John Foubert, Ph.D.: Researcher, Author, Activist
Did you know there is a one in 88 decillion chance that pornography isn’t tied to sexual violence? That’s just one thing Dr. John Foubert’s 50 peer-reviewed studies have revealed about porn and violence. Dr. John Foubert has a 30-page resume and has conducted over 50 peer-reviewed publications in his time investigating this issue, but what’s more, he’s a very personable conversationalist. A Dean of the College of Education at Union University, Dr. Foubert stays busy, acting as the Principal of Dr. John D. Foubert, LLC., and serving for the U.S. Army as the Highly Qualified Expert for Sexual Assault Prevention. He also continues to work for the national nonprofit organization he founded called One in Four where, for 20 years, he has researched rape prevention programs on college campuses, in communities, and in the military. Dr. John Foubert sat down with us to discuss what research shows about the heavy links porn has to sexual violence, a facet of this issue often overlooked by pro-porn advocates. We thank Dr. Foubert for sharing his work and expert perspective on this podcast, and appreciate his continued work in this field of research.
Garrett: What is up, people? I’m Garrett Jonsson and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug. If you’re a person who finds value in this production, then you can support the podcast by texting CONSIDER to 43506.
On today’s episode we sit down with Dr. John Foubert. He sent me his resume andI started scrolling through and noticed that his resume is 30 pages long (laughing). The dude has authored 10 books, he’s done a lot of peer-reviewed journal articles, he’s performed research, he’s analyzed research, and we’ve used a lot of his content over the years. But this is our first time sitting down with Dr. Foubert to record a longer conversation, so listen closely for what Dr. Foubert says about bystander intervention, objectification, and the correlation between pornography and sexual violence. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Garrett:We’re fortunate to have you on the podcast today.
John: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Garrett: Um, can you introduce yourself for those that haven’t seen you a million times like me and the rest of our office?
John: Sure. I’m John Foubert. I’m dean of the College of Education at Union University and, um, I consider myself an anti-porn researcher and author and speaker.
Garrett: Um, we do all sorts of different podcasts on this podcast. So we’re going to have interviews with experts, interviews with personal accounts, uh, interviews with activists. Um, so you fall under the expert?
John: I would say so.
John: I mean, I, yeah, yes.
Garrett: How many years have you been working in this industry?
John: Let’s see. I’ve been doing research on sexual assault prevention specifically for, uh, over 25 years and then on pornography for about 10.
Garrett: Um, I’m kinda curious what drove you to this industry.
John: Yeah, it was this industry that, that found me, I think in a, in a way. Um, and it’s not a, not a story that a lot of people have. I was doing, uh, anti-sexual violence work on a college campus where I was a professor. And the porn industry came to campus, and they wanted to, this particular traveling true pointed to show that, you know, being in porn is a good thing and there’s nothing wrong with it. And um, and all of that. And I just had a visceral reaction, um, in the sense of, I know this is wrong, but I didn’t know exactly how to make good arguments against it. And all I had was kind of theoretical arguments. And so, and then I saw a lot of the students who I knew who were working in, uh, sexual assault prevention work who were supporting the porn industry and coming to campus. And I just got very frustrated. And when I get frustrated, I do research. (laughing)
Garrett: Sounds like a healthy way to release the frustration.
John: Something like that. Well, I wanted to arm myself with something, so I wanted to find out what other people done in the area of pornography research. And I saw, I mean, I had, I had reasons to believe that it was harmful, but I hadn’t like done the reading on it, and I saw, wow, you know, there’s just lots of ways that this is harmful. So realize that we could develop arguments that could be convincing to college students that, you know, pornography is not just this great thing that you, um, you know, gratify yourself with, but it’s actually, uh, harmful in many different ways. And then as I began to get into the research literature more and more, I realized I should do some studies about it. So I started doing some studies and then after doing a few studies realized I had a book in me about it and so I wrote a book about it and, uh, that sort of thing. And it just sort of captures you after a while, and you just see all the ways in which their misconceptions that you want to clear up. At least for someone like me who, um, really enjoys the research process and then sharing that with people. Uh, I found that it’s a, it’s a great way be involved.
Garrett: Yeah, and much appreciated because you are putting forth a lot of research, that is this helpful?
John: I hope so.
Garrett: I have your book, how many books have you written?
John: Well, I’ve written 10, but just one about pornography.
