The article is based around a project set up by Matt McCormack Evans called the AntiPornMenProject but draws on a range of literature out there about the damaging effect porn has on men. Most recently it has been Gail Dines’s Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality which was published earlier in the year.
I don’t think I’m an alarmist (or prudish), but the mainstreaming of hardcore pornography does concern me. I’m quite sure most men can make the separation between the real life women they are intimate with and what they are seeing on their screen. However I also think that it is almost impossible to watch this sort of stuff without it having some sort of effect. As the article in The Age says:
One obvious problem for many porn users is the conflict between their stated belief in equality and respect for women, and the material they’re watching in private. McCormack Evans says he used to exist in a ”kind of double consciousness. For that half hour when I was watching porn I thought, ‘This is separate from my life, it won’t affect how I view the world.’ But then I realised it did.”
It can also leave porn consumers with sexual scripts and images they can’t forget, and can’t resist calling to mind during sex. Dines reflects on this in Pornland, in her encounter with ”Dan”, who is worried about his sexual performance with women, and tells her: ”I can’t get the pictures of anal sex out of my head when having sex, and I am not really focusing on the girl but on the last anal scene I watched … I started looking at porn before I had sex, so porn is pretty much how I learned about sex.”
It would also seem that porn getting rougher and more degrading. I brought this up with some of my male friends recently who denied it initially but did admit that they were increasingly coming across porn that they were uncomfortable with because of how degrading it was. However there was also a sense that porn was always like that – something I’m not so sure about.
One thing I’m hearing more often to justify the use of porn is “the desire to watch naked women having sex is totally natural and therefore shouldn’t be judged.” It’s an attitude that really bothers me. We judge should and do judge people that commit non-consensual and aggressive acts – sexual or otherwise. I’m certainly not implying that people that watch porn are committing such acts but the notion that you can’t judge such desires clearly does not stand the test of logic.
Whatever its effect, it’s an extremely complex issue. But the mainstreaming of porn doesn’t seem to have lead to much constructive discussion around its effect. There will always be a lucrative market for porn – that’s the side effect of all the things I love about the Internet. So what is vital is that we start talking about it; start talking about the effect this sort of imagery has on men and their attitudes towards women and sex.
I’m adding the AntiPornMenProject to my RSS feeds and I hope you do to.