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Supporting Youth in the Age of Internet Pornography

By March 24, 2024March 25th, 2024No Comments

Episode 110

Supporting Youth in the Age of Internet Pornography

Dr. John Foubert is the Dean of the College of Education at Union University and the principal of Dr. John D. Foubert, LLC. Dr. Foubert worked for 20 years to apply research to rape prevention programs on college campuses, in communities, and in the military.
In this Consider Before Consuming Podcast interview, Dr. Foubert helps us understand the correlation between pornography and sexual violence, highlighting over 50 studies showcasing their connection and the ways this is impacting today’s youth. He also discusses his newest book, Protecting Your Children from Internet Pornography: Understanding the Science, Risks, and Ways to Protect Your Kids, which helps parents and caretakers understand the harms of porn and how to navigate conversations about this with children.
Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.


Intro (00:05):
For today’s episode, we sat down for a second podcast interview with Dr. John Foubert, an author and researcher who has spent decades on the harms of pornography and its connection to sexual violence. In this episode, Dr. Foubert delves into the correlation between pornography and sexual violence, highlighting over 50 studies, showcasing their connection and the ways this is impacting today’s youth. He stresses the importance of ongoing conversations with children about its impacts, providing guidance for parents on navigating these discussions. He underscores the addictive nature of pornography and its portrayal of consent issues. Despite challenges, Dr. Foulbert remains hopeful, emphasizing education and awareness in combating pornography’s negative effects. With that, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Fight The New Drug (01:04):
Well, Dr. John Foulbert, I’m so excited to get to speak with you today and share with our audience a little bit about a new book you have. But before we dive into all of that, for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege of hearing one of your past interviews with us either on this podcast or a video, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and the work that you do in this space?

Dr. John D. Foubert (01:27):
Sure. I’ve been an academic for about 30 years working at different colleges and universities. Right now I’m dean and professor at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and one of my main areas of research is in the harms of pornography. And so I’ve written two books about it, HowPpornography Harms and then Protecting Your Children From Internet Pornography is the most recent one. And what I try to do is I try to get out facts and figures to people so that they can make wise choices about whether or not they want to use pornography and whether they should be concerned with it on an individual or cultural level.

Fight The New Drug (02:05):
Amazing. And one of the ways things I think you do so well is take research and make it easy for those of us who don’t spend all day reading research to understand. So there’s one stat in particular you’ve shared in our documentary you shared recently on our podcast, but it’s one we get a lot of questions about and it is the odds that there is no connection between pornography and sexual violence. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Dr. John D. Foubert (02:32):
Sure. There have been over 50 studies that have been done that have connected pornography and sexual violence. And one of the things that you do in social science research is you function with percentage likelihood of that the results are true. And so what a social scientists will basically say is, if I’m 95% sure that these numbers are different from each other, then we’ll go with that. And so if you do 50 studies at the 95% confidence level, you get to such a small level of unlikelihood that it’s not even worth talking about. In fact, it’s one in 88 decsion and Decsion is a big, big number. And so if you want to try and understand what that might equal, if you took pennies and you filled the Empire State Building with pennies from floor to ceiling and you did that a billion times, you would have 88 decilian pennies. And so it’s a number that is not even worth discussing from my perspective. Now what it doesn’t mean is not everybody who watches pornography is going to commit sexual violence. We have to make sure that we make that point clear, but there is that connection that is there and there are many different studies that have gone at different angles to reveal that it’s a true fact.

Fight The New Drug (04:01):
Yeah. Thank you so much. We’ll talk a little bit more later about porn’s connection to violence and sexual violence. I wanted to ask you the last time you were on the podcast, you spoke a little bit about the speaking events that you do at colleges and high schools, but we didn’t get to talk much about the speaking that you do with the military and on military bases. Can you share a little bit about why it’s so important to talk about the harms of pornography in that space in particular?

