I try to be an ethical person; I don’t eat meat, I don’t drive a car, and sometimes I even forgot the convenience of self-service checkouts at the supermarket to give checkout workers some human interaction. These aren’t always easy choices, but the ethical outcomes are usually obvious.
I wish I could say the same about my porn watching habits.
I don’t consume a huge amount of porn, but it’s enough to make me feel guilty. Not for any obvious, puritanical reasons – I certainly don’t think each consecutive sequel in the College Jocks Go Wild series is bringing us one step closer to hell – but I do think there’s a lot wrong with porn.
For a start, in terms of ethical practices, it isn’t a great industry to be giving your money to, be it through purchase or advertising views online. In a much more direct sense, it’s difficult for me to look at the way porn does sex and not wonder how it might be affecting my own attitudes to sex, to sex appeal and even to relationships.
Just like an ad for a Snickers bar might make me feel like eating a Snickers bar, porn probably helps shape the kind guys I’m attracted to and the kind of sex I want in a gay culture tough on anyone who doesn’t fit the ideal. It might sound obvious, but it has to be said: real sex isn’t like porn sex and most guys don’t look like porn stars.
Reading recently about entrepreneur Cindy Gallop’s amateur porn tube initiativeB got me thinking about this stuff. Gallop describes herself as “pro-porn, pro-sex and pro-knowing the difference”. As a way to show people that sex isn’t just what you see on the internet it sounds good, but I wonder if it’s missing the point.
Yes, in some broad sense I think sex positivity is a good thing. But being sex-positive shouldn’t stop us from being critical and ethical, which is how I decided to reduce my impact on the environment and become vegetarian.
The environment is one thing, but when it comes to porn, I wonder if there’s much worth saving.
INFO: You read more by Benjamin Riley at SouthpawSlug.