Garrett: Okay. So the book that I have is How Pornography Harms.
John: Yes. That’s my most recent one, and that’s the one on porn.
Garrett: That’s, that’s a very interesting book. Um, for all of our listeners out there, how would they find that book?
John: They can easily get it on Amazon or as they say, “wherever good books are sold”. But Amazon is the easiest place…
Garrett: It’s kind of a nonsensical-question nowadays because it’s like just Google it! (laughing)
John: (laughing) Yeah, pretty much. So, uh, Amazon is Google of books.
Garrett: So yeah, the title is How Pornography Harms.
John: Yes. How Pornography Harms.
Garrett: Yeah, so check it out- it’s a great book. Um, so interesting you on campus and it’s the desire to do this research came out of your intuition telling you it was unhealthy?
John: Yeah, I knew, I knew it was unhealthy in it. And of course, back in my twenties, I’d used it some. And, um, but I never got as deeply involved as I saw one of my friends getting. And so, but, you know, I’m 50 years old, so I went to college in the 80s, and the pornography of the 80s is very different than the pornography of today. And, and the methods by which we accessed it were different too. So, um, but I, I just was frustrated with the fact that we didn’t, uh, we weren’t making good enough arguments against the point industry and they were just sort of invading the campus where I worked and, and everybody was all excited about it. And I was like, what are you thinking? So…
Garrett: So before you performed your own research, your, you said your intuition kind of told you that this was incorrect, unhealthy.
John: Yes. Yes.
Garrett: In what ways did your intuition tell you? What were you identifying?
John: I think I saw the harms basically in that it objectified women. Like I understood that argument that it basically, pornography makes an object out of a person and when we make an object out of a person that makes violence against them so much more possible. So I think that was part of what I saw. Um, I thought it was demeaning to women, but I didn’t have a whole lot of the book knowledge, for lack of a better word, about why, uh, one might be against or, or for that matter for pornography. But, um, there’s really not a whole lot of research to support the pro side.
Garrett: So at that point, you have your intuition telling you it’s incorrect, it’s harmful. And then what was the next step? Were you looking for other research to back up your intuition?
John: Yes. I, I mean I looked to see what the data, um, consisted of and I’m good at finding articles and distilling them down and uh, and reading them and putting them in a format where the general public can understand, you know, like a 20 page research article I can put into two sentences usually if you, you know, you’re, you’re simplifying it…
Garrett: That takes, that takes some talent and focus and…
John: And time.
Garrett: Yeah, I was going to say some energy to get…
Garrett: Um, what are you, we refer to as Dr. John Fourbert. What are your credentials? Stepping back a couple of steps.
John: Um, well, let’s see. I got my masters as well as I started my, my undergraduate degrees from the College of William and Mary. I double-majored in psychology and sociology. I got my masters at the University of Richmond in psychology. Um, and then got my PhD in College Student Development at the University of Maryland College Park. Um, I’ve worked as a college administrator at schools, like the University of Virginia and, and, um, was a faculty member at William and Mary and at Oklahoma State University. And now I’m a dean at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.
Garrett: So how many years of schooling is that total?
John: Uh, well, we’ll use heady ten years of Higher Ed. Um, so yeah, add that to whatever the 12 or 13 years…
Garrett: And I’m sure you know of the endurance event of like an IRONMAN.
Garrett: This is a whole other level of endurance event, getting that much education.
John: (laughing) I guess it is, but it’s, I’m not much of an iron man myself, so I guess it’s, uh, you know, it was where I could excel.
Garrett: That’s awesome. Yeah. Um, so you had all this education at the time you started to identify that pornography was harmful, you already had all these credentials?
Garrett: And you started looking for the research. Did you find much research?
John: I did. I did. I didn’t find as much as, as is out there today, but there certainly was, um, a lot of research out there demonstrating the harms of porn.
Garrett: And maybe I missed this. What year was that? What year did you start looking for that research and you found some?
John: 2006, I believe.
Garrett: So the first version of the smartphones were created in 2007
Garrett: So it was right before that?
John: Right before that. Yeah. It was right around right around that time. So most of the research was on Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, um, and then some, uh, on internet pornography. But that was even still, I guess it wasn’t a new phenomenon, but it was, it wasn’t as pervasive as it is today.
Garrett: Right. It was about ten years old.
