances on anyone else, but seriously, how is a person supposed to avoid seeing pornography in 2019? It’s everywhere. It’s so abundant that it’s even made its way into popular slang. Internet filters are great, but not every device in the world has a filter, and in a society that uses sex to sell everything, it’s no longer a reasonable goal to not see porn. Those of us who abstain from pornography have had to come to terms with the fact that we’re still going to see pornography because our society hasn’t realized how dangerous it is and have had to figure out how to be proactive in the face of that. It’s about prepping yourself for your kids seeing porn for the first time. It’s about having support in place to not follow the rabbit hole when you stumble upon it yourself. It is not about 100% avoidance of porn, because it’s not possible. And speaking about how seeing porn is inevitable,
  2. Porn distributors are actively targeting kids. We expect that a lot of product marketers are targeting kids because they’re a large pliable market, but porn might come as a surprise to those who still think of pornography as a copy of Playboy a kid filches from their father. In reality, we’ve switched from natural curiosity leading a boy to flip through a magazine to companies aggressively exploiting that natural curiosity at way too young an age and throwing kids on a path of devastation and destruction, because
  3. Watching porn is an escalating behavior. It is scientifically proven that porn affects the body like any other drug and that for many users, each exposure just builds up a tolerance so that more and more is needed to achieve the same effect. This is why porn that was considered extreme a decade ago, like acts in public, three partners, etc, are now filed under the ‘vanilla’ category-they’re boring and commonplace. Logically it follows that this is why there is so much fetish-oriented porn out there now-people crave novelty and taboo after so much porn exposure has left them unresponsive to ‘vanilla’ sex acts. And, unfortunately for people,
  4. Fetish porn is extremely hard to block. From a traditional key-word filter perspective, fetish porn is hard to block because it could be about anything and often revolves around innocuous key terms. Even filters like Iris have a hard time with fetish porn because, perhaps ironically, a lot of fetish categories are clothed or mostly clothed. While I personally didn’t expect the porn industry to exploit the escalating effect of porn by putting clothes back on, I wasn’t surprised to find the thing that stays the same is that
  5. Porn is often excruciatingly degrading to one or more parties involved. I don’t know when degradation became sexy, especially in a time where socially, people are fighting left and right for equality. Generally, porn involves some sort of social, emotional, or physical degradation of the female actresses (name calling, physical abuse, extreme force, etc), but there is a lot of porn that is just as degrading to men. So here you are, watching these acts of abuse and other socially unacceptable themes that serve to dehumanize the actors and actresses in your eyes, and all the while, you are getting more and more hooked because
  6. Pornography is an addiction, and just like any other addiction, it is incredibly difficult to stop on your own. Now, you’re addicted to porn, it’s affected your life in some negative way, and you have to reach out to someone else for help or just live in shame and self-hatred. I’ve spoken to parents and partners who want to help someone they love addicted to pornography, and in order to do so, have had to have bleak, disturbing front row seats to that persons’ sexual proclivities. Imagine being a mother of a son addicted to extreme hardcore pornography, and, in your quest to help him, seeing the kinds of things he’s been viewing because of the path he’s been led down. Imagine being the loving partner of someone and finding out that in their private time, they’ve been watching pornography that is abusive and degrading to your gender. It’s not something anyone wants to have to deal with, and yet, it’s becoming frighteningly commonplace.

Not only does the Internet contain massive amounts of pornographic material in varying degrees of troubling, but the very nature of pornography makes it so that a single, mildly tame exposure can set off a chain reaction of catastrophic proportions. We have come to a point where its very existence affects everyone because pornography has ties with sexual objectification, sex trafficking, sexual violence, and sexual dysfunction. It has become a public health crisis, and for that reason, simply abstaining is not only not enough, but it’s also not even possible.

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