by the AMU Anscombe Society Officer Team
After hearing Dr. William Struthers present a talk titled “On Harms and Hope: The Myriad Injustices of Pornography and How Some are Fighting Back” at the annual Love and Fidelity Network conference in October, the leaders of the Ave Maria University Anscombe Society decided to bring Dr. Struthers to their campus. On March 7th the AMU Anscombe Society hosted a lecture by Dr. Struthers titled “PornBrain: What Neuroscience is (and isn’t) Telling Us about Digital Sexuality.” The event, which took place at the local cafe, drew over 100 students as well as faculty and staff.
Dr. Struthers presented much of his recent research, which centers around the effects that pornography has on the brain and how this in turn negatively impacts our sexuality. Dr. Struthers highlighted how pornography is becoming a greater problem in the digital age because of the “three A’s:” accessibility, anonymity, and affordability. Whereas in the past one probably had to buy a playboy magazine to see pornographic images, now all one needs is an internet connection. Whereas one used to have to see a real person in order to purchase pornography, now one need not leave his room. Whereas in the 80’s pornographic videos could cost over $200, now the vast majority of pornography is free online.
Pornography in the digital age is also causing children to be exposed to sexually explicit images at younger and younger ages. Dr. Struthers argued that younger generations are exposed to more pornographic images before they are twelve years old than their parents’ generation saw by the time they were forty. The impact of this is enormous. Such an exposure to pornography rewires our brain in a way that makes it difficult to distinguish non-sexual cues from sexual ones. Women are also becoming more addicted to digital porn instead of romance novels.
Though pornography has deeply permeated our culture, there is hope. Recently Utah lawmakers passed a resolution declaring pornography a “public health crisis.” Others are pushing the DSM-5 to declare pornography addiction a mental health issue. Struthers believes that in years to come we may see a stigmatizing of pornography similar to that of cigarette smoking.