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Kayla Helm
ENG 1201.503
24, October 2014
Effects of Sexually Explicit Material
For centurys people have obsessed with the human body, as it has been portrayed in
drawings, sculptures, photos, literature, and motion pictures, or films. As time progressed, the
forms, levels, and availability of these portrayals have evolved, and are here referred to as
sexually explicit material. Sexually explicit material generally involves sexual innuendos,
exposure of the body, seductive poses, or participation in sexual acts. Initially this material was
presented in drawings and ceramics which gave the artists perspective of the body; however,
now the material shows actual bodies and actions. Thus, the material has not only become more
personal but have yielded more effects on its viewers. Additionally, with the evolution of
sexually explicit material, the material has become available to its consumers via music, novels,
television, and the internet; allowing virtually anyone to be exposed to it. Due to its increased
availability, children and teens are being exposed to material that encourages them to behave in
risky manners, such as having unprotected sex resulting in pregnancy and the spread of sexually
transmitted diseases. Furthermore, the attitudes that people possess regarding sex and
relationships is altered by their exposure to sexually explicit material, including their attitudes
toward rape. In todays society, people need to be more aware of the effects sexually explicit
material has on all genders, races, and ages, because by reducing such exposure, the consumers
attitude toward sex and relationships could improve; while, the rates of sexually transmitted
diseases, rape, and teen pregnancy could decrease.

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As mentioned earlier, sexualized forms of material has dated back to the beginning of time. In
fact, Alexandru Stana, who obtained a doctorate of physiology, reported in An Examination of
Relationships Between Exposure to Sexually Explicit Media Content and Risk Behaviors: A
Case Study of College Students, that the Venus of Willendorf, dated in 30,000 B.C., depicted
a woman with enlarged sexual organs. Stana also referred to Shakespearian, Peruvian, Japanese,
Greek, and Roman works, which focused on human and animal sexuality (Stana). With time
came new versions of explicit material, such as magazines with photos of women posing
seductively with little to no clothes on. A well-known magazine which displays women nude is
Playboy which released its first issue in 1953, and has grown into a very wealthy company
(Playboy). These photos became films portraying a wide array of sexual acts and are published in
tapes, DVDs, and online. As these videos showed sexual acts in their entirety and were
extremely graphically, viewers grew used to the presentation of ordinary coitus which led
viewers to need more extreme forms of sexual activities and vulgarity to suffice their sexual
needs. A result of the large amount of explicit material involved in our society, growing immune
to the outcomes of viewing this material, innuendos and references to sex and domination have
become an everyday part of life. Today, music is one of the largest forms of sexually explicit
material, with songs centered on sex, sexual organs, and promiscuous situations. Additionally,
todays movies and television shows often portray jokes about sex, minimal clothing, and either
a foreshadowing of intercourse or by portraying the act of intercourse alone. This causes serious
issues, because most men, women, and children, regardless of race, age, or gender, view
television shows at various times of the day, making it common for anyone to be exposed to such
material without even realizing it.
In the American culture, vulgarity is a norm among different races, but it effects races

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differently. Cheryl L. Somers and Joshua J. Tynan, of Wayne State University of Detroits
Psychology Department, observe these differences in "Consumption of Sexual Dialogue and
Content on Television and Adolescent Sexual Outcomes: Multiethnic Findings." Somers and
Tynan observed the difference in tendency to kiss, date, take part in petting, intercourse, oral sex,
unprotected sex, the amount of partners one has, and the age in which virginity is lost among
adolescent African Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics. They concluded that there was not a
huge statistical difference in their findings, and did not find a difference between races in regard
to dating. However, African Americans were most likely to kiss, have intercourse, and view Rrated programs, while they were least likely to participate in oral sex. Additionally, African
American males were found to have the highest number of partners, and were participating in
intercourse more and at earlier ages. African Americans were more likely to use contraceptives
and had a more conservative viewpoint regarding sex. Hispanics also had conservative views
regarding sex, while being more likely to be exposed to sexual dialogue and content.
Additionally, Hispanics participated less in petting, and sexual activity all together, but used
contraceptives more, and had oral sex more than African Americans. Finally, Caucasians had a
more liberal standpoint regarding sex, and used contraceptives less frequently than Hispanics and
African Americans (Somers). Somers and Tynan have suggested that the conclusions they found
were influenced by the individuals who make up the samples exposure to sexual dialogue and
content found in television and movies. These findings are interesting especially with knowing
that Eastern cultures view sex in a very different manner.
While there is a sense of immunity to the amount of exposure to sexually explicit content, and
most of America can easily, both knowingly and unknowingly, access this material, there is
generally an attempt to shield children from such material. Further, if a child is exposed to such

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material, when his or her parent(s) find out, they attempt to reverse the effects of exposure and to
provide a valuable lesson. However, in many Eastern cultures, many children are required to
engage in sexual activities at young ages. For example, in the Kreung Tribe in Cambodia,
teenage girls fathers typically build their daughters huts known as love huts. Two teenage
girls from the Kreung Tribe in Cambodia, are sitting in Nang Chans love hut, and are captured
in a photograph presented below.

