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"If I'm waiting in a doctor's office I'll open up a Glamour or a Mirabella or something but I really don't buy them. I think it's more, just the portrayal of these thin models and I just get depressed™I'm very hard on myself, wanting to be that way."

- Sophie, age 26

Of Women in Relationships with Men who use Pornography Intensively:

26% felt they had lost their spouses to the women depicted in pornography

39% see negative effects on the relationship

41% feel less attractive since discovering partner's use of pornography

55.9% feel they can't compete with the women in the pornography

48.4% feel their spouse doesn't understand how the pornography affects her

78.8% would prefer their partner look to them to satisfy all their sexual needs

Obsessive Thoughts (w x h, 0 KB)

Pornography and the Average Jane

Myth: Only Men Are Addicted

While most people are under the assumption that men struggle with pornography usage and women only struggle with the men, in reality one in six women struggles with pornography. While this topic will focus on the secondary effects of pornography on women, the direct effects of pornography usage cannot be forgotten. Women have many of the same struggles with pornography and addiction that men do. Often it is played out through use of chat rooms and sexually explicit stories rather than the visual imagery men pursue, but it is just as poisonous and equally difficult to overcome. If you are a woman struggling with pornography usage, you are not alone in your battle. There are many other women who are facing the same trials.

Balancing stick figure (w x h, 0 KB)

Pornography and Self-Image

While it is more often men who view pornography, it is women who feel the brunt of the blow in their self-image. Brian and Holly illustrate the difference in thought styles in the following interaction:

Brian: Guy looks at another guy and goes "so what." I bet you look at another girl and go "so what."

Holly: I actually don't. I pick her apart like crazy.

As Naomi Wolf stated it in The Beauty Myth, "Culture has forced women to base their personal worth on their ability to live up to an impossible standard of physical beauty." Women are constantly being told by media how they need to look if they want to be beautiful. Unfortunately, the images the media presents are often unrealistic pictures of women who have taken unhealthy steps to look like they do and are many times still enhanced by computers and makeup. Sadly, women are constantly drawn in and trapped by these lies about what they need to do if they want to be attractive and accepted. As with Holly, they can develop a very high sensitivity to both their own appearance and that of women around them.

Why Many Women Look

Even more devastating is pornography itself. One source explained the difference in how men and women view pornography like this: Men gaze at pornography to remind them of their masculinity while women view the images for lessons on how women look. Twenty-eight-year-old Jessica is a terrific example of this process. Her boyfriend has made her feel so insecure about herself that she is making plans to get breast implants. When men look at pornography, it has the potential to make women feel sexually undesirable and worthless. A member of an expectant mother's chat group whose husband was involved with pornography described it as "almost like he's cheating on me. A terrible feeling."

Illusive Effects

Some of the effects of pornography are difficult to discern. One study even suggested the level of commitment in a relationship may affect the level of stress a woman feels about a man's pornography usage. Women will not necessarily say and often do not realize their perceptions are being altered by the images of women portrayed to them. Yet, the effects are there, sometimes in subtle and sometimes in vivid ways. As one woman explained of her husband's pornography usage, she knew, "This is not about me..." and then she objected from another part of her heart saying, "Indeed, it is about you."

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