Possessing child porn is now illegal in Japan – but depicting children as sexual objects in cartoons or animation isn’t.
The sale of pornographic materials is rampant in Japan. Go into any convenience store and you will find mainstream pornographic magazines sold alongside consumer publications; while a “for adults only” sign demarcates the violent, hardcore porn magazines. But it isn’t only adults whose bodies are on display: Underaged girls are routinely portrayed in suggestive ways – from teen pop groups posing in lingerie or pubescent children engaging in sexual acts in manga comic books.
Brother Nouman Ali Khan talks about a very very important issue!
By: Mohamed Ghlian
I wrote an article in the past outlining some of the ways viewing pornography could be altering one’s brain. The idea with that article was to appeal to the better sense of those who spend their time in this disgusting activity. It was an attempt to also provide some possible empirical explanations for why they feel “hooked on porn.” May be after learning what they were doing to their brains, pornography addicts may take positive steps towards getting rid of this habit. However, as I think about this now, I find this approach to appeal to the selfish desires of the pornography consumer. In an attempt to get such a person to give up pornography, I was giving reasons that ultimately provide benefits for the individual behind the screen. Interestingly, a recent study examining Christian discourse in the anti-pornography narrative identified three phases in how Christians framed their opposition to pornography between 1956 and 2010:
- It is against the bible;
- It is harmful to others;
- It is harmful to oneself.
The progression through these phases is proposed to be a form of secularization of religion, as religious leaders begin to invoke non-religious arguments to bolster their opposition to pornography. Whether such a proposition is valid from an Islamic point of view is another topic of discussion. However, given the rampant narcissism of our modern times, it is not surprising that we have an increasingly more prominent discussion about how pornography is addictive, changes the brain, and can lead to sexual dysfunction for the viewer. Meanwhile, the objectified human beings facing the camera are far removed from the pornography addict’s conscience. This is not how the Beloved ﷺ would have dealt with this issue.
A young man came to the Beloved ﷺ asking him to make zina (extramarital sexual relations) permissible for him. This man loved sleeping with women and felt overwhelmed by his desires. The Beloved ﷺ responded by asking whether he would accept what he does with other women to be done by other men to his mother, his aunt, his sister, and his immediate female relatives. The young man’s answer was a vehement rejection of such a proposition. The Beloved ﷺ in turn said to him that just as he would not accept men doing to his mother or sister what he wanted to do to other women, other men would also not accept him doing to their mothers or sisters what he was asking the Beloved ﷺ to make permissible for him. The young man then asked the Beloved ﷺ to pray for him. After he left the Beloved ﷺ’s gathering he remarked that when he went to request an exception for zina to be permissible for him, he desired nothing more than it. But after his conversation with the Beloved ﷺ and the prayer he received at the end, he detested nothing more than it.
Sadly, for a people who always preach about modesty and chastity, as a collective Ummah we have really failed to implement what we preach about. We sound very hollow when we speak about Islam granting women rights and freeing women from sexual exploitation by men, when we happen to lead the pack in pornography viewership. It turns out that you can clear your Internet history all you want, but Google still keeps tabs on you. The top 10 countries searching for sex-related sites as of 2010 were:
- Saudi Arabia
Yes, it is not a dream. We Muslims hold 6 of the top 8 positions and 4 of the top 5. When taken in relation to the number of people worldwide who have Internet access, and the number of internet users in these Muslim states, it gives a scary sense of how much pornography had to be viewed for us to take over these top spots. More sad than this are the details of these searches. Muslim states lead in animal sex terms, homosexual acts, and child pornography searches. 70% of files exchanged between Saudi teenagers over phones contained pornography. Arabic, the language of the Quran, comes up as the second most used language when searching for numerous pornography genres.
On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common but studies are showing that viewing pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals that drugs do.
What’s more is your brain actually begins to rewire itself because of this artificial stimulation. It may sound crazy, but it’s true.
On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common. One is purchased in seedy alleyways; the other is free to download. One habit can get expensive pretty fast, while the other is about the price of a high-speed Internet connection. Besides, Hugh Heffner doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a cartel drug lord.
So where’s the similarity? Inside the brain.
In case you’re not a neurosurgeon, here’s a crash course in how the brain works. Deep inside your brain, there’s something called a “reward pathway.” You’ve got one. Your cat’s got one. For mammals, it comes standard. The reward pathway’s job is to help keep you alive by doing exactly what its name promises: rewards you, or more specifically, rewards you when you do something that promotes life, such as eating food or achieving something you’ve worked hard for. And the way it rewards you is by releasing chemicals in your brain—mainly one called dopamine, but also others like oxytocin.
Normally, these chemicals are really handy. They help us feel pleasure and to bond with other people, and they motivate us to come back to important activities that make us happy. The problem is, the reward pathway can be hijacked.
The way substances like cocaine and opioids make users feel high is by triggering the reward pathway to release unnaturally high levels of dopamine without making the user do any of the work to earn it. Want to guess what else does that? Porn.
And that surge of dopamine is causing more than just feelings. As it goes pulsing through the brain, dopamine helps to create new brain pathways that essentially lead the user back to the behavior that triggered the chemical release.
The more a drug user hits up or a porn user looks at porn, the more those pathways get wired into the brain, making it easier and easier for the person to turn back to using, whether they want to or not.
Over time, the constant overload of chemicals causes other brain changes as well. Just like a junkie will eventually require more and more of a drug to get a buzz or even just feel normal, porn users can quickly build up a tolerance as their brains adapt to the high levels of dopamine that porn releases. In other words, even though porn is still releasing dopamine into the brain, the user can’t feel its effects as much.
That’s because the brain is trying to protect itself from the overload of dopamine by getting rid of some of its chemical receptors, which act like tiny catcher’s mitts that receive the dopamine released. With fewer receptors, the brain thinks less dopamine is there and the user doesn’t feel as strong a reaction. As a result, many porn users have to find more porn, find it more often, or find a more extreme version—or all three—to generate even more dopamine to feel excited.
And once a porn user becomes accustomed to a brain pulsing with these chemicals, trying to cut back on the habit can lead to withdrawal symptoms, just like with drugs. While people often think of porn as something that’s been around forever, today’s version of porn is a whole new ball game. Thanks to the Internet, porn now mixes the most powerful natural dopamine release the body can produce with a cocktail of other elements—endless novelty, shock, and surprise—all of which increase the dopamine surge. And because Internet porn offers an endless stream of variety, users can flip to a new image every time their high starts to fade, keeping dopamine levels elevated for hours.
Describing porn’s effect to a U.S. Senate committee, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover of Princeton University said, “It is as though we have devised a form of heroin 100 times more powerful than before, usable in the privacy of one’s own home and injected directly to the brain through the eyes.”