With exposure to sexually explicit material, comes pressure to engage in sexual activities.
Presumably, the two young, Cambodian girls, Nang Chan and her friend, of the Kreung Tribe,
presented in Waiting for Love, by Beyond Productions, feel a magnitude of pressure as their
families and their peers expect them to explore the world of sexuality. The girls are around the
age fifteen, and are dressed in hand-me-down clothes, with bare, dirty feet. Nang and her friend
sit in a small, dirty hut made of wood and covered by what looks like mosquito netting built by
Nangs father. The only aspect of comfort found in the environment is a blanket on the ground.

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While Cambodians have little interaction with common sources of media that further westerns to
partake in risky behavior, they have pressure from the adults in their life to participate in such
acts. Additionally, these teens are told to evaluate relationships according to their sexual acts,
which could cause unhealthy ideas regarding both sex and relationships. Like the Eastern culture,
Western cultures are pressured to participate in sexually deviant acts that can alter any healthy
takes on sex and relationships.
In cultures that utilize media such as the internet, music, television, and movies, children and
adolescents are pressured to participate in sexual activities in part by the exposure to explicit
material. According to statistics written by Carolyn Ross, M.D. and M. P. H. in "Overexposed
and Under-Prepared: The Effects of Early Exposure to Sexual Content, children are now
exposed to sexually explicit material as early as the age of eight (Ross). With exposure beginning
at earlier ages, the rate of exposure is not only increased, but occurs over a larger timespan.
Children and adolescents are not as likely to actively and accurately use critical thinking skills to
understand the effects of their exposure, nor can they actively prevent themselves from content
that is too mature for them. The National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and
Exploitation, Impact of Exposure to Sexually Explicit and Exploitative Materials, states that most
internet forms of pornography do not require the user to prove his or her age, nor do they contain
warning of explicit content (Impact). With easier access to a wide variety of media that contain
sexual references, and a lack of warning signs, children can easily be exposed to sexualized
material that alters their actions and safety.
Due to the high rate of exposure among todays youth, they are more likely to participate in
high risk sexual acts, which can cause them great strife both emotionally and physically. Ross
suggests that children who are exposed to vulgar material generally participate in sex at an

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earlier age, and have more unprotected and high risk sex. Additionally, Ross describes the media
as enticing todays youth through presenting risky activities that appear fun or exciting; this also
causes a higher risk of alcohol and drug use. Further Ross states that adolescents are more prone
to contracting sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy (Ross). Emotionally, adolescents are
influenced by explicit material as well, mainly in regard to their attitudes and actions involving
relationships and sex. In Dr. Rosss research, she found that exposure to sexually explicit
material has a tendency to increase rates of sex addictions. Further, this material allows men and
women to grow unsatisfied in their sex lives, resulting in increased violent and dominant sexual
behaviors (Ross). The National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
explains that adolescent girls grow more prone to objectification, eating disorders and
depression, as a result of increased exposure to explicit media. All in all, adolescents danger
themselves by increasing the risk of contracting diseases, becoming pregnant, or suffering from
addiction, depression and eating disorders. Unfortunately, these negative effects do not always
come to a halt as the adolescents age; rather, these effects follow teens into adulthood, leading
them down a potentially dangerous path.
With age comes wisdom and understanding, but when living with the burden of a disorder,
understanding remains lacking. When entering adulthood, many exciting events occur, from
obtaining a real job to getting married. However, laws begin to effect adults in many more ways,
such as in defining things like obscenity and indecency. According to Robert Jensen, in
"Pornography and Sexual Violence, obscenity as depicting sexual motives, while indecency
involves broadcasting material. Laws regarding obscenity and indecency greatly effect adults,
especially those who participate in various sexual manners (Jensen). Adults face some of the
same issues that teens do when dealing with sexually explicit material; however, if an adults

