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Why more and more women are using internet porn

Tanith Carey/Sydney Morning Herald | April 8, 2011
Increasing numbers of women admit to being hooked on internet porn. Why is this happening, and where are they finding help?

Caroline is not alone. While it's accepted that women are watching - and enjoying - porn more and more, it's less recognised that some are also finding it hard to stop. At Quit Porn Addiction, the UK's main porn counselling service, almost one in three clients are women struggling with their own porn use, says founder and counsellor Jason Dean. Two years ago, there were none. While more than six out of 10 women say they view web porn, one study in 2006 by the Internet Filter Review found that 17 per cent of women describe themselves as "addicted".

Dean says: "I remember getting my first woman contacts about two years ago and thinking that was fairly unusual. Now I'm hearing from about 70 women a year who are coming for their own reasons, not because their male partners have a problem."

There is little difference in the way the genders become hooked, says Jason. There is the same pattern of exposure, addiction, and desensitisation to increasingly hardcore images. The main contrast between male and female porn addicts is how much more guilty women feel. "Porn addiction is seen as a man's problem - and therefore not acceptable for women," says Dean. "There's a real sense among women that it's bad, dirty, wrong and they're often unable to get beyond that."

Orgasm releases a dopamine-oxytocin high that has been compared to a heroin hit, and many regular users of internet porn report experiencing an almost trance-like effect that not only makes them feel oblivious to the world, but also gives them a sense of power that they don't have in real life. "The PC becomes an erogenous zone. The more you keep trying to put porn out of your mind, the more it keeps popping back in. The brain then learns that porn is the only way to cope with anxiety."

Yet, what strikes you on the porn addiction websites is the real sense of despair and loneliness for the women who get caught up in it - and how early it starts. Many talk of a problem dating back to their early teens, before they've even had a relationship.

One 19-year-old college student writes: "It started seriously when I was about 14, I stumbled across some pictures while doing homework. Because all I had typed into Google was 'cream and sugar', I knew my parents wouldn't notice. I learnt all the ways round the parental controls, meticulously deleted my activities on the history and deleted the search engine entries every time."

 

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