Dr. John D. Foubert (04:30):
Well, I think in any space it’s important. I think with the military it can undermine mission readiness. If people are addicted to pornography, it makes them, there’s so many different studies that have shown that it increases depression, anxiety, things that would undermine an individual’s readiness to fight in the military. And it’s something that’s important to me. I worked with the Army for five years as their lead sexual assault expert and tried to make sure that they understood that if they wanted to fight sexual assault, they also had to fight pornography. And that’s a message that to their credit, I think a lot of them heard. But not everybody, as you know in this space, some people will listen to the science and other people won’t, and you can’t do a whole lot about that. But just keep giving in the science and hoping that those who believe in it will pay attention.

Fight The New Drug (05:28):
Can you speak a little bit, I’m asking this because we’ve heard recently from some individuals who’ve shared their personal experience with a struggle with pornography while being in the military. Can you speak a little bit to what you saw in that work, what that looks like in that environment and what some of the negative outcomes besides not being prepared for mission readiness look like?

Dr. John D. Foubert (05:52):
Well, I think they would be a lot of the same as you would find with a normal person with a civilian. I mean, the lack of life satisfaction, difficulty having sexual relations after a while of using pornography. I think those are all important. Now, I don’t know of any study that is specifically surveyed people in the military on their pornography use, so that may be something that the military doesn’t want people to know. Not saying they’re being too secretive, but I haven’t seen a study like that. But I think we can make the translation that with so many men in the military and of course women as well and the high uses of pornography, especially among the 18 to 29-year-old age group, that it can really undermine your efficacy as an individual, whether that’s life satisfaction, whether that’s the ability to being a partnered relationship or anything of the sort.

Fight The New Drug (06:55):
Your book called Pornography Harms, you wrote after all of your research on the connection between pornography and sexual violence and your newest book Protecting Your Children From Internet Pornography is written specifically for parents and caretakers. Can you talk a little bit about what the research process looked like for this book?

Dr. John D. Foubert (07:13):
Yeah, for this book, I took a lot of the research that I had done for how pornography harms and updated it in terms of reading the most recent literature that was out there on the harms of pornography, but also did a lot more interviews with people like psychologists and social workers and people who would have advice for parents, parenting experts, those sorts of folks on how do we deal with the problem of pornography in a family, and especially with children, and how do we go about having conversations with kids where we’re not freaking out anytime we hear that they’ve used pornography, but that we’re having calm conversations with them and that it’s an open dialogue that you can have with your kids about this issue because they’re going to be exposed to it. I mean, the stats on that are pretty convincing. It’s a matter of when. And so we need to, I think, be the first people to talk to them about pornography. So we’re the first person that they come to ask a question about it.

Fight The New Drug (08:21):
That’s great. We wholeheartedly agree. Can you provide an overview of the main risks and challenges that children and adolescents specifically face in today’s digital world regarding exposure to online pornography?

Dr. John D. Foubert (08:33):
With online pornography and children, the problem is that they get their brains reset to what they think sexual relations should be. And so especially if it’s the first time they’ve heard about sex or seen a sex act or something, most of what’s in pornography today has violence in it. And so it fuses the violence and intimacy connection within the brain. And so it becomes very disturbing just in the sense that I don’t think there are many people who would want their children to fuse sex and violence in terms of their own behavior. Now, a lot of parents are perhaps even freaked out about their children having sex. And certainly in a certain age, I think all of us would agree is not appropriate, but when they get older, at some point in life, they probably will. And we don’t want them to have kind of this template in their brains that sex and violence go together. We want it to be an intimate and loving experience that strengthens a relationship that doesn’t hurt a relationship.

Fight The New Drug (09:45):
And so for someone, a parent maybe who is less familiar with what pornography is today, lemme give you some context. We often hear from parents at live presentations, porn was around when I was a kid and I turned out fine. And I think there’s a disconnect for many parents between what the content actually is today versus what the content was a couple of decades ago. And that includes, it’s more accessible, it’s more available, you can click through thousands of images or videos in a very short amount of time. Can you contextualize a little bit what that content is specifically also with regard to violence and how it is influencing violence?