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exposure to explicit material began during their childhood, then they have an increased tendency
to grow bored with their partners and even with the material the watch or hear. This boredom
causes adults to seek more violent forms of explicit material which includes violence, multiple
partners, or dominance. While writer, Wiley, does not agree with the magnitude of the effects
sexually explicit material holds over people, in the article, "Sexually Explicit Material Affects
Behavior in Young People Less than Thought; Wiley does think that there are some effects that
are generally paired with other personality defects. To counter this point, who can attest that
explicit material has not caused these so called personality flaws? Wiley also gives exposure to
sexually explicit material some credit of rates of prostitution. Both Wiley and Jensen explain that
adult exposure to pornography and other explicit material leads to adventurous, degrading,
violent sex, and an increased amount of dominance and brutality in relationships engaging
sexually.
As violence and dominance increases, humans have a tendency to begin to feel entitled to
pleasure in any way they feel necessary. This entitlement leads to sexual assault and rape.
Women and men begin to be battered by their significant other because they cannot perform
sexual acts like the actors do. Jensen interviewed both men and women involved in either an
abusive relationship, sexual assault case, or a rape case. A woman explained that her husband
viewed pornography and as he was excited by the acts portrayed, he began to force them upon
his wife, causing her to not only feel uncomfortable but like less of a person. Additionally, the
rapists Jensen interviewed were all men who related their rapes to a film they had seen. They all
wanted, envisioned or attempted to recreate what they had seen in videos. For example one man
was a bus driver, who memorized the faces of the children on his bus and placed that face on the
submissive person in the video he watched later (Jensen). While results of viewing sexually

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explicit material vary, there are many different effects that can occur. The effects can harm a
person in a magnitude of ways, including their relationships with others and themselves. Adults
bear the burden of these results due to their prolonged, progressive, exposure to explicit material.
While Jensen concludes that there are some negative effects related to viewing sexually
explicit material and there are indications of correlation between sexual violence and
pornography, no concrete relations can be determined. Further, Joseph M. Sirianni, PhD student
and Dr. Arun Vishwanath, write in "Sexually Explicit User-Generated Content: Understanding
Motivations and Behaviors Using Social Cognitive Theory," found that sexually explicit material
effects rates of entertainment and arousal which persuaded individuals to act in certain sexual
manners in the future. They also found a lack of social change in individuals exposed to explicit
material. While these findings differ more than they agree with other research, they still exhibit
changes in behavior or attitudes of those exposed to explicit material. Additionally, this type of
material leads to an increase in teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, disorders, violence
and degrading of one another, which is an epidemic in todays society due the great suffering it
causes. Regardless of how extensive the various effects are, individuals need to protect each
other, especially adolescents. One of the most important methods in which to prevent the
negative effects associated with consumption of sexually explicit material is to ensure family
values openly, and by setting examples in self-images and in the behavior in relationships. By
taking these steps, hope for a more loving and healthy community is increased; while, toxic
relationships, poor treatment of oneself and of others, and risk behaviors will be limited.

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Works Cited
1. Beyond Productions. Waiting for Love. Photograph. Taboo: Teen Sex, 8 July 2012. Web. 22
September 2014. <http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/taboo
/galleries/tabooteen-sex-pictures/#waiting-for-love-52105>
2. Impact of Exposure to Sexually Explicit and Exploitative Materials. N.P.: National Coalition
to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, 2013. Preventtogether.org. National
Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
3. Jensen, Robert "Pornography and Sexual Violence." Pornography and Sexual Violence.
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, July 2004. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
4. "Playboy History - History of Playboy." Playboy Enterprises Inc OUR HISTORY Comments.
Playboy Enterprises, Inc., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
5. Ross, Carolyn C., M.D. P.H.D. "Overexposed and Under-Prepared: The Effects of Early
Exposure to Sexual Content." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a
Therapist. Psychology Today, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
6. Sirianni, Joseph M., and Arun Vishwanath, Dr. "Sexually Explicit User-Generated Content:
Understanding Motivations and Behaviors Using Social Cognitive Theory." Sexually
Explicit User-Generated Content: Understanding Motivations and Behaviors Using
Social Cognitive Theory. CyberPsychology, 2012. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
7. Somers, Cheryl L. and Tynan, Joshua J. "Consumption of Sexual Dialogue and Content on

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Television and Adolescent Sexual Outcomes: Multiethnic Findings." Adolescence
41.161 (2006): 15-38. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web. 16 Oct.
2014.
8. Stana, Alexandru. "An Examination of Relationships Between Exposure to Sexually
Explicit Media Content and Risk Behaviors: A Case Study of College Students."
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Bowling Green State University, 2013. OhioLINK
Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 16 Oct 2014.
9. Wiley. "Sexually Explicit Material Affects Behavior in Young People Less than Thought."
ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2013.