Pornography (quotes)


Is pornography harmful or harmless?


Pornography is the depiction of erotic behaviour intended to cause sexual excitement

  • Pornography: Books, magazines, films, etc. with no artistic value that describe or show sexual acts or naked people in a way that is intended to be sexually exciting. Cambridge Dictionary
  • Pornography: The depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement. Merriam Webster
  • SexualityLustAddiction

Pornography is a controversial subject …

  • Pornography: That which excites, whether from approval or disapproval. Leonard Rossiter

… especially with porn being so widespread and accessible via the Internet

  • Everyone, no matter how refined, had a stash of porn. Mark Vincent
  • The internet is 95 percent porn and spam. Margaret Atwood

Many argue that porn does no harm and can bring benefits

  • Contrary to what many people believe, recent research shows that moderate pornography consumption does not make users more aggressive, promote sexism or harm relationships. If anything, some researchers suggest, exposure to pornography might make some people less likely to commit sexual crimes. Melinda Wenner Moyer

Some argue that suppressing the desire to view pornography can do more harm than watching it

  • It turns out that among porn viewers, the amount of porn each subject consumed had nothing to do with his or her mental state. What mattered most, Twohig found, was whether the subjects tried to control their sexual thoughts and desires. The more they tried to clamp down on their urge for sex or porn, the more likely they were to consider their own pornography use a problem. The findings suggest that suppressing the desire to view pornography, for example, for moral or religious reasons, might actually strengthen the urge for it and exacerbate sexual problems. It’s all about “personal views and personal values,” Twohig says. In other words, the effects of pornography—positive or negative—have little to do with the medium itself and everything to do with the person viewing it. Melinda Wenner Moyer

Nowhere has it been proved that porn causes rape or violence

  • Those Romans who perpetrated the rape of the Sabines, for example, did not work themselves up for the deed by screening Debbie Does Dallas, and the monkish types who burned a million or so witches in the Middle Ages had almost certainly not come across Boobs and Buns or related periodicals. Barbara Ehrenreich
  • If looking at porn makes you kill people, then Joe Matt should be the biggest serial killer ever. Bundy may have believed that porn made him a murderer, but the experience of millions of peaceful non-murdering porn-consumers around the world proves him wrong. Chester Brown
  • Violence

Others warn against the potential negative effects of porn

  • Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it. H. Lawrence
  • What pornographic literature does is precisely to drive a wedge between one’s existence as a full human being and one’s existence as a sexual being — while in ordinary life a healthy person is one who prevents such a gap from opening up. Normally we don’t experience, at least don’t want to experience, our sexual fulfillment as distinct from or opposed to our personal fulfillment. But perhaps in part they are distinct, whether we like it or not. Susan Sonrag
  • How do I know pornography depraves and corrupts? It depraves and corrupts me. Malcolm Muggeridge
  • Pornography is pornography, what is there to see? Movies are attempting to destroy something that’s supposed to be the most beautiful thing a man and a woman can have by making it cheap and common. It’s what you don’t see that’s attractive. Nancy Reagan

Here are some of the most common arguments against pornography …   


Porn provides intense, short term pleasure that can come at a lingering cost

  • When you have sought the company of a sensual satisfaction, what loneliness afterward! St. Josemaria Escriva
  • While viewing porn creates momentary intensely pleasurable experiences, it ends up leading to several negative lingering psychological experiences. BJ Stockman

Porn is the fast food of sex, a poor substitute for the real thing

  • Consuming pornography does not lead to more sex, it leads to more porn. Much like eating McDonalds everyday will accustom you to food that (although enjoyable) is essentially not food, pornography conditions the consumer to being satisfied with an impression of extreme sex rather than the real. Virginie Despentes
  • We think fast food is equivalent to pornography, nutritionally speaking. Steve Elbert.
  • Pornography is rather like trying to find out about a Beethoven symphony by having somebody tell you about it and perhaps hum a few bars. Robertson Davies

Porn can impair relationships

  • Pornography impairs one’s ability to enjoy a normal emotional, romantic, and spiritual relationship with a person of the opposite sex. Dallin H. Oaks
  • Pornography? It’s a new synaptic pathway. You wake up in the morning, open a thumbnail page, and it leads to a Pandora’s Box of visuals. There have probably been days when I saw 300 women before I got out of bed. Internet pornography has absolutely changed my generation’s expectations.…You’re looking for the one photo out of 100 you swear is going to be the one you finish to, and you still don’t finish. Twenty seconds ago you thought that photo was the hottest thing you ever saw, but you throw it back…How does that not affect the psychology of having a relationship with somebody? It’s got to.   John Mayer