Dr. John D. Foubert (10:27):
Sure. I mean, today pornography is what’s called a super normal stimulus internet pornography. That is because it conveys so many images and choices of images to the individual that their brain hasn’t been designed to deal with that much stimulation at one point in time. So it can lead to things like addiction and such. One of the problems with today’s pornography is that acts that lead women to vomit are mainstream, and they’re often designed to demean women. And the percentages of scenes where violence by a man towards a woman is featured is very high, and it’s very much more than your father or grandfather’s Playboy magazine was. Playboy magazine is very tame. In fact, they can’t even show nudes in Playboy anymore because of the competition that they faced with the porn industry. So it’s not the same material. It’s deliberately shown to demean women to make them into sexual objects. And the more that men look at today’s pornography, the more they think of women as objects. And when you think of someone as an object, it makes it much more likely that you’ll convey violence towards them. And that’s something that someone like me who does research on sexual violence is very concerned about because we want to make sure that people are looking at each other as people, not as objects, to be ejaculated on, to use some language that is perhaps a little strong, but it’s what’s out there in today’s pornography.

Fight The New Drug (12:17):
And I think it’s worth noting too, sometimes people will say, well, we are just claiming that only men are perpetrators and only women are victims in pornography. And it’s important to note that that goes both ways. That’s not only the case. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Dr. John D. Foubert (12:34):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, men are also abused in pornography, particularly male on male pornography. That can be part of what happens in that kind of pornography. But the violence is the underlying factor. And in a lot of cases, women will abuse men in pornography and be violent towards them. The key underlying factor is violence, and that’s what is in so much of today’s pornography in so many scenes in today’s pornography. And it’s not just the men who are abusing the women, although that is the most common kind of violence in pornography, but it’s men abusing men and women abusing men, women abusing women, and certainly not showing an example of a kind and loving relationship.

Fight The New Drug (13:25):
That’s right. And I think it’s important to note for parents, we often normalize societally that men consume porn and women, and especially when it comes to young people, there’s the idea that young boys who are consuming this are learning this violence against women. But also it’s important to note that young girls do consume porn as well, and they’re also learning, especially from pornography that paints women as victims of this violence or shows women who are actually victims of this violence. It gives them the idea that that’s their role as well. So it’s affecting both ways for young people especially.

Dr. John D. Foubert (14:04):
Absolutely. And it teaches women that they should be violated against. They’re like, especially if it’s a girl who’s seeing pornography for the first time and she’s seeing a man be violent with a woman, she’s like, well, I guess that’s what sex is, and I should put up with it. And she doesn’t say that out loud, but it’s a process in the brain that, oh, well, that’s what sex is. And I guess I’ll get used to that someday. But yeah.

Fight The New Drug (14:33):
On your website you have a page dedicated to kind of statistics about how porn affects teenagers that has many relevant statistics to this conversation. Can you share some of those that you find most compelling?

Dr. John D. Foubert (14:48):
One of them is actually related to things we’ve talked about so far, and that adolescents who view pornography are more likely to be sexually assaulted than other adolescents. So that’s concerning. They also have more disturbed family relationships. They tend to have sex earlier in life, and it tends to be of a more violent nature. They also become less religious over time, and they have more arguments and have a more difficult time communicating with their parents. And then adults, they have diminished life satisfaction. And so that’s something that affects everyone, and we would hope that people would have satisfying lives, but pornography use among adolescents actually diminishes the life satisfaction.

Fight The New Drug (15:37):
Along those same lines, people often think pornography can spice up their life or their relationship where positively impact them. What are some of the myths about internet pornography or consumption and its effects on children that you dispel throughout your book?

