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One Sufferer
"I always say I was born in the wrong century. I need to go back to a time when men appreciated women like this."

- Becky, a 42-year-old Librarian

Cultural Confusion

A Compounding Effect

Culture would tell us pornography is a lot like Lucy's short-term memory in the movie 50 First Dates (read a summary here). It would say it does not matter if you look at pornography because, after you entertain yourself with it, you will forget what you saw and your life will not be affected. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Just as Lucy grew to remember the man she loved despite her seeming incapacity to do so, it makes sense that pornography viewed by men and women with perfect memories that are constantly cataloging images in their minds will have an effect. Evidence supports this idea.

One experiment took a group of men and trained them to become aroused by nude women in black boots. By the end of the experiment, the group of men had been programmed to be sexually excited by the boots themselves, regardless of the women. In another study conducted by Zillman and Bryant in 1986, men and women watched one hour of pornography videos each week for six weeks. Two weeks later they were put in an unobserved situation to watch pornography. Those people who had watched the pornography the previous six weeks were found to be more likely to watch "bizarre" pornography. The conclusion drawn by the researchers is that the formation of a habit led to a "graduation" to more aggressive forms of pornography. If a few hours of pornography can have these affects on men and women, the continual influence of a pornography driven culture has even more power to affect a person's thinking.

Stretched Values

These two experiments may seem surreal, but they are not far from reality for many people. David Bennett cites changes in "community attitudes" and expanded boundaries of "normal" sexuality when looking at some of the recent changes in the pornography industry due to niche markets' working to stretch people's values and make their own place in the industry. An experiment with college students shows a similar effect as students exposed to five or more hours of explicit material seemed to redefine their definition of pornography. Over time, people seem to get used to certain types of material. They begin to need more to shock them, surprise them, or arouse them. Peggy, a 51-year-old woman, illustrates this point when she explains why she is more comfortable viewing a photo of a nude woman than a nude man saying it's "just a cultural thing. It's OK to look at women, but it's not OK to look at men." Our culture is numbing us to pornography and all of its dangers.

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