Pornography Cannot Become Just Another Political Issue

When I’m up with the dogs at 5:30 a.m., letting my wife sleep an extra hour because she has to head for a job outside the house and I have a leeway in catching a nap if need-be, I’ll browse headlines in the Google News feed. I rarely ever read stories unless it’s good news, but an article on pornography was featured today and I’m not sure what to think.

I stopped reading halfway through to be honest because there wasn’t a ton of substance to it. Essentially it said that there are a small handful of Republican members of Congress who have been making waves about doing “something” about pornography. It talked about how this issue was more one of the radical liberals in the 1970s and 80s, but seems to have evolved as the other side’s cause in recent years.

Most of you know my stance on the pornography industry. You can’t fight it. Much like prohibition, it would be destined to fail. And unless it involves children or animals, porn may be immoral or unhealthy, but it’s not illegal. I don’t want the government defining what is or isn’t pornography. That’s not its role. Pornographic magazines are failing not because of any government interference. They’re dying because print media as a whole is collapsing. Let the market define its needs.

I would like to see an embrace of some kind of health curriculum in schools that makes basic pornography addiction education mandatory. A middle school teacher could literally spend only 30 minutes on it in one class per semester and I believe it could change a generation. If Congress is willing to pony up the money for that, I don’t care if it’s a Republican or Democrat; it’s a bill I can get behind.

As an ex-journalist, my former life before recovery was consumed with news and like almost everybody with access to social media, I didn’t mind sharing my opinions on whatever the topic of the day was. I think that was done far more to see myself pontificate and get like-minded people to tell me how right I was vs. truly changing anyone’s mind.

In recovery, I largely limit myself to headlines and stay off all social media except LinkedIn. I suppose I have my website to expound on issues, but it’s still 97% politics-free. I do this because despite my disconnect, which has moved me even further into the middle of the political spectrum, it has certainly not been lost on me that this country is divided more than anytime I can remember.

Now, it doesn’t worry me too much. As a student of history, this is a cyclical occurrence, not an anomaly. If you think politics seems bad now, go read the Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow upon which the musical was based. That was a disgusting, divided time that makes today seem much more civil. I guess it can and may get worse, but I don’t worry about it bouncing back eventually.

Unfortunately, the issues of pornography, pornography addiction and pornography addiction education are coming along during this time of people dividing into little tribes and circling the wagons. I’ve mentioned this before, and I think most people truly in the middle agree, but there’s very little difference between the two political parties except for the small details. Both sides act completely boorish, make unintelligible statements, pander to their base and are far more about power than figuring out solutions. You’ll know if you’re one of these people if you immediately thought, “That’s not me! That’s the other side!” Sorry, buddy, it’s also you.

I’m concerned that if conservatives take up this cause right now, liberals will fight it simply because they feel they’re supposed to fight whatever conservatives want. Similarly, if the liberals were to take up porn, whatever position they took would be opposed by the conservatives not because of facts, but because that’s just the way things are done today.

I know I have people from both sides of the aisle who read my articles, and plenty of folks in the middle, too. I urge you, do not make whatever fight against pornography that may be on the horizon a political one. I know that’s easier said than done, but there are some issues that should bridge the political gap.

Do not let your party affiliation dictate your stance on pornography and if you’re active in your political community (boy, I don’t miss those days) be a voice of reason. If your side is for it, reach out to the other side. They’re probably not against it – just against the idea of agreeing with you. If your side is against it, explain to your brethren why this may be an issue that needs partisan walls to come down. And let’s be honest, you don’t want to be on the side that is trying to frame the argument pornography is not a problem. There’s far too much data against that position…although facts and data just don’t mean what they once did.

This cannot turn into just another political issue. It’s too important.

 

The One Thought That Won’t Leave You Today

Ok I warned you, it’s not just a clickbait headline.

Set a 10-minute timer on your phone, then come back to this…

In the time you were away, there’s a 12-year-old kid with internet access somewhere who has just seen more hardcore sex acts than his ancestors did in their entire lifetime.

Have a good day.

