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.

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