2 minute read

Why “Adult” Entertainment Makes You More Juvenile

Last Updated: August 3, 2020

Matt Fradd

Matt Fradd is the author of Delivered: True Stories of Men and Woman Who Turned from Porn to Purity. After experiencing a profound conversion at World Youth Day in Rome in 2000, Matt has worked through full-time lay ministry in Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Texas. He has served as an apologist for Catholic Answers and has traveled all over the world, speaking to tens of thousands of teens and young adults. He and his wife Cameron have four children and live in North Georgia.

Two hundred years ago in the U.K., if you said you were going to a “gentleman’s club,” it was understood you were going to a private upper-class establishment where you could relax, read, play parlor games, get a meal, and gossip with others of your class.

Today, in the U.S., if you said you were going to a “gentleman’s club,” it is assumed you will be paying to see a striptease in a low-lit bar that smells like urinal cakes and hopelessness.

Interesting that we would call it a place for “gentlemen” and that we call porn “adult” entertainment—as if these are the activities that typify mature behavior.

We can probably congratulate Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, for introducing this into mainstream culture. Hefner really changed the public face of porn. To the public he advertised the magazine not as porn, but as a lifestyle magazine: it was about the lifestyle of the playboy, filled with articles about how to mix cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, how to set the mood with music, and how to engage a woman in quiet discussion about Picasso, jazz, and, of course, sex. All of this pretense was placed alongside pictures of naked women. This was the beginning of the mainstreaming of adult media.

But what exactly constitutes “adult” or “mature” behavior? Ask any neuroscientist what a “mature” human brain looks like, and he or she will likely talk to you about a region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. It is located directly behind the forehead and serves as the managerial center of the brain. It is responsible for our willpower, for regulating our behavior, and making decisions based on wisdom not just gut reactions or impulses. When emotions and urges surge from the midbrain, the lobes in the prefrontal cortex are there to exercise “executive control.” By the age of 25, this region of the brain reaches maturity in most men, meaning that our thinking becomes more sophisticated and we can regulate our emotions more easily.

Here’s why this matters to our discussion about porn: there’s actually evidence that watching porn over and over diminishes the capacity of the prefrontal cortex to function properly. You see, the brain is designed in such a way to respond to sexual stimulation. Surges of dopamine are released during a sexual encounter, including the watching porn, and this gives the person a sharp sense of focus and an awareness of sexual craving. However, scientists are now seeing that continued exposure to porn gives the brain an unnatural high and the brain eventually fatigues. It’s the same pattern we see when drugs are abused: the brain becomes desensitized and we see shrinkage in the frontal lobes of the brain.

So, what does this mean? This mean porn actually impacts us medically. We begin to lose impulse control. Cravings for porn start to grow and there are no neurological breaks to put a stop to them. Porn is, in a sense, making the brain not more mature, but more childlike.

Indulging in porn and other forms of commercial sex are hardly befitting of the adjective “adult.” Don’t be fooled. Actions speak louder than words—even when those words are five feet high, written neon, and contain the phrase “gentlemen’s club.”

  • Comments on: Why “Adult” Entertainment Makes You More Juvenile
    1. Michael S. on

      I wish you would stop misleading your readers about your research. There is very conclusive evidence that men and women are completely hardwired for sex differently. Also, testosterone amounts, which influence sex drive, are completely off the charts in men. Then, there is the brain component but you failed to mention that the sex drive region of the brain is 2.5 times larger in men than it is in women. Now either God got sex all wrong and created human beings wrong or fundamentalist Christians are trying to force their values on people and fight biology at the same time.

      You are making life out to be much more than it is all in an attempt to justify your religion. That is what it boils down to. It is getting old and frankly, that is why many people are leaving Christianity. You cherry pick morality and then you have no real answers for anything. So what if you look at porn. Big deal. At the end of the day, what is really the big deal? Cut to the chase. Is it that I wont make it to heaven or be sent to hell? Two places none of us has ever seen? Please.

