The Role of Pornography in Catalyzing Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking
Studies have shown that pornography activates the same dopamine releasing pleasure center of the brain as other addictive activities, including running, sugar consumption, and the use of drugs like cocaine and heroin. Dopamine release, which causes feelings of happiness or satisfaction, is addictive because it is an immediate gratification with little effort. With any drug, tolerance levels rise and the trigger for the release of dopamine subsequently requires a higher dosage. An addict who began viewing soft-core pornography is no longer excited by the same images and must turn to hardcore pornography for gratification: extreme perversions such as bestiality, sadism and masochism, child pornography, and more. As a result, pornographers are likely to traffic sex slaves to meet demand.
The United States accounts for half of the world's revenue collected from pornography consumption, that is, $2.84 billion out of $4.9 billion world-wide (Stats on Internet Pornography). Those who would argue against stricter laws on online pornography present the argument that with the rise of pornography consumption, the frequency of rapes has declined. However, the statistics depicting a decline in rapes across the globe are distorted, as many sex crimes including pornography and indecency were made legal by the countries from whom those statistics were provided (Porn and Sexual Crime). As pornography users bring unrealistic expectations away from the scenes they were exposed to, many have been shown to have increased aggression, with violent and abusive tendencies. Research on the effects of pornography use on the brain and the link between violent, sexual abuse and pornography suggests that pornography plays a major role in catalyzing sexual abuse and human trafficking. It is not uncommon for pornography to feature sequences of violence and abuse; in many cases, the content of the film may not have been as consensual as the viewer might believe. That is, the seemingly happy porn actress being dominated may, in fact, have been filmed while actually being raped. Add to this disturbing revelation the fact that "25% of all search engine requests" and "35% of all Internet downloads" consist of pornography, as revealed by a 2010 study conducted by OnlineMBA (Stats on Internet Pornography), and the question is raised: what effect does abusive, "hardcore" pornography have? As many as 40 million Americans regularly visit Internet porn sites (Stats on Internet Pornography). These habitual porn users are addicts to what has been coined by Al Cooper, a medical doctor, as "the 'crack-cocaine' of sexual compulsivity" (Taverner 36). Internet porn is known by this term because of the similar chemical, addictive effect it has on the brain.
Cocaine, almost all other illegal drugs, and even nondrug addictions such as
running make the pleasure-giving neurotransmitter dopamine more active in the
brain. Dopamine is called the reward transmitter, because when we accomplish
something... our brain triggers its release... The same surge of dopamine that
thrills us also consolidates the neuronal connections responsible for the behaviors
that led us to accomplish our goal. (Doidge 106) The addiction process of pornography is two-fold: tolerance and sensitization (heightened sensitivity) to pornography simultaneously develop. Like any drug, pornography consumption changes the tolerance level of the brain to require a higher dosage before dopamine is released (Doidge, Brain Scans of Porn Addicts). At the same time, the protein ?FosB ( Pronounced, "DELTA-FAHS-BEE") accumulates, affecting the "appetitive system" by raising the tension level and rewiring the brain to more intensely crave the addictive substance. "Pornography, by offering an endless harem of sexual objects, hyperactivates the appetitive system....
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