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Pornography’s History and Societal Effects Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2020


Pornography is one of the most contentious issues in modern society. Various views are held on the effects of pornography on the society. Some people argue that it is detrimental and damaging while others declare that it is a legitimate form of entertainment. By definition, pornography is “mediated content depicting nudity and explicit sexual acts” (Wright, 2013, p.60). Millions of Americans regularly consume pornographic content making this an important issue in our society. This paper will discuss the history of pornography and how it affects the society.

History of Porn

Humans have been producing various forms of pornographic material since they developed the ability to represent ideas abstractly thousands of years ago. Modern pornography can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century. The printing press was responsible for the growth and development of pornography since the Victorian era. Peakman (2012) documents that most of the pornographic material available in England is originated from France.

The development of a printing machine in 1880 that could cheaply reproduce photographs had a major impact on pornography. This technology led to the publishing of numerous magazines featuring nude models. Audiovisual pornography started with the invention of the moving pictures. However, the popularity of this medium remained low for people who had to visit cinemas to view pornographic films. The invention and widespread use of the videotape over the 1970 presented a major advancement in pornography.

The VCR machine not only made it possible for producers to shoot cheap films, but it also allowed consumers to view the explicit content in the privacy of their homes. Developments in ICT during the 1990s helped the industry grow even further. Pornography in the internet was unique from the traditional formats in a number of ways. The internet made pornographic material widely available through multiple websites and in various multimedia formats including videos, animations and texts. In addition to this, the internet increased the supply of pornography by allowing consumers to be producers of the material at the same time.

Effects on Society

The Youth, Relationships and Marriage

The youth today are growing up surrounded by a wide variety of sexually explicit media. This pornographic material has a primarily negative effect on the children and young people. According to Flood (2009), exposure to pornography helps to sustain adherence to sexist and unhealthy opinions on sex and relationships. Young male consumers of pornography are encouraged to be sexually aggressive while women are taught to be submissive.

Research indicates that consumption of pornographic material intensifies supportive attitudes of sexual coercion and increases the likelihood that the individual will engage in sexual assault (Flood, 2009). Finally, pornography leads to greater sexual promiscuity among the youth. Exposure to sexually explicit material produces greater sexual knowledge and more liberal sexual attributes among young people. Studies show that young people exposed to pornography are more accepting of pre-marital sexual relations and multiple sexual partners (Wright, 2013). This exposes them to dangers such as unwanted pregnancies and venereal diseases.

Many people who are involved in romantic relationships consume pornographic content. This consumption damages the relationship in a number of ways. To begin with, it decreases the level of commitment to the relationship by the couple. Studies show that men who consume pornography while in a relationship are perceived unfavorably by their partners (Lambert, et al., 2012).

Watching pornography is regarded as a threat to the stability of the relationship and in some cases it leads to separate or divorce. Pornography also decreases sexual intimacy between partners. Lambert, et al. (2012) explains that this happens since the porn watching partner experiences a reduction in satisfaction with his/her partner’s sexual behavior and appearance. This has a damaging effect on the relationship or marriage as it promotes infidelity.

Economic Significance of Porn

The pornographic industry began to acquire economic relevance in the 1970s following the increased availability of VCR machines. These machines made it possible for individuals to purchase explicit content and consume it at home. The economic relevance of pornography increased in the 1990s following the ICT revolution (Fabio, 2009).

The internet ushered in the golden age of the industry and today pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Lambert, et al. (2012) reveals that in 2012 alone, pornography revenues in the US exceeded 13 billion dollars while the world revenues were in excess of 93 billion dollars. There is already a huge demand for pornographic content in the US. The internet has made it easy for people to access pornographic content easily. The increase in internet access is contributing to the growth of the industry.

Sex Slaves, Sex Trafficking and Child Porn

Pornography has led to the propagation of criminal activities such as sex slavery, sex trafficking, and child exploitation. Some of the actresses featured in porn films are actually sense slaves. These women and children are held against their will and forced to perform sexual activities in front of the camera. There is a demand for exotic women by many porn consumers. This has led to an increase in sex trafficking of women from Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

These women are either forced or tricked into travelling to countries such as the US. When they get to their destination, they are forced to film in the pornography for a living. Pornography production sometimes involves the exploitation of minors who are forced to engage in sexual acts on tape. Prichard, et al. (2013) reveals that the distribution of child exploitation material has risen dramatically with the advent of the internet. The demand for child pornography is strong, which has led to greater financial incentives for the exploitation of minors by film producers. Research reveals that children are forever damaged when they are used in the production of pornography (Prichard, et al., 2013).


Pornographic material is prevalent and easily accessible in modern society. From the discussions presented herein, it appears that the effects of pornography are mostly negative. Consumption of this material leads to moral corruption in the youth by making them develop perverted attitudes towards sex. In addition to this, it contributes to sexual promiscuity among the youth.

Porn also has a negative impact on marriage and relationships as it leads to decreased intimacy and lower sexual satisfaction. The paper has also shown that pornography provides incentives for criminal activities such as sex trafficking and the production of child exploitation material. All these examples suggest that porn is damaging the society. However, the paper has observed that the pornography industry has a positive effect on the economy.

With an annual income of more than $13 billion in the US, this industry is a significant economic contributor. The financial benefits of pornography are the reason why there is a little government motivation to deal with the industry. Even so, the provided discussions suggest that pornography is hugely detrimental to the society. Therefore, steps should be taken to suppress the pornography industry and, by doing so, begin the process of undoing the damages that this medium has caused to our society.


Fabio, D. (2009). The Demand for Pornography. J Happiness Stud, 12(2), 51-75.

Flood, M. (2009). The harms of pornography exposure among children and young people. Child Abuse Review, 18(6), 384-400.

Lambert, N., Negash, S., Stillman, T., & Olmstead, S. (2012). A Love That Doesn’t Last: Pornography Consumption and Weakened Commitment to One’s Romantic Partner. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 31(4), 410-438.

Peakman, J. (2012). Mighty Lewd Books. History Today, 62(12), 45-47.

Prichard, J., Spiranovic, C., Watters, C., & Lueg, C. (2013). Young people, child pornography, and subcultural norms on the Internet. Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 64(5), 992-1000.

Wright, P. (2013). U.S. Males and Pornography, 1973–2010: Consumption, Predictors, Correlates. Journal of Sex Research, 50(1), 60-71.

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