Garrett: But still new compared to what it is…
John: Exactly. You’d be, you usually needed a, a computer, um, to access it, which was usually stationary on a desk of some kind where other people could be walking by. Um, so rather than laptop, iPads, iPods, you know, phones, that kind of thing.
Garrett: So going back as you’re looking for this research into about 2006, is there a piece of research or science that stood out as like this aha moment of like, okay, here it is, this is validating my intuition.
John: Yeah, I think it was, I mean there was a study by Mary Koss and Neil Malamuth. Um, and they had documented all the different studies that had connected pornography and sexual violence and uh, shown that pornography use did lead to sexual violence; it wasn’t a one to one relationship. Of course, lots of people have seen pornography don’t commit sexual violence. Um, but particularly there was a strong link between the two. Um, and they did a review of, of all the studies that have been published up to that point about sexual violence. And there was this big…
Garrett: And how many studies? Do you remember?
John: There were over 50 of them. Um, and their study came out in the year 2000, so, um, that showed me that this is something that’s been demonstrated by research and it’s pretty hard to, to argue against 50 studies showing the same thing.
Garrett: Yeah. That is a challenge.
Garrett: Do you have people challenge you still?
John: All the time. All the time.
Garrett: Okay. So 2006 you find these studies, and at that point, you said there was 50, over 50 studies linking pornography and sexual violence.
Garrett: Um, at what point did you say ‘I want to add to that research?’
John: That would have been about 2010.
Garrett: What sparked that desire?
John: Um, well, I do a lot of research anyway, and I like to research things I’m passionate about. And one of the things I saw was a hole in the research where we didn’t know a whole lot about how… we, we knew that pornography and sexual violence were connected, but we didn’t know the extent to which pornography might connect to bystander intervention, which essentially is if someone sees a situation that could turn into sexual assault, are they going to step in and stop it or are they just going to watch it happen? Um, and my theory or my hypothesis going into the study was that the more people watch porn, the less likely they would be to intervene to prevent a sexual assault from happening.
John: And indeed, that’s what I found in my research.
Garrett: What was your research?
John: We did um, surveys of a few hundred college students. Um, ask them about their pornography use, ask them a lot of questions about whether they would intervene as a bystander in various different situations and we’re able to connect the dots.
Garrett: Interesting. The name of our podcast is Consider Before Consuming.
Garrett: Some people who are listening to this podcast might think that you’re incorrect, what if someone came to you and said, “Hey, I look at pornography, and I only look at the..”, their justification or their explanation is I only look at the, the “consensual” pornography. I only look at “ethical” pornography.
Garrett: Um, is that okay? Is that harmful?
John: Well, I would, I would ask them to define what they consider to be “ethical” pornography and do they really know, um, the conditions under which the people in that porn, uh, decided to be in it. And frequently, you know, it’s a, it’s a marketing ploy really by the porn industry to call some porn ethical porn. It’s a niche. It’s, it’s, yes, I do think that any pornography is going to objectify the people that are in it. And when you make an object out of something, it makes it more easily to be violent against them. And so there may be some pornography that is less violent than others, but we’re still taking a human being, their body and objectifying part of it. We’re making them into, um, an object and not a person. So, um,
Garrett: So once you perform this research of a couple of hundred people, um, what, what was the next step? What did you do with that research?
John: Well, the next step was to do more research and figure out. Um, so if we knew that there was a connection between pornography and bystander intervention, um, was it particularly kinds of porn that tended to be more influential and, uh, inhibiting bystander intervention. And in fact, it was, um, we, we did a followup study and, uh, found that it’s particularly the violent and degrading pornography that tends to inhibit, um, lead people not to intervene as a bystander. So that’s not necessarily saying that, um, the non-violent porn is okay. It’s just saying it may not inhibit bystander intervention. And I think there are plenty of reasons, um, whether you’re talking erectile dysfunction, less satisfaction in relationships, um, lots of other reasons to be against pornography and to, and to not use it oneself. Um,
Garrett: As you’re talking, and you mentioned, I’ve heard this phrase come up a couple of times bystander intervention, I think that’s such an important thing in our culture because culture is what keeps us safe as people.
John: Right. Well, it can…
Garrett: I mean, yeah, that’s the goal.
John: Right? Right.
Garrett: I mean, we talked about how pornography can affect individuals, relationships and society. (pauses) And I’m, I’m thinking of like the #MeToo movement like this can, this could potentially affect people within that movement. It’s affecting a lot of areas where we need people to intervene.