Scary, scary statistics: Trying to Explain the Amount of Porn on the Internet

Since the New England Patriots are in their bye week, which means I won’t be getting my weekend fill of statistical data to analyze, I thought it would be a good time for the monthly alarming porn statistics feature, and I found some especially crazy numbers this time around.

We all know that as far as information repository, the Internet is huge, but much like outer space, we don’t think about how huge because we just don’t utilize numbers that big in our everyday life. Also, just like space, we know it’s constantly growing, but rarely stop to recognize how quickly this thing is expanding.

These statistics come from a compendium released by Josh McDowell Ministry in 2018. The executive summary of the report is available via PDF if you click HERE.

Over the last 20 years, how has Internet pornography grown?

1998 – 14 million pages
2003 – 260 million pages
2010 – 500 million pages
2012 – 980 million pages
2018 – 2.3 billion pages

What’s really the difference between 2.3 billion and 14 million? It’s 164 times bigger. With the exception of social media, I couldn’t find any industry that has grown that much in 20 years. In 2018, the world population passed 7.5 billion. Basically, that means there is a page of pornography on the Internet for every third person on this planet.

Imagine if there was one place to buy alcohol in the city you live in currently. Then you move away for 20 years and come back. Suddenly there are 164 places. What conclusions would reach about the last two decades?

This report tries to drive home just how much porn 2.3 billion pages truly is:

It’s 3,110,400,000 gigabytes. Again, too big, right? What does that really look like? I did some math. If you took the average $5 32-megabyte flash drive, you’d need about 105 billion of those flash drives. Still too big?

Maybe it can be simplified. If you printed out each web page onto a typical sheet of paper, it would result in 201 trillion pieces of paper. If you asked someone to count those pages, it would take over 100 million years. Birds were just starting to emerge as a thriving species of animal 100 million years ago. Still too big?

Here’s an easier way to think about it. Remember those 4-drawer filing cabinets that you’d see in your teacher’s classroom or at the doctor’s office before everything went digital. Well, if you put those pieces of paper that you printed out the pornographic Internet onto in 2018, you’d be able to fill 20.1 billion of those cabinets. Wait, that’s still too big.

That really didn’t help. Maybe I can explain it.

Time to try to figure out how to explain this on my own. According to Google, the average tree (whatever that means) can be harvested for 15,000 sheets of paper. Doing that math, you’d need to harvest 13.4 billion trees to print out the pornographic Internet. There are 6.5 billion trees in New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island), the heaviest forested region of the United States. The pornographic Internet could kill them all twice….plus still need enough paper to kill all of New York City’s trees 80 times.

OK, I failed. I can’t explain it. I can’t put into our normal everyday terms just how much pornography is on the Internet in a way we can easily digest it. But then again, maybe we’re not supposed to be able to fathom its largeness. Maybe that should be the red flag that finally causes society to stop and not only ask why is Internet pornography so vast, but what is it doing to people?

I don’t have all the answers. I barely have any ideas. But I think these numbers need to be known by everybody.

 

 

It’s Time to Admit the Reasons We Tell People to Stay Away From Porn Aren’t Working

I use Einstein’s definition of insanity too many times on this blog because it explain the frustration I feel with a lot of people’s attitudes and actions toward pornography and pornography addiction. I’ve never made my fight against pornography itself because I think it diverts attention from education, but it seems a correlation could be made if people were effectively dissuaded from using pornography, there would be less pornography addicts.

The problem is that our current list of reasons for urging people to stay away from pornography are ineffective. I’m not saying that they aren’t valid reasons – they almost always are. They aren’t scare tactics, which don’t play well with most, but well-reasoned rationalizations for putting down the porn. And none of them work.

I recall about 15 years ago, fast food restaurants were forced to put the calorie content on all of their menus by the FDA, with the belief if we only knew how bad it was for us, we’d stop. Yeah, that didn’t work. People knew fast food wasn’t quality food. In fact, fast food revenues exploded with the invention of the value menus with popular items for $1 or $2. People didn’t want healthy, they wanted cheap. It’s the same story with porn. If you’re paying money for porn these days, you’re doing it wrong. I think most people see it as junk food for the brain. It’s not healthy, but it’s not going to create lasting damage. Our standards reasons to stay away don’t combat that attitude effectively.

