Why Don’t We Believe That Porn Influences Culture?
Even though advertising and other media clearly do
“People from an individualistic culture, that is, a culture that focuses on individual achievement and autonomy, have the greatest tendency to commit the fundamental attribution error.” (1) We want to think that we are in control of our selves and our lives and that other people are as well.
While research is not able to show causality, something no social science research can do, pornography is strongly correlated with factors widely recognized as contributors to sexual violence including defining masculinity as embodied through violence, hostile attitudes towards women, and gender inequality. Furthermore, the average age of first exposure to pornography is around 12 years of age and the pornography that is the cheapest and easiest to access contains very high rates of violence against women and promotes a degrading and dehumanizing form of sexuality for boys. Boys and men are the majority of consumers of such pornography, making it the dominant sexual framework to which boys are socialized and to which girls, as sexual partners, must respond.
And aside from quite often normalizing violence against women, porn just teaches bad sex. Thirty years of the internet ought to have closed the orgasm gap, but this is unfortunately not the case, in part because porn does not prioritize the things that lead to female orgasm. 86% of lesbian women say they always or nearly always orgasm during partnered sex, but only 39% of heterosexual women said the same, in comparison to 96% of men. (3)
The ubiquity and easy access of porn has changed how many people in our culture go about their sexual lives and we know this because:
- the continued issue of the orgasm gap, where many men have no idea how to actual pleasure a woman or even understand that they are ought to prioritize that
- the rise of expectations that are common in porn that did not exist before the internet, such as for anal sex, choking, and ejaculating onto your partner
- the rise of a transactional hook-up culture
“Many adults, who are beyond the years of sexual development and exploration and who developed their sexual identities prior to the Internet, have not encountered the new sexual scripts Internet pornography is inscribing on the sexual identities of younger people.” (4)
Yes, most people know that porn is entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not also influencing how real people have sex, including normalizing violence against women and undermining the importance of consent. Just because you don’t believe you are being influenced by advertising doesn’t mean that you aren’t. TV ads alone are a 70 Billion dollar business because it works. Porn is not really any different, particularly in the absence of balancing messages about real sex.
You are being naive if you believe otherwise.