Pornography, being the visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement, is no doubt one sexual activity that has been in existence for a long time. For some, it is something they watch in their leisure, and for some others, it has become an addiction.
As much as it has been condemned by moralists and spiritual leaders, more so that major religions also abhor it, it is however interesting to note that it keeps spreading, and more than ever before, people across all ages; young, old and elderly seem to (increasingly) indulge in it.
According to Covenant Eyes, internet accountability and filtering company, as of 2007, global porn revenues were estimated at $20bn.
A report had shown that the number of pornographic views on one of the popular pornographic websites rose from 63.2 billion video views in 2012 to 78.9 billion views in 2013, and phones accounted for 45 per cent of these views; desktop was 44 per cent and views on tablets rose by 20 per cent to account for its 11 per cent.
Previous reports had also found that men are 543 per cent more likely to watch pornography than females, but one in three women also watches it at least once a week, and most of such persons view it on their mobile devices.
It is believed that most people who watch pornography do so to satisfy their sexual urge, but it is worthy of note that some married persons also watch it.
For married persons who watch it, such is seen as a symbol of sexual dissatisfaction and or matrimonial discontentment, especially if the viewer started it after entering into marriage.
Findings have revealed that watching pornography has numerous side effects, as it can dull the brain, breed masturbation, influence the viewer’s perception of the opposite sex as a mere sex object, breed inferiority complex and reduce libido. But beyond these, it has been found to be one of the things that ruin marriages.
According to a sociologist, Dr. Jill Manning, who is a marriage and family therapist and specialist in research and clinical work related to pornography and problematic sexual behaviour, pornography in marriage can lead to infidelity, increased marital distress, risk of separation and divorce, decreased marital intimacy, sexual dissatisfaction, increased appetite for more graphic types of pornography, sexual activity associated with abusive, illegal or unsafe practices and devaluation of marriage.
In the same vein, studies have equally shown that the more pornography a person watches, the more likely it is for the person to engage in extramarital affair, which is one of the causes of divorce.
Previous studies had shown that the inability of the viewer to experience all the ‘actions’ in the movie could impair their sexual satisfaction in the marriage, thus, seeing their partner as failure in bed.
Meanwhile, a study by some researchers from University of Oklahoma in the United States found that watching pornography in marriage doubles the risk of divorce, and it is the viewer who would more likely file for the divorce or quit the relationship.
In the study, the researchers asked 5,698 married adults from time to time, over a period of seven years, how much of pornography they watched and the impact on their sexual satisfaction. At the end of the study, it was found that pornography affects marriages negatively.
One of the researchers, Dr. Samuel Perry, said, “Our results suggest that viewing pornography, under certain social conditions, may have negative effects on marital stability.
“Beginning pornography use between survey waves nearly doubled one’s likelihood of being divorced by the next survey period, from six per cent to 11 per cent, and nearly tripled it for women, from six per cent to 16 per cent.
“Those who were very happy in their marriage were associated with a noteworthy increase – from three per cent to 12 per cent – in the likelihood of getting divorced by the time of the next survey.”
Perry and his colleague, Cyrus Schleifer, said this effect was more if the couples were newlyweds or they were religious, but it had no effect on unhappy marriages.
A previous report had shown that people who are happily married are less likely to watch porn, while people who had committed adultery, at least once, are 218 per cent more likely to watch porn and people who had ever patronised commercial sex workers are 270 per cent more likely to watch it.
The researchers said, “We took this to mean that pornography use – perhaps if it’s discovered by one’s spouse unexpectedly – could rock an otherwise happy marriage to the point of divorce, but it does not seem to make an unhappy marriage any worse than it already is.
“We have no desire to push a ‘ban pornography’ agenda on the grounds that it can be harmful to marriages, we think information is helpful, and people should be aware of the potential consequences of pornography under certain circumstances.”
As much as watching pornography leads to divorce, it also damages sexual performance of the viewer. That is the view of Dr. Mary Anne Layden, who is the director of Education, Centre for Cognitive Therapy, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, United States.
She said, “Pornography viewers tend to have problems with premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Having spent so much time in unnatural sexual experiences with paper, celluloid and cyberspace, they seem to find it difficult to have sex with a real human being.
“Pornography is raising their expectation and demand for types and amounts of sexual experiences; at the same time it is reducing their ability to experience sex.”
However, Covenant Eyes, in its analysis of five different studies carried out in 2012 examined the correlation between pornography consumption and commitment to romantic relationships.
With the use of cross-sectional, observational, experimental and behavioural approaches, it was revealed that there is a consistent pattern of results across the five studies: more pornography consumption is associated with a more weakened commitment to one’s relationship partner.”
Yes, pornography has damaging effects on marital success, but unmarried people are equally not immune from its many hazards. A psychosexual therapist, Angela Gregory, has revealed that pornography is damaging young men’s sexual health and could cause erectile dysfunction, thus, making old men of teenagers young men. It could also make them not to be aroused by normal sexual intercourse.
On how watching pornography can double the risk of divorce, a psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, said apart from the frustration emanating from unfulfilled expectation by the viewer, it could breed disagreement between them.
He said, “It is true that pornography can lead to divorce. The reason is that learning manifests itself in performance. When you expose yourself to pornography, the next thing is the urge to practicalise what you have learnt, and in the process of practicalising it, unorthodox activities will creep in.
“Before you know it, it could lead to disagreement between couples and they might end up terminating the relationship because the desires of the viewer may not be met.
“When you watch something and you are absorbing it, the next thing is how you want to try that thing. We call it observational learning and it’s very powerful, just as children watch their parents do certain things and they want to try them. That urge is always very high.
“The pleasure you derive from watching pornography does not manifest until you practicalise what you have watched and in that process, other effects will come in.”