Changing times spark pornography, relationship discussion

Sarah Muller

When it comes to a sexual relationship, watching porn can sometimes raise expectations or even induce violent practices.

Bondage and submission, domination and submission, or sadism and masochism all make up the BDSM community. With the recent release of “50 Shades of Grey” — a film based off of books displaying a BDSM relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, two unlikely acquaintances — discussion has sparked on what the effects are of pornography and BDSM behaviors. 

Between 64 and 68 percent of men, and 18 percent of women use pornography each week, according to Covenant Eyes, a resource dedicated to Internet accountability and filtering. 

“Even back in high school, sometimes middle school, guys would talk about pornography all the time,” said Jarid, an ISU student who watches porn. “I think for men, pornography is an accepted thing, but I think for women, it’s still a hush-hush topic.”

Jarid wished not to use his last name because of privacy concerns.

Pornography is more accessible with the increased popularity in the Internet as its primary resource. In another study done by Internet Safety 101, an online resource, 30 percent of content on the Internet is from the pornography industry.

“I think when you have a society more open about their sexual preference or choice, that it functions better,” Jarid said. “I think people are closer because of it.”

He said he thinks because the United States has a number of various backgrounds making up the foundation of society, opinions differ on pornography. However, Jarid said he believes the conversation starts when an adolescent hits puberty.

“I think there should be sexual education before viewing pornography,” Jarid said. “I think it should be more available around that age where puberty hits more and [people are] being sexually active.”

In Jarid’s talk with his parents about sexual intercourse, he felt like he already knew a majority of what they discussed since the subject had already been covered in school. However, at the end his mother blurted out, “… and foreplay is really important. You should always make sure you have foreplay.”

“You shouldn’t necessarily be forbidding with sex or anything with kids, as a parent,” Jarid said. “But I don’t think you should be encouraging it.”

Violence has a presence in pornography as well, but Jarid said he doesn’t believe it is always necessary. He said that some of the actions are done with consent, therefore it is okay, but some actions have no purpose.

“I think people who have a healthy sexual life and also view pornography, that the violence they view isn’t as effective to them,” he said. “But I think people who get their understanding of sex or sexuality from pornography, that violence can become a major factor and it can be very negative.”

Teresa Downing-Matibag, lecturer of sociology, said there is a high use of pornography among the college population. From studying, she has learned that porn can be addictive because it triggers dopamine — a chemical in the brain that controls rewards and pleasure — in one’s brain.

“I think that individuals [who] use pornography need to be careful about how much they are consuming and they need their self monitor regarding whether or not their behavior is becoming compulsive to the point where it might interfere with other aspects of their lives,” Downing-Matibag said.

When it comes to romantic relationships, Downing-Matibag said she believes porn should be discussed openly in a relationship in order for it to be healthy. Topics such as porn usage and preference should be known between the partners.

“That type of self-disclosure and honesty contributes to a healthy relationship,” Downing-Matibag said.

However, Downing-Matibag said she is concerned with women’s representation in pornography. She shared some of the results that were discussed after the studies she read.

“There are girls who have disclosed they have boyfriends who treat them very differently — almost in a dehumanizing way behind closed doors — because they are trying to re-enact what they see in pornography,” Downing-Matibag said.

As a societal norm, Downing-Matibag said she is against pornography.

“The normalization of pornography really means the normalization of the hypersexualization of women,” Downing-Matibag said.

She also said because of porn, men can have erectile dysfunction, which is becoming an increasing problem, according to Everyday Health, an online medical source.

“Their brains are becoming wired such that they can’t receive an erection unless they use pornography,” Downing-Matibag said.

Downing-Matibag and Jarid gave their opinions on the newly released movie “50 Shades of Grey.”

“[’50 Shades of Grey’] is pornography to me,” Jarid said. “That’s up there with fan fiction people make, all of those romantic novels women read even before ’50 Shades of Grey.’”

Downing-Matibag said even the professionals in the BDSM community are expressing concern about the sexual engagement in the movie, including the amount of violence.

“The BDSM professionals that I read online were saying that they were really not wanting to have that impression of kink culture made public and they are really concerned about the ramifications of that,” Downing-Matibag said.

One negative Downing-Matibag said she read about was the increase of emergency room calls due to people participating in BDSM and not being safe about the practices. After questioning her own doctor about it, they confirmed it was true, even claiming it was scary for doctors who can’t sanitize and operate properly, causing the situations to be more dangerous.

However, the most troubling aspect about pornography to Downing-Matibag was the fact that 1 in every 5 images of porn includes a minor.

“This industry is so profitable,” Downing-Matibag said. “We’re bringing children into and doing some pretty terrible things to them.”

According to WebMD, an online medical source, there are no identified criteria defining porn addiction, however, many people claim they are addicted to porn after reading articles and books. 

WebMD also says that pornography can be a piece of healthy relationships. However, if not expressed, porn habits can be toxic to a relationship.