Let Us Talk About Pornography

Pornography by definition, is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for sexual stimulation. It may be presented in various forms including books, magazines, photographs, films and video games. Nowadays, pornographers have taken advantage of technological advances in the production and distribution of pornography. Easily accessible porn has made pornography prevalent among people of all age range.  According to various reports as of 2016, the porn industry is estimated to worth $97 billion. Just from the USA alone the industry generates around $11 billion per annum. It is an astounding number when one realizes the filming and the release of porn are illegal in most states. Statistics published by Sound Vision stated, that there are 4.2 million pornographic websites with 100,000 websites offering illegal child pornography. In addition to that, 57% of young adults admitted to reaching out for online porn at least once a month. Not only does porn affect sexual development of teenagers, but also people’s general expectation of sex. In this report, I will put the legality issues aside and focus on the morality of watching porn as well as, its detrimental effects on viewers. It is worth understanding why porn is so prevalent, and to appeal for greater awareness regarding its usage.

Pornography can be characterized into two categories, namely soft-core and hard-core. They depict contents ranging from penetration to extreme fetishism. While some acknowledge that pornography is a moral issue, many claimed that it is merely a product, which I agree with.  Given that much of the porn consumed is produced legally with consenting adults and under protected environment, I do not oppose to the sensible use of porn by adults. I believe everyone, including porn actors and producers, are autonomous beings. People in the porn industry should be free to choose for what they do for a living. Whereas consumers shall also be free to choose what they wish to consume. (If interested in this issue, please visit my previous article.

However, pornography that features sexual violence or assault shall not be allowed in any instances. Pornography apologists disregards concerns on objective morality, neglecting critics as susceptible to sexual repression or social pathology. They tend to neglect pornography’s detrimental effects, instead laying their focus on the intrusion into freedom of speech. They contend that to restrict pornographic materials means to restrict the rights of individual’s who produce, distribute and use pornography. Pushing the definition to extreme, in cases which pornography is seen as a way of expression, one might argue that restrictions curtail the freedom of expression as well. Even in instances when they acknowledge the toxic effects, they stress that regulation will not protect women from discrimination and abuse completely. Yet, the least persuasive argument among all is when they emphasize that pornography critiques are inherently anti-male. Their argument is flawed because they divert attention from the tragedy and abuse that come along with the proliferation of the pornography industry.

On the other hand, online porn might herald the end of morality in our young generation. The issue of children and teens accessing online pornography is often associated with distress and debate. Many argue that youngsters who grow up with porn are more likely to engage in dangerous sexual decisions. Apart from changing attitudes, it also shapes actions. A research conducted by Appalachian State University found that data collected from a sample of 515 college men indicated strong bivariate associations of rape and rape proclivity with use of almost all forms of pornography. In order to combat the problem at its root, it is essential to make pornographic material less accessible. This is where greater regulation should come into place. Websites should be responsible for screening out underage users and ensure they are denied access under all circumstances.

I must admit that it is an unrealistic expectation to completely eliminate online pornography. Therefore, the most effective approach for now would be to start from education. Christina Self, officer of Youth Health Programme, said that the reason why teenagers rely so heavily on porn may be due to schools’ reluctance to provide adequate sexual education. They are avoiding conversations with young people as to how to look, act and experience pleasure during sex. Consequently, young people derive information about sex from online unregulated platforms. This makes them more susceptible to distorted perspectives and skewed misunderstandings about sex.  Porn literacy is a form of education which focuses primarily on people’s understanding of gender, race, sexual consent and body image issues conveyed in media. With respect to pornography, the purpose of media literacy is to promote discussions on personal integrity, human rights and gender equality. It also advocates children and teens to critically analyze sexism and misogyny content in all forms of pop culture, including pornography.