A study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience suggests that people viewing sexualized images of women mentally dehumanize the women pictured.
Researchers showed study participants (all male) sexualized images of women, and scanned the participants’ brains to see which areas were activated. The researchers were specifically looking to see if the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and differentiating between individuals engaged while viewing these images. They didn’t.
What does this mean? While the ethics of this study are questionable, the message is clear. Viewing sexual imagery increases the likelihood that men will dehumanize women. Pornography is teaching the brains of men and women to view sexual partners as objects, thus thwarting the most intimate relationships of their lives. This must especially impact the malleable brains of teenagers and young adults. The young people of our society will grow and naturally want to build healthy relationships and families. The more sexual imagery they are bombarded with, the more the husbands and wives of the future will be inclined to treat spouses with disrespect.
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