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6 Dangers of 21st Century Porn:
Part I – It’s Ease of Creation, Distribution, & Access

“We had porn when I was a kid, back in the 20th Century, and we didn’t have problems!  Why the big fuss, today???”

Believe it or not, that is a quote from a man I talked to before one of my SEX, KIDS, & THE INTERNET Seminars.  I don’t believe the gentleman is alone in that viewpoint, either.  It is difficult for many of us to understand the far more destructive and addictive nature of  21st Century pornography when compared to what many of us “grew up” with.

Therefore,if we wish to impact our culture for Christ in this area then we need to understand how much more damaging 21st Century porn is compared to any other time in our history.  To solidify that understanding let’s take a journey through:


One of the first things we have to do in order to understand the unique dangers of 21st Century porn is to comprehend how different it is from that of earlier years, such as the late 1900’s!  It is only then that we grasp the evolution of the threat over the past 40-50 years can we start to understand the increased impact of 21st Century pornographic products and materials.

Back in the 20th Century most of the “accessible” porn consisted of magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, and others. Video porn, initially comprised of traditional photographic 8mm and 16mm films, entered the wider market in the 1980s due to the widespread popularity of VHS.  Unlike most of the popular magazines, which were available behind the counter at bookstores and convenience stores, VHS Porn was initially limited to mail-order and adult bookstores.  This limited access to video porn by the “common man”, especially if he was afraid of someone seeing him purchase such videos or magazines!  Plus, most who purchased pornographic magazines and videos then had to HIDE them as parents, wives, and husbands were notoriously intolerant about such things! (Yes, women view porn, too!)

Print-based porn in magazines had these characteristics:

  • First of all, it was PRINT.  It contained a 2-dimensional still picture.  Nothing changed.  You could turn the page for new pictures, but the pictures didn’t change.  There was no sound, etc. or story flow.  There was just a still shot.
  • There was not a lot of frequency in the variety or novelty as the magazines came out on a monthly schedule.  You purchased one month’s edition and that was (pretty much) all the new material that you had available until the next month! (This will be in important parts of this series.) If you wanted new material you had to go to the store or mail-order it!  It was not immediately availble!
  • Most of the commonly accessible porn only involved erotic pictures of women, clothed and otherwise.  Titles featuring couples actually engaged in sex were, again, limited primarily to the adult book stores which  no one wanted to be caught dead in.   Yes, there were more explicit magazines, some dealing with fetishes and such, but they were also limited in where they were sold and were even more difficult to find.

Video porn was similar: You had to go to the store to get new stuff, and what was in the store would be limited in its “extremeness” by what the local civic authorities would tolerate as “obscene material”.  Plus, when viewing video tapes you had a limited selection at any particular time. Changing from tape to tape, and moving from scene to scene, were time-consuming processes.  Still, in the 1980’s an amazing 10-25% of all pre-recorded VHS tape sales were pornographic.

Broadcast porn, on television, was pretty much non-existent until Cable TV started to expand rapidly in the late 1970’s and, more so, in the 1980s when porn movies were widely available in hotels/motels.  Soft-core porn became widely available in the home in the 1990’s via the “Premium PAY-TV channels” such as HBO, the Playboy Channel, Spice, and others.  In addition there were pay-per-view porn products that were so popular that in the seven years from 1992 to 1999 revenues increased from $54M to $367M per year!

A factor in both print and video porn was the slow-pace of change.  You had to work to have meaningful variety, and changing from product to product was not that easy, quick, or cheap!  Although pornography depicting extreme sexual activities has always been available, most of the mainstream porn that was available in the 2oth Century depicted (more-or-less) normal sexual activities:

  • Consensual sexual activities between member of the opposite sex
  • Threesomes and group sex
  • Non-violent sex

Then came the Digital Age and this little thing called the Internet!

In 1994 the Internet began to go mainstream with the creation of the first really user-friendly web browser: NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR.  This enabled to non-geek public to jump on the Internet and GO!!!  Look at this data on the number of computers connected to the Internetbefore the year 2000:

  • 1981: <300
  • 1989:  90,000
  • 1993: 1,000,000+
  • 1998: 36,000,000+

During this time web sites and other media-friendly parts of the Internet expanded even faster!

In addition to the development and expansion of the Internet the pornography industry was aided by the development of “digital photography”.  Prior to this point in time pornography was shot on film (still or movie) and processed and edited through a system that required training and experience.  The cost of movie-making and the needed photography equipment was far beyond the reach of average entrepreneurs and everyday folks.

