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Turned off by porn: am I alone?

Sex sells, it is undeniable. It is everywhere, as are attempts to seduce. Adverts selling us food are designed to make us drool (I’m looking at you M&S). Shops sell shorts so short they give girls half moons – no one wants to see that much arse. Admittedly, some of these selling techniques work on me – I’ll dream of M&S food and wish regularly for new underwear, for instance. Research for this article led me to Calvin Klein – the worldwide brand that encourages its logo at the top of boxers to be shown across our society. But pornography has never done it for me. At university I soon found myself wondering why this was – and whether I was alone.

I remember a time in my first year of university that eduroam in halls blocked pornography. Dismay among my housemates, me indifferent. Up until that point I had never watched porn. Never tried to, never wanted to. I remained a virgin, albeit one who wanted to have sex, but porn was never something I thought of satisfying me. Two (or more) individuals who I didn’t care for – sex in my beloved literature was something I felt very differently about – just going at it for the sake of it? No thanks.

My housemate devised the genius solution of accessing porn on his phone – problem solved, thank God. I just didn’t understand the obsession I guess. I felt strange that I didn’t seem to be like everyone else. Porn seemed to be everywhere. Pornhub, one of the biggest sites in the UK, identified a town not far from me at home that had more demand for porn than anywhere else in the UK. Residents of Ware, Hertfordshire, can’t get enough porn it seems. Pornhub received 111 million visits in 2013. We like to watch people go at it, it seems. But not me. I have sat through a few seconds of porn in my time – before I gave up. Watching someone else have quick, painful sex didn’t sound like my idea of fun. Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton’s infamous sex tapes aren’t on my ‘to-view’ list. Why should they be? I don’t want to watch them fuck, thanks very much. Don’t get me wrong. Sex is great. But my own pleasure is more important to me than watching someone else get theirs, I guess I’m just selfish like that.

I found other ways aside from watching sex to enjoy it. Sex is attractive to me, porn isn’t. I have read countless sex scenes in books in my time – some terrible, some lust worthy. Atonement by Ian McEwan was a particular favourite, as was Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (a text I read for English A-Level…it was educational in more ways than one). I didn’t bother reading 50 Shades of Grey, even when it was everyone’s guilty pleasure at school. Sex managed to get Lady Chatterly’s Lover banned in 1928 – it was an instant sell out after it went on sale again in 1960. So Britain loves sex –the most searched term on Pornhub in the UK in 2013 was ‘British’. The British don’t like our porn from anywhere else but home, evidently. Perhaps my views on porn will change.

I think the main reason that I have never been interested in porn is the idea of those who participate in it. Children come across porn far too easily. ChildLine recently discovered that children in Manchester, as young as 12, have seen porn, and some have even made sexually explicit videos. I know I wasn’t thinking about porn when I was 12. Sex and porn are not the same. I find porn almost grotesque. We shouldn’t be teaching the next generation about sex in this way. The embarrassment that we call ‘sex education’ is totally inadequate, no wonder tweenagers are turning elsewhere. I was neither taught about relationships nor about pleasure from sex. Consent was given no consideration as it was just assumed to be there – not always the case. Porn cannot teach me about the pleasure that I myself can get from sex – only real sex can do that. Porn portrays people as objects, no matter who is dominant in the activity – something even I know from my outsider’s perspective. The porn industry isn’t a healthy one, no matter how much it pretends to be – porn stars such as Linda Lovelace are subject to abuse at the hands of their loved ones, and anti-pornography movements are rife. Feminist writers such as Germaine Greer wrote how the female sex organs are associated with derogatory slang – referencing the word ‘cunt’ as an example. Porn treats its individuals with no respect. And one of the basic elements of sex is respecting someone else’s body and their pleasure. Sex doesn’t make people objects – it should bring people closer together, or give them a unique connection.

Curiosity killed the cat, as the saying goes. Curiosity will probably get the better of me at some point. That said I can’t help but feel that the reality of sex, with its awkward moments and laughter, will always be the better alternative. Porn is an addiction for some individuals. University gives an uncomparable freedom from home life – and surrounds us with individuals of a similar nature. The odd one-night stand or a new relationship are far easier. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have sex. But a healthy relationship with it, which will differ for everyone, cannot be solely aided by porn. Porn damages real life perceptions of sex by blocking out reality – even if the user is aware that porn is not real. I feel numbed by porn and I doubt that I am alone.

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  • Different vices effect people in different ways. how can the author assume porn damages real life perceptions of sex without having experienced it firsthand. Wouldnt watching it be tallied down as research as is required by any self respecting journalist.

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