Activist Speaks About the Negative Effects of Porn on Body Image, Relationships

gail dines

 During Gail Dines’s interview with a prison inmate who was indicted for raping his step-daughter, she was told that it was the increasingly sexualized porn culture of this generation that sets young boys and girls up for unhealthy views of sexual norms. Our culture is grooming people to accept this sexual society, the anti-porn activist told a group of students on Monday evening in McGuinn Hall.

Dines’s lecture, which was titled “Navigating Sexual Identity and Body Image in a Digitized Porn Culture,” looked at the effects of pornography on society’s ideas of sex and relationships. Dines currently works as a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College and has been an active feminist against the porn industry for the majority of her life.

“No matter what I say, I cannot have more power than the image of her,” Dines said in reference to actresses in pornography. “This is the story of what it is like to live in a sexual image-based society.”

At the event, Dines expressed how, over time, porn has become more accessible to younger audiences. These audiences are mainly exposed to porn as their sole source of sex education. This, according to Dines, sets an unrealistic example of sex and of the roles of both men and women within it.

Culture makes women “porn-ready,” Dines said, by marketing sexualized digital pictures of women and enforcing the idea that girls should be seductive. Alternatively, men are often subject to threats of their masculinity when porn sites ask “if they are man enough to handle it.” Dines talked about the prevalence of health issues and porn addiction in men because of the pressure and availability of porn.


“We know from study after study that human happiness relies on community. And what pornography is going to do is destroy any form of community and any relationships between women and men.”


“He thought he would see people having sex, maybe even people making love,” Dines said about boys looking up porn for the first time. “What he did not expect to see was people making hate. The pornography industry shows people making hate.”

Dines attributed the prominence of porn in society to the increasing prevalence of the internet. Dines referenced Mindgeek, a company that owns several popular, free porn websites. Studies have shown that porn controls about a third of the internet, attaining more visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined, Dines said.

Dines used an analogy to describe the industrial nature of pornography today. She said porn is to sex as McDonald’s is to food. It is a generic, industrial product. In becoming mass-produced, Dines said that sexual acts lose a sense of empathy, leaving a false portrayal of what consensual sex should look like.

The porn industry is also just like any other industry in that it has a business model, Dines said. A majority of the industry’s income stems from online distribution websites, similar to Mindgeek.

As an anti-porn activist, Gail has spent much of her life attempting to shed light on the truth behind the porn industry. Dines published a book titled Pornland, in which she explains the dangers of pornography on future generations.

In her speech, Dines accredited the AIDS Healthcare Foundation with passing Measure B, a regulation that requires the use of condoms while filming pornography. This was one of the first steps in bringing pornography regulations to the United States, Dines said.

Dines ended her talk by discussing the need to break free from the restrictions that porn culture has put on men and women when it comes to body image and relationships.

“We know from study after study that human happiness relies on community,” Dines said. “And what pornography is going to do is destroy any form of community and any relationships between women and men.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

  • BKB

    Great article on the real, negative consequences of pornography viewing. For those who want to stop viewing, there is a new resource that helps when others don’t seem to: the book Power Over Pornography.

    • If people like Gail Dines stopped driving erotic entertainment to the underground, maybe we would see a lot less people making hate.

      • Anne

        Your comment makes no sense as porn is no-where near being driven to the underground, it is prolific and the majority of it contains acts of violence, degradation and humiliation of women perpetrated by men. To suggest that people like Gail Dines are in some way responsible for this is laughable. Try again.

        • The porn only flows freely on the Internet, while the Internet remains unfiltered. There are many opportunities to get away with things that you can’t get away with elsewhere. But even on the Internet, why can you not upload quality erotic entertainment to YouTube? The majority of it contains acts of violence, degradation and humiliation of women perpetrated by men because we don’t give pornographers the proper incentives to make more high quality erotic entertainment. Or you just don’t know where to shop. Try searching outside of PornHub. I suggest Ms. Naughty.

  • Frank Sumner

    Boys learn sexuality on the internet. They learn unhealthy beliefs about women and they have a hard time having a relationship with girls, then women, because the reality of real life with real women, isn’t exciting enough for them. Porn ruins how men look at themselves and at women. Women need to be free of these stereotypes and they cannot, if men don’t want to give up their porn. In Germany during WW2, pornography was used to keep people meaning men, indoors, away from community where they would learn about what was going on. This is a tool to get rid of any semblance of community, everyone is out for their own needs… which fits nicely with neoliberalism and globalization. When you take your blinders off, it is funny how the world takes on a different hue.