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This Is Your Brain on Porn

this is your brain on porn

The Partnership for a Drug Free America (now known as Partnership to End Addiction) produced an ad in the 1980s that instantly entered the American psyche and collective cultural memory. It was titled, “This Is Your Brain on Drugs.” Thirty seconds in length, forever etched in the minds of all who saw it. It was named by TV Guide as one of the 100 best commercials ever made, and the 8th best overall of all time by Entertainment Weekly. You can watch it here.

I wish there was something like that we could show to adolescents about porn. It really is frying their sexual brains.

A survey from the U.K.’s The Times finds that pornography is leading to sex where women getting hurt is the new normal, specifically the causing of pain and humiliation. BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) “is now ordinary.” Slapping, choking, anal intercourse…  internet pornography has made those who view it expect it. For Generation Z, “rough sex” (hair-pulling, biting, slapping, choking and other aggressive behavior) is now the second-most popular porn category searched, and nearly half say online porn is the source of their sex education.

Young girls face a crisis of online sexual violence, with unsolicited sexual images becoming “dangerously normalized.” A stunning study involving those age 12 to 18 found that most girls (reread most) had received an image of male genitalia, often from adult men who were strangers. The report by academics from University College London, Kent University, the School of Sexuality Education in London and the Association of School and College Leaders said that children received sexual images within moments of setting up accounts with Snapchat, Instagram or TikTok.

Porn is also changing our experience with sex, creating distance between our sexual partners—both emotionally and physically. Those who watch porn often find themselves unable to be sexually aroused by their actual (flesh and blood) partner.

Again, if only there was a “This Is Your Brain on Porn” ad we could show, something that would cut through to young people in a way nothing else has yet been able to accomplish.

But then again, maybe there was.

Billie Eilish, one of the biggest Gen Z musical stars and the youngest person in history to win all four of the top Grammy awards in the same year in 2020, has just spoken freely about her addiction to pornography, starting from age 11, and how it not only gave her nightmares but affected her later dating life.

Speaking on the Howard Stern Show on Sirius XM radio, Eilish relayed, “I think it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn.” Twenty years old at the time of the interview, she added: “The first few times I, you know, had sex, I was not saying no to things that were not good. It was because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be attracted to.”

“I think porn is a disgrace,” she added.

Maybe there’s our break-out ad.

Sources

“This Is Your Brain on Drugs,” Wikipedia, read online.

Keiran Southern, “Watching Pornography Destroyed My Brain, Says Pop Star Billie Eilish,” The Times UK, December 15, 2021, read online.

Nicola Woolcock, “Young Girls Are ‘Bombarded’ With Sexual Images Online,” The Times UK, December 6, 2021, read online.

India Knight, “Porn Survey 2019: How Internet Pornography Is Changing the Way We Have Sex,” The Times, August 11, 2019, read online.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.

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James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His newest book, Christianity for People Who Aren’t Christians: Uncommon Answers to Common Questions, is now available on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.