Then digital photography and digital video were born and the masses soon had access to decent quality yet inexpensive equipment. Soon came professional-grade software, and the popular production of pornography, either commercial or “homemade”, was on the launch pad. This enabled several new capabilities:

  • Commercial video and still production was now “do-able” by the masses.
  • People could privately make pornographic “home movies” and photo albums without having to send film out for processing.
  • Rank amateurs could use Internet technology (webcams and servers) to make money!
  • Distribution and sales could go global in an instant!

All of this did not go unnoticed by the commercial pornography industry, either. With lower cost and simpler production processes they were able to dramatically ramp up the sheer quantity of  pornography that they produced.  Some “movies” were shot and produced in less than one week’s time!  In fact, it is now estimated that a new porn video is produced every 39 minutes, and an estimated 28K – 30K individuals are viewing porn at any given time on the Internet.

Amateurs seriously got into the business in the 1990s after discovering that they could record themselves engaging in sexual acts, either solo or as couples, and get paid handsomely for it!  With webcams they could GO LIVE!!!  Consider the following:

One of the first amateur sites to really take off went live in 1998.  It was/is operated by a husband and wife who initially charged ~$10/month for membership. In addition they sell DVDs and videos of their “home movies”. It would take only 10,000 members/month (which is a very modest number) to generate $100K/month in gross revenues.

With such earnings attainable by (mostly) lawful means, amateurs began producing porn to pay off mortgages, finance college tuition, and get rich and famous!   As you can imagine, commercial porn producers jumped on the popularity of “homemade” sex tapes by making “professional amateur videos”.  Go figure.   And all this was in the 1990’s.

Now, in the 21st Century, these digital technologies enable all forms and genres of  pornography to be rapidly and constantly accessed in total privacy, often for FREE!  This has removed and deterrent from the “fear of getting caught”.  All of this has dramatically driven a steep rise in both demand and production. The United States easily ranks #1 in the hosting of pornographic web pages: ~245 MILLION (89%) compared to only ~10 MILLION (4%) for #2, Germany. Americans can take heart (sorta): We are only #4 in porn REVENUES, behind China, South Korea, and Japan.  But, we still produce more pornography than any nation on the Earth!
With all this in mind it is easy to identify the most significant effects that these developments in the pornography industry have made on individuals’ use of pornography:
  • Privacy
  • Variety/Novelty
  • Immediate Access
  • Low Cost/Free Porn
PRIVACY:  We can now enter into sexual sin almost anywhere:  In the privacy of our home, in our cars, in hotels… even out in the boonies if you have a good cell phone connection!  We no longer have to worry about the convenience store clerk talking to others about what you buy, nor do we have to drive to the next town to purchase/view porn to avoid being seen!  NO ONE KNOWS! (Well, except for geeks at the Internet company…but that’s another article entirely!)

VARIETY/NOVELTY:  In the past you had what you had for a period of days/weeks before new material was available.  You also were pretty much limited to benign sexual material.  Today you can rapidly and constantly switch to new material with a mouse-click (which is an important contributor to addiction, as we shall see in later posts).  Plus, you are no longer limited to “community standards of decency” but can access the full-range of sexual activities, to include the kinky and forbidden:

  • Bondage/Discipline, Sadism/Masochism (BDSM)
  • Torture
  • Sexual Violence
  • Degredation/Humilitation
  • Unsafe Sexual Practices
  • Straight/Gay/Trans-gendered/Inter-Species Sexual Acts
  • Incest (Real Or Faked)
  • And more…

Internet Speed Test

IMMEDIATE ACCESS: The days of having to run to the store to purchase porn, or await arrival of a “plain brown package” in the mail, are long gone!  Delivery is now as fast as your Internet connection!  Entire 2-3 videos can be quickly downloaded with a mouse-click.  This enables users to not only quickly access porn but to also quickly turn it off, porn products, facilitating secrecy, as well.  It also enables them to jump around from site-to-site, and from porn genre to porn genre!

LOW COST/FREE PORN:  This is one of the most contradictory parts of the porn industry:  Business is booming, but customers are not paying!  The rise of  “free tube sites”, pornographic knock-offs of YouTube, is crippling the commercial industry while at the same time making tons of profits for the “tube sites” through advertising and other revenue streams. This means ANYONE can access porn.  In the early days of the Internet the requirement to use a credit/debit card in order to “prove” that you were over 18 kept a lot of porn inaccessible for kids.  This is now completely by-passed by all the free sites, making vast amounts of pornography available to anyone of any age or economic level.   This also means that habits and addictions can be continuously fed… for free!
It should be remembered that, during times of family financial struggles,
physical intimacy is often eroded between a couple. The free access to
huge quantities of pornography can exacerbate marital problems!

That should give you insight into the reason that the modern pornography threat is so much more dangerous than that of yesteryear!  This is important as we look at the remaining 5 Dangers of Pornography!

Next up:  The Destruction of Self-Discipline!

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