For Women

A Reflection On The Science Of Porn

I have never been a science person. That’s actually an understatement. In all honesty, I never really cared much about science. During my Physics Preliminary Examinations, I fell asleep and only woke up when my exasperated science teacher tapped me on my shoulder and told me to “at least fill in the blanks with something for Pete’s sake”.

Thus, you could imagine my horror I found out that I had to sit through a science lecture about porn during a conference by a neurologist. To my surprise, it was not the incomprehensible jargon I had anticipated. Instead, it was neurology made simple through tons of analogies that helped us understand the science of porn and how it affects our brain. 

In this reflection, I will try my best to do the same and transcribe his talks into words that hopefully make sense for those of us who aren’t as cerebrally gifted. So here we go, “Neurology for Dummies: How Porn Affects the Brain”.

From what I understand, brain stems are said to produce a hormone called Dopamine. This hormone teaches us to want. It is a reward system that is unfortunately devoid of morals, running on nothing but pure desire. Dopamine is basically how animals know when to mate. On the flipside are your frontal lobes. While your brain stems say ‘go’, frontal lobes say ‘wait, let’s think about it’- it is basically a mental game of ‘tug of war’.

When you learn things, a pathway is created in your mind. Like a track across the grass. The more you step on the grass, the easier and more defined it gets. Soon it becomes a well-trampled on dirt road. Unfortunately, addiction is a powerful form of learning. Thus, if learning sculpts your brain structure, it is entirely possible for addiction to do the same, and to a damaging degree. Addiction is so powerful that it could even wire a brain to react out of habit when triggered. Pornography addiction is therefore capable of conditioning the brain, ultimately altering the brain route of a person!

This is probably because of the similarities between pornography and a triple-hooked Blue Fox Pixee usually used to catch Salmon. The first hook wears out the ‘brakes’ of the brain, while the second creates a state of pleasure craving. The last hook makes the victim bond his or herself to a screen instead of people. 

Dr Hilton spoke of Nicolas Tinburgun’s Supranormal Stimulus, where an experiment was done on male butterflies. In this experiment, brightly-painted cardboard butterflies were placed in the cage together with real female butterflies. Naturally, the real female butterflies were duller in appearance compared to the fake cardboard ones. Unfortunately, the male butterflies immediately tried mating with the colorful, fake cardboard cutouts instead of the real deal. Is porn a brightly-coloured cardboard butterfly, for humans? If so, will real human interaction and love cease to exist in the future?

The most frightening thing were the statistics. Evidence shows that 89-95% of young adults talk about pornography in a neutral, accepting and even encouraging way. They view it as a sexual awakening, an empowering thing for both men and women. Admitting you were sexually active or had a porn habit is viewed as ‘being real’ and even glorified. In reality, it is anything but glorious. It is a type of cultural conditioning that only serves to create a world full of slaves to desire.  

Porn teaches males that females are objects to be used. Jessica Harris pointed out how pornography encourages its viewers to separate the person’s body from the person’s value. They are momentary visual stimuli used for gratification and then promptly chucked away after- history cleared, never to be seen again till the next time the brain craves an adrenaline rush. Males who watch porn expect females to conform to a certain type of appearance and submit to domination and aggression. This includes being the victim of name-calling and male-marking behaviour.  On the other hand, females who watch porn are taught that their worth and value are primarily found in conforming to male expectations of body image and sexual performance. This could not be further from the truth.

Yet, there is still hope. Romans 12 exhorts us to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. To me, this means focusing not on what you should not do but choosing instead to focus on God and His perfect plan for your life. It is possible to relearn things and undo detrimental habits. It was mentioned during the conference that the cage you are in is not locked. You can choose to get up and walk out in the freedom that is already yours.

 

Eunice loves running and coffee, not necessarily in that order. Most of the time, however, she’s running to get coffee.

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