Side Effects of Porn: Objectification, Erectile Dysfunction on Campus

Eli Stillman, Editor in Chief

“These companies are hyper-sexualizing young girls in the media,”

Sex is prevalent in America.  Sex sells in movies.  Sex sells in music.  It’s one of the most common themes among our culture and it accounts for a large part of internet content. On Tuesday night Matt Vogel, who is a psychology instructor as well as the Health Promotion Specialist on campus, IMG_1829spoke alongside the Prevention Educator Coordinator of the Oregon Sexual Assault Resource, Amy Collins to address porn, media and human sexuality.

The duo presented in the Rogue River room to a crowd of over 100 mixed with students, teachers and locals in an event titled, “The Elephant in the Room.”  Much of the presentation talked about a shift in our cultural norms.  Since it’s nearly impossible to pin-point exact moments that change in culture occurs, one has to look at trends and estimate around the time frames to understand when appropriation takes place.

Collins started the talk by showing modern day advertisements that pushed the limit involving sexism, objectification, and racism.  Some of the photos were well known and have been under fire for years, but others had more subtle problems, which she pointed out.  These popular ads for major companies that objectified women are viewed thousands of times a day and insinuate that our culture is becoming desensitized to these ideas most would consider barbaric.

“These companies are hyper-sexualizing young girls in the media,” Vogel explained. None of the ads show blatant nudity but problems begin to arise when the line between fantasy and reality blur.

Averaging 2.1 million visits per hour in 2014, PornHub has become the world’s most popular adult website in the world.  Their statistics page reveals that most of their visitors, by far, are from the United States.  Of the 78.1 billion videos watched last year globally, an overwhelming amount came from the search term “teen.”

Country ChartLaws that make child pornography illegal have been implemented in America since 1996, but in 2002 a company who had been creating virtual child porn won their case when the supreme court ruled that their expression of freedom would be turned upside down if they were forced to stop.

…males feeling the need to copy the masculinity and forcefulness that they see in these pornographic movies.

The conversation on Tuesday continued about how many habitual viewers of porn don’t realize the negative effects that not only come from promotion of the industry, but also on their personal lives.  During the talk, quotes from former producers and actors were projected onto a large screen. This global industry which creates about 14 billion dollars in annual sales, more than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined, has come under fire more than once for mistreating its actors in corrosive and degrading ways.  

“Many actresses get into porn chasing fame and money.  It’s not until they have left the business that many will come forward and talk about the abuse they faced,” said Collins.

A research paper written by Ana J. Bridges of the University of Arkansas talks about sexual scripts and interpersonal relationships affected by pornography. One of the main problems that takes root at a young age comes from males feeling the need to copy the masculinity and forcefulness that they see in these pornographic movies.  Equally dangerous, young women are taught to believe they need to replicate the submissive and often painful scenes that they view.  Collins agrees that this can be one of the worst outcomes of porn: “Girls viewing this content might feel like this is how they need to act, that they need to enjoy this and that it’s most important for them to look good while doing it.”

This paper digs deeper into the psyche surrounding sex when it examines the effects porn can have on interpersonal relationships. “Among the effects of the use of pornography are an increased negative attitude to women, decreased empathy for victims of sexual violence, a blunted affect, and an increase in dominating and sexually-imposing behavior.”

This means that not only are women being viewed more as objects as a result of porn, but the sensationalized portrayals in porn can influence males to the point of becoming desensitized when it comes to real life sex. Physicians at Middlebury College in Vermont reported that in the last few years there has been a rise in erectile dysfunction among males on campus, a trend unseen before, which they attribute to the viewership of porn.

“For many, real sex does not always live up to the expectations pornography provides,” said Director and College Physician Dr. Mark Peluso.  Statistics from the Southern Oregon University health resource center have yet to be obtained, but it is improbable that Middlebury College is alone in this statistics.

Parents in a Pornified World

“Some parents are under the impression that porn is still a 1987 Playboy magazine,” said Vogel. “They need to keep track of what their kids are looking at on their phones and computers.”

With the rapid expansion and accessibility to high speed internet, kids are more susceptible than ever to coming across pornography.  “The average age of children first seeing porn online is 11 and a half,” Collins continued. “We need to normalize these conversations.  Not make kids ashamed of what they see, but tell your kids to bring what they find to you.  Tell them how it makes you feel and ask them how it makes them feel.”

The birds and the bees conversation is already one that’s awkward among parents and kids, adding the topic of internet pornography in there can sound even more uncomfortable, “I can stand up here and talk to you all fine, but when it’s time to talk to my 12 year old about this stuff, we go on hikes.  That way he can throw rocks around and not look me in the eyes, which is fine by me as long as he hears what I’m saying.”

However you choose to talk about it, experts concluded that porn is the elephant in the room that must be addressed.

 

 

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