The UK porn block completely misses the point – but we do need to talk about pornography

Clara Kelly

The UK porn block may have been dismissed, but the topic of pornography protection shouldn’t be removed from the public sphere just yet. Especially in a country with a history like Ireland’s.

Ireland’s deep-seated Catholic roots means that the discussion of sex and pornography is a very recent one. Only in recent years as the church’s grip on the country loosened, have people felt comfortable enough to openly have these types of conversations.

Still, openly talking about such things will always bear a certain stigma. Simply put, such a rich history of sexual shaming, cannot be completely eroded in a matter of mere years.

This can be a dangerous combination, as although Irish people are still avoiding the discussions, we as a whole, are watching porn more than ever before.

When you contrast a country with an obvious lack of sexual education in schools, with a rise in the consumption of this type of content, the outcome can be bleak. 

While porn can be a positive thing, it certainly has it’s fair share of problems, and young people learning about sex through it is a big one.

According to the 2018 SMART consent survey by NUI Galway, more than 53 per cent of boys in Ireland first watched porn under the age of 13. 

Meanwhile, research from a Nohilly and Farrelly 2017 report found that although teachers would like to have more time to teach sex education, the subject is treated as a low priority, with exam subjects often taking precedence.

Teachers expressed that they feel that the sensitive nature of the topic impacted this, alongside their own feelings of not being adequately trained. Creating a culture where for a lot of kids, pornography is the easy option when it comes to sexual ‘education’.

Especially LGBT+ students as the current school system completely disregard any sexuality except for heterosexuality. This combined with the fact that often these kids cannot simply go to their parents for the information they need, becomes hugely problematic. 

It can sometimes feel as if anyone who mentions the degradation of women, or flaws within the porn industry, is seen as prudish or anti-sex positivity. However, this is simply not the case.

Acknowledging the downfalls by no means correlates to shaming participants, viewers, or sex workers of any kind. It simply means, starting a very necessary discussion.

Porn is a damaging first source of sexual discovery as it would have us all believe that STDs don’t exist and therefore neither do condoms, it’s never painful to skip foreplay and women will always be overjoyed when you initiate rough sex without prior consent. 

The lack of realism can make real sex where everything is not as dramatic or seamless, seem boring by comparison which can create real issues in modern relationships. 

The lack of representation can also contribute as the idyllic proportions we see in porn, are very rarely true to life.

Producers of porn sites acknowledge that the industry oftentimes relies on and even thrives on taboos such as incest and forceful sex. Which for obvious reasons, can be equally troublesome.

However, the solution isn’t as simple as a porn ban, hence why the UK’s concept never actually became a reality. 

While it has definite positives, like stricter age monitoring, there will always be ways to surpass those, and if anything may actually increase the risk of children reaching for even darker content on the dark web.

There is no quick fix, but the best option is to educate children early, teach them about real sex in all its forms. And, for adults to reach for sites which show real couples having mutually enjoyable and consensual sex.

Clara Kelly

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