John: Yes, absolutely.
Garrett: We need to create a healthy culture.
Garrett: 2010, fast forward, and today, we’re sitting here almost a decade later.
Garrett: Have you seen that number of people that are not willing to intervene, increase? Have you done any followup research?
John: I haven’t done that research, and I haven’t seen it done in terms of an exact percentage of the population, but I would guess with the direction our culture is going in terms of being more impersonal in its relationships with people and um, more digital relationships as opposed to in-person relationships that there’s probably less intervention that’s happening rather than more, I would hope that there would be more intervention that’s happening. But,
Garrett: Well, I guess one of the things we can look at is the consumption of pornography is definitely increasing, and we know that based off numbers and traffic to websites.
Garrett: If that’s increasing based on your research from 2010 when we know that numbers are going to increase as well.
Garrett: That makes sense. Right. Um, I’m trying to think of what some of our listeners might think. Let’s say I’m in high school and I’m like, “This is not going to affect me, Dr. Foubert, because when I get in a meaningful relationship, I’m not gonna look at porn.” What would you say to them?
John: I would, I would say that pornography is something that can affect how you expect sex is going to play out, especially if you’re not very experienced with it. It’s going to give you ideas in your head about this is how sex happens and do you want sex to be taught to you by an industry that just wants you for your money or wants you for how many clicks you click on a website. And that are really in a lot of ways that are trying to undermine healthy relationships between people. Um, is that how you want to learn about sex? And I hope the answer to that is no.
Garrett: That makes sense. Um, have you run across any studies that have shown the amount of aggression and violence in today’s pornography?
John: Yeah. Um, there was a study done by Ana bridges at the University of Arkansas, and she did it with, um, uh, people at NYU. And what they did was they, uh, they purchased the top 25 rented porn movies and the top 25 sold porn movies in a particular week. They, um, sat down and they trained people to code all of them, code them in terms of what actions happen in what scenes and, and all of that. So they took a very scientific approach to it, and they found that in 88% of the scenes, there was violence by one person towards another. And usually, that was a man towards a woman. And that was, I think, part of what I found so interesting about this study. But what was even more interesting was that 95% of the time when a woman was hit by a man in porn, she responded with either pleasure, or she had no response at all. So it wasn’t “Stop hitting me, pig!” um, or, you know, get off or go away. It was, oh, I like that.
Garrett: Yeah. I can see how that is going to perpetuate some false expectations for both genders.
John: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it, and it does for both genders and not only teaches men that it’s okay to hit a woman, but it teaches women that if I’m hit, I should like it. Um, and there’s actually research out there that shows that the more that women watch pornography, the more they accept sexual violence against themselves. Uh, which is another, I think a devastating harm of pornography as it teaches women to say…
Garrett: They’re not even intervening against their own… their pornography consumption is disabling their ability to intervene for themselves.
Garrett: To speak up.
Garrett: Wow. So what have you done with this research would, I mean there’s a sea of research out there showing the harmful effects of pornography. So can you talk to that a little bit about what you’ve done with all of the research, including your own?
John: Well, I try and speak to people about it and try and do it in as clear way as I can and to go out and I speak to colleges. Uh, I’ve spoken to some churches. I’ve spoken to a couple of high schools, although I found it harder to get into the high schools, um, I’ve written different blogs for different organizations, um, on their websites and just try to get the message out that, you know, pornography isn’t this thing that, well, it’s just a private matter, and it’s no big deal. It’s actually harming you, and it’s harming us as a society, and we need to take a stand against it. And so I try and send that message to people in whatever forum I’m in, um, and to say the tough things and ask the tough questions to get the message across.
Garrett: That’s amazing. I like that. I love the work you’re doing. As you’ve spoken, do you have any experiences that stand out or maybe there’s some experiences where someone’s come up to you and say, hey, this is kind of validating your research. They’re like, “Wow, this is true.”
John: Oh, yeah…
Garrett: “I’ve have had this personally happened to me.”, or “I noticed that I was desensitized myself.”
John: I usually, after almost every presentation, there’s someone that comes up that that somehow validates what I’ve been saying. Or they say that what I said validated something within them. Um, I’ve also had people on the other side just try and say, you know, what you’re saying is a bunch of bunk and they’re basically just arguing with, with research that’s been done and has met scientific standards and they can decide to agree with, with the standards of the scientific community or not. But….
