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Source: Universal Pictures

Pornography addiction has often been labeled a “man’s problem,” with a lot of blame being placed on the media and entertainment industry for producing hyper-sexualized movies, magazine covers, and of course the pornography industry which creates skewed perceptions of intimacy and body image.

While men certainly do suffer from and are susceptible to pornography addictions influenced by the entertainment industry, women are not excluded from its influence. Porn addiction can harm both men and women indiscriminately, although often in different ways.

The 2016 release of 50 Shades of Grey and the upcoming release of its sequel, 50 Shades Darker, in February, 2017, has shed light on the susceptibility of women to pornography addiction not only by the success of the movies, but by the plot that was first printed in book form and entranced readers enough to lead to the production of the movies.

The Appeal

Pornography and sexual addictions are complex and rarely linked solely to sexual desire. As demonstrated in the movie, the main character Christian turns towards the BDSM lifestyle because of a trauma in his life, and the need to feel in control of his surroundings (which leads him to feel the need to control other people).

There are a variety of underlying reasons women may use sex and pornography as a coping mechanism. The appeal to the 50 Shades of Grey series, for example, could be the longing for the classic “happy ending” to a controlling and abusive relationship, with the emphasis on sexual relations to invoke those pleasure-seeking centers of our brains that fuel addiction.

Certainly, there are gender roles at play telling a woman she is responsible for the pleasure of a man, along with male gender roles which tell men they are the dominant partner in a relationship. These gender roles, although not as prominent in society as they once were, are still largely portrayed in the entertainment industry, particularly in pornographic materials.

Crossing the Line

For men and women, particularly those who are still struggling to overcome insecurities created by these gender roles, are often susceptible to becoming addicted to pornography. The “payoff” from the sexual release of viewing pornography, especially when it relates to their circumstance, fuels the addiction and drives a wedge between them and their family, steals them of their time and attention, and warps their reality of intimacy, body image, and healthy relationships.

A sex or pornography addiction can begin as the desire to fulfill the unrealistic ideals portrayed in the media. Men and women may believe the BDSM lifestyle is saving their marriage because it’s what seems to make their spouse “happy,” and this keeps the cycle in motion. This is similar to what happens to the character Ana in the 50 Shades of Grey series. Insecurity coupled with the desire to satisfy and create happiness for a partner who suffers from a pornography or sexual addiction can lead to their own addiction, and the cycle continues.

Support

If you or someone you know uses pornography excessively to cope with trauma, unhealthy relationships, or other life stressors, there is a way out. By finding the right support and learning healthy coping mechanisms, the strong grip of pornography can be loosened and the healing process can begin. Lifestar Therapy offers an intensive outpatient sexual addiction recovery program for men struggling with porn addiction, as well as support for spouses that provides counseling and space for healing.

If you aren’t sure where to begin on your road to recovery, Lifestar Therapy offers a free ebook that you can download here.

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