For the past few years, I have been speaking and writing about the dangers of pornography. Although I have read dozens of books about the effects of porn, I recently heard Matt Fradd discuss it on Unbelievable? radio and decided to pick up a copy of his recent book: The Porn Myth: Exposing the Reality Behind the Fantasy of Pornography. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. In fact, it’s now my top recommendation for a book of its kind.
Without using Scripture or religious argumentation, and relying upon dozens of recent studies, Fradd makes the case that porn is damaging to individuals, relationships, and society as a whole. He is not out to censor porn, but to educate people so they can live more healthy sexual lives.
Fradd deconstructs twenty-four popular myths about porn. In this post, I will simply list seven of the most common myths, and then provide quotes from his book in response. Obviously, if you want further support for these points, you will need to get the book.
Myth 1: "Porn celebrates sex."
Pornography is as much a celebration of sex as gluttony is a celebration of food. In both instances, that which should be appreciated isn’t appreciated at all but is twisted into something unhealthy and dangerous. By placing sex—any kind of sex—into the medium of pornography. we gorge the masses on industrialized, commodified sexuality. This does not celebrate sex at all. It cheapens it (39).
Myth 2: “Porn is for mature adults.”
Which activity sounds more “mature” and grown-up: making love for a lifetime to one real flesh-and-blood woman whom you are eagerly serving and cherishing, despite all her faults and blemishes (and despite your own), or sneaking away at night to troll the Internet, flipping from image to image, from one thirty-second teaser to another, for hours on end, pleasuring yourself as you bond to pixels on a screen? (35)
Myth 3: “Porn viewing is a selfless act.”
In bonding with a real person in the act of sex, there is at least the potential to treat sex as a self-gift to another, not merely as a selfish act (27).
Myth 4: “Porn doesn’t affect people.”
Pornography doesn’t ramp up a man’s sex drive; it discourages empathy…Porn shapes a person’s concept of beauty…overexposure to erotic stimuli actually exhausts a healthy young man’s sexual responses—making him, in a sense, impotent without the use of fantasy (45-46).
Myth 5: “Porn and art are the same.”
The word “pornography” contains the Greek word porne, meaning “prostitution” or “prostitute.” Like prostitution, pornography a specified desired end: sexual stimulation in order to produce a completed sexual act. True art is not produced for this purpose, to substitute for a prostitute (51).
Myth 6: “People who look at porn aren’t contributing to the porn industry.”
By merely browsing porn sites, spending hours on end racking up page views, you are contributing to porn’s profits. For many of the pages you visit, cost-per-impression advertisers are padding porn’s deep pockets. The more you add to a website’s popularity, the more money porn companies make (90).
Myth 7: “There is no connection between porn and sexual slavery.”
Porn is marketing for sex trafficking in two powerful ways. First, it serves as direct online and offline marketing as pornographers use pornographic images to draw buyers. Second, porn has an influence on the culture at large, whetting men’s appetites for sex that few women are willing to give—unless they are paid or forced (114).
Myth 8: “Marriage will cure porn addiction.”
Married life no more cures a porn addiction than winning the lottery cures a gambling addiction…Pornography displays extramarital sex as exciting, and that display can lead the viewer to accept extramarital sex as normal…Pornography makes one feel that extramarital sex, or sex outside of a committed relationship, is acceptable (143).
Note: I fully realize that I am not adequately defending each of these premises in this post. If you want to see further documentation and argumentation, check out The Porn Myth.