Graphic by Tyler Spinosa

Men have a particularly vocal affinity for consuming pornography. I remember being way too young to legally watch pornography and holding it in high regard — along with a majority of my peers — because it played directly into the unchecked primal fantasies of our hormonal development. 

It makes sense that adolescents are such avid fans. But even at this age, I feel as though there is a general consensus among men that there is almost nothing wrong with consuming pornography. 

Concerns over porn addiction have certainly received coverage across various platforms. However, the opinion that pornography is an inherently negative thing to view is not really given much credence.

The idea that it is like any vice and can be abused is out there, but I think that most people believe that they do not fall into the category of someone who abuses it. Like other addictions, there is a belief “That won’t happen to me.” However, consuming porn in the most minimal sense is still pretty damaging, or at least more damaging than some men would like to admit. 

It is an immediate dopamine hit that can be accessed on any device with connection to the internet. Unlike drugs, where you might have to travel to a place, know the right bartender and pay handsomely, this is relatively available whenever you feel like indulging. 

Not only does it have gruesome effects on your dopamine receptors, it also leaves you with a distorted perception of sex and relationships. Pornography is to real sex what action movies are to real life. Not only is the act of sex completely misrepresented, the way human beings look is equally distorted. 

Before the internet provided people with near unlimited access to every type of pornographic material under the sun, Playboy and Hustler were the standard. While Hustler was decidedly more obscene than Playboy, the things you could look at in a magazine were vastly different from what you can casually encounter on the internet.

At the time, it was enough for people to look at naked men or women and have that be sufficient. But, the greater access that is provided by the internet has upped the ante of what people see during standard visits to a pornographic website. Videos existed before the internet came into play, but you had to actually visit a store to rent or buy a film. 

The way the bar has been raised on what is viewed as the standard, and the ease of access to people who are not of legal age, has resulted in a mass desensitization and a warped view of the dangers of this particular vice. Pointing out the potential dangers is often associated with those who are overestimating the severity of those problems. While it is up to parents to moderate what their children do, and up to the individual to have self-control, there is not enough of a conversation about how this is affecting us in a negative way. 

As much as it may be fun to some degree, it doesn’t have any practical purpose. It distorts the perception of sex and the goal of human interaction, creates dopamine imbalances and is an industry that is more than a little exploitative of the people involved. 

In fairness, I think there are men and women who can not only perform in pornographic movies, but view them regularly and still live healthy lives. Nonetheless, the potential for abuse makes it something we should be more wary of — it might be better to just avoid in general. If you are an avid viewer of porn, try to fantasize about sex without watching any and see how difficult it is to use your imagination. 

After a while it becomes a crutch, an addiction and a problem that not enough people are willing to recognize. I don’t think it needs to be abolished, but at the very least it needs to be acknowledged for how potentially damaging it really is.