Why don’t our go-to reasons for staying away from porn work? I think I’ve figured most of them out:

The actors and actresses are exploited, don’t want to be there and had bad childhoods – All of this may be true, but has it stopped a single person from watching pornography? I think on some level everybody who watches porn understands its very essence is about the exploitation of the human body. As for not wanting to be there, I recently wrote a blog for a freelance client where I had to dig up statistics on job dissatisfaction in white-collar corporate America. Depending on the study, it ranged from 70% to 85%, so nobody likes their job.  As for having bad childhoods and still needing to seek out work, that isn’t a porn-exclusive thing either. I think when most people look at porn, they’re just not thinking about the poor professional conditions because they have to live with those conditions themselves and most would rather be having sex with beautiful people in pretty places than washing dishes at Buffalo Wild Wings.

It’s not realistic and doesn’t depict love – There have been a million and one studies on why people look at porn and one of the top two or three reasons, usually the top reason, is that it is an escape. People understand it’s not realistic because they only have to look to their own lives to reach that conclusion. I don’t think pizza guys and tennis instructors get into those vocations because they see a lot of sex in porno movies for guys in those industries. How many people would want to watch porn if it was people who looked like them doing things that they do? When it comes to love, I don’t think people turn to porn. If they want to see love, there’s a whole Hallmark Channel showing a slightly different version of the same Christmas movie for the next two months.

It’s going to rot your brain – For addicts, it actually does change the brain chemistry, but by that point, any standard reason to not use doesn’t work. I think that we’re told that so many things in this world are going to rot our brains and it simply doesn’t, and most people know that. First, you had people claiming rock music would make us all miscreants and Satanists. Didn’t happen. Then, kids raised on video games would all be prone to violent outbursts. Proven untrue. Porn certainly isn’t good for your brain, but enough people walk away without permanent scarring – or we’re still not talking about that scarring – that this argument falls on deaf ears for lack of proof.

Looking at porn brings you further away from God – I’m guessing this might work on some very devout people, but data would suggest otherwise. Two of the four fastest growing consumer groups of porn are members of the Roman Catholic Church and LDS Church and those who work in service of god (rabbis, priests, reverends) all report higher-than-average porn usage rates. This doesn’t even take into account that there are a lot of people who don’t believe in God or that he doesn’t play an active role in the consequences of their decision making. I have no hard statistics other than my own experience, but I bet 75% of the blogs I find on WordPress that talk about recovery from porn addiction give a lot of credit to God, but threats of the almighty fall on deaf ears prior.

I wish I had some great new techniques and solutions. I think most of the solutions are going to come from talking to our kids while they are young and informing them about the potential physical and mental dangers of taking porn use too far. We can argue whether that has or hasn’t worked with drugs and alcohol, but I think everybody who has a kid that is clean is thankful they said something.

We can keep repeating the standard “evils of pornography” list and while they certainly are valid, they are also ineffective. It’s tough to admit that, but the sooner we do, the sooner people far smarter than I can work to develop the new techniques and solutions we so desperately need.

Fascinating Stats: Does Watching More Porn Make You Realize You’re Bisexual?

Note from Josh: Let me preface this article by saying that I think the following data is fascinating. I do not want any conclusion drawn that it somehow shows I have any negative feelings toward anybody’s sexual orientation. I have no problem with any gender or sexual identification. I say be who you are, not who others tell you to be. I do, however, think that any data we can gather that further illuminates who is watching pornography can do nothing but help us understand the grip it has on people. I draw no value judgment on this data, but I thought it important to share. If any disparaging remarks are left in the comments section about gender or orientation fluidity, they will be deleted.

While I think their product is garbage, I have always been complimentary toward Pornhub’s annual release of their analytics, which give us a better understanding of how more people are using porn, exactly who those people are, where they’re from and what kind of material they are looking at. Recently, another very popular site released data that was compelling about the sexuality of their viewers.

