Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Porn: What’s the Harm?


 First aired – 10th April 2014

Ooo - another documentary for me to dissect, but this time it is on the BBC and it is about children and the affect that pornography has on their minds at a crucial time in their development.  I’m afraid being a bit lax with the blog the programme is no longer available to watch on BBC iplayer, but it looks like you can find it in full on youtube. 

Jameela's serious face.

 It has been widely reported that children now have much easier access to pornography with the rise of the internet in our homes and of mobile phones as an essential accessory.  This programme brings nothing new to light.  Usually it is Channel  4 who approach the subject of sex quite openly from many different angles: The Sex Researchers; Porn on the Brain; Date my Porn Star.  None of these, including this recent BBC offering, have ever really covered the main issue for me, and that issue is how this extensive consumption of explicit material in our society, in general, affects the fight for equality and how it contributes to rape culture.





















Jameela's mildly shocked face.


The BBC 3 documentary was a thing for good due to the fact that it reached a slightly different audience because of the channel it has been aired on, and the person that has been chosen to present it (Jameela Jamil – female and a person of colour that young people can relate to).  This, amongst the channel 4 documentaries mentioned, is the only one to have the female perspective covered, so there’s one plus, but apart from shock and mild disgust she does not really have any hard-hitting opinions on the matter.  The programme did not really explore anything particularly new or ground-breaking and the issues for women and young girls were barely addressed.  They interviewed young men and women and involved a few different organisations, including Rape Crisis, but did not delve into the hard facts of the extreme affect that pornography has on how women and men co-exist in modern society.

Now let’s get one thing straight; there is nothing inherently wrong with watching images of sexual intercourse.  Sexuality should not be dictated, controlled or impeded and if you enjoy watching pornographic images that is fine and dandy.  The problem comes when we consider the nature of the pornography being consumed and the age at which our young people are now exposed to these images.  The BBC documentary had many statistics (all of which conformed to the idea that males enjoy porn and females do not) without dissecting them and looking at the factors which may affect the responses given in the survey undertaken.  In The Sex Researchers (from Channel 4 June 2011) an experiment was recreated that proved that women are aroused by a wider variety of images than men are.  This means that in no way could women be described as being less sexual than men and in fact could be described as being more highly sexed than men.   



Jameela interviews the kids.

So, why is it that when young people are anonymously answering a survey about pornography more boys than girls will say that they enjoy watching sexually explicit images?  This is something that has to be down to cultural factors, not physical factors.  Young men are free to explore their sexuality from a young age and, even now after various feminist movements and other leaps in equality, women are judged and harassed for showing that they enjoy sex with anyone but a long-term partner, and sometimes even this can be frowned upon.  Certainly during the teenage years girls are publically disgraced for participating in sexual acts and even expressing enjoyment for any form of sexual activity.  I find in my role as a teacher to teenagers I often have to inform boys and girls that sex(and masturbation) is natural and acceptable for everyone so long as consent and enjoyment is involved.  I find that words like ‘slut’ and ‘hoar’ are almost exclusively used for girls and only jokingly used for boys.  Still, in 2014.  That is why girls would not admit to watching or enjoying porn; they have always been told that is not acceptable openly enjoy sex if you were born with a vagina.












Jameela caring about an ex-porn actress.

Another thing that is not in any way explored by Porn: What’s the harm? is the fact that the worst way in which porn affects females is not just that they feel pressure to look and act a certain way, but that males are being encouraged to see women as sexual objects, which in turn makes them far more likely to commit sexual harassment and rape.  It is scary the amount of women that I speak to that are reluctant to associate themselves with the word feminism (my definition of which involves believing men and women should be equal as we clearly still are not); if they realised how serious inequality is in society, and what this inequality leads to on a daily basis, then I think, nay hope, that they would be more outraged, and possibly more comfortable with the idea of being a feminist.  If you think that the plethora of images of naked women all around us, and the fact that women are still more valued for their appearance than anything else, does not contribute to rape, then you are deluded.  I understand that not everyone sees the whole world in the way that I do, but I have noticed a disturbing lack of anger about how women are treated in society.  Pornography is just one of the elements in our culture that contributes to men seeing women as sexual objects alone(as well as women expecting to be treated like one) and therefore men finding it much easier to treat women as if they are not human beings with feelings, but things to use for their own sexual gratification.  This is how rapists think.

Back to the documentary.  There are many elements that are lacking in all of these programmes when it comes to the fight for equality and the improvement of women’s lives, but there is a message right at the end of the programme that is correct and very important.  Jameela Jamil said that we should “...protect children by discussing it and educating them about what they are seeing”.  Communication is the key with all of these things when it comes to our own children; your child needs to feel that they can come and ask you about anything they come across; you will not be able to control everything that they consume, but you can help them to understand it. 

In Channel 4’s Porn on the Brain a local authority representative trying to improve sex education said “we all have a body, we all form relationships throughout our lives, we’re all sexual beings, from birth, and therefore we all need to be talking about these things.  So that when it comes to the stage when children may be accessing porn, it comes up as every day conversation” which I firmly believe; when bringing up my children I want them to always feel that they have all the information they need and they can discuss anything they want to with me and my partner.  I don’t want to have ‘The Talk’ I just want open and frank discussion with my family whenever it feels relevant.  

What do you think of pornography?  Do you watch it?  What about Feminist porn?
Comment below, tweet me @MyFeministLife or email me at myfeministlife@gmail.com 

No comments:

Post a Comment