Bill and Christine called my office deeply distraught about their fifteen year-old daughter, Shannon. They had caught her sexting with her boyfriend. She was taking nude photos of herself with her cell phone camera and e-mailing them to her boyfriend.
When confronted about it, Shannon’s response was “What’s the big deal? Everyone does it. Besides, it’s what you need to do to get a boyfriend.”
Bill had also discovered that Shannon was viewing Internet porn and frequenting chat rooms for sexual purposes. Bill and Christine were shocked and, other than taking away Shannon’s cell phone and computer, they didn’t know how to handle this situation.
Women and Cybersex
While most of my work focuses on pornography addiction in men, I’ve also worked with many women who are addicted. More women are getting trapped in this addiction. One third of all visitors to pornographic websites are women. About 17% of all pornography addicts are women, and the numbers are growing.
To understand this addiction in women, it’s important to realize how men and women are wired differently. Although more women are viewing online pornography like men, most are not aroused by it initially. This is because, neurologically speaking, women are generally not as visually stimulated as men. Women are more relationally stimulated.
Because of their attraction to relationships, many women are becoming addicted to social media outlets for sexual purposes. These include chat rooms, blogs, webcams, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. For example, in chat rooms, a woman can be anyone she wants to be, and she can get into very sexual chats with men. She and her chat partner create extremely vivid sexual fantasies with words and possibly photos or video. In essence, she is writing her own romance novel and she is the heroine. This can be very addictive for a woman, especially if she is extremely lonely and/or dealing with deep emotional wounds.
Through outlets, such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat women can produce and share their own homemade porn with men in the hopes of gaining and/or maintaining a relationship.
The Progression of the Addiction
Just like most addictions where a tolerance develops, for some women words on a screen are soon not satisfying enough. At this point, a young woman might engage in sexting where she e-mails pornographic photos as well as text to men. A young woman might also use a webcam where her chat partner can now see her. She can now participate in webcam sex.
This addiction can also be extremely physically dangerous for women. Studies have shown that women are much more willing to physically meet the men they have encountered online. It’s a fact that many people lie when they are online, especially in chat rooms. Thus, while a woman may think she will be having a romantic rendezvous at a local hotel with a wonderful man she met online, she might really be meeting a serial rapist or killer.
Although more men are addicted to Internet pornography, this addiction is far more dangerous for women.
Woman and “Men’s Porn”
While most women who become addicted to Internet sex are using the venues listed above, there is a growing population of young women who are becoming addicted to the visual pornography designed for men. This is also fueled by their desire for a relationship.
When men view porn, what they usually focus on are body parts and sex acts. However, when these women view porn, what they often see is a relationship being expressed sexually. This concerns me, because the sex portrayed in porn is not the healthy sex one would find in a healthy marriage. It is often a depiction of a man violently using a woman for his own selfish pleasure.
Protecting Young Women
So to all the parents out there, you must protect your daughters. Be sure to monitor all their use of technology. Make sure they are not using technology for any sexual purposes. Internet monitoring software such as Covenant Eyes can help. Educate your daughters on the dangers of the Internet. There are many sexual predators who want to lure young women into their traps. We need to make sure young women are safe in cyberspace.
Shannon admitted she sexted to keep her boyfriend. Thus, what she really wanted was a relationship. She had a strong faith and knew sexting was wrong, but she feared she would lose her boyfriend if she didn’t sext. Deep down Shannon did not want to exploit herself for a relationship. She felt trapped in a no-win situation.
In addition to teaching Shannon about Internet safety, Bill and Christine worked with Shannon to teach her about healthy relationships, intimacy and sexuality. She soon came to realize that any boyfriend who would dump her for not being sexual was not worth dating after all. Although it was difficult because of peer pressure, Shannon decided to wait. In the end she was glad she made this decision.