Let’s talk about porn

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Andrew Quinn
Deputy Editor-in-Chief

It’s time to break the taboo and discuss what millions of us watch everyday.

Pornography is watched by millions every day. Some consume it regularly and others don’t use it at all. Surely it is time to break the taboo and talk about this medium which is affecting our lives.

Anti-pornography organisation, Fight the New Drug, says that porn harms us in three ways: the way we think, the way we love, and how we view women. According to a Middlesex University study, about 54% of 11 to 16-year-olds have watched porn, with 94% of these having watched it by the age of 14. Yet, we still don’t talk about it. If it is possible that pornography influences our lives in these ways, and vast amounts of young people are consuming it, then why do we not talk about this at school?

A large amount of porn users have never had any real-life sexual interaction. Porn is what introduces them to sex. For me, this was the case. I vividly remember the first time I watched porn. I was 11 or 12 and I searched for it after hearing other boys talk about it at school. I remember how surreal it was; I couldn’t comprehend that what I saw was what a naked woman looked like. I was hooked. After that, I must have watched porn almost every day for about five years.

Porn is bound to have an effect on its consumers. Women are portrayed either as submissive or sexual deviants. They are objectified. So, an adolescent, whose entire sexual experience is from videos found on the internet, is potentially going to view women as objects for male sexual pleasure, as they are portrayed in the videos. In these videos, sex is not about love, intimacy, or a shared experience, it is about female subordination. This helps us understand why some young men may view women in a certain way.

Even if you believe that men and women are equal, porn can still influence you in other ways. I remember being drunk as a 16 and 17-year-old and badly wanting to be promiscuous. I just wanted to use women for sex. While my sober brain would have reasoned this out of me, my drunken mind was certainly affected by the porn that I had watched.

Watching porn is something that you hide from almost everyone around you, and this causes other problems. It means that you may struggle with intimacy, or immediately want to leave after sex. That is what you do after you watch porn; you try to shut out the shame that it causes. This was the case for me. I was distant with some of my early sexual partners. I was distant because of shame and anxiety. At the time, I dismissed it as me being weird, but it was different from that.

Now, I seldom watch porn. I have a loving girlfriend and we discuss our porn use. This does not mean that I never slip up and watch it, but I am now conscious and (most of the time) choose not to consume it. I still feel the shame whenever I do watch porn, but for the most part, I have a healthy sex life.

Porn is likely to influence its users, so we should start talking about it. We should remind young people that masturbation is natural, and that it is porn that causes the shame. We must teach young people about porn, rather than avoiding the awkward conversation. This will only lead to healthier relationships in our lives, and help in the battle against misogyny.