This is part of my latest project ‘Taboo’. I want to write several longer-form feature articles about topics that need discussing, but often fall off the radar. Enjoy!
When I was at university, I watched porn for the first time.
No, it wasn’t sneakily watched on a tiny phone-screen in my bedroom. It was on a widescreen television, with my entire house.
My friend had been relaying the horrors of the ‘funny porn’ section on Pornhub- and for the hilarity, we decided that it would be a brilliant, drunken idea to switch it on and have a good laugh.
I’m really not lying, that my first experience of Pornhub, was watching a man dressed as Spongebob squarepants get a blowjob. (Yes, that is really a sentence that I never thought I would write down or admit to)
I’m hugely open about sex/ masturbation and I have no objection to writing about it on here- but this one is a topic I’ve very rarely covered, because, in all honesty- I don’t know where I stand on the whole thing.
In my teens, it was never something I was particularly exposed to.
Not only was dial-up internet on a shared family computer probably not the best source of that kind of material, but I used other things; like the dirty sections of books or films to get my kicks- and porn to me, seemed something that was just, well… dirty.
Pornography in my mind, was made-for-men and from my understanding of it, VERY anti my strong feminist stance.
The media backed me up on this narrow-line of thought. But, in all honesty, I think if you want to have a healthy conversation around something as significant as this, you need to read both sides of the story.
I’ve done a lot of reading around it since the days of Spongebob (ha) and I even wrote an essay on the merits of pornography vs. feminism at uni- and here’s what I think.
Firstly- the merits of porn.
People enjoy it. Whether we like it or not, there’s a reason that 23 billion people went on PornHub last year.
I don’t think that there are specific demographics available for the user-base, but research has suggested that men and women of various ages are consuming this form of media in their millions.
There’s no shame in sexual pleasure, exploring the things that turn you on or the things that you realise, ‘actually hell no’ to.
Porn gives people access to this information, in ways that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Plus- masturbation is fun. If you’re a prude about that then go have an orgasm and come back to me later, when you’re more chilled out, happier and more confident in your own sexual pleasure.
I’ve watched it since, and sure- there are aspects of it that turn me on, there’s no denying that.
Schools have terrible sex-ed.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that pornographic material is a good representation of how sex education should be in schools. But what I am saying, is that it shows you a side of sexual pleasure that isn’t just a man and a woman.
My school showed us a cartoon with two little characters who had sex purely for one reason. Reproduction,
NO NO NO NO NO.
Pornography gives people a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. It shows you that there’s more to sex than making a baby- and although it’s education may be skewed in the wrong direction, there’s definitely a need to broaden the curriculum to encompass so much more to sex and sexual pleasure, than what we’re teaching children.
This video from Hannah Witton is a really brilliant way to educate yourself if you’d like some more information on this side of the debate:
However, I have plenty of issues surrounding it.
I never ever want to shame people for what they choose to consume, but there are so many aspects of the industry, that I feel need to be addressed, in a healthy adult conversation.
It’s a thriving industry so can we please start talking about the unrealistic expectations that porn aligns for men and women?
From what I’ve watched most popular mainstream porn is a few things. Firstly, it’s a sea of giant dicks (lols), plucked-bald vaginas and men pumping into women within an inch of their life. All followed by over-the-top screaming, anal-sex and squirting.
It bums me out that people feel like they need to ‘look’ a certain way downstairs in order to be acceptable to a man. Of course, there’s an element of personal preference in this- but I would never for a second think I HAD to wax or shave, because that’s what men expect of me.
I will admit that there are ‘female friendly’ options- but don’t patronise me or other women. We don’t need a fucking romantic tunes and gazing into each other’s eyes to be turned on. We need healthy, realistic expectations.
We need curvy people, slim people, people with hair, people without hair, diversity… women who don’t all have anal sex on a whim. OR if they do have anal, to show that it’s something that needs to be taken more seriously and isn’t something you can do without mutual respect and foreplay.
Christ alive, has anyone ever heard of STIs who make these films?? 90% of what I’ve seen when I did some research for my own essays and this blogpost have been bareback. That’s dangerous, damaging and again provides the expectation that it won’t be as good without using protection.
To me, that’s something that should be legalised across the industry.
It’s ridiculously irresponsible for young people in particular to assume that there won’t be a worse case scenario.
Nobody ever shows the moment after the sex is done, where she’s getting the morning after pill or sitting in a clinic eh?
I think ultimately, it’s never going to be a form of um ‘entertainment’ (?) that I indulge myself in. I personally don’t get turned on in the slightest by over-the-top moans and fake orgasms. I don’t find close-up shots of vaginas and penises attractive, because I mean really- they’re not attractive to me.
I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with consuming it and I certainly wouldn’t consider it ‘anti-feminist’ to watch it… but I’m always willing to be educated.
It’s something that as part of the media culture of today- people will be continually exposed to, and I think it’s time to regulate what they’re viewing.