Q&A with J: Is Animated Porn a Problem?

I recently talked about seeing porn, and I thought this was a great follow-up question from a reader:

I’ve been reading your blog posts for a while now, but the one you recently did on your first experience with porn stirred me to email you with a question. Does animated porn, featuring not-real people, affect people like traditional porn does (and if so, how?). Whenever I read blogs on the effects of porn and similar topics, I feel that none of the topics they cover apply to animated porn. This leads me to believe the two are significantly different at least in terms of their effects. In short, I was hoping to hear your opinion on the subject.

Blog post title with ANIMATED word 3D against a bunch of 2D letters

I hadn’t actually seen any animated porn before this question. This is always a tough thing for a Christian sex blogger: How much do I go look up to be fully informed on the issue? And how much “research” is crossing a line?

Typing in “animated porn” in Google, the top hits were videos on porn sites. I knew I didn’t want to see any of that. I figured a few still images instead would give me the sense of what’s out there so I could speak to the issue as a whole. Clicking over to images, I saw maybe a page of stuff, and clicked right off. Don’t run this search! Rather, let me tell you what animated porn is like, so you’ll know and then we can all move on.

It’s not typically sketches or the stuff of comic strips. It’s three-dimensional animation that features highly unrealistic body parts and sexual acts. Think about it: Even things that can’t exist with real humans can exist with the tools of computer-generated imagery.

Animated porn is not artistic, but rather salacious.

So yeah, it’s porn. It’s an image generated to sexually titillate you in a way removed from God’s design for sex in marriage. Perhaps you’d put this more in the category of erotica than porn, because it’s pure fantasy, but it shares several problematic features:

 1. It’s inherently selfish. This stuff is designed to stimulate and satisfy solo sexual desires. The interaction is you and a screen. Now I know some argue that if you watch porn, even animated porn, together, it can arouse you and then you act out your sexuality with each other. To which some small part of me always wants to say, “Jeez, are you so lame at turning on your mate that you have to feed them porn? Up your game!”

Okay, maybe that’s a little too unfiltered. But the point is merely that you are using someone else (albeit a computer-drawn character) to get you turned on, rather than making the effort to connect with your spouse. But getting aroused by your spouse is always the model for sexual intimacy in the Bible.

Getting aroused by your spouse is always the model for sexual intimacy in the Bible. Click To Tweet

2. It’s lusting. Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Since you’re using those animated characters specifically for the purpose of sexual arousal and satisfaction, you have to be lusting while you’re watching it.

In the Book of Job, the grief-stricken Job defends his innocence in this way:

If my heart has been seduced by a woman,
  or if I have lusted for my neighbor’s wife,
then let my wife serve another man;
  let other men sleep with her.
For lust is a shameful sin,
  a crime that should be punished.
It is a fire that burns all the way to hell.
  It would wipe out everything I own” (31:9-12, NLT)

He doesn’t say, “If I cheated on my wife…” He says if I was seduced by another woman or lusting after another’s wife, and he proclaims lust “a shameful sin.” I know that a real woman and an animated one are not the exact same thing, but can you really see Job saying, “Hey God, I only lusted after the three-dimensional CGI babes with the big knockers, so cut me a break!” Nope, it’s all lusting.

3. It’s objectifying. Trust me on this one. These are not normal people. Their sexual features are incredibly pronounced, so the obvious goal is viewing these characters as a collection of body parts. You are not looking at animated porn and coming away with, “Gee, he had nice green eyes and a kind demeanor.”

Yes, of course we linger on our mate’s body parts at times. Song of Songs has passages like these:

Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies” (4:5).

His body is like bright ivory, glowing with lapis lazuli” (5:14).

But making love with your spouse involves an appreciation of the whole person, not just the “goodies.” And it’s not okay to treat others as body parts there for your entertainment. Yes, these are pretend characters, but you’re training your mind to see others and sex itself as a body part showcase, rather than focusing on the intimacy God desires a married couple to have.

I’ll admit that yes, animated porn is less horrifying to me, just like erotica, for this one reason: Real people are not involved on the other end.

Having read quite a bit about the porn industry, my heart genuinely aches for those who engage in the making of porn. I’ve heard the whole “they’re consenting…they’re emotionally healthy…they’re providing a service” arguments. But I don’t buy that treating your own body like an object for display is a good thing. It’s disrespectful to yourself and to God’s creation.

No good parent would say, “Hey, I can’t wait for my daughter to grow up and show off her private parts to the world.” Why on earth would we think God wants that for any of his daughters? Or sons?