      Let me clue you in on things —- earth may already be hell. It fits the description except for the “fire”. Nothing is right about this planet. The inequity among people is vast. One person born in the streets and the other in a mansion. Don’t tell me this is all for learning or developing a soul because frankly, the rules are different for everyone. Don’t tell me looking at porn is wrong when the “good” Christians of America are so fond of locking people in cages for minor crimes. I will stand before God himself and tell him that it is far worse what we do in our courtrooms than what we do in our bedrooms. Most of you pie in the sky Christians have no earthly clue what you are talking about. None. Suffering? The woman who catches her husband looking at a nude picture? Please. Go minister to those in prisons, the starving, those dying of disease, those in a war zone, those suffering from depleted uranium poisoning from all our BS wars. Then, come talk to me about looking at a nude woman. I dare you. I will laugh in your face because you are clueless. Completely clueless about suffering in this world. America is a victim of first world problems. Holier than though because your comforts are so well taken care of. The irony of all this is those comforts come at the expense of everyone else. Then you have the audacity to harp on porn. The really ironic thing is you only hold men accountable for porn and never the women who are doing the porn. Here is a clue: if women did not take off their clothes — there would be no porn and ultimately, they are in CONTROL of taking off those clothes. Go be a welder and work in the heat ladies. But no, you dont want to do that. You rather just take off your clothes. So, dont cry me a river about men looking at the porn you created yourselves.

      Ironically, Matt comes from one of the worst places in the world for suffering. The state of Georgia. Where 1 in 13 people are in prison, on parole and probation. Why is Georgia that way you ask? They have 25 prison industrial plants, over 1,000 prison work details, and make hundreds of millions off of fines and fees. Georgia sentences on average are 10 times greater than any other state in the US and in some cases as much as 30 times greater. It is simply a state that has always profited off of human suffering. From slavery days to the present — it is a state that prides itself on being Christian but is complete devoid of mercy and any sense of perspective. But what do you expect from a part of the country that used the Bible to justify owning another human being. It is all hypocrisy and I get so sick of reading about it from holier than thou Christians who are clueless about what is even happening in their own state.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Let me see if I can respond to your concerns one by one. Kind of a jumbled mess here, so let me know if I miss anything.

        1. “Then, there is the brain component but you failed to mention that the sex drive region of the brain is 2.5 times larger in men than it is in women.” Even if that is true (and I’m not saying it is or isn’t), what do you glean from that? That men are just hard-wired to not be able to control their sex drive? I’m not following you. Can you be clearer on this point? What scientific research tells you that (1) because men have larger area of their brain devoted to our sex drive, (2) therefore seeking to have discretion about how we use our sex drive is fighting our biology? I’ve never read any studies like that, but maybe you can enlighten me.

        2. “So what if you look at porn. Big deal. At the end of the day, what is really the big deal? Cut to the chase. Is it that I wont make it to heaven or be sent to hell? Two places none of us has ever seen? Please.” I know a man who’s seen both heaven and hell. His name is Jesus, and He did this really neat thing a couple thousand years ago after he died. He came back to life. Really cool stuff.

        I’m not trying to be snarky (even if I am succeeding). I’m merely pointing out that the basis for a Christians’s faith is not cherry-picked morality, as if we sat around trying to come up with archaic rules for the fun of it. The basis for a Christian’s faith is something God has revealed through history—through God’s amazing acts seen by real people. The hundreds of people who saw Jesus alive after he rose from the dead didn’t start by going out to impose their morals on others. They went out to share a message about what they had seen with their own eyes—which of course has moral implications.

        3. “Go minister to those in prisons, the starving, those dying of disease, those in a war zone, those suffering from depleted uranium poisoning from all our BS wars. Then, come talk to me about looking at a nude woman. I dare you.” So, men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer living through the Holocaust (and eventually giving their lives to take down that oppression), couldn’t possibly be in the midst of that and write about the importance of fighting lust? Men like St. Augustine who lived to see the collapse of the Roman Empire and the stability of his entire world couldn’t possibly promote the virtue of chastity? Women like Mother Teresa who lived in the squalor of poverty in India couldn’t possibly talk about the importance of purity for our happiness? Sounds like someone needs a little history lesson.

