Words || Georgia Davies
When Terry Crews comes forward with something you know it’s time to listen. In my opinion, Crews embodies all that is wholesome about Hollywood: he was a figure in the #MeToo movement, he plays outstanding comedic characters and overall fights for the rights of others. However, he has been honest and open about something that isn’t as wholesome. This is the forbidden world of porn addiction.
In a world where we are constantly surrounded by screens, it is easy to see how sex has become one of the first things to be replaced. Why deal with something unsatisfactory when we can find exactly what we want online? It remains a commentary on our digital generation, that our tastes are shaped and determined by what we can find online. The worldwide porn industry is worth nearly five billion dollars per year. This mass consumerism effort caters for its audience; promising wilder, more dangerous sexual encounters which cannot be recreated beyond the screen.
Porn in and of itself is not the problem, rather it is the preference of porn over the realities of real sex. It is important for us to discuss and motivate young people to feel things in reality and not just online and that may be the most important step to combatting this growing addiction. It is easier said than done to tear yourself away from the screen, away from an ideal that feels built for you. Yet, it is essential for greater education to be provided about the dangers of porn.
The solution? Many seem to call for more realistic porn tropes or for greater security controls for young people. The simple answer is perhaps more nuanced than this.
To educate young people is to explain what the reality of sex is. From as far back as the Victorian era when it was purported that English art critic John Ruskin could not sleep with his wife because he could not bear the sight of her pubic hair, ideas about sexuality and bodies have been misrepresented and misconstrued. This tells us that sexual health is mental as well as physical and that we cannot separate physicality from our mind’s idea of sex. Consistently, representation has had a real-life impact on sexuality and what people find attractive. Just think of the advent of the full Brazilian wax from the 1980s onwards.
With porn addiction, the problem is not just about sexual tastes, it could mean the end of sex as we know it. As tastes form into unrealistic standards – not even the most picture perfect person can recreate what happens on a closed set – physical symptoms will follow. We have an endemic of people unable to ‘finish’ during sex, unable to feel relaxed with their partner.
There is an elephant in the room concerning gender. In 2014, the Huffington Post collated studies which found that men are 543% more likely to look at porn than women. For equality’s sake either women should watch more porn or men should watch less. Here, leaning towards less may be for the best. Whilst porn as an art-form and a form of pop culture should not be censored, it should not be seen as a replacement to real life.
It is the failure of our sex education system in Australia that makes this worse. Nobody tells you that stretch marks are common, or that boobs may point in different directions or that penises do point to different angles. These are things that are discovered by doing, rather than seeing. As long as porn perpetuates an unreal ideal, porn addiction will continue having a devastating effect on people’s romantic lives.
The moral of the story? Porn addiction is a real and present danger in the lives of the digitally-minded today. In a world where screen time is necessary for success, it is essential that we educate people about the dangers of living in an unreal world, beginning at secondary education. It is, after all, more important than ever that we recognise that sexual health is mental as well as physical. And our minds are just as important as our bodies when we’re looking to get down to it…