Pornography turns sex into a selfish pursuit and diminishes intimacy

  • Sex becomes self-serving. It becomes about your pleasure and not the self-giving, mutually reciprocating intimacy that it was designed for. BJ Stockman
  • Intimacy

Porn can blind you to the beauty of your real-life partner

  • When beauty pornography is aimed at men, its effect is to keep them from finding peace in sexual love. The fleeting chimera of the airbrushed centerfold, always receding before him, keeps the man destabilized in pursuit, unable to focus on the beauty of the woman–known, marked, lined, familiar—-who hands him the paper every morning. Naomi Wolf

Porn is a waste of erotic energy, better spent on your partner

  • The principle sin of porn is not one of commission but omission. All the erotic energy that should be focused on the woman in your life is being wasted. Your eroticism is being punctured, leaving your relationship boring and predictable. Rabbi Shmuley

Porn detracts from the human imagination

  • Pornographers subvert this last, vital privacy; they do our imagining for us. They take away the words that were of the night and shout them over the roof-tops, making them hollow. George Steiner
  • ImaginationFantasy

Porn cultivates an unrealistic standard of beauty and sexuality

  • Excessive exposure to the incredible variety of naked bodies that you see in porn makes men feel permanently dissatisfied with their wives’ bodies. Rabbi Shmuley
  • Porn cultivates a single standard of beauty that no real women can live up to. This leads men to be mistakenly dissatisfied with reality as it pertains to sex. Rabbi Shmuley

Porn is a drug that can lead to addiction

  • Stay completely away from pornography. Do not allow yourself to view it, ever. It has been proven to be an addiction which is more than difficult to overcome. Thomas S. Monson
  • Pornography is more addictive than drugs, and thanks to the First Amendment, it’s getting bigger every day. Gail Hoone
  • Pornography gives you a hit, it gives you a high that cannot be sustained unless you have massive exposure to it.  Rabbi Shmuley
  • AddictionCravings

Porn has a numbing effect upon reality, desensitizing us from real thing

  • We’ve become obsessed with free sex, have lost our hunger for the real thing and have been desensitized because it’s so easily accessible. Dave Golokhov
  • After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it. Naomi Wolf
  • Pornography leaves men desensitised to both outrage and to excitement, leading to an overall diminishment of feeling and eventually to dissatisfaction with the emotional tugs of everyday life…Eventually they are left with a confusing mix of supersized expectations about sex and numbed emotions about women…When a man gets bored with pornography, both his fantasy and real worlds become imbued with indifference. The real world often gets really boring… Pamela Paul

In effect, porn becomes more arousing and desirable than physical sex …

  • Men characterize pornography as something mental because their minds, their thoughts, their dreams, their fantasies, are more real to them than women’s bodies or lives; in fact, men have used their social power to characterize a $10- billion-a-year trade in women as fantasy. Andrea Dworkin
  • Sex is more exciting on the screen and between the pages than between the sheets. Andy Warhol
  • For most of human history, the erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn. Naomi Wolf
  • Sexuality

… and can change the brain’s baseline of what turns you on

  • By frequently seeking extreme forms of sexual stimulation, the porn addict will eventually develop an inability to experience sexual pleasure from normal sexual activity; and if the habit goes long enough, an inability to experience pleasure from anything except porn. This pattern of behavior actually changes the brain’s “baseline” of what turns them on. As you can imagine, serious problems develop. First sexual problems, then relationship problems, and then work problems.  Sheri Pagoto PhD

This can affect the ability of men to perform by causing erection problems …

  • The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional- health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity. Naomi Wolf

… which can be explained by changes in the desire circuits in the brain…

  • In the case of porn buffets, another effect men often report is loss of sexual responsiveness. Decreased response to pleasure is common in all addictions, both behavioral and chemical. As erections and orgasm depend in part on sensitivity to dopamine in a key part of the brain, it appears that a decreased sensitivity to dopamine is making some users less sexually responsive too. Marnia Robinson & Gary Wilson
  • Regular Internet porn users have increasingly been complaining of erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and inability to orgasm without porn. Sexual enhancement drugs didn’t offer much relief, because the problem was originating in the desire circuits of the brain, not below the belt where sexual enhancement drugs work. Marnia Robinson & Gary Wilson
  • Many men don’t realize their brain’s sensitivity is declining toward normal sex because Internet erotica delivers endless dopamine hits—making erection and climax possible where normal encounters would not. When they try to have actual intercourse and cannot, they understandably panic. Marnia Robinson & Gary Wilson
  • Recent behavioral addiction research suggests that the loss of libido and performance occur because heavy users are numbing their brain’s normal response to pleasure. Years of overriding the natural limits of libido with intense stimulation desensitize the user’s response to a neurochemical called dopamine. Marnia Robinson & Gary Wilson

