There I was, flipping idly through the channels of my hotel TV, past the American sitcoms, past the shopping channels, and suddenly I’m in a netherworld of horrible plastic bumping and humping. The XXX channels.

Look, I’m a writer. I’m not going to shriek and flip the TV off instantly. So I watched for as long as I could manage. Which was about thirty seconds. And then I turned it off, feeling genuinely queasy.

I always wonder why the anti-porn lobby doesn’t make more noise. Apparently, between 60 and 90 percent of under-16s view hardcore online porn occasionally to frequently, and the single largest group of internet porn consumers is reported to be children aged 12 to 17.  Which is bad enough on its own, but far worse when linked with stratospheric rises in: teenage girls posting homemade porn online, violence perpetrated by teen boys on their girlfriends, demand for genital cosmetic surgery, sexual desensitisation, a market for ever more extreme images and — as with drug use — addiction.

I won’t even start about the women making the stuff. Don’t tell me it’s because they find it empowering.

It’s hard to come out against pornography without sounding like a spoilsport. But a GP friend told me she’s seeing more and more teenage girls in her surgery covered with bruises from sexual violence they take for granted. “They’ve come to see me about other things,” she said, “and seem surprised and irritated when I ask about the evidence of abuse.”

A girl’s secondary school across the street in North London asked me to come in and talk about my male characters. “It’s a revelation to them that boys aren’t always abusive and macho,” the librarian told me.

One of the worst things about porn is how phoney it is. Which means that the kids watching it, most of whom have had almost no previous experience of real sex, are learning from a freakily distorted template. Like figuring out what you should look like from the manipulated models on magazine covers. (Watch this, if you haven’t seen it. Brilliant.)

I turned the TV off pretty quickly but I can’t get that plastic woman with the fake boobs doing an imitation of a frenetic wind-up toy out of my mind.

More evidence that God is a teenage boy. Like we needed it.

55

14 thoughts on “Pornography sucks.

  1. Lauren 5 years ago

    I’m so with you on this. And, yes, I hate to sound like a prude. I’m all for sex and diversity and whatnot. But I think porn is made primarily for men, and specifically for men who seem to have a grudge against women. It’s all punishment and humiliation, which, if I can psychoanalyze from afar, is merely an attempt to overcome their own feelings of punishment and humiliation from the vast hordes of women who don’t want them. Also, I fear that the easy availability and ubiquity of it is severely desensitizing people (especially men) to the pleasures of old fashioned intimacy. It used to be a rare event for a man to see a woman naked. Now that you can simply Google one (or hundreds) onto your laptop, they need to see her humiliated too. Progress? I don’t think so. Empowerment? Give me a break.

  2. ellie grogan 5 years ago

    Meg I am soo with you on this – what do we do – two thoughts occur- 1) A media/relationship package for schools. 2) a gender class action on the grounds of contravention of Human Rights/Sex Discrimination Law as well as incitement to violence and hatred of women.

  3. Antony John 5 years ago

    Brilliant post (as always). I hadn’t realized that 12-17 y.o. boys were the largest consumers of internet porn, but it doesn’t surprise me either. And I agree with Lauren and ellie that we need some kind of call to arms on this topic. At the very least, male authors need to present this for what it is–not as a humorous coming-of-age ritual for teen boys, but as disturbingly unhealthy habit with potentially horrifying ramifications. As the librarian told you, Meg, positive depictions of teenage boys can help too.

  4. YJ Riverstone 5 years ago

    Speaking from a 14 year olds point of veiw:
    boys in my year disgust me, when they use the fact that they watch porn to show off to other boys, and make them look more man.
    I have been told to watch porn occasionally, (never have of course!) but i’ve never seen the appeal. I think it is to make them look bigger in front of other boys??

    1. Meg Rosoff 5 years ago

      Thanks for that, YJ. It’s a difficult subject, and one my generation didn’t have to deal with. I don’t envy you.

  5. Phoenix Song 5 years ago

    I really can’t believe that statistic. I am 14 (female) and think- like you- it is vile and I don’t see what people see in it. Well I do, that’s sort of the point.
    I have never seen any porn videos in my life. I think that is something of an achievement with the huge Internet we have now.
    I know there are some idiots that think it’s cool, but I like to think of sex as something of love and passion than something to do and show everyone.
    It’s not exactly something to put on a normal job CV.
    I am in the same school as YJ Riverstone and will agree that most of the boys are idiots that would just watch it and want a girlfriend for that purpose. Then they think women are objects.
    What is the world coming to? We have rights granted to us but we still seem to not have as much authority.
    I’m really confused…

    1. Meg Rosoff 5 years ago

      You’re not the only one who’s confused, Phoenix. But actually, you sound like you have an amazingly clear grasp of what’s important, and a good deal of immunity to crowd mentality. So that makes you less confused than about 95% of humanity. Congratulations.

    2. YJ Riverstone 5 years ago

      Ah Phoenix, i should’ve known you would have a sophisticated answer to produce. I think it is sad that some girls are seen as sex-objects rather than who they really are!

  6. Maxine Moss 5 years ago

    thank you thank you thank you. You are so so right. It has a LOT to answer for. So so much. It destroys marriages as well as devaluing a natural process in the young minds around. My daughter is 10. just 10. And she sniggered when we told her the name of a chess piece was a ‘pawn’. ‘That’s rude’ she said. She had no idea why it was rude or what it meant. But it made me shiver that she even knew or had heard the word when she’s not even left primary school yet.
    Also, many young teenage girls think it’s weird to have pubic hair. Teenage boys often expect girls to not have it and are repulsed if they find out that girls do.

    1. Meg Rosoff 5 years ago

      Christ, don’t get me started on pubic hair. I must read Caitlin Moran. I hear she’s quite good on the subject…..

  7. Tony 5 years ago

    That Dove film is amazing. Still don’t like their soap, however – it may make you nice and soft, but it’s rubbish at getting you clean.
    Its actually pretty easy to block porn on a computer. Trouble is, if you’ve written a book called, say, the Bare Bum Gang, you can’t then look up your Amazon sales rank …

  8. Sara O'Leary 5 years ago

    Ali Smith’s fantastic novel The Accidental has a great bit about a teenage boy who having grown up on a diet of internet porn is as shocked by his first sight of female pubic hair as poor old Ruskin was rumoured to be.
    Spoilsports unite! I say. I’m with the Irish farmer who didn’t want Rhianna shaking her tatas on his land – there’s a point to be made that with so little left to the imagination these days, the imagination just needs to find new taboo paths to travel.

  9. Briony 5 years ago

    I think you’re so right that it warps peoples’ perspectives hugely – and what’s even more worrying is there seems to be generation of girls growing up who do believe it’s empowering. I have a younger sister who is 13 and one of her friends aims to be a playboy model when she grows up (god help her) and lots of girls seem to think this kind of thing is glamourous and they reiterate the old ‘well, anyone who doesn’t think so is unattractive and jealous’. Stuff like playboy stationary/merchandise markets that industry at kids before they’re 5 and naturalises the whole thing.
    I think it’s kind of sad that my reaction when my long term partner said he wasn’t interested in pornography because it was fake and essentially ridiculous, definitely not at all ‘sexy’ was one of surprise because of the attitude of so many men to the subject.

  10. Pingback: OK, that’s it. We’re having the body hair conversation. | Meg Rosoff

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