“Sex sells” is a phrase I’m sure you’ve heard at least once. Through advertising campaigns, multiple different industries and brands market sex with the goal to sell products. Hypersexualized commercials, ads, TV shows, and movies are a direct result of this tactic. However, the true origin of the statement is derived directly from the adult entertainment industry, which has amassed globally into a 47670.92 million dollar market size. Seemingly talked about exclusively behind closed doors, pornography is without a doubt a controversial topic. With little to no discussion about adult entertainment or the repercussions of it, what could the industry try to be hiding? What is the truth about pornography and the potential effects it can have?
The question is steep, and the answer isn’t exactly an easy one to answer. Although several sources have reported the negative impact porn can have on individuals and society at large. It’s a stigmatized taboo subject despite the alarming static that 40 million Americans regularly visit porn websites. There are various reasons for the lack of discussion in mainstream media about porn, especially the exploitation in the industry. Behind the scenes, with no cameras rolling, the truth is jarring and the practices are unethical, to say the least. Managers and production companies prey upon young vulnerable women, promising a successful career and lavish lifestyle. However, many porn stars endure sexual assault and abuse at the hands of these agencies, a much less glamorous lifestyle than what was packaged and presented to them.
In recent years ex-porn actress, Mia Khalifa, has opened up about her experiences in the industry, in an effort to be transparent about the dark truth of this career. In a recent interview, she was candid and spoke out against porn companies stating, “… the age to go into the industry should not be 18. You’re putting contracts in front of 18-year-old girls, that have the words in perpetuity on them, do you know how dangerous and predatory that is?” The reality of the matter is these corporations are concerned with one, making money. There is a complete lack of regard for its employees and the dangerous environment cultivated in these settings. The power imbalances in this business are alarming and further perpetuate predatory and grooming behaviors. In 2020, Ron Jeremy, an adult film star, was arrested on more than 30 counts of sexual assault, including rape involving a minor. These accounts took place in a 20-year span further indicating the treatment of women in adult entertainment is horrific.
While the industry at large is flawed and unethical, viewing porn in a large capacity could be just as damaging. However, research on pornography in all aspects isn’t as conclusive as one might think. Regardless, there is enough evidence reporting the negative long-term effects viewing erotica can have on an individual. Themes and storylines portrayed in various porn scenes often mimic harmful and suggestive sexual behavior. Resulting in the normalizing of rape culture, degradation of women, and abusive sexual intercourse. This coincides with the unrealistic expectations porn has set in regard to sex. Pornography should never be used as a “how to” manual considering the lack of sexual education shown on screen. Porn viewers, specifically males, fail to recognize the performative nature of these films, thus gaining false narratives about sex.
Pornography has been linked to unhappy and unhealthy relationships. Over time porn can desensitize an individual’s brain, thus lowering sexual satisfaction with their partner. Making it more difficult to enjoy sex with a partner can harm a relationship and lead to separation. While opinions on porn will differ based on personal morals and values, many consider porn as infidelity and disrespectful towards a romantic partner. In more extreme cases an excess of porn can slowly lend itself to addiction, seriously harming an individual mental health.
Porn is ingrained in Western culture through media outlets and isn’t going away anytime soon. In recent years, the website Onlyfans has gained popularity further, making porn more accessible to internet users. Trying to convince an entire generation to completely stop viewing pornography is naive and not entirely necessary, but having awareness about the industry and its implications is important. While different sources will propose different outcomes on this topic, it’s best to further your personal knowledge. Participating in open and honest conversations regarding sex and adult entertainment is a promising start to raising more awareness of the impacts this industry can have.