"What would sexuality look like without porn?"

Academics Dr Sarah Ashton and Dr Meagan Tyler spoke to ABC Life about the role of online pornography in sex education and practices. 

Senior lecturer at RMIT Meagan Tyler says porn is increasingly seen as a "textbook" for sex and that's creating problems.

"Porn's the thing that everyone's looking at like it's normal, but it's not normal, we know it's not normal, it's completely manufactured," she says.

"[Porn] contains a lot of violence against women. It's terribly racist. If you look at mainstream porn, it's terribly misogynist.

"[Yet] pornography equals sex has become just such a cultural staple."

What about "ethical porn"?

So-called "ethical" or "feminist" porn is often positioned as a positive alternative to run of the mill misogynist and male-dominated pornography. But the bar for what constitutes ‘ethical’ porn is very low, and typically only refers to conditions of production, such as fair compensation and labour conditions, representation of diverse body types and sexualities, consent and authenticity.

The actual content in ‘ethical’ or ‘feminist’ porn may be indistinguishable from violent and abusive mainstream porn. Rather than showcasing more egalitarian or non-violent content, degradation and acts of physical violence against women such as slapping, gagging and strangulation are still found in ‘ethical’ porn. Does this sound all that ethical? And if ethical porn truly exists, is anyone interested in watching it?

It's not easy to verify how the porn you're watching was made, especially if you're not paying anyone for it. And Dr Ashton says some people "turn off" their ethics and moral thoughts when they're engaged with porn.

"It may not be something that people are aware that the content that you're actually consuming when you masturbate, and when you're experiencing sexual pleasure, that's actually pairing with a reward in your brain that will reinforce what you're aroused to, and the sort of things that you associate with your sexuality, it actually has quite a profound impact," she says.

Dr Meagan Tyler told ABC that porn has become normalised in our society, and that the demand for "ethical porn" was part of that.

"Why is [there a] desperation for there to be an ethical porn, rather than the question of what would sexuality look like without pornography now?" she says.

"It's not food, it's not water, it's not air, it's not exercise.

"In a post-Me Too era, if we're really talking about sharing equal sexual relations between men and women, I cannot see the pornography industry is part of that.

"You can't say you're pro-Me Too, and you're pro women's consent, and then still go and masturbate to material that fundamentally subordinates women."

Read the full article on ABC Life. 

See also:

What's the problem with porn? Collective Shout respond to common pro-porn arguments- Collective Shout

Triple J week-long promotion for sex industry harms women and girls- Collective Shout

 


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