So yeah, I’ll give you that one, that animated porn isn’t quite the same as real-life porn. But it’s still wrong, because it’s selfish, it’s lusting, and it’s objectifying.

Focus on your spouse and arousing one another. That’s far more worth your time and honoring to the One who created sex.

22 thoughts on “Q&A with J: Is Animated Porn a Problem?

  1. Jay

    In some ways I think it may be worse.. (I struggle with porn and erotica and all that). While no ‘real’ people are involved it can allow you to feed and re-enforce ideas and thoughts and fantasies that are so terrible that there redeeming attributes at all. You can explore not just immoral but terribly evil things and begin normalizing in the mind. That is the danger I think…

    Reply
  2. Cara

    Porn is porn no matter how small. I agree J.
    Another horrible thing about any animated porn is the audience it might attract.
    I have several friends whose children have searched innocent things on YouTube and ended up seeing things that aren’t meant for kids. Shame on those youtubers.

    Reply
    1. sunny-dee

      This is really a problem since animated porn is a subset of anime and manga — as in, like, Pokemon is anime.

      Reply
      1. Jay

        I would agree with that but just add this is a problem for ANYTHING on the internet.
        The so called “Rule 34” which basically states there is a “sexual” subset for any conceivable topic onthe internet.

        Reply
  3. alchemist

    Is animatedd porn ok? I’d like you to Google social issues in Japan. Do you know why Japan is basically imploding? They’ve lost more than a million people of their population in the last few years. Their birthrate is rediculously low. They have, or are about to have, more people older than 65 than school aged children. They are not having babies. Worse than that. They are getting to a point where their young people aren’t even interested in relationships or sex. Why?

    No small part of it is their porn industry. But live action porn is illegal in Japan, I hear you say. Yes. But animated porn isn’t. It’s not the stuff J is describing. It’s Anime porn. Specifically hentai, yoai (boy on boy porn), yuri (girl on girl) and I think they even have animated kiddy porn. This stuff isn’t CGI, it’s mostly hand drawn.

    I didn’t comment on the post you mentioned because I’ve never seen porn. We didn’t get high speed Internet at home till I was 15, and by that time I was well aware of rule 35 and being careful about search terms. I wasn’t even curious.
    What I have seen is a Manga strip about gay pirates. Thus was PG-13 stuff. There was a specific panel where they were half dressed and it was clear they had sex. I had many of the emotions J described. Excitement, curiosity and some repulsion. I know gay relationships are wrong and seeing guys kiss in real live if seriously disconcerting. But this… I really wanted to see more. Luckily I closed it and didn’t go looking for it again. Years later, when I was living on my own I started watching Anime. In addition to the many categories of hard core Anime porn, they have some erotic PG-13 stuff. And they make a lot of it specifically for girls. Which means they are draw exquisite beautiful boys (bishonun), it’s not as explicit, it focuses on mood atmosphere and relationships a lot more. Basically gorgeously animated romance novels. Some of them have strong erotic overtones without so much as a kiss ever being exchanged between characters. For example, the show Vampire knights or Black Butler (I promise it’s not explicit, but if you do a Google image search on these shows, you’ll see there are clearly strong erotic overtones). I’ve never been tempted by porn in my life. But Shonen-ai (softcore boy on boy romance) could really easily have sucked me in. But for the grace of God.

    Anyway, I digress. I want to draw an analogy with drugs. Say actually having sex is dopamine, your actual brain chemical that makes you feel good, say watching people have sex ırl (like accidently peeping in a window or something, is opium, clearly bad for you, but still natural), then porn is heroine (only a small, man-made change is made to the opium molecule and now it’s way more potent and addictive), I would say the animated stuff is the fenatyl. Super potent, crazy dangerous, first-responders-are-getting- high-from-just-getting-near-the-OD-victims, stuff. It’s specifically tailored to the receptor (target audience) to maximize the high (arousal) and it’s not constrained by nature/ reality at all. It can be as crazy and perverted as the animator or studio or whoever wants it to be.

    Which is why guys addicted to this stuff completely lose interest in real women. I’m willing to bet guys who are into this stuff don’t even get turned on by regular porn. The girls know what the guys are watching and are grossed out. They figure it’s better to stay single.

    I agree 100% with what J said. Except in Anime porn (which I suspect is a bigger market than what J described) real people are involved. The animators. And they are modeling it off of something.

    * I’m a straight female
    ** all Anime is not porn. It’s not cartoons either. It’s a medium through which an incredibly rich and varied stories are told. Just don’t plop your kids in front of it cause it’s animated. There’s a reason shows like Naruto, Dragon Ball, and Bleach aired on adult swim in the US.