Dr. John D. Foubert (15:56):
Well, a lot of people will think that, and I’ve heard even counselors say this, that if you’re having trouble in your sex life, you should use some pornography to spice it up. And what you’d be using to spice it up would be really to violent it up and ratchet up the nature of the violence in it. And that’s something that I would just flat out say is inherently wrong, that we don’t need violence in our relationships and that it’s something that can be harmful and abusive towards one another. So that’s something that I would say with regard to that. I think some people think that they’ll learn things that they wouldn’t otherwise know by watching pornography. And while that may be true, what they’re learning is the problem. They’re learning that you should ejaculate on a woman’s face when you finish a sex scene that’s just demeaning and you, you’re learning acts that would violate women’s bodily integrity. And in fact, to take on a new subject. It’s inherently racist in a lot of cases. A lot of pornography today shows people who are, for example, African-Americans as being more violent than Caucasians. African-American men are more violent in pornography than Caucasian men. Black couples are the most violent type of couple that are shown in pornography. And not only does that undermine the integrity of that population, there’s no statistical evidence that would be true for their own relationships. So it really casts them in a negative light.

Fight The New Drug (17:44):
Yeah, pornography often perpetuates these harmful stereotypes including racist stereotypes and other stereotypes, particularly against minority groups. We have seen research about that.

Dr. John D. Foubert (17:56):
Yes, yes, definitely. That is out there.

Fight The New Drug (17:59):
And so knowing that this is content that is problematic for young people to be consuming, if a young person consumes pornography and isn’t taught that this is not an accurate representation of a loving sexual relationship, what does that trajectory look like as that young person evolves into an adult? Typically, what do we know from research that can happen?

Dr. John D. Foubert (18:25):
Well, their relationships mirror what they’ve seen in pornography, and they tend to desire what they’ve seen and have self gratified to for what’s often in many years of use. And the younger they get started, the worse the problems become. And in fact, they become over time, less and less able to function sexually with a partner, although they can certainly function just fine with their iPhone. So it is something that will undermine what their desire may be, and that is to have a relationship with a partner. But in fact, the more pornography one uses, the less able they are to have sex with a partner.

Fight The New Drug (19:09):
And a lot of people, we often hear them say, well, I thought when I got into a serious relationship then I would quit porn. Or when I got married I would quit porn. What do we see in research? And in your experience, in your years in this space, what do we see as more common to happen in those circumstances?

Dr. John D. Foubert (19:28):
Well, a lot of people may think, oh, I’ll just quit when X, Y, Z happens. And it’s much easier said than done. One of the things I’ve done is talk to a lot of psychologists and they’ll say they would rather have a heroin addict than a pornography addict to try to get off what they’re on because with a heroin addict, you can at least take the heroin away With pornography, it’s so accessible, number one. And number two, a lot of people will replay scenes in their head and they can self manufacture it in their minds. And once you get the images in your head, you can’t get them back out. And that’s something you need to be very concerned with. And the longer you’ve used pornography, the more likely it is that it’s going to take a longer time to get out of the pornography use.

Now the neurologists out there say it can take somewhere between two and six months of absolute abstinence from pornography and masturbation to reboot a brain in the sense that the brain is reset to its normal levels. But that’s something that’s very hard to do and hard to do without a really good therapist, to be honest with you. So I wouldn’t make plans say, oh, I’ll just stop using porn when I get married because you may not be able to function at all, and it can take a long time, even with the best of counseling for you to be able to reset.

Fight The New Drug (21:01):
So bringing this back to, now that we’ve contextualized a little bit what some of these harms are, why it’s concerning that young people are consuming this content, especially at younger and younger ages, you spoke with a lot of clinical professionals, as you mentioned for this book. What is some of the advice that they had or others had for parents to know how to appropriately navigate this so that their kids are coming to them rather than seeking out answers to these questions online?

Dr. John D. Foubert (21:29):
A lot of the big advice is to start early with kids and to start with even four and five year olds, not using the word pornography, but say talk about pictures that our family takes and how we wouldn’t take a picture of someone without their clothes on because that just wouldn’t be right. And because we don’t take pictures of people without their clothes on, we don’t look at pictures of people without their clothes on. And then as a child gets a little bit older, maybe seven or eight say, have you heard the word pornography used before? Among your friends? What did they think it means? And then as they get older, talk about when your friends have shown you pictures on their iPhone. What have they shown you and what did you think about it and how did that make you feel? So it’s more of helping a child process our culture and understand that pornography is part of our culture, that we need to make sure that if we don’t want harms done to ourselves or we don’t want to perpetuate the harms done to others, we need to make a conscious decision to avoid it.