… and can only be undone through abstaining from porn for a long period

  • Porn-related copulatory impotence lies not in viewers’ penises, but in their brain’s primitive reward circuitry—and there is no quick fix. Normal dopamine sensitivity is critical to normal sexual responsiveness. Too much stimulation appears to weaken the dopamine sensitivity of many brains. To return to normal, the brain needs time to reboot—without extreme stimulation. For an in-depth look at the brain mechanisms at work in porn-related ED and recover. Gary Wilson & Marnia Robinson
  • Repetitive viewing of pornography resets neural pathways, creating the need for a type and level of stimulation not satiable in real life. The user is thrilled, then doomed. But the evolutionary plasticity of our mind makes this damage reversible. In “The Brain That Changes Itself,” psychiatrist Norman Doidge writes about patients who overused porn and were able to quit, cold turkey, and change their brains back. They just had to stop watching it. Completely. Holly Finn
  • When they do manage to unhook—generally after a severe trial—they report a decrease in social anxiety, increased confidence, greater attraction to real potential partners, and more enjoyment from life’s subtler pleasures. Simon Louis Lajeunesse

Porn can negatively affect women’s self esteem

  • By inundating girls and women with the message that their most worthy attribute is their sexual hotness and crowding out other messages, pop culture is grooming them just like an individual perpetrator would. It is slowly chipping away at their self- esteem, stripping them of a sense of themselves as whole human beings, and providing them with an identity that emphasizes sex and de-emphasizes every other human attribute. Gail Dines
  • Self-esteem

Porn rewires the brain, effecting how men see women

  • As men fall deeper into the mental habit of fixating on pornographic images, the exposure to them creates neural pathways. Like a path is created in the woods with each successive hiker, so do the neural paths set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with woman are routed…. They have unknowingly created a neurological circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly as created in God’s image.   William Struthers

Porn demeans, dehumanizes and objectifies women

  • Softcore pornography has a very negative effect on men as well. The problem with softcore pornography is that it’s voyeurism teaches men to view women as objects rather than to be in relationships with women as human beings.’ According to Brooks, pornography gives men the false impression that sex and pleasure are entirely divorced from relationships. In other words, pornography is inherently self-centered–something a man does by himself, for himself–by using another women as the means to pleasure, as yet another product to consume. Pamela Paul
  • Pornography subtlety undermines male respect for women by detaching a woman’s personality from her body, reducing her to a mere sexual commodity. Rabbi Shmuley
  • He sees the walking gratification of his material urges. So, he can’t relate to that woman because there’s no person—all he can do is use that woman. Rabbi Shmuley
  • Pornography has been so thickly glossed over with the patina of chic these days in the name of verbal freedom and sophistication… Part of the problem is that those who traditionally have been the most vigorous opponents of porn are often those same people who shudder at the explicit mention of any sexual subject… There can be no equality in porn, no female equivalent, no turning of the tables in the name of bawdy fun. Pornography, like rape, is a male invention, desgined to dehumanize women… Pornography is the undiluted essence of anti-female propaganda. Susan Brownmiller
  • Pornography is the orchestrated destruction of women’s bodies and souls; rape, battery, incest, and prostitution animate it; dehumanization and sadism characterize it; it is war on women, serial assaults on dignity, identity, and human worth; it is tyranny. Each woman who has survived knows from the experience of her own life that pornography is captivity — the woman trapped in the picture used on the woman trapped wherever he’s got her. Andrea Dworkin
  • Men may buy pornography but women pay for it – in terms of exploitation, rape, violence, and a society that sees them as disposable sexual objects. Rosalie Maggio
  • Men and women who were exposed to large amounts of pornography were significantly less likely to want daughters than those who had none. Who would want their own little girl to be treated that way? Pamela Paul

Porn lies about what it means to be male and female

  • In the story of porn, women are “one-dimensional”–they never say no, never get pregnant, and can’t wait to have sex with any man and please them in whatever way imaginable (or even unimaginable). On the other hand, the story porn tells about men is that they are “soulless, unfeeling, amoral life-support systems for erect penises who are entitled to use women in any way they want. These men demonstrated zero empathy, respect, or love for the women they have sex with. Gail Dines
  • Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men.  John Stoltenberg

Porn perpetuates male dominance and sexual exploitation

  • Pornography incarnates male supremacy. It is the DNA of male dominance. Every rule of sexual abuse, every nuance of sexual sadism, every highway and byway of sexual exploitation, is encoded in it. Andrea Dworkin