        4. “Ironically, Matt comes from one of the worst places in the world for suffering. The state of Georgia.” Correction. He comes from Australia. I thought the accent might have given that away.

    2. Jayce on

      It has been my experience that those who view porn the most are those who have had their hearts broken the most. Now, married couples may be a different animal, but really, prior to marriage this is what I have seen and observed. First, religion has made everything a sin. People with tender hearts takes this to heart literally. They are incredibly riddled with guilt while growing up. The church and parents give them a complex about everything — especially sex. Then, when they go into the dating years, often these are the types of people who truly believe in love, but the real world is not like how they teach you in Sunday school. Many people with good hearts get walked all over — especially by teenage girls. You see this constantly. The shy nerd is often ignored by teenage girls. It is only when the nerd grows up and has money do women take notice. Money is the great equalizer in gaining a mate. Teenage girls are often the most brutal of creatures there are and in the real world, women go for money and so often not for kindness or caring. We have all seen this. Women say they want love and kindness and caring, but really they want security. Doubt this? Go watch 20/20s segments on how women view men. Women are first attracted to body characteristics. Tall guys essentially. But that changes when the occupation of a guy comes into play. Richer guys are rushed to the front of the attractiveness scale. It has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s heart and unfortunately, 20/20 showed this clearly.

      So, by the time the boy gets to college or out in the real world, he feels like crap from religion and women have destroyed his heart, so he ends up not caring. He will turn to porn and strippers. I have seen it hundreds of times. If a Christian would brave a strip joint and sit there and think to themselves what is making those men go in there…. you will find in the end, it is loneliness and yes, married men can still be very, very, very lonely. I have seen wives — especially church going wives — have such huge complexes about sex that they shut off their sex lives and their poor husbands have to live with that for life.

      This issue is much more complex than just the brain. In fact, that is all a cop-out I think. Go talk to people and see exactly why they turn to porn. I can guarantee you will see many cases of what I said above. They way churches and parents approach sex in America is so very destructive. I know it caused me a lot of heart aches and anxiety and hurt. I suspect that is a large reason why so many people are leaving the church.

      But honestly, this is how the devil works. He uses the church in many ways to destroy people. Fill people full of guilt …. add some heartache…. give porn as an alternative…. add more heartache and suffering…. eventually people will doubt God…. then if they arent careful … they will stop believing all together. I will go to my gave saying this is how it happens. In the end, it really has nothing to do with the porn. The porn is just a release. It is everything before the porn that is the cause and if you dont have someone who can help you through those tough times you are screwed as a person. Until the church develops much healthier views on sex and stops making it taboo, there is no solution to the porn epidemic. Life will make sure a man turns to porn. I am willing to stake my vast fortune on it. Remember this — the devil works two sides of everything!!!! That is one of his greatest tricks. People in the church think it is them against the devil when in reality, the devil is already in the church with them and he is using the holier than thou mentality to turn masses of people away from Christ.

      Christ would run his church completely differently if he was here. Of this I am sure. I wish he was here. He should have never left. He should have never left us because humans arent capable of doing things without him. We just arent on that level yet.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        There’s a lot of truth in what you’re saying here. There is a very real link from pain to porn—especially addictive-type behaviors. A lot of research indicates a link between a sense of isolation and dislocation and use of addictive substances or behaviors.

        You’re also correct that many religions can make all actions sinful. This is not really based on a Christian or biblical wordlview, of course. All other worldviews tend to see some created thing as the ultimate evil and some other created thing as the ultimate good. Biblical Christianity sees all things God created as originally good and all the evil in the world is based on making any of those created things into an ultimate good (what the Bible calls idolatry). When you grow up in a more traditionally moralistic environment, things like sex become stigmatized as evils, when the Bible is far more nuanced than that: the Bible sees sex as an incredible good that becomes a problem when it is deified as an ultimate good. The problem is, many in the church aren’t taught about this.

        I’m not sure what you mean by brain-talk being a “cop-out.” Is there something in the video that leads you to believe Matt is using neurology to excuse or gloss over behaviors and motivations?