Fight The New Drug (22:40):
And you said this earlier, but really starting an ongoing age appropriate, but ongoing conversation, discussion rather than a one-time chat about porn is harmful, don’t engage because we know that’s not effective often, if ever.

Dr. John D. Foubert (22:58):
You can’t just have one conversation and leave it at that. You really need to have an ongoing dialogue about pornography because their experiences will change as they get older and they’ll be exposed to more. And it’s important that we have an influence on how they interpret what they’re looking at or what their friends are showing them and that sort of thing. I mean, I’ve spoken with a lot of teenagers and young adults about pornography and even the ones that had very restrictive parents with all their devices locked down and everything, we’ll have friends that showed them pornography, especially if they know that they haven’t seen it, because it’s really a rite of passage among today’s generation. And it’s something that it can be, as we’ve discussed over and over again, very harmful to them. And we want to have them make the choice not to use it and to stay away from it as tempting as it can be.

Fight The New Drug (23:58):
And given that technology is evolving, the content is evolving, what these challenges look like will always be evolving for young people. How can parents stay informed and equipped, I guess, to effectively monitor and regulate their children’s online activity and mitigate the risks associated with internet pornography?

Dr. John D. Foubert (24:18):
Well, I would say to one thing to do would be to read good books about pornography, not pornographic books, but books about pornography and to listen to podcasts like the good work that Fight the New Drug does, and to stay up on what is common in today’s pornography. From an academic perspective, I don’t suggest that they look at the websites, I suggest that they take advantage of the research that’s out there that others have done, that they can look at some websites in the sense that you mentioned. On my website, I have an area that just talks about the harm done to adolescents on pornography, but I have a section called Is Porn Bad and about 20 different areas that describe how pornography is harmful to people. And people can find [email protected]. And I hope people will seek that out because I try to present the research both in free formats, like a website and in almost free formats like books. I wish I could give them away for free, but the publisher won’t let me.

Fight The New Drug (25:35):
And you do such a great job of presenting this information. I think that’s a good reminder for listeners that I think parents, especially often we hear from them, they feel overwhelmed or alone, they dunno what to do. These issues are so all consuming, where do they begin? And I think it’s really important to know that there are really, really good resources available for free, much like what you have on your site and just some encouragement for parents. The best place to start is with knowledge, right? Is educating yourself, understanding what the research says, and then from there you can have these productive conversations with young people. I do want to ask you, we get asked by parents often who struggle with pornography themselves. How can I address this with my young person? If I’m dealing with this on my own? What would your advice to them be?

Dr. John D. Foubert (26:28):
I would not overshare with your kids, to be honest with you. I think I would stick to the harms of pornography that you’ve learned through research and not necessarily through personal experience. I think they could use that personal experience to say, well, they’re just being a hypocrite and that they use it too. So why shouldn’t I am one who believes in certain boundaries between parents and children that you don’t discuss everything. You wouldn’t discuss your sexual relationship with your spouse, with your child. The child might freak out actually, if you did, and I don’t think you really, I would generally recommend that you don’t discuss your pornography use with your children unless for some reason you think that it can build a stronger bond with them. And you can talk about how you left it behind and how it’s important for them to leave it behind. That may be an area, and that really is a matter of personal discretion and such, but I look at that as one area where boundaries are appropriate.

Fight The New Drug (27:31):
Yeah, I think that’s helpful advice to know. You can have boundaries around what you share while also knowing you understand harms perhaps better than anyone if it’s something that you’ve struggled with as well. So you are qualified to speak to what those harms are, but you can use research to back those points up rather than acknowledging whether or not that’s from your own experience.

Dr. John D. Foubert (27:54):

Fight The New Drug (27:57):
Throughout your book, you offer questions to ask children based on their age group. I know you mentioned a couple of what those look like a moment ago, but are there a few that stand out to you in addition to those that really you could share with our audiences? We’re talking about how to have these conversations in an age appropriate way.

