The problem with porn

Pornography. Not a word you hear all that often.

Last week, my good friend and fellow editor wrote an editorial that dropped the “P-word.” I cannot say I was a fan of the way he used it, but I do give him credit for one thing: he acknowledged something that is a reality in many of our lives, a reality that we don’t often put a word to.

People’s attitudes toward pornography are wide-ranging. For some, it is part of their daily routine. In fact, it may have been a part of their routine since they were in grade school. At the same time, I am pretty sure there are people on campus who don’t know how easy it is to find or don’t know that those “Chive On” stickers are directing them to a pretty raunchy website (I’ll pass on “hump day”).

In recent years, there have been organizations working to “dubunk” some myths about pornography. And, no, these organizations aren’t run by conservative moms. In fact, there is a growing number of young people who are saying “no” to the culture of pornography.

So what are some of these myths that are being debunked?

First, it turns out porn isn’t as harmless as we want it to be. Yes, it shows (most often) women in degrading situations. Yes, it teaches women (and men) that their worth is based off their sex appeal or their ability to give pleasure to another person.

But there is a more sinister way that porn is just downright harmful. Porn changes the way that the brain is wired. Porn is addictive. You might even know that first-hand. Just like other addictive substances, porn floods the brain with those feel-good hormones. The more you flood your brain with dopamine, the more stimulation you need to get the same effects. Think of it in terms of drinking. You develop a high tolerance for porn. The result? You need more porn or more hardcore porn to get the same effects.

Another myth? That only men look at porn. A recent German sex study shows that as many as 17 percent of women consider themselves addicted to porn. Porn is highly addictive no matter who is looking at it, man or woman. Unfortunately, the assumption that only men look at porn makes many women feel isolated or ashamed.

Finally, there is that good ole’ myth that looking at porn is totally normal, that everyone does it. Our pop culture seems to think that everyone is plopping down to look at porn every day after school. This is especially true for men. Apparently, in our society, being a man means getting it on with yourself while staring at a computer screen. To each his own, I suppose. But it turns out there are plenty of twentysomethings who don’t need to grab their laptop to feel good.

It’s about time we start talking about porn. It’s about time we stop making assumptions about what is normal.

Maybe, next time you sit down at the computer, instead of going off to do your thing, try hopping onto FightTheNewDrug.Org

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