What I Wish College Students Knew About Pornography

I was around eight years old when I stumbled upon pornography for the first time. I was hooked. I was in intrigued. As my fascination with pornography grew, so did my defensiveness. I knew deep down that this behavior was not masculine. But the strong urge to view pornography outweighed any desire to face up to that. “She’s willing to do it!” I would say – mostly to myself. “It’s not like I’m raping anybody!” “It’s fine. It’s fine.” No one had told me that there might be a problem with porn. In fact, most adults I knew seemed to look favorably upon it. “Everything in moderation” they used to say, erg – what an extremely unhelpful – and fallacious- thing to say.

With time, grace, and support I have begun to heal from those wounds I so willingly inflicted upon myself. Ah, how much more expansive and vibrant life is now in comparison with that narrow little world in which I once chose to live.

In this article I will offer three truths about porn that I wish every university student knew. Narrowing it to three is difficult when I could write a hundred!  But these three are the most important ones I want you to know.

1. Porn is not bad because “sex is bad.”

Sex isn’t bad, and the body isn’t shameful! Porn is wrong because sex is good, and the body magnificent! As Christians we must never forget whose idea sex was in the first place. It was not thought up by Hugh Hefner or Cosmopolitan magazine but by God! In fact, the very first commandment in the Bible from God to humanity is to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28)! And as philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft once noted, “I do not think he meant for us to grow oranges and invent calculators.”

Porn is wrong because it removes sexual intimacy from its natural context, turning it into a commodity to be bought and sold. It has been rightly said that the problem with porn is not that it shows too much but that it shows too little – too little of the human person. Porn reduces the mystery and beauty of a man or woman to a collection of body parts to be used rather than recognizing them as persons to be loved. It reduces the great mystery and sanctity of human sexuality to a trivial activity that need not be of any real importance.

2. Porn is not just a man’s issue.

While it is certainly true that men have cornered the market on visual pornography, it’s not true that women don’t also struggle. One survey revealed that 34% of female subscribers of Today’s Christian Woman’s online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn. Because pornography is predominantly consumed by men, many women who struggle with pornography feel an even greater sense of shame and isolation.

One young woman I know put it this way:

“For over seven years, I was addicted to hardcore pornography, masturbation, and lust—and I am a woman. Often we hear that women may struggle with fantasy and romance novels, but porn—porn is a guy thing. One of the most shaming statements I ever heard was, ‘Women just don’t have this problem.’ I started to lose hope after I heard that. How do you argue with the ‘fact’ that only men struggle with porn? It is sad, because this mindset is causing so much damage to women. It causes many women to question their sexuality and wonder if they are homosexual because they are involved in a sin ‘only men’ get caught up in. It isolates them, silences them, keeps them trapped in this sin and drives them further away from freedom and into the darkness.”

If you or a woman you know struggles with pornography, be assured that you are not alone. Help is available, and healing is possible. You might begin by visiting the site Beggar’s Daughter.

3. “Porn Stars” don’t enjoy what they do!

When I inquired of a friend of mine, a former porn star, if this was the case, she said, “Well, there are several reasons why girls get into the porn industry, but a hardcore sex drive isn’t one of them. I know, because that’s what I used to tell people in interviews.”

Another former porn star put it this way:

“Sex-packed porn films featuring freshly dyed blondes whose evocative eyes say ‘I want you’ is quite possibly one of the greatest deceptions of all time. Trust me, I know. I did it all the time, and I did it for the lust of power and the love of money. I never liked sex. I never wanted sex, and in fact I was more apt to spend time with Jack Daniels than some of the studs I was paid to fake it with. That’s right – none of us freshly dyed blondes like doing porn. In fact, we hate it. We hate being touched by strangers who care nothing about us…. Some women hate it so much you can hear them vomiting in the bathroom between scenes. Others can be found outside smoking an endless chain of Marlboro Lights… but the porn industry wants YOU to think we porn actresses love sex. They want you to think we enjoy being degraded by all kinds of repulsive acts.”

Porn “immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world” (CCC 2354). One such illusion is that the women in the porn industry enjoy making porn. While this may be a convenient illusion for those seeking to justify their porn use, the reality behind the fantasy is another story entirely.

The fourth thing I would say (yes, yes, I know I promised only three) is that if you or someone you love is hooked on porn, healing is possible – it’s bloody hard and there are no “quick fixes” but we can do all things through him who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).  Because I’ve run out of room allow me to point you to an article I wrote entitled, “Are You Finally Ready To Be Free”.

If you’re looking for more information, you can find more of what I’ve written at my blog.

This post is a apart of the “What I Wish College Students Knew” series. We wanted to get popular Catholic authors and speakers to write about topics that were close to the minds and hearts of college students across the country. To read more posts in this series, click on the links below.

Matt Fradd
Matt Fradd
Matt Fradd is the creator and host of the Pints With Aquinas podcast. He is the author and coauthor of several books including, Does God Exist? A Socratic Dialogue on the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas. Matt earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in philosophy from Holy Apostles College & Seminary which also awarded him an honorary doctorate. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife Cameron and their four kids.

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