Trust me I am just as surprised as you. Porn is not a topic I ever planned to cover on this blog, ever. But then I became a little obsessed with The School of Life and the other day they posted a pretty interesting video on porn, it’s meaning in our lives, and how it could be made better.
I guess from the start I ought to say that for me personally the existence of porn does not break any moral rules. I think sex is a fundamental part of being human and nothing at all to be ashamed of. I regularly talk openly with friends about my views on sex and porn and none of us get squeamish or judgmental. I also support sex workers of all kinds and believe that those who work in porn (and prostitution) deserve respect and safe working conditions.
Basically I like to think I am pretty enlightened when it comes to issues surrounding porn. Even so, I was still a little surprised to see this pop up in my YouTube notifications:
Because of technology, pornography has become a major issue of our time – affecting relationships and adolescence.
For a video on porn I think this was done very well. It was honest, informative, and inoffensive. I agreed with just about every point they made. If I’m being honest I do have one very big issue with the porn industry:
I hate how far porn is from what sex is like in real life.
I think this gives men and women either some very unrealistic expectations or it makes them feel wholly inadequate. Sometimes I think that is why people watch so much porn anymore, because real life sex just doesn’t measure up to what you can see online, anywhere, any time, and for free. What people don’t see is the reason real life sex doesn’t add up is because it is so often devoid of the thing that makes it great, a sense of respect and intimacy.
I have always felt that the things that have gone wrong in the porn industry affect women much more then men in the real life. Sex work is no longer an easy way to make money for women, watch the documentary Hot Girls Wanted if you want a bit of info on that.* I think the porn industry is moving in a direction that is dangerous to our views of sex. Especially for young people.
A lot of porn is about men’s use and enjoyment of women which perpetuates the idea that that is all women are for. It also gives men the ideas that foreplay is unnecessary, that penetration alone is enough for a woman, and that women are willing to perform all kinds of sex acts and if she isn’t something is wrong with her. It’s hard sometimes for me to reconcile those issues and my feeling that banning porn outright will cause more problems than it solves.
But what if porn was just made better?
I was a bit surprised that an organization centered around philosophy was starting their own porn site but they made a good point, who else should work in porn but people who are both open-minded and concerned with what is good and right. Not from a religious perspective but from an understanding of what make a healthy human! Porn definitely doesn’t make us unhealthy. It’s what we do with it that is harmful.
Pornography has an important and dignified role to play within a good life. It can train and guide our desires and educate our excitements. At The School of Life, we believe that good pornography can be broadly therapeutic: helping us to resolve a variety of inner difficulties and contributing to wiser, more fulfilled lives.
Now that is something you don’t hear very often, porn is important and dignified, and can lead us to wiser and more fulfilled lives. I can’t say whether or not that is true but I think it’s good someone is saying something different from all the other conversations we’ve had about sexual imagery up until now. Someone has taken the middle ground. Someone has said, don’t be ashamed, but also take responsibility, express your sexuality, but do so with self-awareness.
So whatever your views on porn are, or the sex industry as a whole, I think we can all take a moment and reevaluate our views. Maybe we hadn’t considered that there was another way to do things?
*Check out Vice’s interview with Rashida Jones on Her Porn Documentary ‘Hot Girls Wanted’
Original image via Guerretto