Recently, I was asked if women can be addicted to pornography. In order to answer this question, we have to first agree that pornography can be addictive. While I personally believe individuals can be addicted to pornography, there is still much debate about the addictive nature of viewing pornography. So when I address questions like this the first thing I do is look at my professional experiences, research, and anecdotal stories.
Have I met women who view pornography? – Yes
Have they sought help because they feel out of control? – Yes
Have other professionals shared similar experiences to mine? – Yes
Have women reported that they feel they are addicted to pornography? – Yes
So aside from my professional experience, what does the research show?
There is a growing body of evidence that women too can feel addicted to pornography. In a 2006 study on Internet Filter Review they found that 17% of the women reported that they felt an addiction to pornography.
We also know that more and more women acknowledge that they view pornography. In a study from 2007, Australian researchers found that “record numbers of Australians are visiting pornographic websites, including sexually explicit dating sites – and one in three of them is a woman.”
While the range from 17% (women who felt addicted) to 33% (active viewers of pornography) is broad, it does indicate that men aren’t the only ones viewing porn.
Perhaps the question of whether women can be addicted to pornography may be somewhat restrictive. Humans, male and female, can be addicted to many things. While women do not consume pornography as frequently as men do, they are significantly more likely to read books like, Fifty Shades of Grey. Why is this? Women, in general, are more verbal than men. Thus, words on a page may be more arousing than images. If we look at the research, women are more likely to participate in chat rooms and meet partners online than men are.
So what does all of this mean?
Both men and women can get caught up in sexual behaviours that can overtake their lives. While men are still the most consistent users of pornography and are more likely to report being addicted to it, there is a growing body of women who report that they feel addicted to pornography and compulsive sexual behaviors as well.
As Internet use continues to grow, access to pornography will increase and as a result more and more women will get exposed to pornography. This is simply a fact. How will these images influence them? I don’t believe we have enough information yet to determine how girls and women will respond to this type of exposure. Early results from the studies listed above would indicate that more and more women are viewing pornography and a significant number of them feel that they are addicted to it.
Pornography Addiction is not Gender Specific
So, based on my experience pornography addiction is not gender specific. All humans have to learn to deal with sexual matters, no one is exempt. My biggest concern is that many teenage girls and adult women, due to fear of being judged, hide their behaviour – just like teen boys and men – until they are trapped in the web of pornography addiction.
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