Pure Intimacy: God's Design for Sex


Subtle Dangers of Pornography

Pornography poses myriad dangers worth considering.

by National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families

Ted Bundy confessed before he was executed for multiple murders that addiction to pornography fueled his violent behavior. Many viewers of pornography claim that occasional viewing of nudity will not turn them into serial killers. True, only a small percentage of individuals who view pornography develop addictions that lead them to violent behavior. Pornography, however, does pose subtle dangers worth considering.

In his book, The Centerfold Syndrome, psychologist Gary R. Brooks, Ph.D., identifies five principal symptoms of what he describes as a “pervasive disorder” linked to consumption of soft-core pornography like Playboy and Penthouse.

Voyeurism - An obsession with looking at women rather than interacting with them. Brooks contends that the explosion in glorification and objectification of women’s bodies promotes unreal images of women, distorts physical reality, creates an obsession with visual stimulation and trivializes all other mature features of a healthy psychosexual relationship.

Objectification - An attitude in which women are objects rated by size, shape and harmony of body parts. Brooks asserts that if a man spends most of his emotional energy on sexual fantasies about inaccessible people, he frequently will not be available for even the most intimate emotional and sexual moments with his partner.

Validation - The need to validate masculinity through beautiful women. According to Brooks, the women who meet centerfold standards only retain their power as along as they maintain perfect bodies and the leverage of mystery and unavailability. And the great majority of men who never come close to sex with their dream woman are left feeling cheated or unmanly.

Trophyism - The idea that beautiful women are collectibles who show the world who a man is. Brooks asserts that the women’s-bodies-as-trophies mentality, damaging enough in adolescence, becomes even more destructive in adulthood. Furthermore, trophies, once they are won, are supposed to become the property of the winner, a permanent physical symbol of accomplishment and worthiness. This cannot be so with women’s bodies.

Fear of true intimacy - Inability to relate to women in an honest and intimate way despite deep loneliness. Pornography pays scant attention to men’s needs for sensuality and intimacy while exalting their sexual needs. Thus, some men develop a preoccupation with sexuality, which powerfully handicaps their capacity for emotionally intimate relationships with men and for nonsexual relationships with women.

A few things to think about

  • Professors Dolf Zillman of Indiana University and Jennings Bryant of the University of Houston found that repeated exposure to pornography results in a decreased satisfaction with one’s sexual partner, with the partner’s sexuality, with the partner’s sexual curiosity, a decrease in the valuation of faithfulness and a major increase in the importance of sex without attachment.
  • A study conducted by Dr. Reo Christensen of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, found that pornography leaves the impression with its viewers that sex has no relationship to privacy; that it is unrelated to love, commitment or marriage; that bizarre forms of sex are the most gratifying; that sex with animals has an especially desirable flavor; and that irresponsible sex has no adverse consequences.
  • According to the book Media, Children, and the Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, and Clinical Perspectives, research has shown that sexual arousal and accompanying excitedness diminish with repeated exposure to sexual scenes. As exposure to commonly shown sexual activities leaves consumers relatively unexcited, they are likely to seek out pornography that features novel and potentially less common sexual acts.
  • In addition, in a series of studies, researchers observed numerous persistent changes in perceptions concerning sexuality and sexual behavior after repeated exposing (i.e., six 1-hours weekly sessions) volunteers to pornography. These include the trivialization of rape as a criminal offense, exaggerated perceptions of the prevalence of most sexual practices, increased callousness toward female sexuality and concerns, dissatisfaction with sexual relationships and diminished caring for and trust in intimate partners.
  • In the book Back From Betrayal, author Jennifer P. Schneider, M.D., asserts that for some dissatisfied people, fantasizing about affairs is the first step to a real affair. She suggests that the fantasization process occupies such a large part of a person’s inner world that little energy is left for the marital relationship.
  • According to Francine Klagsbrun, author of Married People: Staying Together in the Age of Divorce, the reason marriage provides the greatest possibility for intimacy is because marriage is predicated on the idea of exclusivity. And one of the differences between marriage and other friendships is the importance of exclusivity.
  • In the book, Men Confront Pornography, Michael S. Kimmel maintains that pornography is one of the major sources of sexual information that young males have about sexuality and is therefore the central mechanism by which their sexuality has been constructed. “Men can no longer hide behind pornography as harmless fun.”

NCPCF in Action Special Report, July 1997. Published by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. Copyright © 1997 by the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. All rights reserved. Used by permission.