British lawmakers are calling for an end to the “epidemic” of violence following a bipartisan analysis led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation that revealed a correlation between mainstream pornography use and physically aggressive behavior, particularly among men against women and young girls.
The report suggests that the country’s online safety bill, which requires pornography sites to monitor the age of their users, does not go far enough in addressing the availability of violent pornographic content to adults. As a result, U.K. politicians are now demanding that new and stricter laws be enforced against all pornography, citing several recent events and studies to support their case. Among these are the following:
Norfolk Police Chief Constable Simon Bailey commented, “What we are seeing is a new group of young men aged between 18 and 26 who have been brought up on a staple diet of going to visit Pornhub and sites like that. They get to the point where there’s no pornographic material that is stimulating them, so then they start to explore what child abuse imagery might look like.”
Studies cited by Fight the New Drug, a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness of the dangers of pornography, shows that porn use conflates sexual violence with sexual pleasure.
“By watching scene after scene of dehumanizing or violent content, it can start to seem normal. In fact, research indicates that porn consumers are more likely to sexually objectify and dehumanize others, more likely to express an intent to rape, less likely to intervene during a sexual assault, more likely to victim-blame survivors of sexual assault, more likely to support violence against women, more likely to forward sexts without consent, and more likely to commit actual acts of sexual violence.”
Fight the New Drug argues that the consumption of porn has normalized violence and tainted sexual relationships in the real world. It now emphasizes the need for society to confront the problem of pornography:
“A significant portion of the porn consumed by millions of people every day reinforces the message that sexual violence is a normal part of what ‘good sex’ is supposed to be, making it more challenging for many young people to prepare for healthy sexual relationships where their consent and boundaries are respected. As our society continues to reckon with rape culture and the things that perpetuate it, it’s important that we start to recognize the role that porn plays in normalizing sexual violence.”
Dame Diana Johnson, a British politician and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, is urging U.K. lawmakers to take action. She explained,
“It’s time for MPs [members of Parliament] to confront the role of pornography in fueling violence against women. The intolerable level of sexual violence that is perpetrated day in day out in this country is not inevitable…There’s nothing natural about it. So the question is, what in our culture is fueling men’s violence against women—and what do we do about it? No answer to that critical question is complete without addressing the role of online pornography.”
Dr. Michael Flood, a researcher at Queensland University of Technology for masculinity and violence prevention, told MPs, “There is a wealth of evidence that pornography exposure is shaping young people’s and adult’s sexual lives, in harmful and violent ways.”
Given the indisputable evidence that exposure to pornography corrupts the mind and spurs one on to acts of violence, one would think that the United States would not participate in and encourage such acts of depravity. Yet the contrast in the approach by the U.K. and the approach by the U.S. is astounding.
While British lawmakers are sounding the alarm on the implications of widespread pornography, American politicians are making sure that students in public schools have access to pornographic books in their libraries. While British Parliament has a bipartisan Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, American politicians have developed and implemented “Comprehensive Sex Education” curriculum to teach children about graphic sexual acts starting in kindergarten. U.S. pundits ridicule anyone who claims that overtly sexual drag shows are not meant for children, while U.K. politicians are now acknowledging that pornography is a problem worth addressing.
Now, the U.K. shouldn’t necessarily be put on a pedestal. Much of the cultural depravity we’re currently seeing in the U.S. was seen earlier in the U.K., such as pushing radical transgender treatments and surgeries on children. But good on them for at least recognizing the overwhelming evidence that porn prevalence is causing harm to not just women and children but also to men and our larger society.
U.S. elected officials should follow their lead and act now. The many hours they spend on national television addressing the upticks in crime and violent acts by men against women, as well as by men and women against children, could be better served in Congress writing and passing laws to confront and regulate pornography, one of the primary causes of these issues. Complaints about sex trafficking over the U.S. border, drag shows for children, assaults on women, and the rise in pedophilia will fall short if pornography isn’t even mentioned as a factor during committee hearings or debates.
Pornography is actively perpetuating the dehumanization of women and children in efforts to normalize sexual objectification. The obvious end to this is that it destroys the protective nature of men and glorifies sexual assault and violence. People on the Internet will speak loudly and authoritatively about the issue of sexual violence in this country, but they’ll hardly do anything to fix it. They’d rather hide and protect their porn addiction at the expense of women and children. No one wants to admit it, but many are complicit in the very crime they complain about.
Why is it that man can so easily point out the sins of others but cannot reckon with the sins he commits himself? Because man is inherently wicked. His heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). He has been brought forth in iniquity since conception (Psalm 51:5), dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:5). Much like the Pharisee, it is easier to identify the problems of the world and the sins of others rather than confronting the fact that he is guilty of the same crime.
Porn is a difficult topic to discuss, but Christians must be willing to shine a light on its harms. The first step is recognizing that it is highly addictive, highly available, and highly destructive and that even people you know, maybe even your own family, are affected by it. So be willing to face it and do something about it. Start within your family by monitoring your children and knowing what they are seeing online and learning about in school and then use your political voice and vote to make sure that school boards, local and state governments, and federal representatives are working to combat this insidious evil that is being perpetrated on all of us.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.
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