Watching pornography is bad for men and good for women

The authors of a large study associated pornography viewing with a decrease in sexual activity in men, and in women with an increase.

Ross Pomeroy

The pornographic industry is driven by male needs and is geared towards a predominantly male audience. The main emphasis is on male pleasure, while the woman is depicted as just an object of male lust and desire.

Against this background, the new discovery looks somewhat ironic. Nicolas Sommet, a senior research fellow at the LIVES Center at the University of Lausanne, and Jacques Berent, lecturer in social psychology at the University of Geneva, conducted a major study, the results of which were published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Medicine. They linked pornography viewing to a decrease in sexual function in men and an increase in women.

In June 2015, Somme and Berin initiated an anonymous survey among more than 100,000 people, predominantly from French-speaking countries, with an average age of 21. Participants answered questions about relationships, intimate life and sexual satisfaction, as well as the frequency of viewing pornographic material. In 2016 and 2017, they were asked to retake the survey, to which about a fifth of the original participants responded.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that men who reported a tendency to watch porn (on an eight-point scale from “never” to “very often”) rated their own sexual solvency and function low on factors such as desire, arousal and the ability to achieve orgasm. Their partners also reported decreased levels of sexual satisfaction.

With women, the situation was the opposite. Those who watched pornographic videos reported an increase in sexual solvency and function, in contrast to those who did not.

There are many possible explanations for this contrast. First of all, men and women watch videos of different nature. Earlier studies have shown that men are more likely than women to watch hardcore and fetish porn, where professional actors perform scenes that are very difficult to reproduce in reality. This can lead to men having unreasonable expectations both from themselves and from real sex with a partner, which negatively affects the degree of satisfaction.

Also, men tend to view much more pornography than women. The answer “very often” may mean for them daily viewing of sexual content, and for women ˗ once or twice a week. Daily interest in porn is an absolute distraction and can interfere with intimate life with a partner.

Finally, society tends to tacitly encourage teenage boys and young men to promiscuity and explore their sexuality, while teenage girls and young women are expected to be more chaste and modest in dealing with men. Pornography can help young women break these cultural bonds, boost their self-confidence, learn to prioritize and enjoy themselves.

In the United States, about 84.4% of men and 57% of women have experienced pornography by the time they reach adulthood.

Despite the clear associations and differences revealed by the survey, the researchers note that the overall effect is insignificant. “So, if men with sexual problems decide to stop watching porn, the improvements may not be significant; and for women who have sexual problems, porn should not be considered a panacea,” write Somme and Beren.

The question of the impact of pornography on a person is subjected to careful study and discussion by representatives of the scientific community, but the scope for subtleties and semitones is very wide. Do not oversimplify the situation by stating that such videos bring only harm to men, and only benefit to women. However, as with almost every other aspect of life, porn viewing is best not to get too carried away.

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