React, Respect, Intersect (Mural) © by nycstreets

The people, especially the women, in pornography are hypersexualized, uninhibited, and all about “fun.”  They enjoy whatever you want them to enjoy, even things very few real women would tolerate, let alone enjoy; they are constantly carefree, undemanding, and eager to please, with no feelings, preferences, and needs of their own.  You can treat them any way you want and they just keep obligingly performing.  Obviously this cannot be real; no real person can- or would want to- be that way!

Real partners generally have to be treated with respect and consideration.  They will have physical, emotional, and mental needs, and they will have feelings, moods, and whims.  Real people have wants, dreams, and inhibitions, and relationships with real people require compromise, work, and sacrifice; such relationships will inevitably involve conflict and stress.

This is usually cited as a common cause of affairs; the “other woman” seems fun and stress-free.  Generally, she doesn’t want to discuss the new guest room curtains, worry about the kids, or complain about her bad day at work.  She also comes with all the energy of a new “love” and none of the inevitable stresses, conflicts, and emotional baggage of even a very happy long-term relationship.  The result seems exciting and appealing, just like the fantasy people in pornography.  Of course, statistics show that relationships that begin this way seldom last, because any relationship eventually requires some compromise, some stress, and some accommodation of another person’s feelings and needs.  Porn seems to promise the fun-girl fantasy without even the minimal demands of the “other woman.”

That is what producers of pornography are marketing, even more than physical attractiveness.  They’re selling this idea of a constantly willing, purely sexual, no-strings-attached fantasy partner who offers easy gratification with no need to woo or court, no need to deal with the complexities of a relationship, and no need to respect another person’s needs or wishes.  Pornography sells the idea of people who can be treated as playthings- as objects- rather than as people.

Unfortunately, no matter how much some people try to justify these depictions as harmless “fun”, research indicates that, much like consumption of images which set unrealistic standards for physical attractiveness, images which objectify people can shape how you perceive and relate to real-life partners.

Studies show that if you watch enough porn (how much is “enough” varies from person to person), you are more likely to start expecting real women to think and behave like the fantasy sex objects on your screen, and you are more likely to start treating them that way.  A 2008 survey published in the Journal of Sex Research found that female partners of porn users were likely to report feeling pressure from their partners to perform acts shown on the pornographic sites their partners viewed.  Most of the women surveyed understandably expressed negative feelings about that.

All of the media we consume, whether it is pornography or a network television show, contains messages, lessons, and ideas.  Some of these concepts are put there deliberately to help sell a product or service, and others are there because they tend to make popular movies and shows.  We owe it to ourselves and our mental and emotional well-being to be selective about the media we consume, and to be aware of its messages and think about them critically.

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