Earlier this week I was asked:
"Why does pornography exist? It is purely a degradation of women. Younger boys are watching this, and getting a messed up view of women, which will contribute to future rapists - this is a bit broad and vague, but I'm sure you're able to pull those conclusions too?"
I think pornography is degrading to those who do not do it by choice - real choice, having no other choices doesn't count.
I agree that younger audiences are gaining access to porn, mainly due to the internet.
I don't think pornography contributes to creating rapists. I think lack of respect for other human beings does.
I think pornography creates a distorted view of sex and sexuality more than a distorted view of women only, mainly because men are also hypersexualized, and the whole scenarios are those of sex on command fuckmachines rather than human sensuality and sex.
What does create a distorted view of women is mainstream media, which gives images of women that come quite close to those seen in pornography - look at Axe (Lynx) commercials, look at the KFC Man vs. World ad campaign, look at PETA's Veggie Love campaign (what the fuck). Those images are the ones we are actually exposed to on a daily basis, we are not scouting them out for a particular purpose, while pornography itself has to be sought out.
It is perfectly legitimate for models to be hypersexualized for Victoria Secret, Sports illustrated, FHM, etc, but then the same poses are used by less known women for less known magazines or brands, and they are slutshamed - why? This could be another article of its own, so back to porn.
The purpose of pornography is sexual arousal, so glamorization and exaggeration is understandable. The same cannot be said about selling cars, selling food, selling animal rights - but the oversexualization and distorsion goes unnoticed because it isn't really porn.
"I think comparing with adverts is borderline, though those aren't okay. Porn is a separate issue which is making boys a lot more sexually frustrated I can imagine, and at an early stage. Did you hear about the 14 year old guy in Manchester who has been sexually assaulting women?"
Yes I've heard of that, it's mental, but we don't know him, and we can't assume that it has anything to do with porn. Anyway, I actually think pornography is good for sexual release.
"Okay so is having porn available good or bad? Is the consequence of it not being available good or bad? My point is that it should never be the first introduction to what sex is for young boys"
Okay well I see your point, but the porn itself isn't marketed to young boys, they just look for it, find it, and expose themselves to it, like alcohol, and cigarettes, and anything. The real issue is that sex education is not strong enough to give a good basis of sexual knowledge to younger people. The reality is that if younger people had more information about sex and it weren't such a taboo until a certain age, pornography wouldn't be seen as a beacon of information. Other than watching it for arousal, younger people watch it out of curiosity, for things they have never seen before and have yet to experience. The attitude itself isn't unhealthy, its not perverted. The unhealthy attitude is withholding sexual information from them, when they should be being given tools to build a healthy relationship to sex early on. You and I consume porn differently from them because we know it is entertainment, and we know how things are. Their consumption stems from a place of lack of knowledge.
Sex health education in a lot of places is reduced to "don't do it, and if you do, use a condom". No wonder most first times are disastrous. You know what I found out recently? That girls are not supposed to always bleed the first time, it is a myth perpetuated for the sake of pushing sex onto a girl even when she is not physically ready (lack of lubrication causes the bleeding), and to be honest, I would know, I didn't bleed my first time.
After few more exchanges regarding how informative this had been for him, the conversation ended.
I guess my conclusion is that pornography in itself is not harmful - the attitude towards it is. The acceptance of oversexualized images in mainstream media, followed by a demonization of images in pornography sends out a very confusing message to younger people, who might end up blurring the lines between one and the other.
As for images actually depicted in pornography - that'll be covered in another post^^
Note: The PETA ad was banned, but the highly sexualized campaign was not.