The dark side of pornography

September 10, 2012 10:00 pm

He stares at her, moaning with longing, feelings of humanity and bestiality merge at this moment of overwhelming desire. Her body  is taken over by it too; her hair rippling with anticipation. Her wet dark lips part, the beginning of a scream… blackout. The pixels fade to nothingness; the laptop is dead and the lead is somewhere downstairs.

Whichever way we look at it, pornography has crept up on us. From the slightly saucy images of “indecent ladies” which shocked Victorians, it would be impossible predict the way in which porn has seeped into every aspect of western 21st century culture. But seeped in it has. Studies show that over 70% of today’s teenage boys (either by design or accidentally) introduced to sexuality through porn, whilst every single second 372 Internet users are typing adult searches into search engines. The sex education lessons naively given by well-meaning and embarrassed teachers have become a joke for the young teenage boys, for whom the viewing or discussing of pornography is simply an unquestioned ritual of puberty. In fact, a shocking survey reveals that 67 percent of young men and 49 percent of young women agree that viewing pornography is acceptable.

Yet criticising “over sexualised” teenagers is all too easy. Perhaps, as uncomfortable as it may seem, their sexual culture (of which pornography plays a huge role) is superior to that of the so-called “moralistic” sexual culture that preceded it. Whereas previous generations of schoolboys became such slaves to their sex drives that they could be reduced to peering up the skirts of unwitting girls, today’s teenagers can just log on to a computer and browse porn; exploring the power of their new found sexuality at leisure and at the expense of no one. The added benefit of releasing sexual thirst “the modern way” is the confidence and experience gained for later relationships. Novels like Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach (set in the early 1960s), reminds us that the male sex drive is an age-old issue and tells of the dangers of inexperience and insecurity in the bedroom. When sex was a taboo subject until the famous “wedding night” the embarrassment of not knowing what to do or under-performing could break up even the most loving couples. Surely a culture of openness in which boys feel free to watch and discuss sex (as disturbing it is for a mother stumbling across her son’s laptop) is the healthiest way in which to harness and nurture an irrepressible force of nature?

There is, however, a gaping flaw to this simple justification of pornography; it concentrates only on one half of the population. While teenage boys may flourish through the modern freedom of easy sexual release, pornography seems to be having the opposite effect on 21st century girls. The “sexual revolution” of the 1960s, intended to free women from the bonds of history, has taken an ironic twist. When asked how old she wanted be for her first sexual encounter, a shy 13 year old told me “16, so I can legally have a Hollywood wax”. The most worrying dimension to this reply, is that it runs deeper than simply girls trying to copy the look of undesirable role models: she felt that to even deserve a boy’s attention she HAD to go to extreme, painful and embarrassing lengths. The courtships of Jane Austen novels show a world in which a man must make an effort with a girl, fall in love with her and be committed to her before she would agree to sleep with him. Of course lots of modern women would find this idea repellent (take the stars of Sex And The City), but perhaps a little taste of that life is what young girls need. Rather than being passively pressured into sex in the full knowledge that boys can masturbate over something physically “more perfect” if they refuse, girls should feel that they are able to wait for the right person, or at least until they feel they are ready.

A case for pornography can arguably be found through a philosophy of “the lesser of two evils”. Yes, we can admit that porn may be having a slightly damaging effect on young girls, but if masturbating over porn is quenching young boys sexual thirst it may prevent teenage pregnancies or even rape. But it is not that simple. By watching hardcore porn on an almost daily basis, it is possible that boys could become desensitised to the pleasures of regular sex and begin to look to darker areas for sexual satisfaction. Worryingly, this theory is backed up by studies: there is a distinct correlation between the rise of Internet pornography and instances of child molestation and bestiality. In short, by encouraging a culture of pornography we foster a culture of over-sexuality, and with it, a Pandora’s box of issues us opened

Ultimately, the culture of pornography has gone too far. Even for those who believe that the effects on culture are not damaging, it is surely disturbing that in a world where people are dying of starvation $3,075.64 every second is being spent on pornography.

%d bloggers like this: