The Porn Paradox

So I found an article that I wrote about a year or so ago in reaction to the UK government’s restriction on the porn industry and I think it’s still as ever an interesting topic. Initially, I wrote this article with a stance firmly against porn, stating it was warping perceptions and heightening expectations of the human body to lofty heights. While I do still very much agree with aspects of this I feel my position has been changed slightly. I have gone ahead and pasted the entire article at the bottom of this one, please leave a comment I’d love to hear what others had to think on this topic!

For me, the aspect of porn I find most problematic is the issue of representation, and in my original article, this was quite heavily featured. I still very much conform to this concern, and it comes from the fact that in the UK, although slightly improving, with the appearance of shows like Naked Attraction, the Sex Education Show and Sex Box, (thanks channel 4) the approach to sex is still very conservative. This means we aren’t talking about sex and normal sexuality as much, and most importantly not to teenagers. I think it’s safe  to say everyone who was ever a horny teenager will know how it feels to be frustrated and confused when it comes to sex,and despite the giggles and condoms on bananas, sex-ed does work to educate kids about doing the do, but not very extensively. One reason why i decided to resurface this article was because of the recent enforcing of sex-ed as a compulsory subject in schools,which is wonderful news IF they actually teach them beyond which contraceptives women can take. So where does the source of sexy knowledge come from?

In a society driven by but also paradoxically ashamed by sex, we turn to the internet, and our most private moments for enlightenment. My issue with porn lies here. So you’re a fifteen year old boy, you’re a virgin, and you don’t know much about sex, beyond blushing humanities teachers, you know very little about getting down and dirty, so you do what anyone would do and turn to the internet, and what is very immediate for your viewing pleasure? Porn. Now I am not denying that there is definitely porn out there that is representational, and the aspect of fantasy is quite obvious to many, but to prove my point, on the day of me writing this, under the ‘HOT VIDEOS IN UK PORN’ category on the first page of porn hub, the second video was ‘Slut step mum fucks her step son.’. You can see my point, it isn’t real, which is fine, but with many people using porn as their primary means of learning about sex, this just isn’t healthy, the use of the words ‘slut’ or ‘teen’ in almost every other porn video is also another problematic aspect, but also another argument for another day. The discourse, and the skinny, big boobed, hairless from the neck down women featured, are therefore a very obvious problem for representation.

HOWEVER does porn start a  dialogue about sex?  As this fairly old, but still entertaining article shows, a hell of a lot of people watch it, and although sexual violence is still a highly significant issue up for debate, can we really blame porn alone for this?  I recently attended a Think talk at my university about the porn industry, featuring two porn stars as speakers, both of whom completely dispelled my previous misconceptions that pornography was entirely oppressive of women, and while the discourse and the rape culture are still very much issues, it made me think of it as more liberating than I previously believed, it gives women opportunities to enjoy sex, enjoy their bodies, and feel empowered rather than ashamed, while making a healthy wage doing it.

 

Porn and it’s effects on relationships

UP FOR DISCUSSION

In keeping with the UK’s current affairs, and the crack down on what can and can’t be filmed in the British adult film industry, my focus in this article is pornography and it’s damaging effects on relationships.





So recently the internet and the news have been in uproar about the new bans on certain sex acts in the UK adult video industry. Now my point of view could well be a fairly vanilla one, because to me I don’t watch it, it makes no difference to me what can and can’t be filmed. This legislation has good and bad points, removing non-consensual sex, child abuse and sexual violence, yep stellar! But when it comes to consensual sex acts such as spanking, I struggle to understand what is so terrible, it seems that the government are just removing anything they consider icky. And hold on a sec, what makes female ejaculation bad enough to ban whereas male ejaculation is absolutely dandy? My spidey senses tell me there’s some inequality afoot.

However what I will say is this, as a generation that is highly influenced by the things we see, watch, read etc. on the internet, is it such a bad thing that access to frankly violent and perverse sex acts (penetration with objects associated with violence and sex with individuals impersonating someone below the age of consent etc.) have been reduced even if only slightly? The two major points I’m trying to get at here are these:

A. People are impressionable, no matter what age, gender, sexuality, people are definitely impressionable. So, the availability of such dark material means it will create a skewed impression of what is ok and what is normal in sex, especially for those that are young and poorly educated. I’m not saying that watching a bit of light spanking is going to turn us all into evil perverse psychopaths but the easy access to some videos that can only be described as sexual violence; on the internet is a concern for people’s safety. Especially when considering the vast amount of videos portraying non consensual sex and their direct effect on rape culture, but I won’t delve too far into rape culture now, that’s another feminist rant for another time.


B. With a slight likeness to my former point, if people are watching acts that are so extreme, will sex in real life not begin to suffer in comparison?


In a recent survey 86% of therapists interviewed said they believed porn could and does have a damaging effect on relationships. For a number of reasons I think this is completely true and from personal experience can have terrible psychological effects on the people involved. Here’s why…

WOMEN, how many of you have body issues? Because sadly in our society, I’m guessing it’s pretty much most of you.

MEN, how much do you worry about your penis size? How good your body is looking in comparison to the rippling muscles of the men on the Hollister adverts?

Because although you may not admit it, the world we live in today doesn’t only pressurize women into worrying about their bodies, it does the exact same for men.

Well this is all getting a bit too cosmo, but my argument is this. Confidence in body image is at a universal low, caused by today’s society, and one that I have personally experienced myself since around the age of 12. On top of a warped sense of what is normal to do during sex, porn also creates a warped sense of how the human form should look. And to a partner of someone who watches porn this can prove to be very discomforting. If one already has body issues, knowing that one’s partner gets pleasure from watching videos of other people, can be very damaging to one’s mentality. I’m not denying the fact that porn stars do vary in looks, however generally, extremely slim, toned, tanned body shapes and gigantic assets (and this applies to both genders) are the typical subjects of the modern adult video. Unfortunately, not many of us are blessed with being the image of perfection (just to clarify by perfection, I mean the stereotypical image of beauty/ attractiveness that our culture has been conditioned into believing is the right one).

So it’s not uncommon for us to feel inadequate in the bedroom, like we can’t fulfil our partner’s desires, when what is shown to us in pornography is often far from realistic. We feel like we can’t live up to unrealistic body standards, we probably won’t be able to live up to the strange and sometimes dangerous acts that porn often depicts either.

FINAL WORDS: So by this point I probably have many horny teenage boys shouting at the screens of their computers, but my argument is not to say that porn is sin and whoever watches it is an awful human being, and that David Cameron should have banned all porn, not at all. In fact I believe censorship to be something that in our society is becoming slightly too much. My true feelings are that perhaps when what people are watching is becoming detrimental to sex beyond the screen, and real life relationships, perhaps a decrease in the dark and unrealistic acts we see in porn is not such a bad thing for everyone.

Please do share your thoughts and personal experiences of the subject, I’d be interested to hear other people’s perspectives.

Like , it says tiger on the information sign

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This is something that I get really overly annoyed about and it shouldn’t be an issue, but how hard is it to read the damn sign ? ! My issues with idiots at the zoo spans beyond this, mainly with people that disrespect the animals by drumming on glass or letting their sticky little toddlers wail near enclosures to the point of disturbing the animals or worse blinding the poor things with the flash on their iPhone cameras. I always feel a strong ethical dilemma with the zoo, it’s a form of entertainment, enslaving living creatures in tiny enclosures (see Colchester’s lion area, it’s sad) to give people a day out with the kids but also, without zoos a lot of conservation work would just not be possible, it’s a tricky one, tell me what you think!

UNIVERSITY FOR HEDGEHOGS

Congrats! You’re a clever enough sausage to have a place at University! Three-∞ years(if you’re like me and never want to leave the safe-haven of education) of drinking, sex, and partying lay ahead of you! Supposedly…

If you’re a student who is anything like myself, the misconceptions that baby boomers, taxi drivers and Channel 4’s Fresh Meat give you about your university years, are slightly terrifying. . When a friend of of  your parents jokingly asks about all the ‘partying’ you do at uni, you have learnt the stock answer of ‘oh I don’t drink much, I’m not very good at being a student,’ but why aren’t you a good student? It is time, to embrace your pyjamas, your Netflix account and your duvet, snuffle into them like leaves, get comfy, take pride in your modest amount of friends! You are a Hedgehog Student and you are proud!  

I feel I must explain my choice of woodland creature, hedgehogs hibernate, which although you probably don’t sleep through the winter, staying in, being balled up, fending off potential club invites with your spines of apathy and introverson is your way! If you must, you could be any other kind of hibernating creature and if you are dissatisfied with the idea of being branded as one of the most road killed animals then go ahead and choose from the following hibernating creatures: (although none have the same ring, plus hedgehogs are smol and cute, as I’m sure, are you)

  •  Bumble Bee Student
  •  Grizzly Bear Student
  •  Alpine Marmot Student

The problem with the construction of this big student party animal myth is the fact that it makes you feel like you’re somehow studenting wrong. You see your friends that like to go out, they appear blurry eyed, clinging to their best friends and cheap cocktails in club photos on your Facebook feed, and for some reason,  it creates in you, a strange concoction of guilt and panic that you’re wasting your time away by not conforming to the stereotype.

My aim is not to shame people that enjoy a night out, in fact all of my nights out (which I could probably count on my two hands), at uni, have all been great, I even met Hodor from Game Of Thrones at one! The intention is to offer you a dish of reassurance berries, (not milk because hedgehogs are lactose intolerant) and say , you are a good student, if you’re procrastinating or studying or whatever else, you got here, you’re doing great, and the amount that you go out does not matter. If you don’t enjoy going out, stay in! Embrace it! You’re here because you love what you study (or at least have enough interest to not drop out) not to fit the party animal cookie cutter. So lets raise our mugs of tea consumed in bed to the Hedgehog students.

In Adoration of:: Gilmore Girls

 

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The best fast-talking, mother /daughter duo make their reappearance this November as the revival of the early 2000’s favourite hits Netflix for a four part series entitled Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. And here’s 4 reasons why you should be excited too

1.Pop culture 

From The Bangles making an appearance in season 1, to a dog named after Paul Anka, to Rory and Lorelai’s love of classic and bizarre movies, GG is rife with references to pop culture and the new season promises the same. The trailer (which you can see here) sees Lorelai and Rory, as we love them, discussing the pressing issue of whether Lorelai and flavour of the month comedienne Amy Schumer would get along. It’s current and it’s funny and most of all, don’t we all wonder these things?

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2. Gilmore Boys

Come for the Gilmore Girls,  stay for the Gilmore boys, it has been confirmed that many of our favourite love interests past will be returning for the reboot. Including Milo Ventimiglia, who played moody teen heartthrob Jess Mariano, Logan (Matt Czuchry) Rory’s college boyfriend and of course, personal favourite, Jared Paladecki will also be returning. Although to many he is better known as Supernatural’s Sam Winchester, true Gilmore fans will always know him as Dean, the first boyfriend we all wished we had.

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3.Books

On a personal level, but I think this applies to many GG fans. Rory’s love of reading and learning and the general positivity that Gilmore Girls approached learning and schooling with, is part of the reason why I loved and love reading and learning to this day. The show not only portrayed a character that had such a passion for literature and knowledge in a positive light but also constantly made reference to famous works of literature

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4. Feminism

Feminism has had a bit of a modern revival in the mainstream media of recent years, films and shows like the the all female Ghost Busters reboot, Orange is the New Black and The Heat have all been very female focused in a refreshing, non male centred way. Now that movies and TV are beginning to catch up a little on the whole ‘women are people that need to be represented too’ thing, it feels like the Gilmore Girls revival is a welcome one. Despite strings of romantic interests in the show, the focus is not entirely on the relationships Lorelai and Rory have with men but more with each other and their friends and family. The show passes the Bechdel test with flying colours. It represents females of varying races, ages and sizes in a positive light and enforces positivity towards women in important roles (Sookie is a head chef, Lorelai the owner of the Dragonfly inn, Rory working her way into journalism and Lane rocking it drumming and mumming). Comparative to shows like The Big Bang theory, whose females are accessories to the male leads, GG’s women are strong, independent and interesting characters.

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IN ADORATION OF::THE CHEWBACCA MASK LADY


chewbaccaIn a time dominated by mainstream and social media, we have become a society all-consumed by news, current events, memes and fail videos. Of recent weeks, as per usual, the topics that have dominated phone, tablet and laptop screens all over the country have been less than light hearted to say the least: Harambe, the tragic gorilla that made everyone an over night zoologist, the EU debate and all of Facebook’s sudden political experts, and possibly the worst of all, more Game Of Thrones spoilers than you can shake a Valyrian steel sword at. The point is, the internet can be a difficult place to navigate without getting a bit bummed out by something or other. And in times of great darkness there must always be a guiding light. Enter: Candace Payne, AKA ‘Chewbacca Mom’. 

If you have not yet experienced the delight of Chewbacca Mom , first of all  make sure you’re alive because really, where have you been for the past few weeks? Second, click here to catch up you troglodyte. This wonderful woman giggled her way into the public eye a few weeks ago and since then for Candace Payne a Texas mother, it has been a pretty sweet May. From the video’s breaking of Facebook video viewing records, to interviews on national American television, the latest attention surrounding ‘the happiest chewbacca’ is the news of the staggering approximate $420,000 worth of goodies and experiences she has been rewarded (including full scholarships for her entire family from a Florida university) for simply having a laughing fit on the internet.

I am however, not writing to criticise the credibility of her rewards, or to dwell on my jealousy of her free trip to Disney World. But instead I choose to congratulate and thank her. How often is it that something genuinely good happens in the mainstream eye at the moment without being tainted or proven false? Answer: hardly ever. This video, may well be fluff but what it stands for is something much larger that we can all learn from.  It’s the simple pleasures, the cheap thrills of a children’s mask and a giggle; the ability to find happiness in an often very bleak world and to share that with others. In a time of international crisis, cyber bullying and Tay Tay’s break up with Calvin Harris, Candace Payne can teach us all a thing or two, sometimes it’s all about the little things in life.

 

Feminist Barbie

Mattel’s new line of Barbies have been released recently and she is looking.. well, actually what isn’t she looking?

 

For years, Barbie has been used as an example in so many discussions about unrealistic portrayals of the female form. Her impossibly slender form, that dizzyingly imbalanced boob to foot size ratio, criticisms were valid and frequent. As a child this didn’t really phase me, entering my tweens, leaving Barbie behind, I began to realize that perhaps growing up into a body that looked just like my favourite toy may not be as possible as I had always imagined (and that’s not because of my inability to own a dream house and a pink Jeep.)

Recently third wave feminism has saturated the media, companies from Virgin Media to Always have been using the empowered woman, the This Girl Can approach to market their products. Sceptically one could argue that capitalism and feminism don’t naturally go hand-in-hand and that using women’s rights to sell stuff is perhaps of slightly questionable morals, however at the end of the day, consumerism aside, it gets the message to the masses. Barbie just recently has caught on and has become a far more diverse and inclusive product in doing-so.

Not long ago the Moschino Barbie was introduced as ‘So fierce’ by a little boy in her commercial, beginning a dialogue about gender roles and children’s toys. Barbie also has a Vlog in which she talks about being all that you can be and even introduced Mae Jemison (African American- female astronaut, doctor all round inspiration)to her young audience. The new dolls soon to be released promise to be curvy, tall, short, petite, and with a range of ethnicities and hair types. As seen in he advert, children can play with a doll that looks like them, that they can relate to, and because of this be able to identify themselves as members of a growingly diverse world.  Barbie has moved into 2016 as an inspirational, important feminist icon for children and that is something that in the 90’s one would never have guessed.