    3. Michael S. on

      Let me respond to your response one by one Luke:

      1) Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. Here is just one small article on this: (http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/23/brizendine.male.brain/). There are hundreds of others if you actually take the time to look. Yes, you are essentially fighting a hard-coded biology that has existed since the beginning of time.

      2) Show me heaven and hell. Do not use your religion to prove your religion. What evidence do you have outside of words in a book for anything? How do you know those words are accurate? You simply don’t. You are using the bible to prove the bible. That isn’t evidence. It is just wishful thinking. I also can take that bible right now and list over 150 contradictions in it. Blatant. Straight forward. Contradictions.

      3) Stop going on a tangent with the people you listed. Go out. See the those things first and and come back to me and tell me of the great suffering and terribleness of seeing a nude woman. Trust me, you won’t. You will see how utterly crazy it is to talk about the suffering of porn.

      4) You need to read your own author bios more closely Luke. It clearly says Matt lives in North Georgia does it not? So yeah, I stand by what I wrote and I couldnt care less about his accent. You, like him, have no clue about what you are talking about and need to go out into the real world and see suffering. I suggest visiting those in prison in Georgia. Do what Christ said and stop living in the virtual world fighting the evils of porn. Go see real suffering. Trust me, you come back and think completely differently about the evils of seeing nude women.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        1. Thanks for the link, but it really says nothing about your thesis. I get that men’s brains are wired to notice and be attracted to women, even to scope them out. I fail to see what this means means men are just uncontrollable testosterone factories that need to look at porn (and since porn is the topic of the video, I thought that’s what you were getting at).

        2. No. I’m not using the Bible to prove the Bible. I’m using the experiences of people (which are of course written about in the historical documents that make up the Bible). And in case you think this is splitting hairs, it is far from it. To quote the Koran, for instance, as a written memoir of the historical Mohammed is one thing, but this does not prove the Koran is inspired by God. To use various documents that make up the Bible as pieces of historical literature is one thing, but this does not demonstrate right away that it is an inspired book.

        I’m approaching the truth of Christianity not as a “the Bible says it and that settles it” worldview. I’m approaching it by trying to go back to the original experiences of those who saw Jesus. They didn’t believe in the resurrection because they read about it in a book, nor when they preached about it did they proclaim the truth of it based on a book. Their knowledge came from collective empirical evidence.

        Not that it matters much to the video in question. Matt doesn’t cite the Bible or Jesus or Christianity to make a point. You’re the one bringing that up.

        3. Tangent? Who was it who brought up all the other forms of suffering in the world? I was responding to your tangent, not my own.

        4. I get that he lives in Georgia. That much is clear. When you said he’s from there, I thought you meant originally. All the same, the whole thing is irrelevant. His state’s faults has absolutely nothing to do with what he’s talking about. That would be like watching a video about apples and saying, “But he says nothing about oranges! This guy knows nothing!”

    4. GB on

      The suffering connected to porn… which for many is a progressive disease.

      – Obsession with sex or loss of interest in the real thing
      – Impotency for some
      – Child Porn
      – Sex Trafficking (are ALL the women in the films there by choice? No. They are not.)
      – Affairs
      – Divorce
      – Emotional, psychological, and/or sexual abuse
      – Loss of jobs
      – Broken families
      – Broken Hearts

      The damage and suffering associated with Porn is part of ‘the real world’.
      Why compare suffering? Its still suffering.

      Reply
      • GB on

        Maybe you could ask a child raised in a home with SA, or a wife that has a husband that chooses ‘naked women’ over her, or the women that are in the videos or on the stages. I’m guessing tha=ey are not involved in their profession because they have had stable lives free of suffering, nor will they not at some point suffer consequences such as sexual diseases, drug addiction, shame…

    5. GB on

      Maybe visit an SA / S-Anon meeting (not Christian based) or read their literature and listen to the destruction that porn has had on the lives of the men/women in the room. How about we not minimize ANY TYPE of suffering?

      Reply

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