I’ve been thinking about porn recently – more in a philosophic mood than in any salacious way. There’s just so much more of it about – on the net, and in the shops that seem to be springing up tumescently all over town, but also as references in mainstream TV and newspapers. What effect will that have on sexual habits and patterns?
I guess horny teenage boys have always managed to find something to look at, but there’s a difference between a smuggled Playboy or Penthouse (both much less explicit 20 years ago) and the kinds of extremely graphic videos and online content that those same curious hormone breweries will find when they go looking these days. And there’s some really nasty, degrading, misogynistic crap out there1.
Sure, not everyone feasts at the pornucopia, but enough do that lighting is likely to become a much more important feature of bedroom decor over the next few years. Porn is likely to change tastes and patterns – I guess couples pretty much used to make it up as they went along, and discover new things together, but it doesn’t take too many videos to spread out the whole smorgasbord (even the suspicious-looking chips and dip you don’t want to go anywhere near).
That’s likely to push some people from relatively benign kink into harmful perversion, but probably only a relatively small number. A larger effect is likely to be just jadedness: been there, done that, twice, with whipped cream and a rubber chicken.
Natasha Walter’s article in the Guardian reminds us of what we always knew – what is suggested is sexier than what is shown and, to paraphrase Einstein, “Imagination is more erotic than bondage”.
- How do I know this? Well, as science fiction writer Damon Knight (I think) said “What, you’ve never been inside an adult video store? Aren’t you at all curious about people?”