Pornography websites get more traffic in the U.S. than the sum total traffic of Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, Zoom, and Netflix. And these days, most people are exposed to porn by the time they’re 13.
More than ever, pornography today pushes the boundary of what’s acceptable, normalizing behaviors once seen as reprehensible. Playboy is not the epitome of virtue, but it pales in comparison to online pornography. For instance, one study estimates that nearly 40 percent of videos on Pornhub had violence or aggression, and another study places this number at over 45 percent.
However, these statistics only analyze the blatantly pornographic media. In reality, most popular media produced these days is filled with pornography.
The media we consume affects us and our society—especially young people—and it drives our culture. By normalizing immoral behavior and explicit imagery, porn is destroying our culture.
Television shows, movies, social media, and even books are brimming with inappropriate and graphic content. With most media containing sex scenes, nudity, and highly sexualized dress or behavior, we are bombarded with porn wherever we turn.
Television and Movies
In the U.S., the series finale of Game of Thrones garnered more than 13.6 million views. The show’s popularity is particularly alarming considering it includes incest, orgies, and ample sexual violence. Not to mention a scene featuring graphic rape between twins.
Beyond this one example, though, most contemporary television shows and movies contain nudity or sex scenes. Obviously, nudity and sex do occur in the world, but such things can typically be implied to avoid explicit content.
Functionally, viewing explicit images in a movie and watching explicit videos on a porn site are the same. The movie simply has a sliver of decency to embed its pornography within a larger storyline.
It wasn’t too long ago when couples on television were shown sleeping in separate beds. Just think how far things have fallen from no hint of sex to outright graphic rape.
As we scroll through our social media feeds, chances are there’s something there that is essentially pornographic, whether we follow that person or not. Posts of scantily clad women or individuals posing and dancing provocatively may seem trivial, but both of these are pornographic, even though they may be packaged as innocent or empowering.
While it can become habit to just scroll past and ignore, seeing these images are not without their impacts. And considering the number of children who are unfortunately on social media, there’s no doubt that extremely impressionable youth are exposed to such content.
I once thought of literature as the last bastion of purity in our media, but I fear this is no longer the case. We don’t have to look long to find a steamy, handsy scene in the latest romance book, and sex proliferates young adult literature. When did such things become acceptable in the mainstream?
Indeed, porn isn’t just limited to images. It may be easier to ignore inappropriate materials in a book—it’s certainly easier to skip over—and at least we’re not assaulted by graphic images in books. But the explicit scenes have the same intent as their image counterparts.
Unlike movies, books are unrated, so we often don’t know there’s inappropriate content in a book until we or our kids are reading it. I’m not advocating for rating books, though. These scenes are unnecessary in the first place. Most times, sex scenes do not add to the narrative in a book. It’s just as easy and narratively feasible to imply what happens, rather than graphically describing.
While it’s easy to skip over these things, eventually the fast-forward button won’t be enough. Pornography is entering the mainstream at an alarming rate, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes utterly unavoidable.
Years ago, in Washington, D.C., I saw an advertisement from some governing authority on public transportation promoting condoms to prevent STDs. Leaving the bus, a young child from another tourist family asked his parents, “What’s an STD?” I don’t know what the parents told their kid, but I’m sure they weren’t pleased their child was being introduced to such adult content.
The same can be said for pornography. What happens when the image on the bus is a scantily dressed woman in the name of empowerment? Or for that matter, do we as adults want to be assaulted with lewd images on magazines at the grocery store, billboards while driving, or in all the latest movies?
Being a Conscious Consumer
In today’s rated-X world, there’s no way to entirely escape the pornography in everyday media. However, we can be more judicious with the media we do consume. Instead of skipping over that sex scene in the movie, let’s find a better movie to watch. Rather than scrolling past the barely clad woman on social media, let’s get off social media entirely. And when it comes to books, let’s turn to stories with values.
The only way this culture of pornography will change is if we choose to have zero tolerance for porn and completely stop engaging with it. It’s high time to stop this cultural slide. We are the gatekeepers of our minds and homes, so let’s stand against this corrupting content.
Image credit: PxHere, CC07 comments