The Effect of Pornography on Women and Girls

by JL P | February 17, 2009
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Matthew 5

27 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' [a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

There is a whole industry set up to violate these words of Jesus - it's called pornography. We know it hurts the relationship between the genders by encouraging men to treat women and girls as sex objects, rather than as persons created in the image of God. Yet what effect does pornography have on the self image of women and girls and how they value themselves? It’s not something I have heard Christians talk about much.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. In his book “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction” (Page 88 and 89) Patrick Carnes says the following:

"A girl reads the sexually explicit magazines in her father’s pornography collection and becomes convinced about how to get a man’s attention. As an adult, she acts like the women in those magazines to attract the attention of the opposite sex."

When I was growing up, a couple of my female friends showed me their fathers' pornography.  At age fourteen, one of them acted out some of the things that were  described in her father's magazines.  Later on, at age eighteen she married an extremely unstable man. I think if she had known a better experience in her family when learning what it means to be female, she would not have married him. Another girl who showed me her father’s pornography had the attitude that taking off as much clothing as possible was the ultimate thrill in being female. Even as an adult, she considers women with larger breasts to be of more intrinsic value than women with smaller breasts, and that’s what she has indirectly conveyed to her daughters.

When we talk about the cost of pornography, we cannot limit it to the way it causes men to treat women. We also have to take into account what it teaches women and girls about their value as human beings. It teaches them that their primary worth in this life is the sexual pleasure their body gives to men. It glamorizes being a sex object, and many women and girls, including Christians, accept this lesson without ever questioning it. In addition, many women come to accept the idea that their husbands' using of pornography is normal. Again they accept this lesson without ever questioning it.

This is the  legacy of pornography in our culture. It not only causes men to view women and girls as sex objects, it causes women and girls to look at themselves as sex objects. What can we as Christians do to undo the lessons pornography teaches women and girls, and to show them how Jesus wants them to be viewed ?