Do we need to stop demonising porn?

Do we need to stop demonising porn?
May 24 19:52 2016 Print This Article

PORN. We are a society that consumes so much of it, while we also demonise it and blame it for our sexual problems. But is the industry really to blame?

As a sexologist I have seen first hand how porn can be destructive. From men who create false intimate relationships with the women on the screen, to others who expect their partners to perform like porn stars and some who suffer from erectile dysfunction and performance anxiety when comparing themselves to the men on these films.

Some woman feel inadequate sexually, often questioning why they can’t have an orgasm or enjoy anal sex like porn stars. Many measure good sex based on their ability to perform and please a man (a common scenario in adult films).

We are also now seeing the effects on today’s youth with porn being accessed at an earlier age and these actors being seen as role models. Young teens think this is what real sex looks like and the issues we are seeing in adults are becoming more prevalent in a younger generation.

THE CHANGING NATURE OF PORN

Some might think the old school industry is dying thanks to technology and the ability for anyone to be a pornographer thanks to a smart phone.

But recently I was able to attend the AVN’s (an adult entertainment expo) and witnessed first hand the obsessive interaction between fans and stars, and it felt like the industry is well and truly alive.

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The ‘Brad and Ange’ of porn, Anikka Albrite and husband Mick Blue pictured at the 2016 AVN Awards

Fans were paying for all sorts of things — photos, merchandise, signed DVDs and moulds of vaginas. There’s even a new product where fans can pay to directly text their favourite stars.

Witnessing fist hand how the industry is still thriving, one question came to mind: Is it worse for someone to watch porn or reality TV?

Here I was in a world that was honest. Most porn stars I interviewed I asked the same question, “Why did you get into porn?” The most common response was that they loved having sex and were able to get paid for doing it.

Some were honest that it was also an avenue for fame. I met girls who were in their early 20s, supporting other careers and passions and earring more money than most would dream of at that age. But they were real about it and they were clear with how the industry works. They poke fun of themselves, they enjoy what they do but they also don’t sell it as reality.

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Anikka and Mick enjoying a moment backstage at the AVNs.

Anikka and Mick enjoying a moment backstage at the AVNs.

We are now also able to see adult movies with all different types of people, representing more of the diversity of what a real life population is.

It’s not just about the cookie cutter blonde, surgically enhanced porn star that makes the grade in this world anymore. Even pubic hair has made a come back. And all different types of people and bodies are worshipped, something not done well in the mainstream with brands like Victoria Secret flaunting their angels as the ideal.

SO IS PORN TO BLAME FOR OUR PROBLEMS, OR IS THERE MORE TO THE STORY?

The thing that worries me the most is the mainstream world of reality TV.

I can explain porn and how it is not real sex (I only wish I had more chances to explain this to a younger audience) but I don’t feel I could clearly explain the Kardashians to a teenage girl who worships them and follows their every move. They are entertainment but sold as reality while porn is sold as fantasy.

What is worse? A world of sexual fantasies that is flaunted as that or a world where reality is scripted and sold as real life, often setting up false norms for those to live their entire lives to.

The false expectations porn might be giving is just around sex, reality TV is presenting a false life standard.

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Which is the most realistic? Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or Kim’s sex tape?

I can’t say there isn’t a downside to porn. But who is to blame for its negative impact? Is it porn for delivering us unrealistic expectation of what sex is? Is it technology for allowing us and younger children to access it easily, or is it a lack of adequate sex education not informing and teaching people that porn is just for fantasy?

If only we had more access to see what real sex looks like. We might then be able to solve the curiosity that drives so many to porn as an instructional video or counteract the false side of these films.

The problem with porn in our society is a collective one and won’t be solved just by pointing the finger at just one thing. By demonising the adult world, all it actually does is make it more attractive, especially to a younger generation.

One way we can counteract the negative impact is to talk about it more. If you are in a relationship, discuss it with your partner. If you’re a parent, talk about it with your children.

We need to consider how we can live side by side with the adult industry, porn stars and all while at the same time working to minimise the negative effects. Fearing it, demonising those who are in and shunning it is not the answer. Education and information is.

Just like porn is moving with the times, maybe our sex education should be keeping up with the adult world and the Kardashians too.

Dr Nikki Goldstein is a sexologist and the author of the book #singlebutdating.

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