It’s Time to Talk Porn

In the popular American TV show Friends, two of the main characters, Chandler and Joey, accidentally find a free porn channel during one of the episodes. From the moment they see it, they develop an urge to keep it running – even if it means leaving the TV on for days. This addiction to porn is an increasing phenomenon due to, on the one hand the flourishing industry, and on the other hand because of the content it projects.  From the late nineties, the industry has included in its tapes increasingly abusive and humiliating practices. This phenomenon should be looked at with concern, since the industry indirectly shapes society to its core, because it is promoting unrealistic and abusive standards often representing for young people their first and sometimes only source of sexual knowledge.

There are two major issues – the first is that the industry trivializes sexual aggression, potentially enticing individuals to perform what they see in porn in their daily life. Since the early two-thousands, new forms of sexual performance have been introduced, including gagging, double penetration, to name but a few. Research examining random scenes out of 50 porn movies randomly selected out of the most popular ones in the early two-thousands concluded that 9 out of 10 scenes contain verbal aggressions, and 5 out of 10 contain physical aggression. In real life, after receiving a blow one would protest and be angry, but the response to physical and verbal violence in porn is reversed where actors ask for more.

Fuck You Season 4 GIF by Friends
From Giphy

These submissive attitudes often portrayed in pornography can lead young people to believe they need to submit to the partner to make sex more enjoyable for them, or even accept verbal or physical violence during the act. There have been studies claiming the link with sexual assaulters and pornography consumers is strong – “With increasingly high use of porn, it becomes more likely that men will be likely to rape, likely to commit sexual assault, be sexually entitled, and have hostility toward women” (Goodson et al., 2020). The second unhealthy value promoted by pornography is a high standard of the performance, achieved on screen through clever scene cuts and camera angles. An adult consuming pornography might be aware thanks to experience that the standards set by the pornography industry are unrealistic, but a teenager approaching sex for the first time will not likely have the tools to objectively judge what they are seeing, resulting in the possibility of self-blaming and sexual dissatisfaction during the sex.

These two issues associated with the pornography industry are dangerous and unhealthy, but frequently this goes unaddressed because society still considers sex and pornography taboo topics. Consequently, parents don’t tend to talk to their children about the risks linked to what they are watching, and don’t teach them anything about healthy sex. This lack of communication sometimes is covered to some extent by the education offered in schools, but since the taboo is national it is not often the case. This means that to allow young people to access their social life with awareness, allowing them to enjoy it to the fullest, it is necessary to have an open sex talk. It can be embarrassing and hard at first, but it can build a relationship of trust within a family, and the discussion can be approached with an open mindset. If someone does not feel comfortable at first, it might help to talk in a situation where eye contact is not possible, like through a car ride, but embarrassment alone cannot be an excuse to avoid the talk.

Important things are at stake when it comes to sex, like young people’s happiness and satisfaction, so when it will be our turn to bring up the topic, hopefully everyone will choose to “talk porn”.

Some other useful articles:

  • “Porn a leading source of information about sex for young people in US” by Inquirer
  • “Pornography has deeply troubling effects on young people” by The Conversation

-Lisa Greghi

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

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