Garrett: What are some of those scientific standards? You mentioned there are over 50 studies…
John: Yeah, for example, 50 studies showing a connection between pornography and sexual violence. For any of those studies, there needs to be a 95% chance the result is true before it’s going to get published. So that’s a standard that’s in throughout the scientific community. In social sciences, you’ve gotta be 95% sure or more that you’re accurately describing what’s here, um, or it’s not going to be published.
Garrett: So you did that,… that research did it 50 times or I guess 50 different studies did that, met that criteria?
John: Exactly. And if you, if you have 50 studies that find the same thing with that, you know, 95% true or not the the odds that you’re wrong is one in 88 decillion. Decillion is like decillion, nonillion, octillion, septillion, sextillion, quintillion, quadrillion, trillion, billion, million, hundreds of thousands, single digits. So you know that you’re right when you have 50 studies that have shown the same thing.
Garrett: So… to put that number into perspective, you said “One in 88 decillion”?
Garrett: By the way, I’m very impressed that you knew those numbers in reverse order. (laughing)
John: (laughing) I’ve said it a few times.
Garrett: (laughing) So that was impressive. But one thing I wanted to do to talk about, because some of our listeners are going to say, “one in 88 decillion, what does that mean?” Can you give us an idea of what that number means?
John: Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, let’s think of a room that you’re in and filling it with pennies from top to bottom. That’d be a whole lot of pennies to fill a standard room from top to bottom with pennies. Well, let’s think of a, a building and filling a building with pennies and let’s pick a big building like the Empire State Building filled floor to ceiling with pennies. Take a billion Empire State Buildings filled floor to ceiling with pennies, and you get 88 decillion.
Garrett: How many? 1 billion Empire State Buildings?
John: 1 billion Empire State Buildings filled floor to ceiling with pennies. Then you get to 88 decillion. So, you know, they’re, they’re people that call themselves scholars out there that says, well, the scientific evidence, but connecting porn and sexual violence, it’s merely just assumed. Well, what they’re basically saying is out of this 1 billion empire state buildings, they can walk to the right one, to the right floor, to the right room, pick out that one little penny just by chance. And that’s a bunch of bunk. There’s just no way. Um, it’s, it’s something that is so solidly proven that we don’t need, you know, to be one in 100 decillion. I mean, 88 to decillion I think is enough.
Garrett: Yeah, so it is a fact that sexual violence and pornography, there’s a connection?
John: There’s a connection between the two. And the one thing I want to make sure that people don’t mishear me on, I’m not saying that everybody who watches porn commits rape. That is absolutely not what I’m saying. There are lots of people who watch pornography who don’t rape somebody.
Garrett: The very large majority.
John: Yeah, absolutely. The large majority, but it does make sexual violence more likely among a particular sector of the population and on, on with another sector of the population, it makes bystander intervention less likely.
Garrett: So it affects our culture…
Garrett: and it affects our society. Individuals, relationships, and society.
John: All of those, all of those.
Garrett: Interesting. So of the research that you’ve performed personally, is it just the one that we talked about or have you performed others?
John: Um, on the issue of, uh, pornography and bystander intervention? I think there are, I did one study on men and then one study on women and then another study on how much violence was in the pornography. Um, and then, uh, I published another paper that was on, um, erectile dysfunction, um, and others, uh, public health harms of pornography. Um, and then I came out with a book, How Pornography Harms, that tried to distill, oh goodness, I think it was 200 different studies that I read about 25 or 30 books. And then I did interviews with, um, about 20 people whose lives had been directly impacted by pornography, people who had been in pornography, people that have been to prison for child porn, um, all kinds of different experiences. Um, because I wanted the, the human voice to come out and what I wrote as well and, and the real-life experiences that people, so I kind of distilled that all down into a book. And, um, and I,
Garrett: I was actually, um, because I’ve read your book.
Garrett: But I just, because I knew I was going to speak with you, I was brushing up on some of the, some of your book.
Garrett: So one of the things that I wanted to ask you about your book, How Pornography Harms, was regarding how pornography has changed because in your book, it says yes pornography has changed and become more violent and aggressive over the years. But I listened to a podcast, I listeneed to it recently within the last six months and this particular podcast was talking about how the pornonography industry has changed, um, in particular in 2007.
Garrett: How it changed from then going forward.
