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March 2017
Sexology
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INTERNET, PORNOGRAPHY AND ADDICTIONS (page 1/2)



Eroticism and pornography, which have always been strongly related to one’s social and cultural context, have encouraged the evolution of sexual customs, revealing possible proactive aspects that are educational, but also many negative aspects that are used to reinforce the sexual taboos that are typical of the relevant society.
With the invention of the internet, constant and exponential sharing of pornographic images online has strengthened a possible form of ‘addiction’ in some people which, inevitably, causes these people to be uncomfortable with and have distorted ideas about psycho-physical, relational and sexual realities.

As explained by Quattrini & Spaccarotella (2010), enormous amounts of money are spent on pornography in the world every second (an American estimation is well over $3000). In America the porn industry turns over approximately $97 billion, and there are approximately 5 million websites dedicated to pornography, whilst 90% of the world market of pornography is in the hands of 4 countries: China, South Korea, Japan and the USA, the latter being the biggest producers of pornographic films – 1 porn film is produced every 39 minutes in the USA.
If we consider the internet, these trends are confirmed: the word sex has been clicked 75,608,612 times, and Sex.com is the most expensive domain of all time – it was bought for approximately $14 billion in 2006.

Modern technology (such as notebooks and smart phones that make use of wireless internet) allows us to use the internet at any time, thus the possibility to access pornographic material for free increases the possibility of having even casual contact with the world of pornography. YouPorn is a free pornographic website that allows users to watch short clips from porn films, but also share their own amateur pornographic films. There is also a chat room, a dating service for users and a webcam area called YouPorn Mate. Created in 2006, changing the name of the more famous YouTube (although the two are not related), it became the most popular porn site in the world in August 2009 and the 47th most popular website in general. The videos are divided into new videos, categories, recommended for you, the most voted, the most seen and uploads, and these categories include a list of themes that are always updated, such as amateur, fellatio, webcam, fetishists, couples, masturbation, vintage films and so on.
From 2010 a new way of sharing virtual erotic content became available which does not only let users watch, spy and share their expressions of pleasure, but also promote a type of personal erotic ‘window’ to the whole world. This is made possible thanks to the website cam4.com which, as well as showing off one’s needs and asking people to virtually share their pleasure, lets people ‘play’ online through the swapping of tokens and tips, creating a type of virtual sex trade.

In the words of the famous French pornstar Ovidie, pornography is currently the object of a market that is accessible to everyone, a mass market. It has become a supermarket product, she says, and she is keen to make a distinction between what she considers ‘cinema porn’ (which is seen as a genre itself) and pornographic material, understood to be a series of amateur photos or films, material on the internet used for masturbation, peep-shows and anything else that goes on under the table. This thought is similar to that of Stoller who did not consider porno and pornography as synonyms: porno, he said, is the industry sector of hardcore porn and its representations, that is products such as films, and videos cassettes thought up mainly for men who identify with this and who get an erection from it because they are erotically interested in women. Nevertheless it is a subcategory of pornography which we can define as a product made to stimulate the mind of the user in order to cause erotic excitement.
Given the data provided at the beginning of this article, it would appear that these definitions and classifications interest scholars as well as consumers. Even though porn is thought to be ‘obscene’, ‘dark’ and ‘immoral’, it is evident that it attracts people, a lot, and can even become a true addiction, called porn addiction, which is a behavioural addiction that is part of the wider field of sexual addictions.
According to Goodman (1998), people who develop a sexual addiction follow a behavioural pattern that is characterised by two key elements:
1) the continual inability to control one’s sexual behaviour;
2) persistent sexual behaviour even though it may cause harmful consequences.

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