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Porn: Let's be Mindful

Words by: Alice Murray

Art by: Funmi Lijadu


**trigger warning- this article contains references to sexual abuse, trafficking, consent, porn**


In 2018, 30.3 billion pornography titles were searched on PornHub, that's an average of 962 a minute (Guardian). As I'm sure most people are already aware, porn is the portrayal of any sexual subject matter, whether that be photographs, videos, animation or fan-fiction. Due to the taboo nature of porn, it is rarely discussed in the public light, even though more than half of the UK admit to consuming it.


Consuming porn is usually portrayed as a negative or 'unclean' habit, which leads most people to watch it in secret by downloading a VPN to hide their track. However, many would argue that we should not be ashamed to watch porn, just as we wouldn't be ashamed to consume something like Netflix. As a source of media; it is also a tool for masturbation and escapism for many people. However, just like any other source of media, there are also many negative consequences of porn and the porn industry. Therefore, if you do consume porn, you may want to ask yourself these questions whilst watching:

Are the actors I'm watching consenting and being paid?

On many free porn sites such as PornHub, anyone can upload content. In 2019, an average of 18,000 videos were uploaded daily on average (PornHub). This means that videos are rarely verified to check the origin. No written consent needs to be given from actors to PornHub and so it is impossible for PornHub viewers toknow whether the person you are watching has consented to being filmed, or to the video being uploaded to the internet. You also do not know their age, or whether they have been trafficked. PornHub is notoriously problematic as they very rarely delete videos after they have been uploaded. There are many reported cases of victims of abuse reporting videos of them on the site and PornHub either not removing them or taking months to do so, meaning  that many porn sites directly profit from exploitation and abuse. Every time a viewer streams one of these videos, they are helping fuel this.Even in videos where actors have given consent, the video could have been copied and pirated. This means that the actors and production team may not be getting paid for their labour. This is another form of exploitation.


Again, the best way to combat this is by buying your porn directly from the people who made it.If this still doesn't reassure you, you could try buying written porn in the form of books or blogs that don’t involve human participants.

Is the porn I'm watching reinforcing racial stereotypes?

Just like other media, porn plays a huge role in creating and reinforcing negative racial stereotypes. Most porn stars are white with slim bodies and typically  we only see other groups in categories that fetishize them. Categories such as 'BBC' have led to the sexualisation and dehumanisation of black men. Asian schoolgirl categories have created a harmful narrative for Asian women, it also normalises and encourages paedophilia. These stereotypes carry harmful real-life consequences.

To combat this, think critically about the categories and titles you consume. There are many porn production companies run by people of colour with no categories that fetishize people.


Is the porn I'm watching normalising rape and violence?


One major problem with porn is that it rarely shows conversations of consent. This is likely due to the belief that it will ruin the 'fantasy'. For example,  people with penises will oftentimes ejaculate over their partners face without asking prior. In real life, you need to ask for consent before every sexual act. Similarly, many bondage videos do not show a consent agreement that would have to happen in real life.

 

Again, this can be remedied by watching ethical or feminist porn sites. However, if you do watch seemingly non-consensual acts, just be mindful throughout that porn is not real and should not be a measure of how to have sex. Porn can be an insight into different aspects of sex but shouldn't be used as an example or as an educational tool because it omits consent and reinforces stereotypes.

Essentially, the best way you can consume porn is by moderating the type of porn you watch and paying when possible. Check the legitimacy of the site and purchase directly from the makers themselves. Watch with a critical mind, understand that nothing you see is real, and gather your sexual knowledge from other, more reputable places. Just like sex, porn should be fun and exciting, but it can only be that way when nobody is being exploited or harmed through derogatory stereotypes.

Lastly, if you do consume porn, please be mindful of how much you watch and the way it makes you feel. If you feel your relationship with porn has become negative or you become dependent on it, you should seek help from your GP.


Sources 


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/30/internet-porn-says-more-about-ourselves-than-technology


https://www.pornhub.com/insights/


https://www.change.org/p/shut-down-pornhub-and-hold-its-executives-accountable-for-aiding-trafficking


https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/mar/09/pornhub-needs-to-change-or-shut-down


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-51391981



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