Let’s Talk About Porn, Take 2

I am lucky enough to have grown up in an extremely open, honest and loving home. My parents always walked around naked; my mother bought me books detailing the human anatomy around the same time that I learnt to read; to this day my family and I still discuss recent escapades and significant others around the kitchen table; and I am about 100% sure that if you came for dinner, you would end up around one of the most terrifyingly honest and open tables you have ever sat at. In short, my parents taught me that honesty and openness are two beautiful and important aspects of life. This in turn taught me how to respect my body and enjoy my sexuality.

However, there is an issue, and the issue isn’t sexual exploration or expression, but the fact that we have now entered a space where pornography is male orientated and both supports and perpetuates the exploitation and debasement of the female body.

When the majority of content on porn sites is filmed in questionable locations, with a majority of asian or eastern european girls who don’t look old enough to drive a car, let alone being spit-roasted, by 3 men old enough to be their fathers, in a car, there is a problem.

The porn industry has become so dangerous. There is a huge demand for porn. Where there is a demand, there is inevitably going to be a supply. Trafficking, kidnapping, tricks, bullying, coercion or exploitation of young girls and women into filming pornographic films should not even be an option. That, or the latest trend of ‘break up with your girlfriend and then ruin her life by posting intimate videos of her online’. This is the type of culture and industry that today’s porn supports.

Whilst children, young boys and men race ahead in the sexual rat race, there are many, many girls and young women who remain completely baffled by their bodies. I have talked so many female friends into masturbation. That may make you laugh, that may turn you on, that may bore you; however you’re feeling, know that it is not ok that whilst men are taught to know and explore their bodies from a young age, there are women well into their twenties and thirties who have never seen their vagina or even touched themselves.

Imagine this scenario. You are a woman, having sex with your partner. Your partner asks you,

“What do you like? Tell me what you want me to do.”

In your head you are thinking, “I don’t have a clue, I don’t even know what part of my vagina you’re touching right now”.

This is not ok. Whilst men are familiar, perhaps even too familiar with what lies below the belt, there are women who do not know where their clitoris is.

Not too long ago I went to the Shunga exhibition at the British Museum; Shunga is an ancient Japanese word for erotic art. These sexual illustrations were equally enjoyed by men and women of all classes. Then, there is the kama sutra, an ancient Hindu text written in prose.

“Kāma” which is one of the four goals of Hindu life, means desire including sexual desire the latter being the subject of the textbook, and “sūtra” literally means a thread or line that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. Contrary to popular perception, especially in the western world, Kama sutra is not just an exclusive sex manual; it presents itself as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life.”

In Promiscuities, Naomi Wolf describes how in ancient China, men and women’s sexual organs were described using beautiful poetic prose. Words that referred to blossoming flowers, jade stone and nature. These vivid and beautiful words are a harsh contradiction to the words now used to describe a woman’s vagina. From images of opening lotuses, to clunge, gash, box, pussy, minge and so forth, it is obvious that women’s sexuality has become polluted and stained.

Men and women will, for the most part, always have different views of porn, because it is not until, as a woman, you are on the receiving end of a male living out his porn fantasy that you can truly understand how far we have come from making love. (If you still need convincing, watch Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Don Jon) It is a strange feeling to look into someone’s eyes and see them looking through you, or to be flipped around in ways that may work in porn (where people are acting) but in reality, are not anatomically accurate.

I think a lot of men find porn more acceptable as they are taught from a young age that men have natural urges, urges which will ‘of course’ necessitate certain outlets. What about women? Women too have sexual urges, however when it comes to these urges, women are taught to hide them, be ashamed of them, and even hate them. I would suggest that people look at the increasing crises of porn, rape, rape as a weapon of war, sexual assault etc in order to reassess the ways in which we teach children about themselves and their bodies. We cannot encourage men to become inebriated by a societal construct of masculinity and revel in their subsequent sexuality, whilst women suffer and drown in theirs.

I have sat round many a dinner table where older men make jokes with younger boys about ‘petting the one eyed snake’, and other such unimaginative innuendos. Even on nationally broadcast television programs, there will be jokes about male masturbation, out of which there grows an instant camaraderie, a sort of inside joke for members of the male masturbation club. To be honest, I am so utterly bored this. Women, make your own club, embrace your own sexuality and start to change the tide so that female masturbation isn’t shocking or distasteful to hear about.

There are so many questions and layers that appear when we start to deconstruct porn, but ultimately it always leads back to gender. Gender norms affect not only women, but men too. Rather than being blindly or unwittingly compliant with inequitable gender constructs, how about we choose our own status quo. Get rid of the porn, step into the daylight and away from the computer, find a friend/phone a friend, have some sex, make some love. You are welcome.

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