Utah has passed a resolution declaring pornography a “public health crisis,” a step that shocked the public conscience. However, the movement to address the harms of pornography — and more important, the research on the subject — has been steadily growing and gaining momentum for years.
Unlike the 1960s, when protests about pornography were based primarily on moral grounds, science and research have now become central to the national dialogue on the effects of porn use — in fact, every sentence in the Utah resolution contains citations to peer-reviewed research.
Since 2011, there have been at least 24 studies that have revealed porn negatively impacts the brain — which may actually be physically altered by pornography. Further, an analysis of 22 studies from seven countries concluded that porn use is significantly associated with attitudes conducive to sexual aggression and to engaging in actual acts of sexual aggression in both males and females. For anyone who believes the myth that pornography use has contributed to the so-called national decline in rape, think again. In actuality, some research shows that police departments have been significantly undercounting reported rapes in order to create the illusion of reductions in crime. Far from reducing sexual violence, pornography use feeds a culture accepting of rape, as shown by links to porn users’ increased likelihood of using physical coercion to have sex, and of engaging in sexual harassment behaviors.