Warren Binford, a children's rights advocate and a Willamette University professor, discusses the impact that the Internet has had on young men in her talk on pornography.
Through her research, she's discovered that the average male is now exposed to sexual videos and images by the age of 12, due to how easy it is to access them. This has led to problems with arousal in one third of men between the ages of 18 and 25, as it's argued that their sexuality is being defined by the images they've been exposed to on computers. As older generations didn't have such exposure, they developed differently, and learned to form sexual relations through real interactions at a much slower pace. Unlike their older counterparts, young men whose sexual development is affected by the Internet are less likely to be aroused by real interactions.
In addition to affecting their sexual development, online pornography has the ability to cause social isolation, depression, anxiety, and even underdeveloped connections to the prefrontal cortex -- which is where rational thought, emotional maturity, and reward satisfaction is formed. Due to this, those who've become addicted to online pornography are more likely to desire more extreme, and often illegal, forms of adult content as they grow older. In addition, these men have had a greater exposure to a normalization of violence and degradation of women, which correlates with their likelihood of committing a sexual assault, as well as their likelihood of intervening.
Women who watch a lot of pornography are also less likely to intervene if they see a sexual assault unfolding, as well as less likely to report their own assault, says Binford. Although much of the affects of overexposure are related to male sexuality and how it is perceived, it's argued that it negatively impacts how men see women in other roles as well. By showing how this affects both men and women, Binford highlights the severe importance of having healthy discussions about sex, so that young people have the tools they need to build strong, respectful, and consensual relationships with one another.
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