Pornography has devastating effects on both those who create it and those who consume it.

CNS PHOTO | CHERYL RAVELO, REUTERS

Pornography has devastating effects on both those who create it and those who consume it.

September 26, 2011
MARK PATTISON
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

A recently launched campaign, War on Illegal Pornography, is maintaining that divorce, violence against women, increased sex trafficking and porn addiction are just some of the unhealthy results of pornography.

In fact, the evidence of the harmful effects of pornography is so strong that it is now difficult to get permission to do research on the subject because it is clear that those who take part in the research will be harmed by watching pornography.

One need not be exposed to porn to be degraded by it. Families where only one person watches pornography can be adversely affected, said Mary Anne Layden, a psychotherapist and researcher at the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bishop Raymond Lahey, the former bishop of Antigonish, N.S., is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in May to a charge of possession of child pornography for importation.

But the impact of pornography is not isolated to a few individuals.

Patrick Trueman, president of Morality in Media, said he sees the rate of porn addiction rising, not only among men but children as well, because their curiosity is not met with blocking software.

“Marriages are breaking up because of one spouse or the other being addicted to pornography. You’ve got violence against women increasing,” he said.

“Men are watching porn movies that are very violent and they want their wife or partner to repeat what they see in the films. There’s an increase in sexual trafficking, because as men see pornography they’re hiring prostitutes.

“Of course, many prostitutes are sexually trafficked. There are websites that feature women who will do what the consumer wants. You put in a credit card (number) and the consumer gets that film and the porn industry can sell that film as well.”

Trueman said pornography has contributed to a coarsening of society.

“Men who are involved with porn, as consumers, discard their spiritual life. They have no spiritual life. They have no family life,” Trueman said.

“Their wife doesn’t look good to them, after watching Internet pornography where the models are always young and in perfect shape with their airbrushed bodies.

“So marriages break down and fall apart.”

Layden told CNS that the harmful effects of pornography are widespread. “It depends on what negative influence you want to look at,” she said.

Among them are sex addiction, pornography addiction, connections to criminal behaviour, rape, incest, sex trafficking, domestic violence, relationship damage, marital infidelity, callous attitudes, and the impact on children either through exposure to porn or sexualized media and the ill effects of their early sexual activity.

“We’re talking about consumers at this point,” Layden said.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

“We haven’t even talked about the (sexual) partners, the performers, the individuals who are performing in pornographic activities, whether it’s video, strip clubs, the sexual exploitation industry, where sexual exploitation is what we’re selling.

“And I haven’t even named all the damage. I’m just touching the surface here.”

Layden pointed out an ironic conundrum: “The increasing amount of research that indicates that pornographic imagery is damaging makes it harder to do any research on it.

“For those of us who are in academic institutions, our research has to be cleared by an institutional review board,” she said. “You’re mandated not to hurt your subjects. . . . What institutional review board is going to give you permission to do your study?”

1984 STUDY

She pointed to a 1984 study by Dolf Zillmann and Jennings Bryant in which three groups of subjects watched four hours and 48 minutes of video.

One group saw no pornography, one group spent half of the time watching porn, and the third group watched all porn. Afterward, members of each group were asked a series of questions on issues of the day.

“They were asked questions like: How much time should a rapist spend in jail? What do you think of the women’s liberation movement? How many people do you think are having sex with animals? Group sex? Violent sex?

“People who had seen the pornography reduced their support of the women’s movement by 50 per cent,” Layden said.

In response to another question, she added, “Rapists would spend about 50 per cent less time in jail; that was true of the (porn-watching) females as well.”