Our Chief Article Writer Brittany Sutcliffe shares her thoughts on the ‘realness’ of porn.

Very recently, a news story called “porn is a public health crisis” was published for 1 NEWS NOW. I know I shouldn’t laugh, okay, it’s a serious topic. But c’mon. How do you ever watch “eating fruit loops out of Roxy Raye’s gaping booty hole” and go “I just don’t get why my girlfriend won’t do that with me???”. I’m going to say something that I think is a no-brainer, which can come off as cocky or arrogant but to quite honest, there’s no reassurance like experience. I can’t help but think that individuals who watch porn and their expectations about sex wouldn’t be as warped as health professionals and psychologists claim, if only we allowed the topic to be taught in schools. The only real argument against this that I’m happy to validate is the one where parents fear their kids are being informed about something that they otherwise wouldn’t necessarily know about. I can understand that, just look at the 1982 “Just Say No” campaign for drugs, it got the message across loud and clear but refusing to discuss the risks and the real reasons for denying substances was never there. It encouraged fear and ignorance instead of information. Just like drugs, porn is a complicated topic. It’s one thing to gain awareness and cover the topic briefly, but that awareness needs to stick on to something, a valid reason for them to look at porn critically, not just because we tell them to.17407748_10155086731168374_2077486903_o

Discussions I’ve had with guy friends recently have consisted of reminiscing about year 8/9 XBox conversations; “You coming out in a bit mate?”, “yeah just going to have a wank first”, “wahey LADS LADS LADS”. Or something. The majority of the detrimental health effects of porn are affecting men, from erectile dysfunction where they aren’t turned on by reality or through their mistreatment of women. Whilst the extent of the effects of porn on men are surprising, I’m not too surprised it’s “cum” to this (sorry) when you consider how comfortable the boys I knew were allowed to be. If you weren’t watching porn, your mates definitely were. So normalised amongst them and yet girls couldn’t be like that. A female friend would sheepishly ask, “have any of you guys masturbated?” and one friend would immediately pipe up and go, “eurgh no!”. End of discussion. Referencing more articles here, one that discusses research on how men of all sexualities orgasm more than women of all sexualities, statistically speaking. So on one hand, we have complete social acceptance of the use of porn to get a percentage of our population off but a “health crisis” on overreliance. On the other, there’s no pre-existing place for discussion and an “orgasm gap” for the rest. Where’s the middle ground then?

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I kept watching videos but even that wasn’t enough to make me put two and two together and question why things were different. I speculate that it’s because I never recognised it as a problem. I figure my logic then was that “well, if other girls are going through the same thing, then why has no one spoken about it?”, assuming along with many others that perhaps being able to finish just wasn’t that big of a deal, not when it’s “so much hassle”. I never argued back in that conversation with my friends either because, to tell the truth, my only knowledge came from online articles and magazines, not from a celeb role model. I guess what kept me going was curiosity, I was never told I was allowed to enjoy myself but I found porn and took that as “well I was never told I couldn’t either”. The fact that that’s some big feminist revelation these days just makes me laugh. I’ve been accidentally supporting the movement since I was 13.

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I never once watched porn and thought “this is realistic, this is real life, I want sex to be like this”. As a result, I probably didn’t get as lost in it as some of the boys I knew but I still managed to enjoy it. I also never felt depreciated, “like a piece of meat” or even sorry for the girls in the movie, no matter how rough things got on their end (although abuse in the industry is a different topic altogether). If I know that sex isn’t really like that, then I can see it for what it is, a reference point to get myself off, to jog a few memories or to entertain a daydream, a temporary pleasure and not something to rely on or base my entire sexual experience on. Porn’s also taught me that you can never plan a certain type of sex. You can’t follow a video like a YouTube tutorial and expect to be screaming like a howler monkey. That’s because sex is more in the head than it is in the body. How you feel in that moment determines your happy ending, not because you inserted flap A into slot B and made a fake noise.

The fact that we can’t acknowledge that in our education system just astounds me. When I can enjoy myself as much as boys my age could without getting swept up in the habit, then we know a middle ground exists. We can halt the detrimental effects on men and women could have a chance to be just as open but I think we need that voice from a school first. Not necessarily in the same depth of information that I’m pooling from, but it’s a starting block. To get people to ask questions face-to-face with the confidence of an organisational body. Yes, it’s hard to find the right words in that discussion and it’s going to be a pain to get everyone to sign off on it but the alternative is the internet. Whilst it had its uses for me, there’s still a communication barrier between multiple parties that we need to disband first.

Words by Brittany Sutcliffe, Illustrations by Sveinn Snær Kristjánsson