Porn Taught Me Everything I Know About Sex

By Sam Kennedyimages (1).jpg

Yup, you read the title right. I’ve learned everything there is to know about sex because of porn… just like everybody else.

Pornography has become a teacher in today’s society, thanks to the internet and the increasing use of the “sex sells” attitude within the media. But are we learning the right things from porn?

 

I was made aware of pornography in middle school on the bus ride home. The 7th grade boys gave me all kinds of information and I was both horrified and intrigued. The first lesson I learned was that breasts were REALLY important, especially when it comes to size. I learned that the louder a person was while they were having sex, the better it was going. I learned guys decide when sex is over, girls having pubic hair (or “big bushes”) was gross, and that adults HATED pornography so it had to be done in secret.
That was the extent of my sex education until I came to college (minus learning about all of the scary STDs that are out there if you have sex). And I viewed pornography as a completely normal thing for people to watch and learn from.

A few weeks ago, a conversation came up amongst a group of friends and I about whether or not pornography could be considered a part of feminism. We decided to watch a few documentaries* about the porn industry to answer our questions.

*All three documentaries were found on Netflix, and I highly encourage you all to check them out

Can it be empowering to women? On one end of the spectrum, here are girls taking control of their bodies and their sexuality. In the documentary After Porn Ends, one porn star, Seka, explained that she got into the industry because she wanted to change the representation of women. Before she began to do pornography, she would see female actresses that weren’t taking care of themselves and looked miserable on camera. She wanted to be an actress that looked proud of her work and was taking charge. Seka wanted to show that women can be sexy for themselves, and not for their male counterparts. There were many other people within this documentary that shared similar views, and talked about how they enjoyed their time in the pornography industry. Many were able to lead happy, healthy lives after retiring.

On the other end of the spectrum, many would argue that pornography is nothing but the degradation of women.

Admittedly, I initially raised an eyebrow at this claim. Sure, some porn could be degrading to women, but is it only degrading? I believe it’s natural to be curious about your sexuality, and pornography is a way for many people to explore it. About 75% of people have viewed pornography at least once in their lives, and 23% of people say that watching porn with their significant other has brought them closer together. So if consumers are desiring pornography and the film stars are consenting, then what’s the harm? A person can do whatever they like with their body, and that should be respected.

I still stand by these viewpoints but after watching these documentaries, I found that there are certain trends within pornography that are more disturbing than others and that have steadily been on the rise.

The most commonly searched term on porn sites is “teen.” “Teen” is not a role within these films- it is a request. Women that are 18 years old are purposefully recruited for amateur porn. They are called “teeny-boppers.” In the past, women were cast to play teenagers and act out these fantasies but nowadays, consumers want the real thing. This fetishization of young girls is disturbing, especially when it comes to 18-year-olds being cast because they look younger than 18.

netflix-_porn_industry-_hot_girls_wanted-
Craigslist is a common site for these fresh out-of-high school girls, with promises of money, travel, sex, fame, and a free plane ticket to boot. In Hot Girls Wanted, the documentary follows a group of young women (pictured right) that live together with their “talent scout.” One of the opening scenes depicts the talent scout telling the camera,
“Every day a new girl turns 18, every day a new girl wants to do porn—I will never run out.”

Throughout the documentary, this kind of attitude and language towards the girls continues: they’re a product.

To continue off this idea of “dehumanization,” an increasing trend of violence is emerging in porn. Out of all pornographic films, 40% of them depict violence and 88% of them are violent towards women. The violence ranges from open handed slapping to forced sex (oral, anal, or vaginal) to extreme acts of humiliation and degradation. One of the women in Hot Girls Wanted talked about how in one of her first scenes, she was verbally and physically degraded. The man behind camera was lobbing racial slurs and offensive terms at her, and then had her perform a “forced blow job”. This is an extreme form of oral sex, demanding that the woman gags on the man’s penis which in most cases causes her to vomit. At the end of this scene, the girl was forced to eat her vomit and say “thank you.”

Luckily, some sex workers are rising up and demanding proper care and respect. Former porn star actor James Deen is under investigation because of rape allegations. Because James Deen specializes in BDSM and aggressive sex acts, many consumers did not realize that the protests from the various women within the scenes were very, very real. It was not an act. The “rape-play” was a reality. It took a lot of bravery for women to step forward and demand justice for the things that he did

Sex workers need to give full consent. It doesn’t matter that you are paying them. They STILL have to consent to whatever act you want them to complete. It is perfectly within their rights to make pornographic videos, but it must be done in a safe and healthy manner. Many sex workers do not speak out against the assault that they faced while in the industry because their paycheck was on the line, and this is completely inappropriate. Is this being taught in adult films?

For those of you that don’t think of pornography has that much of an influence on teens, look at how many view anal sex and ejaculating on a woman’s face as being the norm. Not saying that these things are wrong, but they’ve become an expectation. Not a request. And there is a very big difference.

Even porn stars are aware of how the industry has changed and the effect that it’s having on teenagers. A couple, (both former porn stars,) told the audience in Sexy Baby that things that were considered hardcore 10-15 years ago are common scenes in adult films today. And a majority of things we see during adult films aren’t even pleasurable for the actors – it just looks good on camera. They sum it up perfectly: “Too many kids are trying to learn from porn and it’s just not realistic.”

Imagine if I had been told ten years ago that most people didn’t wear condoms during sex. That I should expect to be hit by my partner. That my boyfriend doesn’t need to ask permission to have sex with me. My viewpoint of sex today would be so warped, and I wouldn’t even be aware of it.

I’m not here to get on a soapbox and tell you whether pornography is wrong or not, or whether it should be banned. I just want to remind everyone the influence pornography can have, especially on teenagers, and how dangerous it can be. Make sure you’re thinking about what you’re watching and if it is altering the way you think about sex and women. These are real human beings that are being filmed on camera and providing a service. Make sure pornography isn’t teaching you that your sexual partner is an object. Make sure pornography isn’t teaching you that consent is optional.

Do you think pornography is having an effect on our sex culture? Comment with your thoughts or personal stories!

 

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