Pornography’s Impact on Society

Pornography's EffectsOn Society

By Kevin Hales, MA, LPC

My previous two posts covered pornography and it’s effect on the individual and on a relationship. Studies are finding more and more that pornography is not simply a harmless endeavor that doesn’t affect anyone else. It actually changes the brain makeup of the individual looking at it. Pornography has a numbing effect on the individual, causing him or her to see others in a less empathetic manner. In fact, the individual comes to see others as merely objects, something to please him. Engaging in viewing pornography, either willingly or unwillingly, eventually leads one to inferior relationships with others, which is damaging to the well-being of that person and to others who know him.

Pornography’s Effects on Relationships

A ripple effect occurs with an addiction to pornography. It starts with the individual, numbing his ability to relate to others. In turn, this effects that person’s ability to have a healthy relationship, which contributes to broken relationships, marriages, and families.  One might say porn hates families. Research shows that marriages in which there is porn are plagued by less intimacy and affection, as well isolation, secrecy and dysfunction as a result. Furthermore, for couples, nonconsensual use of pornography can be experienced as an affair or betrayal trauma by one’s partner.

Because of the escalation effect in addictions, simple glances at pornography can turn into obsessive thoughts and viewing.  Pornography users are more likely to solicit sex with a prostitute and visit strip clubs. Individuals who look at pornography tend to escalate in the amount of time spent viewing it. Some individuals eventually lose their jobs because of looking at pornography at work. The time that use to be spent with a spouse and kids is now spent thinking about and looking at porn. In a 2004 poll by Elle magazine, 1 in 5 males admitted to porn taking up hours that use to be spent with a partner or kids. That number jumped from 20 to 37% of users that spent 5 or more hours a week looking at porn.

Pornography’s Effects on Society

The ripple effect continues out further though. It doesn’t stop with the individual or the family unfortunately. It affects society. People who lose a job to pornography use disrupt the flow of work and productivity in companies. And even if they don’t lose their job, their thoughts are constantly occupied by pornographic images and videos and they aren’t as productive as they could be professionally or on an individual level.

Violence against women is a common element in porn. At a minimum, pornography often portrays verbal abuse from men toward women. Such verbal aggression can open the door to physical violence. In a study in 2010, a team of researchers looked at the 50 most popular porn films and examined 304 scenes. Of those scenes, 88% contained physical violence and 49% contained verbal aggression. In real life, or even in Hollywood movies, when someone is hit or beat up, we fight back and get angry. In porn, the victim is either neutral or responds with pleasure. 94% of the victims are women. In other words, porn portrays women getting beat up and enjoying it. Even non-violent porn portrays a power difference between men and women often showing men in charge and women being obedient and submissive. As humans, we tend to repeat what we see and hear. If we see that women supposedly like to be treated aggressively and/or violently, it may encourage at a minimum verbal harassment of women and to the other extreme, rape.  Not every person that looks at porn is going to turn into a rapist. But it also doesn’t justify what is being portrayed, especially when you consider one final element of how pornography hurts society.

That final element is an even darker side to porn that the purveyors of this smut don’t want us to know. The image makers of pornography want us to see is one of pleasure and thrills. But the reality of what is often happening behind the scenes is one of violence, drugs and human trafficking. Porn actors are constantly being threatened and emotionally and verbally abused by agents and directors to do things they don’t want to do. To make matters worse, many women are kidnapped, drugged, raped and forced into prostitution and/or making pornographic videos. In 2011, 2 men in Miami were found guilty of luring women into a human trafficking trap by advertising modeling roles. When they came to try out, they were drugged, raped and video taped. These tapes were subsequently sold to stores throughout the area.  (For more information, see this link: )

The long and short of all this is that by looking at, purchasing, and participating in pornography, one is contributing to the 97 billion dollar sex industry. Furthermore, we’re inadvertently contributing to a society that condones violent and demeaning behavior towards others, particularly women.  Marriages and relationships suffer, individuals suffer as they withdraw and isolate themselves in the shame they feel over participating in this.  Everyone suffers.

The good news is that we can all do our part to prevent and minimize this.  If you struggle, seek help. Open up about your struggle. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get on the road to recovery. You will eventually feel better for doing so, your relationships will improve and society will improve. The simple law of supply and demand will come into play and the industry can’t help but shrink as the demand goes down. But it all starts with us at an individual level and ripples out from there.

At Colorado Counseling Center we offer help both through individual therapy and through affair counseling or couples therapy.

We are eager to help whoever stands in need.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call Today: 720-468-0101


About Kevin Hales

Kevin Hales, MA, LPC offers marriage counseling as well as individual counseling for adults and teens at Colorado Counseling Center. Kevin’s clients find that he wholeheartedly devotes himself to helping them heal and move forward in life. To learn more about Kevin's counseling specialties, please visit

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