Garrett: And the person in this podcast, he was interviewing a producer of pornography, and the producer said that pornography hasn’t become more aggressive and violent since the internet has come out and since smartphones had come out.
Garrett: I wanted you to talk to that a little bit if you have any insight?
John: Well, I can say that based on the reading that I’ve done, pornography became increasingly violent each year that went on. Um, because what the porn industry found was the kind of porn that sold the best or that people were clicking on the most was more violent pornography. Like in the 80s, there wasn’t a whole lot of violent pornography that was out there. Uh, in the late 90s, we see a lot more violent pornography because, um, there’s, uh, it’s, it’s selling. Um, and then the pornography of today has gotten much more violent because the more violent it is, the better it sells, the more people look at it. And what the porn industry wants is they want either money or clicks or advertising on their sites. So they want to be the biggest, uh, porn site. And so they want to have lots of people clicking on it so they can charge more for the people who consume it. Um, so, um,
Garrett: so in your, according to what you know, it has changed?
John: Absolutely. Now I, I, I think and actually there’s a study that just came out a couple of years ago that found that in the last ten years there four different kinds of porn that have increased exponentially. Uh, one of them is child porn. Uh, one of them is gore porn, which I hadn’t heard before I read this study, but you can think, you know, guts and gore, gore Porn. Um, and then the two other kinds of pornography that it increased a lot, um, were violent pornography and then I forget the other one. But, um, but they’d all, uh, increased tremendously in the last ten years. And so we’re, we’re seeing, um, the porn industry continually trying to up the ante on how much more violent can we be towards a woman’s body all to try and get attention and get money.
Garrett: Okay. Um, I want you to talk a little bit about the ubiquity of the cell phone and how that has changed or had an influence on changing the consumption of pornography and the type of pornography being consumed.
John: Well, the, with the ubiquity of the cell phone has led to pornography being consumed much more because it’s a lot easier for, let’s say a 14-year-old boy to show another 14-year-old boy pornography when they can just reach into his pocket and say, “Hey, look at this.”, um, than it is to show them a laptop or a desktop computer or something like that. So it’s made it much more mobile.
Garrett: One of the things we run into as an organization, at Fight the New Drug, we do presentations to like junior highs, high schools and colleges, and we also do community events where we go in and talk to the community. One of the challenges we face in those presentations is that we’re trying to get the adults on the same page with the kids because oftentimes they’re using one word to define two entirely different things.
Garrett: They’re using the word pornography.
Garrett: So if we were to ask an adult what their definition of pornography was and then ask the child, it’s very different.
Garrett: And I guess I’m kind of answering my own question here. That’s an example as… showing that pornography has changed.
John: Actually. It is, it is evidence for that. They do tend to think of different things when, when you say pornography to, um, people, let’s say parents are in their forties or something like that, they’re thinking of Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, um, those sorts of magazines. When you say pornography to a 14-year-old boy, you know, you’re thinking of all the kinds of different things that are on the internet now, gore porn, and, um, just how many more ways can you violate a woman’s body? And so there they’re thinking of images that are far different than what the magazines of the 80s and 90s were.
Garrett: Yeah. Um,…
John: I thought of another thing though too, when you were asking about why shouldn’t a, a teenage boy look at porn. You asked something along those lines. And there, um, a couple of other studies that have come out just in the last couple of years have shown that the more that adolescents are using porn, the more lonely they get. And the more that adolescents use porn, the more depressed they get. And if you think about it, you know, using pornography usually is a solitary behavior. And um, what, what tends to happen is that boys will get lonely and so they’ll go to porn to make themselves feel better, but then they’ll get even more lonely. And so then they’ll go to porn, and then the porn makes them more lonely. And it’s just sort of this vicious cycle.
Garrett: Just creating more and more isolation.
John: Exactly. Exactly. And in a society where we’re struggling too, I think they connect with each other. There’s, there’s research out there showing that empathy has gone way down, uh, with the last generation compared to generations before and just at a connection with human beings. Um, and, and depression as well. The rates of, of depression and anxiety have just skyrocketed. And a lot of that, um, you can trace that to the research on pornography that the more people use pornography, the more depressed they get. And if you think about it, um, you can get an immediate high from pornography, but afterwards, you don’t tend to feel as good as when you’re using it or, or immediately after. Um, and it’s also if you’re, if you’re just trying to medicate the pain of depression, that that medication isn’t going to last very long and you’re still going to be the same depressed person afterward.