While PornHub is the nation’s 7th most popular visited site, xHamster, the creator of this new report, is the 27th. For statistical purposes, their content, like PornHub, is all over the place, not catering to any particular demographic. xHamster claims that it polled around 11,000 of its users to get this data. If true, that’s an amazingly large sample group and since their site is one of the most popular in the US, should paint a relatively clear picture of who is using their site.

I’m taking the screen captures directly from their blog. It’s completely SFW and there is no nudity at all. It goes more in-depth than I do here. Obviously trigger warning, but if you’re interested in seeing the other stats, the link is: https://xhamster.com/blog/posts/934387

Here’s the first slide…

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Their site reports:

“…while women who watch porn were more than twice as likely as men to identify as bisexual, nearly one-fifth of men in the study identified so as well. These are much higher numbers than have been previously reported.”

Consider the 11K interviewed, I have no doubt this is accurate, but it is surprising to me. When given the luxury of anonymity, over 32% of porn users do not identify as heterosexual. Personally, I would have thought the straight and gay numbers would have been higher.

On to the next slide:

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 1.42.07 PM

Now, we have to remember that this is a pornographic website, not a site that interprets the Bible. While you can’t really stereotype a porn user into any specific demographic these days, those who use the Internet tend to be younger and more liberal than the generations prior.

It’s hard to get a real statistic on how many people overall in the US are gay or bisexual, with figures ranging from the low single digits to the high teens depending on which study you look at.  I think these numbers are much higher than the overall national average, but it is telling that they are tied to porn viewing.

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 1.42.18 PM

For me, this is the most fascinating slide in the entire study. There is no correlation between homosexuality and frequency of porn usage, and it clearly drops in frequency among heterosexuals, but it grows among bisexuals.

This leaves a lot of unanswered questions: Does this graphic speak to a bisexual person’s tendency to watch more porn or a person who watches a lot of porn’s tendency to identify as bisexual — and how many of these people who are identifying as bisexual have acted on those feelings in real life?

The site attempts to analyze some of the data by getting even deeper:

We also wondered if there was some way that women porn fans — 38% of whom in our study identified as bisexual — might be somehow skewing the data. So we repeated the calculations with just men. The results were even more dramatic.

Just 10.8% of men who watched porn once a week identified as bisexual, but 27.2% of men who watch porn multiple times a day identify as bisexual. (After all, if you’re looking at naked men all day — even if there’s a woman in the picture — maybe it opens you up to a broader ideas about human sexuality.)

I think it’s absolutely fascinating that more than one-out-of-four men who view porn on a daily basis through this particular site identify as bisexual. It again brings up a lot of interesting questions and I mostly wonder if these men have engaged in a bisexual physical relationship away from the computer.

Since the frequency of viewing is at least once a day, it might be safe to assume that these are the problem viewers who are either addicted or close to it. That means that they have built up a tolerance to run-of-the-mill “vanilla” porn between a man and a woman. Like the alcoholic who starts with beer and moves to the harder stuff, are these viewers watching more exotic or extreme genres of porn? If they are, and they find themselves not repulsed by what they see on screen, might they make a leap that they are more open to different kinds of sexuality other than just heterosexual? One of the top guys at xHamster told the New York Post that was the conclusion they reached:

“We can only provide correlation, not prove causation, but it would seem that watching porn more frequently helps show users what sexuality can be,” xHamster vice president Alex Hawkins tells The Post. “The more porn you watch, the more you may think, ‘Hey, that’s actually somewhat of a turn-on. Maybe I’m not as totally straight, or gay, as I thought.’”

I don’t know what it all means, or if it has to mean anything, but it’s interesting. I hope that actual scientific research is done into sexual identity and porn usage in upcoming years. xHamster, despite publishing porn garbage, has provided us with an eye-opening look into its users that can be a jumping-off point for real study.

I’ll leave you with this final slide…

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That’s depressing. There’s still so much work to be done.