The Deadly Cycle of Porn

On May 7th, Arizona became yet another state to recognize the dangers of pornography, passing a resolution that defines it as a public health crisis. Although the resolution did pass, there are many dissenting voices decrying the resolution’s purpose. Some indicate there is no strength to it, while others believe that issues such as opioid addiction and suicide are more important – failing to realize the possible connection between these issues.

Pornography as a Destructive Behavior

While the connection between destructive behaviors such as opioid addiction and porn might not have many studies at present, there is overwhelming evidence to show the relationship between pornography and other destructive behaviors is real. For instance, porn is inextricably linked to sex trafficking, violence, addiction, sexual dysfunction, and possibly brain damage. Addressing each of these areas is beyond the scope of this article since our focus is trafficking. However, a quick internet search of any of these topics will result in numerous scholarly articles that can help the reader understand the gravity of this addictive drug.

For those interested in ending human trafficking, the question quickly becomes: “Does pornography cause sex trafficking, and if so, how?” The answer to this question has become increasingly clear as more information is gathered on this topic. In fact, it is a fairly simple conclusion to draw as one begins to follow the logical trail from pornography to human sex trafficking.

According to neuroscience, pornography is not only addictive but in such a way that surpasses actual sexual intercourse with a partner. Engaging in sexual behavior activates the same areas of the brain used by addictive drugs, with internet porn being a “supernormal stimulus of this circuitry”. Eventually, the addict prefers porn to partnered sex and realizes that what originally stimulated them is no longer strong enough – much like the use of regular, addictive drugs. The end result is obvious: the more one participates in porn, the more one needs porn; the more one becomes immune to it, and consequently, the more one needs harder porn. This unfortunate circle means there is a demand not only for more pornography but for “harder” more violent and perverse forms of it.

Violence is a common thread that winds its way throughout this issue. Because sexual films exhibit a good deal of violence towards women, many consumers begin to believe that women enjoy sexual assault, changing viewpoints on women and sexual violence towards them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, studies have found that men who commit rape are six times more likely to watch violent porn. In her book Slave Girl, Sarah Forsyth recounts how she was tricked into sexual slavery in Amsterdam. In addition to working in the brothels, she was also required to participate in violent, sexual films. In one instance, one of the girls with whom she shared her prison was violently raped alongside her for a film. The end result for her cellmate was a bullet which took off much of her head. This was all part of the movie. She explains that many men were so conditioned to the vilest types of porn that her bosses had to become more and more gruesome to provide sexual release.

Does Pornography Cause Sex Trafficking?

If pornography affects brain function, is highly addictive, increases violence, and requires increased levels of aggressiveness to trigger consumers, it seems an obvious conclusion that it would increase sex trafficking. First, the need for greater consumption increases demand. Second, women are often tricked and trapped into porn films, such as Sarah Forsyth. Third, a woman becomes objectified and the client believes she “enjoys” the violence perpetrated against her. Harvard law school professor Catherin Mackinnon states: “consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex [which]…creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen”.  Again, demand is created, and violence against women is enjoyed, which makes trafficking a simple means to an end.

Put into simpler, more economic terms: demand increases supply – consensual or not. Brain addiction requires more stimulation to reach satisfaction. Violent images are supplied to reach that stimulation as perpetrated against women who are forced to “enjoy” the humiliation. Consequently, the user has no qualms about perpetuating sex trafficking against women to reach his end goals.

The use of pornography is an unfortunate epidemic that is leaving a large portion of our society in the hands of an addiction that is destroying lives, families, and self-esteem. Its results have enslaved women and in many cases rolled back generational successes for women’s equality as many change their perceptions on violence against women. While governments quibble on various sides of the debate, counter-trafficking advocates struggle to fight this scourge to end the violence.

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