The Acceptance of Pornography

Pornography is nothing new. Throughout human history we can find evidence of pornographic materials in society. While pornography has existed in many various forms, the modern pornography industry – yes, a large and profitable industry dedicated to pornography – and modern society have greatly changed the presentation and role of pornography.  In many ways, pornography has become accepted in modern society.  Because of the great numbers of people who are able to access pornographic materials on the internet, the use of porn has become accepted, normalized, and by some standards expected of people of all ages.  This acceptance of pornography will come at a price.

tumblr_n2p08bQMNT1r1mpi1o1_500In 2011, Fifty Shades of Grey was released.  This novel by E.L. James quickly became a number one bestseller and was seen in the hands of women at the gym, on the metro, in their purses, and on their bookshelves.  Why is this worth noting?  Because this novel is an extremely sexual novel that features elements of sexual practices involving BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism).  By many standards this novels constitutes and pornographic yet it is currently being made into a feature film and has become a trilogy.  Despite its pornographic nature, it was and continues to be highly acceptable to read and discuss this book in public.  As a 17-year-old babysitter, one of the mothers of the children that I babysat asked me if I had read it as she put it into her purse.  When I replied that I hadn’t, she told me that it was a “must-read.”    

From the movie "Don Jon"

From the movie “Don Jon”

TV and film often show support or acceptance for the porn industry.  A number of films have been made surrounding pornography including Don Jon, Zac and Miri Make a Porno, and Thanks for Sharing among others.  While these movies use pornography as a part of their story, they also expose many of the problems that come with watching pornography.  Because of how easy it is to view pornography or pornographic materials, many people have become actually addicted to it to the point where it is greatly affecting their lives and relationships as shown in Thanks for Sharing and Don Jon.

Yet, while these movies expose pornography for its issues, they also glorify it and in some cases, movies are becoming increasingly more like porn.  Today it is not unusual to see sex scenes and various forms of nudity in movies and in certain TV shows even.  Porn is not only being accepted but is infiltrating the media in a way that often makes it hard to ignore or escape.


From the TV show “New Girl”

Many TV shows do not necessarily focus on pornography as part of the plot point but will reference pornography or let the viewer know that one of the characters watches pornography.  Both the role that pornography plays in TV and movies, expresses society’s overall acceptance of pornography and the normalization of it.  It is no longer of banned subject of conversation but a subject that can be discussed alongside the banter of comedies.

Overall, it is clear that pornography is becoming increasingly more accepted in our society.  It has long been the case that society has allowed for those who can’t seem to control their sex drive some sort of outlet whether it be pornography or premarital sex.  However, what is this acceptance saying about our expectations and values?  Should we simply accept pornography instead of asking those to rise to a higher standard?  Obviously there are those who do not believe that there is anything wrong with watching pornography but studies show that this is wrong.

This is not to say that there is not a certain stigma that comes with pornography even in modern society.  It is not necessarily as accepted as it may seem from the media.  While many TV shows and movies glorify or normalize pornography, there are many media outlets such as documentaries, articles, and various videos that show the horrors of the porn industry and recognize that there are serious repercussions of pornography on relationships and even on the individual.  Many people and former porn stars that have left the industry have spoken out themselves about the horrors or pornography.  Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all condemn pornography.

It is interesting that in a time where we are so concerned with social change and respect, we are allowing a billion dollar industry to exist that is greatly contributing to the breakdown of families and relationships as well as sex slaves.  Pornography isn’t just about pleasure, media and technology have made pornography much more than that while still downplaying it.  There is no lack of research showing the negative effects of porn, so has society placed porn and sexual pleasure above the importance of relationships and love?

An interesting chart which shares some of the statistics regarding pornography in modern society.



Documentaries on the pornography industry:

  • Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography
  • After Porn Ends
  • The Price of Pleasure

Duke student paying tuition with porn:


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