Ahh, porn. The great unifier of the internet. Or not.
So David Cameron wants all ISPs make people ‘opt in’ to porn. You know, for ‘teh childrenz’.
There are many, many problems with this, which I shall lay out for you here, along with my own experiences. I know, I know, the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but my experience seems to be very similar to those of my generation who also grew up with the internet.
I don’t know why sex is still seen as such a taboo. I can think of a great many things worse. For example, the Daily Mail’s Sidebar of Shame, which I have previously written about here. At least most porn doesn’t shame the woman for being too fat or too thin, or show pictures of 14 year olds and marvel at how grown up they’re looking. Seriously, the Mail does a hell of a lot more damage to a teen’s self esteem than viewing porn. This is coming from someone who knows! (Also include most women’s magazines here. Not Cosmo. Cosmo isn’t afraid that women might *gasp* like sex.)
I first came upon porn at the age of 13. I was speaking to my mom about this, and at around the same age, she discovered her older brother’s dirty magazine stash. See how things haven’t changed; just the format? Unfortunately, at this age, kids are inherently nosy and curious but most don’t have the kind of relationship with their parents where they can ask about this stuff and discuss their feelings. I couldn’t talk about that sort of stuff with my mom until I hit my twenties. My mom is very liberal and would probably have been fine with me asking about it at an younger age, but I didn’t know that. And plus: it’s embarrassing!
So anyway, I viewed porn from a relatively young age. And I don’t think it’s turned me into a sexual deviant. Sure, I’ve had slightly more than the average number of sex partners, and in my younger days was a bit bloody stupid and only worried about pregnancy instead of STDs. Thankfully I got off scot free, and that is an argument for compulsory and better sex education.
But what porn has helped me with is to not be ashamed that I have a high sex drive and just like sex: something that isn’t particularly seen as very ‘lady-like’. I’m not ashamed of being ok with casual sex and having weekends away with people who aren’t my boyfriend. Being able to access porn helped me to sort through my feelings and realise that wanting to have sex was a completely normal feeling to have.
Of course, some people will think my exploits shameful and think I’m a terrible harlot. But you know what? So long as no one gets hurt, physically or emotionally, and all participants are happy with the arrangement, then where’s the shame?
No. I am not ashamed of my sexuality and the fact that sometimes I like to watch porn is neither here nor there. I am a human being and it is a completely natural desire: it is something we need to talk about MORE, not shut it away and pretend it doesn’t exist. That way, you end up with kids not knowing the risks and being afraid to ask, and you can end up with the extreme of kids feeling that their perfectly natural desires are in some way abnormal. Kids also need to be aware that what they see in porn isn’t ‘real’ – of course there is amateur porn which I always find a lot more tasteful than your typical ‘porn star’ porn (all that makeup is going to leave you with a very messy pillow). If we don’t talk about it then some less-intelligent kids may indeed think that all women are born sans pubic hair and with bleached anuses, but I really don’t think most kids are that stupid.
There is another argument that certain types of porn ‘normalise’ abusive behaviour. I don’t know how true this is, but I have heard that sexual crimes going down is positively correlated with the availability of porn. If someone has what is deemed a ‘deviant fetish’, then surely they should be able to get their rocks off watching some actors portray it, in the safety of their own home? If you remove this, what’s to say that certain unhinged people won’t go out and act it out themselves?
And I don’t think it does normalise it. Again, if both parties are willing, who are we to say that autoerotic-asphyxiation/BDSM/role-playing rape is wrong? Why should we make the state the moral arbitrator? Surely what consenting adults get up to in the privacy of their own home is their business and their business alone?
Also, what about rape scenes in films, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Is that acceptable because it wasn’t made solely for the purpose of wanking, and because it was shown in a cinema?
Any block also unintentionally blocks things not actually related to the block, because any block is STUPID.
I once remember trying to access a diary site I use on my phone, and it was blocked because one of the ‘circles’ that people could post their diary in was called ‘adult’. Instead of just blocking that part of the site, it blocked the whole site, because it just wasn’t nuanced enough to understand the difference.
And then, of course, we only have to look at the supposed ‘block’ on torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and Kat to know that it just doesn’t work! Any internet savvy kid knows what a proxy is and how to use them, and if porn becomes blocked in this country, then there may be a reaction like the torrent sites block and specialised proxies will pop up as well, to make access even easier than it would be if parents acted like parents and controlled the blocks on their end. (I’m sure such specialised proxies already exist anyway).
The best way to deal with internet porn is to make kids aware of it. Not to shove it in their faces, but to let them know that, if they happen to come across it, what they are seeing isn’t necessarily a real depiction of a ‘loving relationship’, but to also let them know that they shouldn’t be ashamed of their sexuality and if they want to have casual sex when they’re older, then who the fuck cares other than the morality police? We can’t sweep it under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist. Vaginas and penises are not terrifying and I would argue for more nudity anyway, to stop little boys growing up into stunted man children, scared at this monster between a woman’s legs.
Sex is natural, the human body is beautiful, and wanting to watch other people get it on is a normal response.