Smut and porn are equally as damaging

By Alex Diaz

Staff Editor

What are porn addictions? The direct answer is an addiction to sexual visual media often in video form. Many times porn videos are directed towards men and depict harmful and stereotypical acts, especially with its treatment of women in the industry. However, another form of porn has taken rise targeted towards women and in the form of books. This is known as erotica or smut.

While some people consider porn to be worse than erotica (especially due to the dehumanization sex workers face in the industry), both can be equally as damaging when overconsumed.

To start, when overconsumed, both forms of sexual media can set unrealistic expectations when people enter relationships. Smut, like porn, can have damaging effects not only on oneself but on others around them, and accepting this behavior needs to stop. Due to the fact that both industries create unrealistic scenarios of what happens in sex, many relationships get damaged due to this delusion. In his article, Gary Gilles states, “Pornography has been shown to weaken commitment in marriages because it creates an utterly false impression of what a normal body looks like and what sexual behavior is really about. […] Porn is about self-gratification and often involves dominating or mistreating the other person.”

dissociation | in camera double exposure | Emiliano Grusovin | Flickr

Dissociation is a common occurrence that happens to those with trauma, but can also happen because of porn/smut addictions. PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr

No matter what form porn takes, written or in video, porn has been shown to create false ideas of what relationships are meant to look like. Porn and erotica can cause delusion to the point of dissociating during sex (an occurrence that also happens when one is traumatized or stressed). Dissociating during sex is a term used to describe an occurrence where a person can’t get aroused with what is happening at the moment and can only get aroused when fantasizing while having sex. While this occurrence happens to nearly 75% of the population, it often prevents emotional and physical intimacy and causes damage to relationships.

Further, porn and smut can create unrealistic expectations, where people expect nearly the impossible during sex. This can include things such as people jeopardizing their health because they expect porn and smut to be realistic. This can also cause harm to relationships and affect the real world despite certain aspects of smut and porn being mere fiction.

Additionally, both the porn and smut industries portray unhealthy kinks that cause the normalization of minority groups to be fetishized as well as feeding into “rape culture”. 

While both industries allow people with nonconventional kinks to express themselves sexually, this can lead to people sexualizing things such as races, minors, LGBTQ+ and even rape. A popular category among porn websites is rape and many smut writers include what the community knows as “non-con” or non-consensual sex. Both get categorized as kinks which leads to the normalization of them, feeding into “rape culture”.

In a study among fraternity men, those who watched mainstream porn showed greater interest in raping women if they would not be caught compared to those who did not. Erotica often depicts acts of non-consensual or dubious-consensual sex, labeling it as “dark sex”. The normalization and acceptance of these kinks can only add to sexual assault and victim-blaming.

Some people argue that others should be allowed to express themselves sexually, and porn and smut allow that. Stopping both industries will prevent people from being able to safely express their sexuality. 

Consuming porn and smut once in a while in itself isn’t a problem—in fact, it’s healthy to do so. However, the overconsumption of such media to the point where one’s everyday life is being affected is unhealthy and needs to be stopped. In a story by an anonymous woman about overcoming her erotica addiction, she states, “I would stay home ‘sick’ so I could read, uninterrupted. […] There was one day on this vacation that I walked away from my family, into my bedroom, fully prepared, willing, and wanting to look at porn.” Sexual content no matter the media has an effect on the brain. Small and normal dosages of this isn’t a problem, but too much of it is.

So the question remains, are smut addictions just as harmful as porn additions?

The fact is that there isn’t much research on this topic. Oftentimes, porn addiction studies are conducted on men rather than women when both groups can have it, leaving virtually no research on women and the effects of their interest in sexual content. Additionally, smut is seen as a “tamer” version of porn since it isn’t acted out leaving many researchers to prioritize or study visual porn addictions instead.

However, time and time again, all over social media, people normalize smut consumption and advertise it to the point of addiction. With the rise of the internet and allowing easier access to sexual content, people are exposed to it at younger and younger ages, giving rise to more and more porn addictions.

Normalizing and accepting this behavior has got to go and we can’t let people be fine with having harmful addictions that can damage relationships and communities. We shouldn’t live in a society where the mistreatment of others is accepted due to how people get portrayed in fictional sexual environments. But, rather than shame people for expressing their sexuality, we should warn them of the dangers too much porn and erotica can bring. Let people change for the better and not out of shame for embracing their sexuality.

Featured Image (at the top of this page): Porn in written form can be as damaging as in video form. PHOTO CREDIT: The Writing Cooperative

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