For the past several years now, I have been highlighting the connections between sexual violence and pornography in presentations, radio debates and interviews, one book, and dozens of columns.
Most recently, for example, I took a look at the stomach-churning new statistics that indicate that a quarter of women in the United States feel fear during intimacy due to the threat of porn-inspired choking. It seems like every month, new evidence that pornography is silently transforming our society emerges--and very few people notice, because very few people pay attention.
So I'd like to draw your attention to an important paper published last month in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which is the official publication of the International Academy of Sex Research.
As you can imagine, this is not a conservative or Christian publication by any stretch of the imagination, and so their recent findings on the connections between sexual violence and porn use among young people cannot be dismissed by the handful of porn defenders in academia who consistently insist (with a note of shrill desperation occasionally marring their voices) that porn is actually healthy--one clueless academic even suggested that porn might make one more feminist.
The paper, titled "The Association Between Exposure to Violent Pornography and Teen Dating Violence in Grade 10 High School Students," is yet one more piece of evidence that the diet of violent pornography being consumed by the majority of teenagers today is having a profoundly poisonous impact on them.
As it turns out, watching women get degraded, abused, assaulted, and tortured is not a good way of creating healthy relationships and respect for women. In fact, the abstract of the study even points out what porn defenders have long denied--that "exposure to pornography in general has been linked with adolescent dating violence and sexual aggression."
The conclusion of the study should definitively silence those who claim that the porn epidemic among young people is harmless:
The current study examined the association of violent pornography exposure with different forms of teen dating violence (TDV) using baseline survey data from a sample of Grade 10 high school students who reported being in a dating relationship in the past year.
Gender-stratified logistic regression models generated odds ratios adjusted for demographics, substance use, history of suspension/expulsion, gender equitable attitudes, and tolerance of rape myths to identify significant associations between violent pornography exposure and self-reported physical, sexual, and threatening TDV perpetration and victimization.
Violent pornography exposure was associated with all types of TDV, though patterns differed by gender. Boys exposed to violent pornography were 2-3 times more likely to report sexual TDV perpetration and victimization and physical TDV victimization, while girls exposed to violent pornography were over 1.5 times more likely to be perpetrate threatening TDV compared to their non-exposed counterparts.
Comprehensive prevention strategies for TDV may consider the potential risks associated with exposure to violent pornography, particularly for boys, and provide an alternative source of education about healthy sexual behavior and relationships.
To summarize: teenage boys exposed to violent pornography are two to three times more likely to victimize girls, primarily through some form of sexual assault. Now consider the fact that boys have a 90% chance of being exposed to pornography before the age of 18, and that the most popular forms of porn feature horrifying violence against women and girls.
This study confirms what we've already known for years: That teenage use of pornography is directly linked to sexual assault and sexual violence. (I make that distinction because many teenagers are now experimenting with sexually violent behavior that has been mainstreamed by pornography consensually, which is another piece of evidence that indicates how profoundly pornography has began to change the way we see sexuality and relationships.)
To those of you with sons: Please, please talk to your boys about pornography. Begin a healthy conversation with them about real sexuality. To those of you with daughters: Please do the same, and also warn them about the dangers of dating boys who use pornography.