I feel the need to respond to that article because the author identifies as a Humanist. Speaking as a Humanist myself, I disagree with the man on several counts.
First, the title of the article is "Porn isn't harmless for either those watching or those partaking." This is a pretty square statement and leaves no room for interpretation - porn is bad, period.
The article uses some clever fallacious approaches. That there is no industry watchdog is absolutely true. I think if there was an industry watchdog it would go a long way to preventing a lot of the very real horrors that are perpetrated in the porn industry. I also think, however, that if there was such a thing proposed there would be riots in the streets, because proposing an agency watchdog proposes a certain legitimacy to the business. Using the lack of oversight as an argument supporting the destructive nature of porn is done either with little thought to the situation or meant as a way to inappropriately build a case against it. If there was no oversight to the pharmaceutical industry (we don't need to argue about the oversight that does exist, which is its own worthy but distinct topic) then the exact same issues would immediately present themselves. Abuse, slave trading - it's not difficult to imagine a complete and total lack of ethics when it comes to a corporation moving to human testing. Here, we'll give you five bucks and a banana sticker if you let us inject you with this virulent strain of rat mutagen that we haven't bothered to test on anything else yet.
Further, he spends several paragraphs discussing the re-writing of the brain - and not simply how the brain adapts to habitual changes naturally, but how the porn industry specifically does this.
Doing *anything* for 6 hours a day will rewrite your brain. That is how we work. If you practice a guitar for 6 hours a day, you eventually become an incredible guitar player because your brain rewrites itself. If you sit on your ass and watch TV for 6 hours a day you become a lazy bastard because your brain rewrites itself.
His example is, literally, 6 hours a day:
For example: six hours of non-violent pornography viewing starts markedly affecting an individual’s desire for physical intimacy (it lowers it, potentially explainable through separate conditioning of parts of the brain used for lust without strengthening that used for intimacy). Apparently, it seems that rather than encouraging healthy sexual activity, porn may actually lower your capacity to engage in it.
Yes, watching porn 6 hours a day means there is something wrong with you and if there wasn't, then there damn well is going to be. This is because abusing something that much trains your brain to make you an abuser.
You can train yourself to be happier simply by forcing yourself to smile. When you smile, your brain releases chemicals. Do it enough and over time you will habitually be happier. Of course, none of us really do this because we feel kinda stupid, and at first you look like a goddamn maniac with a forced grimace. If you have a knife you'd probably be in jail. Anyway.
He cites an actual study done on aggression in porn. The % quoted is a staggering 88% of all porn viewed in the study contained violent acts against women. Of the 2,743 acts of physical violence recorded, 980 were spankings and 276 were hair pulling.
While this study can truly be looked at as a legitimate view of violence against women, when an 88% rate of violence is quoted without any context people don't think of spankings or hair pulling, which are sexual acts a lot of people enjoy in moderation. They think of shit nobody wants to think about. So with that in mind, when someone writes a paragraph like this:
As if that wasn’t bad enough, of the 50 best-selling adult videos (amounting to 304 scenes), approximately 90% included physical violence against the talent; the vast majority of which against females. This means that when people look without much effort for porn, it is extremely likely they will be seeing violence against women, which undoubtedly increases the likelihood of themselves doing these things or finding them acceptable, even increasing the likelihood of them accepting rape myths. (Malmuth and Check, 1981)
It's always a good idea to check the source for context. There IS a lot of sick shit out there, and it DOES need attention, but misrepresentation through statistics does more harm than good by misleading efforts - and the really sad part of that is the people who really need the help can be overlooked because attention was diverted elsewhere.
Again, citing a study to support your claims is good, but we should always check the source. When he writes this statement:
As a matter of fact, a 2005 study by Zillman and Bryant examining the links between pornography use and aggression resulted in such clear proof that the study, by ethical regulations, can’t be reproduced due to the inevitability of harming their research subjects.
This is a faulty reference. There is no 2005 study - the study was from the 80s and he is referencing a quote by another individual from 2005, specifically:
"Zillmann and Bryant’s research studies, completed in the 1980’s, were so successful at proving the irreversible negative effects of viewing pornography that ethics boards will not allow further studies on the topic to be undertaken."
This is from the book "Pornified" by Pamela Paul, published in 2005.
Shockingly, he refers to the Stamford Prison Experiment. That experiment lacked real scientific control, neutral observation, conditions that could not be reproduced and conditions that were not naturally occurring. While it was a really interesting thing to read about (or watch if you have the stamina to do so) it's really not a viable source of support for the psychological development of sadists.
There is a lot wrong with that article, and if I were to continue then I'd probably run out of space in this post.
I am not making a declaration that porn is always okay. Porn can be very destructive and very harmful.
When people make sweeping generalizations, exaggerations and outright fabrications then it only damages their cause. yes, your brain DOES change when you watch too much porn. Yes, it WILL damage you over time. There is a serious, SERIOUS problem with the idea that getting rid of porn will fix everything. Addicts who do not fix themselves will just find another substance to abuse. They can run from porn, but will run into something else to escape from. These people who are damaged, hurting or abusive need serious help and real attention.
There is a lot wrong with the porn industry. It doesn't need more shit tacked on to make it a target for a serious overhaul.