Dr. John D. Foubert (28:18):
I would ask them questions. Well, let’s see. I already said my favorite ones, so let me see if I can come up with some others. I mean, I think one of the things you can do is share some of the harms of pornography with your kids and then ask them questions about why do you think the porn industry puts that in pornography? Why do you think the porn industry wants you to look at that? Is it for you to have a better relationship or is it for harm to come to another person? When we look at pornography and it’s violent from one person to another, is that a real person who’s experiencing that violence and how do you think that feels to ’em? So getting them to see people in pornography, not as objects, but as people who are often being abused, and that when you’re looking at that, that’s kind of perpetuating that abuse.

I think that’s important too. But one of the key things is to make sure that we’re having those conversations with children at a level that they can understand. And that’s one of the things I wanted to do with different kinds of questions for different ages of children and to also base it on the research. A 4-year-old has probably not seen pornography, but a 14-year-old most certainly has so different that are designed to appeal to what their life experience might be like and get them to process what they’ve seen rather than say, well, you haven’t seen porn, have you, because that’s accusatory. But if you’ve ever seen pictures, people without their clothes on, how did that make you feel? What were the circumstances of that? And can we talk about that some more? And yeah, I think that’s important.

Fight The New Drug (30:09):
Yeah, I think the prompts you share, I appreciate you sharing more of those because I think it helps give people an idea of how to have these conversations. But something else you mentioned earlier is not freaking out. If you learn that your child was exposed to pornography or has seen pornography, can you spell out for a parent who might find themselves in that set of circumstances what you found is the best way to respond?

Dr. John D. Foubert (30:33):
Yeah. I think a lot of parents think that their children or their child is the one who’s not going to look at pornography. And so sometimes their first reaction is to freak out. But you have to literally take a deep breath. If that happens and you walk in and you see Johnny looking at pornography and have a very calm conversation with them about it, say, I understand why you may have wanted to look at this. Why were you drawn to it? What made you think that this was something you wanted to do? And have conversations with them about how do you think this could affect how you view the other sex? For example, if they’re looking at heterosexual pornography, and can I tell you some things about what I’ve read about pornography and the harms that it has, about how it leads to more sexual violence and how it leads to us thinking of people as objects and not as people, how it leads to lower life satisfaction, how it actually makes it more difficult to have intercourse as opposed to not, and educating them and treating them as much as a person who can understand and filter ideas as much as possible.

Fight The New Drug (31:53):
And I think that’s so important to emphasize because as you said earlier, we want them to make a conscious choice not to consume pornography. So sometimes filtration is helpful, monitoring is helpful, especially according to appropriate age. Having training wheels on being able to use the internet is always helpful. But ultimately, we want young people to really understand the harms of pornography to the point where they make an informed and educated decision not to consume it because they know that’s a healthier option for themselves, for their relationships and for society. So it’s so important to have this ongoing dialogue in a healthy way. And what I’ve loved about all of the conversations that you’ve simulated for us here today are that you haven’t been shaming any part of that. Can you speak a little bit to the role of shame in these conversations and your advice around that?

Dr. John D. Foubert (32:47):
Well, I think a lot of, if a kid is caught looking at pornography by his parents, the first thing they may feel is shame. And shame is one of those emotions that tells us that we’re doing something wrong. But if you throw gasoline on that fire, it can really lead them to self-hate or to want to get rid of that shame by trying the same thing again and just getting worse and deeper into it. What could end up being an addiction? I just don’t think that shame is something that is productive as an emotion. I think it can be just like what a signal light on a dashboard that tells us, okay, maybe that wasn’t the best decision. How can I make a different decision next time? And a lot of kids today will say that shame is one of the things that they try to avoid the most. And so it doesn’t necessarily make sense for us to blame and shame them, but it makes sense to educate and empower them to make good choices about what do they want to be part of their lives and what do they not want to be part of their lives.