Garrett: It’s going to require more medication or more unhealthy behavior.
Garrett: One question I had was, let’s say there’s a teen out there who’s looking at pornography a couple of times a week, and he or she runs across pornography that is aggressive and violent, but they’re not attracted to it. They don’t…
Garrett: And it actually maybe offends them, and their intuition or their family values are saying that we need to treat people with respect. And so they bypass that pornography.
Garrett: So, they click past it right onto the next thing, right? So their justification might be, “well, I’m not consuming that, Dr. John Foubert. So that’s not going to affect me.”
John: It may not affect you today, but talk to me in six months. Because one of the things I learned from people who had been affected by pornography is that when they saw the violent content initially, they did click right past it. They didn’t want to see it. That wasn’t part of what they wanted to experience. But when they got to the point where the same old pornography wasn’t doing it for them anymore, they went to the more violent stuff because that gave them a stronger sense of arousal. So at the moment, you might not think that you are wanting to use it or it’s not affecting you, but you may return to it later when the same old porn isn’t doing it for you anymore.
Garrett: So here on the podcast, we want to talk about the harmful effects of pornography. We also want to talk about hope and what drives people to fight for love. Can you talk to that a little bit? Like what’s your passion? Why are you doing this?
John: Well, I think there are a couple of reasons. Um, there are lots of reasons really. I mean, there are always people who haven’t heard about the research on pornography, um, who can be educated about this. So I think that’s important. Um, I want to be of a movement that lowers pornography use. Um, I’m a dad. Um, I don’t want to see either my daughter or my son, uh, affected by pornography, but they’re going to be affected by it. I know that in some way if only by the culture that they live in. So, um, those are things that, that, um, that drive me and um, this is something I believe in that uh, the porn industry is selling something that we shouldn’t be buying. Even if we’re not spending money on it, we shouldn’t be using it or consuming it. Um, and I, and I like to get that message out there.
Garrett: So you’re doing a great job on shedding the light on the harmful effects of pornography. Do you also do any work on recovery stuff on any studies that have shown that people are reversing the harmful effects of pornography?
John: Yeah, I, well, I, I’ve read a little bit about it, um, particularly about the neuroplasticity of the brain. Um, and how if you take an absolute break from pornography and masturbation for a period of time, for example, for, for males who experience erectile dysfunction, um, that it takes somewhere between two months and two years for the, the brain to essentially reboot. Um, and so learn from Dr. Donald Hilton that, that research. Um, so there’s some of that that’s out there. Um, I, I think what you’ve identified as sort of the next frontier in research and that is what can we do that really affects people for the, for good on recovering from porn, escaping it, not getting it in your life. Cause I, I don’t see very many studies that are on that, but what I have seen in the last three, four, five years is lots of different organizations popping up who have that goal.
John: And usually when you have that, that’s sort of the, the beginning stage before research happens is lots of people are working on it. And, uh, then if you get researchers that come and say, Hey, I want to study that. I want to study what you’re doing and see if we can find if it’s having an effect or not. And then it takes a couple more years for it to get in the scholarly journals. So I think that’s about where we are. We have, I mean, Fight the New Drug is leading the way in this area. I think there are also other smaller organizations that are also trying to figure out how do we help people, how do we, um, really, uh, make a difference in this area? And, and I think before long we’ll see some, uh, some studies come out in that area.
Garrett: Yeah. I think you’re right. It doesn’t just happen tomorrow.
Garrett: It takes time. Um, any last words for our audience at Consider Before Consuming?
John: Yeah, I think, you know, we can talk about lots of different ways that pornography affects you. Whether that’s loneliness, depression, erectile dysfunction, whichever, but think about the people that are actually in those images and would they in their right mind be doing that if it weren’t for the fact that they were in a really tough situation and they really just needed the money? Um, do we really want to give money to an industry that, that makes money off of, um, being mean to people?
Garrett: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.
John: Yeah, I just don’t think that that’s right.
Garrett: Well, I think those are all, I don’t think, I know those are all great reasons to, or things to consider before consuming.
John: Yeah, I hope so.
Garrett: Dr. John Fiber, it was a pleasure.
John: Thank you. It was a pleasure for me.
Garrett: Thank you for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious, non-legislative, non-profit that exists to provide you with the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography, by raising awareness on it’s harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts. To support this podcast, text CONSIDER to 43506.