    Reply
  4. Nick Peters

    While my wife and I enjoy anime, there are some that should never be watched. Keep in mind anime usually has heightened characteristics. Often a woman’s breasts could serve more as floatation devices than anything else whatsoever.

    Reply
  5. Allie

    Porn is porn. As someone who used to be addicted to porn, I can tell you it’s the same. As an anime fan, a lot of people are into hentai, which is anime porn. Personally, when I was looking at porn, hentai grossed me out. But there are things (such as nudity in anime that isn’t necessarily porn) that do the same thing to me as porn (with real people) – physically and mentally. Some people are grossed out by it, others are REALLY into it. Either way, it’s still porn and should be avoided.

    Reply
    1. alchemist

      I know. I didn’t say it’s the whole of the problem. Emasculation, overly rigid social structures, insanely long work hours all contribute. Japan is in big trouble. And the western world isn’t far behind. But you can’t tell me that the rise of porn has nothing to do with this.

      A human has only so much energy. If the young men are spending all their time and energy on virtual women, they are, per definition, not using it on other pursuits, like relationships, work, bettering civilization, their spiritual lives, arts, culture etc. It seems to me like a young man’s sexual energy is a big driving force for his motivation and ambition. Like that saying that most things men do is to impress a women. Obviously an over-simplification. But my experience suggests there is truth to it. If they are directing all their energy into porn and video games, what is left?

      Reply
  6. Ashley

    Good post J. Thanks for tackling this stuff.

    Totally unrelated, but do you have a post on how you started an Anonymous blog? Like how you got people to read it? I’d be interested.

    Reply
  7. Terry

    I don’t have experience with either animated porn or the real thing, but I wonder if the former isn’t actually more dangerous, in an under-the-radar kind of way. I thought it was interesting in the ’90’s what cartoons like The Simpsons (and Family Guy and the like today) could get away with that would otherwise have been flagged by the FCC, largely because they were cartoons. In the same way I wonder if people kid themselves that animated porn is ok or at least not as “bad” as live porn for the very fact that it’s not depicting real, flesh-and-blood people. If Satan can’t have outright worshipers, he’d prefer people didn’t believe in him at all. Both mindsets have the same outcome.

    Reply
  8. CSL

    I know this might sound simplistic, but does it have the word “porn” in its description or its come-on? If so, its wrong. No question.

    CSL

    Reply
  9. B

    Yikes! I didn’t even know this was a thing. I’m over 40, married over 20 years. Read your title and was like “what? Seriously?”

    Boy am I naive.

    But I think I’ll keep it that way. I’m gonna take your advice and definitely not Google this. Just when I thought the world couldn’t get any weirder….

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yeah, it just gets weirder and weirder. Sometimes I think, “Why do I know these things?” But my focus is always on true sexual intimacy in my marriage.

      Reply
  10. Kevin W.

    J, you wrote:
    “I’ll admit that yes, animated porn is less horrifying to me, just like erotica, for this one reason: Real people are not involved on the other end.”

    and

    “No good parent would say, “Hey, I can’t wait for my daughter to grow up and show off her private parts to the world.” Why on earth would we think God wants that for any of his daughters? Or sons?”

    I understand what you’re saying and agree that porn with real, live people is degrading to all involved – producers, participants and consumers.

    But I also want to point out that even other forms of porn like animated, cartoon, CGI, erotica stories, etc. also do involve real people on the other end – the people who create them. I am also horrified and grieved thinking of those who produce such content and the brokenness and consequences of sin in their lives. So the idea that we can use this type of porn without affecting real people is a lie from the devil. Who would want their son or daughter to grow up and make that stuff either?

    I am confident that God does not want us as Christians to contribute to the demand for this material and increase the market for it to be produced and distributed.

    And if we use these types of porn, there is also an affect on us and the real people around us: real marriages, real families, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, mothers and fathers. And training ourselves to see others as “body part showcases” as you so eloquently put it, affects our interactions with all kinds of real people. May we instead see people with eyes of compassion as Jesus did.

    1 Peter 4:3-5
    For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

    Romans 13:12-14
    The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

    Reply
      1. Anon

        Sorry, I didn’t see. Hope I didn’t upset you. I just meant to add more information to the great and valid points you made. I am a fan of your work!

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Oh my goodness, no — not offended in the least. None. Zero. I was just in a hurry and typed up the quick comment that, yeah, I’d referred to these sites in other places too. So that was fine! (Jeez, I wish tone could come across better in text sometimes. 😉 ) Thanks!

          Reply

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