Fight The New Drug (34:06):
So we spoke a little bit earlier about how difficult it can be to quit consuming pornography once a habit has been developed, but we do know that it is possible, and I just would love for you to be able to share anything hopeful around that for someone who might find themselves in that position.

Dr. John D. Foubert (34:27):
I think there are lots of things that can be hopeful in terms of leaving behind pornography. One of the things that I encourage people to do is to find a good therapist and to make sure that therapist understands the harms of pornography. Some therapists out there that will try and convince you that it’s no problem. A certified sex addiction therapist, a CSAT is very well trained to talk about these issues. There’s some great online programs, and in fact, I think the one join is a great online program that people can use to lower their pornography use and lower the rates of depression and have other wonderful results to them as well. There’s another one called the freedom I mean, there are lots of different programs out there that are designed to help people leave behind pornography and they can find freedom from it.

And in saying how hard it is, I don’t want to talk people out of trying to leave it behind. I just want them to know that they’re in for a fight if they’re trying to leave pornography behind, because it gets deep within the roots of your brain. And so it’s tough to get that out, but it can happen. And things like accountability partners I think can help in some cases to have a relationship with someone where you talk about your struggles leaving behind, and that person can encourage you to keep fighting the good fight. So there are lots of ways of leaving this behind. It’s very difficult,

Fight The New Drug (36:07):
But a good reminder, there are a lot of resources available and for varying budgets as well. I know some people will say, well, I can’t afford therapy. There are other free resources online. You mentioned some, but there are others as well. So we would absolutely encourage you if you are finding that pornography is negatively impacting your life or you have a habit you would like to quit, know that there are resources available that can help you.

Dr. John D. Foubert (36:33):

Fight The New Drug (36:35):
You started speaking to how pornography is a supernormal stimulus, and we’ve talked about how it can be a difficult habit to quit. Can you speak to the research on that, really explaining in your unique way that makes it easy for us to understand how and why pornography can be so addictive?

Dr. John D. Foubert (36:54):
Well, sexual images are exciting to the brain. And when you see a single sexual image that can be particularly exciting, a super normal stimulus refers to what’s the power of internet pornography in the high speed variety where you have so many different pictures that you can choose from, and you literally can type most anything into some of these porn sites and up will come a video that depicts what you’re asking for. That’s not something that the brain was designed to deal with. And so it gets you to the point where you think you can have any kind of intercourse that you might want to or see anything you might want to. And indeed, on a lot of porn websites, you can see almost anything that you want to that it becomes all the more difficult to step away from that or to develop a relationship with a single person who may not want to do what you want to do with them, who has agency and who has opinions about what’s okay to do and what’s not okay to do, and under what circumstances, whether that’s in the context of a marriage or a relationship or however they might define it.

Fight The New Drug (38:09):
And that goes to the question of consent. We know how pornography influences consent. I would love for you to speak a little bit about this from two perspectives. One, what pornography teaches in terms of consent, in terms of how it portrays consent, but especially for young people, but also what consent looks like within the industry. As much as we know,

Dr. John D. Foubert (38:33):
Well consent almost completely absent in pornography videos. I mean, it’s just assumed that everybody wants all kinds of sex in all kinds of positions and all kinds of ways at all times. There’s rarely a porn scene where you have someone ask another person, do you want to do X, Y, and Z with me? And have that person respond with a yes and then engage in that behavior. So when you don’t see consent and a natural normal part of intimate relations, if you actually get to a encounter with someone, you may not think that consent is necessary and it’s very necessary when you’re going to do something with another person in their body. They need to have a choice over whether they want that done with their body or not. So it’s something that is very disturbing, not only in the sense that we’ve talked about thus far, but also in the sense that in the reading that I’ve done, there’s not a lot of consent that’s available on porn sites, excuse me, in porn scenes among the actors. So an actor may say, well, I’ll do this, but I won’t do that. Well, they’ll push the boundaries with that person until they will engage in some behaviors that they beforehand said that they weren’t going to do or didn’t want to do, but they end up doing anyway because they need the money. Their rent is due, they’re in dire straits.

