*Explicit content will be discussed in this blog* This past weekend, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Gail Dines, the author of Pornland (2010) speak at the International Institute of Trauma and Addictions Professionals annual symposium.

Dr. Gines is a sociologist, a researcher, and an activist who has spent her entire career researching the negative impact the porn industry has on youth, both boys and girls, and men and women. 

This blog is going to share some disturbing information, facts and research about the porn industry, but as Dr. Gines explained in her presentation, if we find this information disturbing, we need to think about what our 11 year old sons, grandsons and daughters and granddaughters are thinking and feeling when they are first exposed to pornography and the sexualized social media. 

Here are the facts (provided by Culturereframed.org)

  • Porn sites have more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined
  • Nearly 90% of representative scenes in top-rented and downloaded porn films have been found to contain aggression. Physical aggression including spanking, slapping, gagging occurred in over 88% of scenes. Nearly 1/2 the scenes had verbal aggression i.e., "bitch", "slut". 
  • "Teen Porn" searches have more than tripled between 2005-2013, and teen porn was the fastest-growing genre over this period. Total teen-related  porn searches reached an estimated 500,000 daily in March 2013, representing one-third of total daily searches for pornographic web sites.
  • The number one type of porn that boys as young as 11 years of age are exposed to when they are first exposed to pornography is gag porn where females are choked with a man's genitalia to the point of crying and almost vomiting (sometimes they also plug the female's nose while she is gagged); and gang rape violent porn. This is the sex education that boys and girls are seeing today. This is scary.
  • The younger the boys get to porn, the more it decreases their capacity for intimacy, the more it increases their depression and anxiety,  the more it decreases their empathy for rape victims, and the more they are likely to engage in risky sexual behavior (this is based on 40 years of research). 
  • Boys are being socialized by the porn industry to believe that to be a man, this is what they need to do to be masculine-that having sex with a female is about rape, dehumanization, and degradation. Boys who come across porn are often confused: they feel aroused, they feel shame, they don't and they think this is normal (when it isn't!).
  • Females are learning at a very young age by the media (magazines, television, social media) to be "porn ready" with the focus for females being on looks, sex, and being an object. 
  • The porn industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with a huge lobbying group called Free Speech Coalition that is set on keeping porn alive. 

This information is indeed troubling, however, some states and countries including Utah and the United Kingdom have been pro-active in taking steps to address the massive global porn epidemic. Utah recently passed legislation calling the porn epidemic a Public Health Issue. The United Kingdom has passed an "Opt-In, Opt Out" law where individuals must call to "opt into" porn viewing on the internet. 

Some pop psychologists such as Dr. David Ley continue to assert (often via junk research) that porn is not addictive nor problematic, however, the enormous amount of research speaks to the contrary. Sadly, it is common for the porn industry to pay these individuals to speak to the media in favor of their cause while disregarding the facts.

More and more teens are getting porn induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) as a result of compulsively looking at porn. The brain, after all, gets addicted to the images (pixels) on the screen and with dopamine, the "gotta get it" neurotransmitter, over-activated, the result is PIED. For teens who have not formed an arousal template to real-life males or females, it is easy for their brains to get hijacked via porn so that they can only feel aroused by looking at an image on a screen.  For more research on how porn hijacks the brain, go to yourbrainonporn.com or www.gaildines.com.

It is important to acknowledge the reality that girls and teens are also becoming addicted to pornography as well as being over-sexualized, objectified, and de-humanized as a result of the porn industry. With access, anonymity, and affordability, anyone can find porn, and many do (boys and girls especially).... often by accident.

While this information is extremely disturbing, there are things that we can all do to protect our children, teens, as well as grandchildren (this information can be found on CultureReframed.org). 

  • Create a setting that is safe and supports an open door policy so that children and teens feel comfortable talking about anything, including what they see on social media, questions about sex, cyber-bullying (many youth experience this), who they have contact with on-line (also a scary reality these days for youth with on-line solicitation by adults via video games, social media),  and porn (so children and teens know that if they stumble upon or become addicted to it they can talk about it).
  • Talk openly about how the media shapes our view of men, women, sex, violence, etc.
  • Know what is on your children and teen's screens (they don't need smart phones!)
  • Use netnanny, openDNS, or K-9 to lock your computer.
  • Have a curfew for screens; make sure what is being viewed can been seen
  • Discuss safety on the internet and privacy (don't give out information); discuss sexual health.
  • Educate yourself and family on the extent and harms of our hyper sexualized media and pornography, including how violent images are teaching our youth that sex is not about intimacy but power, control, no empathy, and violence.
  • Engage in community organizations or national organizations such as CultureReframed.Org that are working to protect youth from porn.
  • Work with the school and religious communities to educate about the impact of porn on our youth
  • If you are your youth has a problem with porn, seek help by an expert who is trained to deal with this very specialized issue (general therapists are not qualified to treat this nor are religious leaders).

I realize this blog may be triggering or overwhelming; if you feel this way, you are not alone. But there is hope and we all can do something about this serious epidemic that is impacting all of us. It takes a village but is possible. Each of us can be positive change agents together. 

To see Gail Daines Tedtalk, put the following link in your web browser (be aware that there is explicit content including language that the porn industry uses so if you have pornography  or sexual addiction, either do not watch this, or watch this with someone who knows of your addiction and who can support you in staying in recovery. This clip is useful to see what your children are seeing in the media and when they go on-line): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YpHNImNsx8

Namasté, 

Candice

 **We are a nationally recognized program that treats pornography addiction! We treat addicts and their partners; we heal families. If you are struggling with porn/sex/love addiction, we are the place for you! We are a research-based program with proven results for helping youth and adults heal longterm from porn, sex, love addiction, substance abuse issues, financial and work disorders, and trauma.

Email Cari at cari@namasteadvice for a copy of our daily gender separate relationship/sexual/substance addiction recovery groups schedule and fees, or to inquire about attendance. 

photo by:govexec.com