Pornography, the Relationship Breaker

This is an excerpt of the testimony on the effects of pornography given before a U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Nov. 9, 2005, by Jill Manning, a sociologist at Brigham Young University.

Since the advent of the Internet, the pornography industry has profited from an unprecedented proximity to the home, work and school environments. Consequently, couples, families, and individuals of all ages are being impacted by pornography in new and often devastating ways. …

Leading experts in the field of sexual addictions contend online sexual activity is “a hidden public health hazard exploding, in part because very few are recognizing it as such or taking it seriously.”

This testimony is not rooted in anecdotal accounts or personal views, but rather in findings from studies published in peer-reviewed research journals. I have submitted a review of this research to the Committee, and request that it be included in the record.

The marital relationship is a logical point of impact to examine because it is the foundational family unit and a sexual union easily destabilized by sexual influences outside the marital contract. Moreover, research indicates the majority of Internet users are married and the majority seeking help for problematic sexual behavior online are married, heterosexual males. The research indicates pornography consumption is associated with the following six trends, among others:

1. Increased marital distress, and risk of separation and divorce,

2. Decreased marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction,

3. Infidelity

4. Increased appetite for more graphic types of pornography and sexual activity associated with abusive, illegal or unsafe practices,

5. Devaluation of monogamy, marriage and child rearing,

6. An increasing number of people struggling with compulsive and addictive sexual behavior.

When a child lives in a home where an adult is consuming pornography, he or she encounters the following four risks:

1. Decreased parental time and attention

2. Increased risk of encountering pornographic material

3. Increased risk of parental separation and divorce and

4. Increased risk of parental job loss and financial strain

When a child or adolescent is directly exposed the following effects have been documented:

1. Lasting negative or traumatic emotional responses,

2. Earlier onset of first sexual intercourse, thereby increasing the risk of STD’s over the lifespan,

3. The belief that superior sexual satisfaction is attainable without having affection for one’s partner, thereby reinforcing the commoditization of sex and the objectification of humans.

4. The belief that being married or having a family are unattractive prospects;

5. Increased risk for developing sexual compulsions and addictive behavior,

6. Increased risk of exposure to incorrect information about human sexuality long before a minor is able to contextualize this information in ways an adult brain could.

7. And, overestimating the prevalence of less common practices (e.g., group sex, bestiality, or sadomasochistic activity).

Because the United States is ranked among the top producers and consumers of pornography globally, the federal government has a unique opportunity to take a lead in addressing this issue and the related harm.

This leadership could unfold in a variety of ways. For example, through:

• Educating the public about the risks of pornography consumption,

• Supporting research that examines aspects of Internet pornography currently unknown,

• Allocating resources to enforce laws already in place, and lastly,

• Legally implement technological solutions that separate Internet content, allowing consumers to choose the type of legal content they wish to have access to.

In closing, I am convinced Internet pornography is grooming young generations of Americans in such a way that their chances of enjoying healthy and enduring relationships are handicapped. I hope this committee will carefully consider measures to reduce the harm associated with Internet pornography.

I thank the Committee for this opportunity to testify and welcome your questions at this time.

Source: Morality in Media