X is for XXX

I’d been trying to gather enough words to write a post entitled X is for Xenophobia when I suddenly realised that this was my opportunity to finally blog about a subject which I have been itching to write about…porn! (Sorry dad & other family members who read this blog but you may want to stop here)

Pornography and the sex industry will always be one of those things that as both a feminist and a woman that I cannot get my head around. I have never truly been able to make my mind up whether porn is acceptable. I mean some porn is 100% not acceptable like this one video I saw someone share on Facebook (yes he shared actual porn on his facebook account) of a woman performing oral sex on a man whom then traps her down with his legs until she throws up. Clearly non-consensual and also vile.

I’ve watched enough documentaries, read enough feminist literature and seen enough porn websites to have made my mind up but I just cannot conclude whether I think the industry is wrong or perfectly normal. On one side of things, porn stars earn good money to do something that most people enjoy very much but on the other hand, they often engage in acts they’re finding extremely uncomfortable or even painful to make a living.

I recently saw Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary on Netflix which follows girls as young as 18 who are just breaking into the porn industry. Many of them find themselves doing scenes which make them upset, uncomfortable and sold like a product. But because these young, easily influenced girls want recognisation and a career, they continue to accept work that they find degrading. These young women came from relatively middle class backgrounds and had many other options in front of them but chose porn because well let’s be honest the idea of being paid to have sex does sound pretty appealing doesn’t it? If you had next to no options ahead then you’d certainly take the offer.

Despite the experiences of these young ladies, there are many others who work in porn and absolutely love it, but that wouldn’t make a successful documentary. Without any names present, I have friends who work in the sex industry and who have been nothing but safe, happy and financially better off.

At this point down the post I have to hope that any family did stop reading and now admit that I myself watch porn on average of maybe once a week. I will admit as well that I find it extremely difficult to find female friendly porn in which it isn’t all gagging on cocks and double penetration. Pornography, much like advertising and music videos is very much based on the male gaze. It is all for the male viewer and often although the subject is screaming with falsified joy, isn’t getting much pleasure at all. Although some porn can be very female focussed, the vast majority is more than just designed for men, its simply degrading to women.

Another recent TV show which got me thinking about porn was Sex in Class which is still available on 4od. As a nation we forget how behind on the times we are when it comes to sexuality and equality. Belgian sexologist Goedele Lieken leads a campaign for better sex education and takes a look at Scandanavia, Germany and Belgium compared to Britain and my lord we seem so backwards! But what got me thinking during this show was just how much teens are learning about sex from pornography, it’s alarming. The young boys on the program had us both cringing and shouting at the TV when I sat down and watched this with the girls.

I guess my problem is not with porn but with certain porn. Like I previously concluded about the sex industry in general; each worker has their own reason to be there, his or her own boundaries and their own morals. We cannot define an entire industry on the experiences of some workers and we cannot allow ourselves to judge those who participate. But one thing is undeniable, as an audience, feminist, woman, man, porn addict, whoever you are reading this… The industry needs reform and so does our outlook on sex and women as a nation.

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