It used to be that the only people speaking out against pornography were those who opposed it because of its moral depravity – namely, people of faith.
Apart from that, pornography was considered a normal, if even healthy part of everyday life.
But as the smartphone boom made the internet – and therefore pornography – available at most everyone’s fingertips, secular groups and individuals are increasingly speaking out against pornography’s harmful and addictive properties.
Just last week, former 15-time Playboy cover model Pamela Anderson co-authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, declaring pornography a “public hazard of unprecedented seriousness” following the latest sexting scandal of former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Whether or not Weiner is in fact a pornography addict is not known to the public, but Anderson is not the first celebrity to use her platform to speak out against the problem of pornography.
British comedian Russel Brand, actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rashida Jones, and former NFL player and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor Terry Crews are just some of the celebrities that have recently spoken out against pornography, its addictive properties and its harmful effects on relationships.
Earlier this year, the GOP at the Republican National Convention declared pornography a public health crisis as part of their platform, a few months after the state of Utah declared the same.
While the debate over what exactly constitutes a public health crisis continues, research already shows the staggering increase in pornography viewing, as well as many harmful effects of pornography use including decreased gray matter in the brain, having more sexual partners and the perpetuation of rape myths, such as the belief that most rape accusations are false. Pornography can also contribute to increasingly violent sexual behaviors, and a decrease in virility, causes for alarm regardless of one’s faith.
In April, TIME Magazine’s Belinda Luscombe published an extensive piece entitled “Porn and the Threat to Virility” including interviews with many young men who blamed their inability to be aroused by real women on their addictions to pornography, a piece that made waves across the internet for weeks afterwards.
In the piece, Luscombe wrote:
“A growing number of young men are convinced that their [physical, in-person] sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents. Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic–more prone to permanent change–than in later life. These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning. The results of the experiment, they claim, are literally a downer.”
“So they’re beginning to push back, creating online community groups, smartphone apps and educational videos to help men quit porn. They have started blogs and podcasts and take all the public-speaking gigs they can get. Porn has always faced criticism among the faithful and the feminist. But now, for the first time, some of the most strident alarms are coming from the same demographic as its most enthusiastic customers,” she added.
Included in those online community groups are Fight the New Drug and NoFap, two non-faith-based websites committed to providing resources for people who want to be rid of their addictions to pornography.
NoFap, featured in Luscombe’s article and recently in an interview with NPR, describes itself as a “comprehensive community-based porn recovery website. We offer all the tools our users need to connect with a supportive community of individuals determined to quit porn use and free themselves from compulsive sexual behaviors.”
The NoFap website is intentionally secular, with the notion that pornography addiction afflicts people of any or no faith, and that recovery should be available to all. It offers its users help through a process called “rebooting”, which helps users restore the neural pathways of their brain, which research has shown can be changed through constant pornography viewing.
Fight the New Drug (FTND), so named because of porn’s addictive properties, is another secular movement that aims to raise awareness of pornography’s effects on the brain, the heart (relationships), and ultimately on the world.
In a previous interview with CNA last year, FTND’s Clay Olsen said that sometimes it takes awhile for society’s views to catch up to the science that’s already out there.
“We’re very excited to see some of this progress and some of these mainstream media outlets kind of following suit and starting to talk about the negative impacts, we couldn’t be more excited about it, but we still have a long way ahead of us.”
“Science has caught up with the fact that pornography’s harmful,” Olsen said, “but society is still catching up.”