Porn is having an adverse effect on the sexuality of young adults

  • For the first time in history, children are growing up whose earliest sexual imprinting derives not from a living human being, or fantasies of their own; since the 1960s pornographic upsurge, the sexuality of children has begun to be shaped in response to cues that are no longer human. Nothing comparable has ever happened in the history of our species; it dislodges Freud. Today’s children and young men and women have sexual identities that spiral around paper and celluloid phantoms: from Playboy to music videos to the blank females’ torsos in women’s magazines, features obscured and eyes extinguished, they are being imprinted with a sexuality that is mass- produced, deliberately dehumanizing and inhuman. Naomi Wolf
  • The whole world, post-Internet, did become pornographized. Young men and women are indeed being taught what sex is, how it looks, what its etiquette and expectations are, by pornographic training—and this is having a huge effect on how they interact. Naomi Wolf

Abstaining from porn, especially after addiction, can bring great benefits

  • Guys who give up porn often report unexpected changes, such as improved sexual performance and satisfaction, increased confidence and desire to socialize, better concentration, more satisfying romantic relationships and so forth. Yet they also frequently remark on another change: They feel more emotion. Marnia Robinson & Gary Wilson

Final thoughts


Thoughts on what is and isn’t porn

  • There’s only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, Did you get an erection? If the answer is Yes from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic. H. Auden
  • Sex and obscenity are not synonymous. Obscene material is material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to prurient interest. Wlliam J. Brennan, Jr.
  • Obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk.  Henry Miller
  • If we define pornography as any message from any communication medium that is intended to arouse sexual excitement, then it is clear that most advertisements are covertly pornographic. Philip Slater
  • I can’t define what is pornography. But I know it when I see it. Potter Stewart
  • One man’s pornography is another man’s theology. Clive Barker
  • Pornography is in the loin of the beholder. Charles Rembar

Thoughts on the difference between porn and erotica

  • To know the difference between erotica and pornography you must first know the difference between naked and nude. Bernard Poulin
  • The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting. Gloria Leonard
  • Pornography is about dominance. Erotica is about mutuality. Gloria Steinem
  • Pornography is about dominance and often pain. Erotica is about mutuality and always pleasure. Gloria Steinem
  • In practice, attempts to sort out good erotica from bad porn inevitably comes down to ‘What turns me on is erotic; what turns you on is pornographic. Ellen Willis
  • In the male sexual lexicon, which is the vocabulary of power, erotica is simply high-class pornography: better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer. As with the call girl and the streetwalker, one is turned out better but both are produced by the same system of sexual values and both perform the same sexual service. Andrea Dworkin
  • Erotica: The depiction of naked men. Depictions of naked women are far less innocent and are known as “pornography”. Richard Summerbell
  • Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken. Isabel Allende.

Thoughts on porn and art

  • What’s the difference between art and pornography? . . . a government grant!  Peter Griffin
  • Art is sanctioned pornography. Stewart Home
  • Art

Thoughts on obscenity

  • Obscenity is whatever gives the Judge an erection.
  • Sex and obscenity are not synonymous. Obscene material is material which deals with sex in a manner appealing to prurient interest. Wlliam J. Brennan, Jr.
  • Obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk.  Henry Miller

On a lighter note   

  • I once stole a pornographic book that was printed in Braille. I used to rub the dirty parts. Woody Allen
  • I only go birdwatching during mating season. I’m a pornithologist. Bauvard
  • It is a fact of human nature that we derive pleasure from watching others engage in pleasurable acts. This explains the popularity of two enterprises: pornography and cafés. Eric Weiner
  • It’s red hot, mate. I hate to think of this sort of book getting in the wrong hands. As soon as I’ve finished this, I shall recommend they ban it. Tony Hancock
  • Its avowed purpose is to excite sexual desire, which, I should have thought, is unnecessary in the case of the young, inconvenient in the case of the middle aged, and unseemly in the old. Malcolm Muggeridge, on pornography
  • Obscenity is whatever gives the Judge an erection.
  • Playboy exploits sex the way Sports Illustrated exploits sports. Hugh Hefner
  • Pornography is in the loin of the beholder. Charles Rembar
  • Pornography is literature designed to be read with one hand. Angela Lambert
  • Pornography is supposed to arouse sexual desires. If pornography is a crime, when will they arrest makers of perfume?  Richard Fleischer
  • Pornography: That which excites, whether from approval or disapproval. Leonard Rossiter
  • The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.  Gloria Leonard
  • This is the kind of show to give pornography a bad name. Clive Barnes
  • To describe this film as “pornographically violent” is an affront to pornography. Rubin Safaya
  • My reaction to porn films is as follows: After the first ten minutes, I want to go home and screw.  After the first 20 minutes, I never want to screw again as long as I live.  Erica Jong