I have nothing against porn, but everything against the porn industry.

I first stumbled across the world of porn when I was eight years old. It wasn’t intentional, as such-just an innocent Google of the word “sex” into the search bar out of curiosity: and I think it’s fair to say that I got more than I’d bargained for.

I remember clearly at the time feeling unable to comprehend the things that I’d seen-and in many ways, these images emotionally scarred and haunted me for the rest of my childhood.

It wasn’t even really about the sex-which, even on its own, would be enough to distress any child beyond measure at such a delicate and impressionable age. But what disturbed me was the emotional lack of care, the coldness-and almost abusiveness, of what I’d seen.

I perceived this attitude of irresponsibility-and sometimes, deliberate unkindness-to be a reflection of reality. Which of course, it isn’t: and most people who live in the world would support me on that.

But there’s a few who can’t distinguish between realistic sex and “fake sex”, which is an underrated problem among my generation. Among University students, the number of young women facing sexual harassment is thought to be at an all time high-and I wonder to what extent these rising figures have been influenced by the free-for-all mentality that porn tends to inspire.

It seems to me that this is something that is having the largest impact upon young men. When discussing this with a classmate a short while ago, they concluded “that’s because women don’t watch porn”-which, hopefully needless to say, is a myth.

But it seems strange to me that my female friends who view adult material online are far more able to differentiate between fact and fiction than my male friends. I’m not entirely sure why, but generally speaking (and I’m not a huge fan of stereotypes), young men seem far less able to make the connection, the difference being that my girl friends seem to laugh it off-commenting, “no woman would ever be interested in doing that”, whereas my boy friends take a more serious approach-inwardly mulling over the idea of having a penis extension.

I’m not saying, that, as a young child, I was able to tell the difference-I wasn’t. I went to bed every night and cried myself to sleep out of fear of having to grow up into such a world. I was terrified, and deeply traumatised. Fortunately, over time, I began to gain perspective. I stopped viewing sex as an act designed purely to control, or to somehow manipulate.

But it took me a long time to get there.

What concerns me about porn is the deluded image the industry portrays intimacy to be. Believe it or not, I have no moral qualms about producing and viewing sex as a pastime; so long as it’s ethical. And yet the dilemma is, it often isn’t.

Women are often referred to as “bitches” and “whores”, with sites often advertising and fuelling the narrative that they exist solely to satisfy the needs of men, and I challenge you to find the mutual respect in that. Surely, for many people, male and female alike, knowing that both parties are enjoying the act should serve as a greater turn-on, anyway?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there’s a shortage of “legit” sites on the internet.

And I genuinely understand the struggle. There are so many people out there after consensual, “normal” videos-so where are they? Every website is awash with “young teen” content-and whilst the sites claim that they’re over 18, there still seems to be something that can only be described as predatory about the idea of very young girls being watched and acting with much older people. Last year, they were a child-this year, they’re a porn-star. You must force yourself to assess the morality of the situation.

A documentary by the renowned journalist Louis Theroux called Twilight of the Porn Stars highlighted the dangers of the career path; which is still relevant and insightful over a decade later. It was a conversation with one of the directors and owners of the business that shocked me.

“Do you respect what they do and how difficult their jobs might be?” Louis questioned her.
“No.” She sniggers.
“How come?”
“They just have to fuck. There’s nothing difficult about that. I’m not saying I’d want my daughter to go into the trade. I don’t.”
“Why not?” He presses.
“Because it fucks them up in the head.” She laughs. “And I wouldn’t want my daughter to be a dirty whore.”

The whole industry seems exploitative-and I worry that the general population of “innocent” and considerate viewers are only seeing half of the picture, tricked into believing that they are downloading from a “reliable” source. It scares me to face the fact that there is no way of knowing if that scene was consensual-and if so, to what extent. Is this some woman in this because she’s desperate for the money? Or is this something that she genuinely feels happy doing and perhaps even feels liberated by?

I worry about the details, and I worry about the welfare of the actors involved.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this-if you feel that you can’t live without it, pay for it. It’s not foolproof and it’s not an answer; it’s a step in the right direction. Take the time to research a specific corner of the internet, to scrutinise its morality.

This way, at least we know that the workers are being payed a decent wage and the production companies are funded efficiently-which equates to less pressure being exerted on those who, for whatever reason, don’t want to sell sex today.

I’m not shaming anyone for the urge to watch porn by any stretch of the imagination. I’m simply suggesting that we all go about it in a more considerate way-which is difficult when living in an era of immediate access to anything our hearts desire within seconds. But it is a challenge that must be faced.

There are women across the world relying on those who are civilised and those who are empathetic to step up to the mark.

 

Advertisements