Fight The New Drug (40:14):
Right? And also with consent, true consent we know can be revoked at any time. So at any point in a sexual encounter, someone could say, actually, you know what? I said yes, but I’m no longer comfortable and I’m going to revoke that consent and say no. And that is what true consent looks like. That is not something that’s modeled in pornography, but also that’s not something individuals who are filmed in pornography really get to have, right? Because there is this element of a contract or pressure for something where once the video is there, they don’t really get to have a say in whether or not that’s taken down most of the time. And that includes for victims of sexual exploitation who never had a say in the first place or of image-based sexual abuse who never had a say in the first place.

Dr. John D. Foubert (40:58):

Fight The New Drug (40:59):
So with everything you know about the harms of pornography, what this issue looks like in society, how it’s affecting young people, what hope can you give fighters or advocates who are working to combat the harms of pornography? Where do you find hope in this issue? Why do you continue to do this work? How can you help motivate a cell to keep going?

Dr. John D. Foubert (41:22):
Well, what’s the alternative, I guess is what I’d say is to just hand our children over to the porn industry and say, oh, well, that’s the end. I find strength and conviction from my religious beliefs, but also through the research that’s out there. And I combine those two into an individual who thinks that there are lots of reasons not to like pornography, and that it doesn’t just need to be one’s own perspective on an issue that they come to it. But if you are objective and you take a look at the research that’s out there, you can say, man, this is terrible. And it’s difficult to really analyze pornography if you’re looking at it and you’re being aroused by it. But if you take a step back and look at the research on it, I think you can really come to the conclusion that this is something that I don’t want in my life, just like I don’t want heroin in my life that it might feel good for a time, but it can make me addicted and it can lead to all kinds of other harms in my life. So I just find tremendous hope from the fact that the research is on our side, and I think that the more that we get that out there and the more that we’re able to share that with others and the better.

Fight The New Drug (42:46):
That’s very well said. And two great resources that are sharing that research are your books on pornography. So really quickly, can you just tell us about both of them and where individuals can find those who may want to read those?

Dr. John D. Foubert (43:00):
Well, they’re both on Amazon. The first one was How Pornography Harms, and that’s really directed at a broad audience, and it’s a lot of research on how pornography arms individuals, and it has interviews with many different people who have either been in the industry or have used pornography and how it’s affected their lives. So it combines the research with the practical advice from people who have been through this before. Protecting your children from internet pornography is really zeroing in on parents and talking about not only the research on pornography, but questions you can ask your kids at various ages so you can have those ongoing conversations that are maybe not natural to have, but are necessary to have and can arm you with things to say, because a lot of parents, they want to do the right thing, but they’re not exactly sure how to do it. And so protecting your children from internet pornography is designed to be that tool to parents do the right thing with their kids and have those difficult conversations.

Fight The New Drug (44:13):
Amazing. Dr. Fulbert, thank you so much for your time. We’re so glad our audience got a chance to hear this conversation. And listeners, we encourage you to go look up Dr. Foubert’s resources on his website, as well as check out these books to help empower you to create change on

Intro (44:30):

Dr. John D. Foubert (44:32):
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it, and I so appreciate everything you do in your organization.

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Testimonial (46:04):
You guys are the best. I put my fighter club stickers on all of my electronics, and I’m entering my longest porn free in nine years. The podcast and social media posts helped me stay motivated, and my monthly donation reminds me that I’m literally invested in my name.

Outro (46:19):
Thanks 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 and a non-GI legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science facts and personal accounts. Check out the episode notes for resources mentioned in this episode. If you find this podcast helpful, please consider subscribing and leaving a review. Consider Before Consuming is made possible by listeners like you. If you’d like to support Consider Before Consuming or any of the many educational resources we shared in this episode, you can make a onetime or recurring donation of any amount at That’s ft Thanks again for listening. We invite you to increase your self-awareness. Look both ways. Check your blind spots and consider before consuming.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.


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