Where’s the Harm in Watching Porn?

It is sometimes argued that porn helps some adults with a low libido become more sexually aroused, and also that with some people it reduces anxiety and even adds spice and novelty to their sex life with their partner. However, such ideas perhaps need to be treated with caution, given the wide continuum of what is nowadays considered as porn: from the soft porn of striptease to the hard porn of brutal violent sex.

Today, with a few clicks on the internet, a lot of pornography in the form of photos and videos is available to watch for free. Many social conservatives see pornography as an inherent social evil. But can there be any harm in watching it as sexual entertainment?

Childhood
Children find it easy to access porn: age of first exposure is getting younger as they learn to browse the internet. One concern is that the innocence of childhood is taken away prematurely by watching arousing sexual scenes.

Another concern is about what the individual child learns to find erotic. You see something, and it stays with you. You can never erase it from memory. The question is asked whether patterns of early sexual arousal might tend to stick for life? Can scenes that children are exposed to affect the way they see themselves in later sexual roles? Does it lead them to believe they should behave in this way in order to social conform and be seen as cool.

The love ideology
A roving sexual appetite can be regarded as a natural ‘wired’ state of particularly the male mind. Porn tends to be created from a male perspective and so the men have only one thing on their minds, and the women are there solely to satisfy the men’s needs. Does this not make men more prone to see women as sex objects? Women are regularly portrayed as ready, willing, and able to do whatever the man might choose. Teenage boys accept this more or less uncritically. This means no thought is given to the sexual pleasure of the female partner. Women can also be drawn into porn where it indulges and adds to their own sexual fantasies.

A concern about people watching sex without the emotional involvement of the sexual partners, is that one sees sex not as a wonderful expression of love but as a natural pleasure divorced from its spiritual dimension. Swedish sex researchers Lofgren-Martenson, L. and S. S.A. Mansson found that most teenage girls embrace what the researchers call “the love ideology” — the idea that love legitimates sex. These teenage girls disapproved of porn because it represents sex without the emotional involvement of a loving relationship.

Porn may “facilitate orgasm but it can also leave the individual feeling empty and disconnected afterwards.” (clinical psychologist, Leon F. Seltzer).

According to spiritual philosopher, Emanuel Swedenborg, if a man grows spiritually there is a change in his male attitude. As he forms an exclusive relationship with a woman, love of sex is transformed into love of one of the sex. Mature love means concern for the pleasure of the partner as well as one’s own. In this way the erotic delight of both is increased.

Swedenborg maintains that as adults we all have an innocence to us — the innocent child in us — and once sullied it is damaging to our spiritual health. Those watching hard core porn seem to require more and more extreme scenes to arouse and satisfy their erotic desire. They are becoming sex addicts. Has not the sex addict a lessened ability to forge a deeper union with someone else?

The mature sexual relationship

Swedenborg writes that a spiritual attitude is a deep desire for a one to one relationship. It involves not wanting to hurt your partner by having sexual activity outside the partnership or by fantasizing about such behaviour.

In his book Conjugial Love he maintains that a person’s love and respect for a lasting partnership, can become more and more purified. He also says that purification takes place to the extent that people stay away from what is impure. There was no widespread pornography when he wrote in the eighteenth century but he said this impurity includes not only infidelity and loose sexual conduct but also things like smutty thoughts about someone. The more “chaste” our thoughts and intentions are, the more we are led by the Spirit towards happiness in an enduring relationship. In other words impure sexual thoughts are perversions of the chaste attitude of conjugial love.

Conclusion
The internet is revealing that life is more fascinating than we had ever imagined. However, it also seems it is uglier in the real world than many of us realised.

Why not ask the lawmakers to ensure that internet feeds are porn-free unless adults, who are free to choose for themselves, specifically request it. Sign in rather than sign out. It might be argued that the internet is uncontrollable. But Iceland’s government are hoping to do something. Perhaps where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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