Over the last several years, as the EFC has researched, consulted and networked broadly on prostitution and human trafficking, we realized that these issues are part of a tangled web – a web that includes pornography. You just can’t dig very deeply into any one of these areas without bumping into the others. They’re all interconnected.
Pornography feeds the demand for paid sex and normalizes sexual exploitation. But beyond that, there’s a wealth of research that shows some serious public health impacts associated with pornography – especially internet porn. Among these are the links between the use of internet porn and sexual violence, especially when it’s viewed at younger ages. Viewing violent, degrading pornography shapes and influences what youth – boys and girls – see as acceptable sexual behaviours and attitudes.
Pornography today is far more violent and degrading than it was in the past. What is now mainstream in pornography is aggressive, violent and dehumanizing. The themes of dominating and humiliating women are common, and much of what is out there is steeped in hatred for women.
And it has never before been so readily accessible to children or adults. The internet feeds it into our homes and to our mobile devices 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in ever more violent and degrading forms. Today pornography is actually more difficult to avoid than it is to access.
But what pornography teaches about relationships and sexuality is dishonest, inaccurate and harmful. It teaches that sex is detached from intimacy, love, mutuality or respect. That it is impersonal and adversarial. So much of what is available at the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger teaches that violence in sex is normal and desirable.