The Porn/Bullying Connection

The Porn/Bullying Connection

By Tina Mattsson and Amanda Grossman-Scott

Bullying becomes much easier when one doesn’t view their victim as a real person.

There are many societal factors that desensitize us- gaming, increased screen time, more violent and sexualized media. But nothing dehumanizes a person faster than pornography. Within pornography, women are more often than not the target of aggression. Because the vast majority of teens have seen porn, the common themes seen there begin to shape their beliefs that women want to be targeted, coerced, harassed or degraded.

Pornography Desensitizes Users and Encourages Objectification

Excessive pornography use has been shown to desensitize the user so that the user no longer views other humans, especially females, as actual people with genuine feelings.

One study done at Yale showed that exposure to porn caused men to have “an increased likelihood to treat women as though they lack the capacity for complex thinking and reasoning while still treating them as capable of having strong emotional response” (The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Modern Day Pornography 2013).

Pornography Encourages Aggression

A study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence examined 187 female university students. The researchers “believe pornography consumed at a young age contributes to women being socialized to accept sexual aggression as a sexual/romantic event” (Pornography Statistics 2015).

link-porn-and-bullying-stats-graphic

Studies also show that after viewing pornography, men are more likely to have decreased empathy for rape victims, believe that a woman who dresses provocatively deserves to be raped, and report anger at women who flirt but refuse sex (Facts and Figures).

The pornified culture we live in has led to an increase in sexual harassment, WHICH IS A FORM OF BULLYING.

Porn encourages displaying and recording everything and anything intimate—which tells boys it’s no big deal to share nude photos… This translates into boys asking girls for nude photos, then sharing those photos with a group of boys. What makes boys feel like they have the right to make such an intimate request?

This is how behavior learned from porn trickles down into how boys behave with girls in school and other social settings. Sickeningly, if a girl complies and sends a nude photo of herself, she’s deemed a “slut”. If she doesn’t, she’s labeled a “prude”. All the while, the boys’ involvement is dismissed as “just acting on urges”- and they are often not held accountable for asking, persuading or bullying the girl into sending the photo in the first place. Girls feel pressured and coerced into sharing nude or semi-nude photos and are sometimes fearful of sending or not sending these type of photos. Moreover, girls are being trained by porn to believe that they should be flattered by the request. Even told to feel “empowered” by it.

In a ridiculous example of the double standard, it seems to be the case that if a boy says or does something violent or inappropriate to another boy, or a girl to another girl, we automatically recognize it as bullying. But if a boy bullies a girl or a sexual component is added in, we don’t see it as bullying. It’s dismissed as “boys being boys”. It’s almost expected as a sick rite of passage that a girl will be sexually harassed at some point in her life.  Boys walk the halls saying “I’d tap that” or other inappropriate comments. Comments like these have always been made, but it was locker room talk. This language is now more commonplace. Girls are now expected to be okay with this and, in fact, take it as a compliment. To be clear, it’s not a compliment when one person tells another they want to have sex with them.

Entire apps have been created for the specific purpose of posting images (without the subject’s permission) and commenting anonymously on them. Both girls and boys feel justified in tearing apart others’ bodies and judging them in a degrading contest. Girls use sexualized and objectified language to describe other girls like “prude”, “slut”, “skank” and “fat”. These terms have always been in use, but they’re more common than ever and girls are using them to describe other girls publicly and often anonymously. This form of bullying often goes unreported because it’s so ingrained into women to feel shame and blame themselves.

Revenge Porn is an Extreme Form of Bullying

A final link between porn and bullying is shown with revenge porn. “Revenge porn is the sexually explicit portrayal of one or more people distributed without their consent via any medium.” (Revenge porn). A search for “revenge porn” would show hundreds of girls’ lives ruined by the publishing of intimate images and activities that were never intended to be shared. There are many websites that exist for this sole purpose. Anyone can post naked or sexually explicit photos of someone else, many times including the person’s private email address and social media information as well.

Revenge porn is an extreme form of cyberbullying, and the courts need to recognize that posting nude photos or sexual explicit images or videos without the individual’s consent is not a free speech issue. “Nude photos and sex tapes are among the most private and intimate facts; the public has no legitimate interest in seeing someone’s nude images without that person’s consent…” (Citron 2014).

Time for Change

Many countries and states are taking on the issue of revenge porn but there are still very large holes in the system. Currently 34 states have some laws in place to address revenge porn. (http://www.cybercivilrights.org/revenge-porn-laws/) However, some of these laws are being challenged.

On April 19 of this year, Utah became the first state in the nation to declare pornography a public health crisis. This means that state recognizes the need for education, research, prevention and changes to policy to address the issue. (Chokshi 2016). In his speech at the signing, Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) equated pornography to drugs and alcohol.

What can we do to help our kids?

  • Help your child to see others as human beings with unique feelings and life circumstances.
  • Help your child understand that sexual harassment is a form of bullying.
  • Make sure he or she knows that bullying can be perpetrated by any gender and even across gender lines.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you about the bullying they see around them.
  • Help your child to recognize and avoid hyper-sexualized media and pornography.
  • Don’t assume that your child is the victim- your child may (knowingly or unknowingly) be a perpetrator.
  • Remind your child that bullying can occur in many forms and places including social media and through texting and photo sharing.

These links between porn and bullying show us yet again that viewing porn does not only affect the user. It affects everyone around the user. And it is one more reason why parents need to be talking to their kids about the many dangers surrounding pornography use as well as the very real link between pornography and bullying.

For more information on this subject, check out our book How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography, which is also available in Spanish.

Tina Mattsson has a BA in Journalism with a Minor in English. She is a mother, writer and advocate for children’s safety and education. She is currently pursing a Master’s Degree in Education.

Amanda Grossman-Scott is Executive Director and Head Writer for Educate and Empower Kids. She has written for various magazines, newspapers and blogs and has been active in the journalism industry intermittently for the last 15 years. She studied Journalism and Communications. Amanda is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and now lives with her husband and four children in San Antonio, Texas.

Citations

Chokshi, N. (2016, April 19). ‘Evil, degrading, addictive, harmful’: Utah officially deems porn a public health crisis. Retrieved August 02, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/04/19/evil-degrading-addictive-harmful-utah-officially-deems-porn-a-public-health-crisis/?tid=a_inl

Bullying. (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying

Facts and Figures. (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from http://stoppornculture.org/about/about-the-issue/facts-and-figures-2/

The Physiological and Psychological Effects of Modern Day Pornography (2013). (2013, March 13). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from http://yourbrainonporn.com/physiological-and-psychological-effects-modern-day-pornography-2013

Pornography Statistics. (2015). Retrieved August 2, 2016, from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwiRltuuzaPOAhUXz2MKHVscDLYQFggjMAE&url=http://www.covenanteyes.com/lemonade/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2015-porn-stats-covenant-eyes.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHTL60lmExj98vPbZ1LksVW4GhCbg&sig2=6kY3gzHI1Pxk2af5pGUhNg&bvm=bv.128617741,d.cGc

Revenge porn. (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenge_porn

Hewitt, E. (2016, August 01). Judge finds ‘revenge porn’ law unconstitutional | VTDigger. Retrieved August 02, 2016, from https://vtdigger.org/2016/08/01/judge-finds-revenge-porn-law-unconstitutional/

Citron, D. (2014, April 18). Debunking the First Amendment Myths Surrounding Revenge Porn Laws. Retrieved August 02, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/daniellecitron/2014/04/18/debunking-the-first-amendment-myths-surrounding-revenge-porn-laws/#4ebc83b24b89

Sales, N. J. (2016). American girls: Social media and the secret lives of teenagers. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.