What is it?
Today, with hundreds of ways to communicate with someone online, and modern smart phones allowing us to communicate any time and any place we choose, pornography is largely found online and at one point or another, you might have seen it, by accident or on purpose.
Pornography is a common way for people to feel sexually stimulated and get satisfaction sexually through masturbation. Often, using pornography is seen as 'safer' than actual sex as there is no chance of getting an STI or resulting in pregnancy.
What are the problems?
Using pornography may be seen as a natural way to experiment sexually and find out what you like however, research has shown that higher use of pornography can create problems during 'real' sex.
It can create skewed ideas of sexual expectations (what we want and think is okay), relationships, body ideals and sexual appetites (what we like and don't like).
Pornography, although being sexual content and being so easily available, does not emulate the emotions and physical feelings that real sex does. It is not the same as real life sexual relationships. Some pornographic content is considered violent and subjective of women and creates insecurities in young men and women about their bodies. The Channel 4 programme 'Sex Education versus Pornography found this to be true as well:
- Upon showing pictures of ten pairs of breasts to a group of boys at a high school in Norfolk, all said the most attractive are the ones that have been surgically enhanced. Alarmingly, a posse of their female classmates said the same thing.
- One presenter of the programme said “Teenage boys told us that they feel very anxious about the size of their penises, because they're being influenced by porn”.
Recent research shows that it is possible to become addicted to using pornography, especially online, and that people who do become addicted can then have problems with real life sex and relationships. Above all, sex is about what you feel, what you enjoy and being comfortable with the other person. Being respectful to each other's needs and only doing what feels comfortable to you both is very important.
For help and advice about pornography, or if you are worried about yourself or someone else using pornography, the first step is to talk to someone you trust about what you are experiencing or you can visit a sexual health clinic. (click here to find a clinic near you) to chat in confidence to a sexual health nurse. You might feel a sense of shame or embarrassment about your addiction or habits but there are places you can go for advice and support:
Pornography and the law
Another serious problem about pornography can be that the content and the people in videos or pictures could be illegal or dangerous. If you come across anything that worries you or you think should not be online you can report anonymously through The Internet Watch Foundation or the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre:
Some pornography is illegal and making it, downloading it or watching it could get you into serious trouble with the law. For more information about the dangers and the laws around pornography please visit:
Sexual images or films showing under 18s are considered child pornography in the law. Anyone making, viewing, owning or sharing child pornography can be prosecuted and end upon the Sex Offenders Register. This includes young people.
If someone tries to force you into making pornographic pictures or films, this is sexual assault and the person can be charged. Forcing a young person, or persuading them do anything sexual against their will is sexual coercion. This is not your fault, it is against the law and you can do something about it.
- The NWG Network Charity launched a campaign called 'Say Something' in 2015. They provide a free, 24 hour, anonymous phone and SMS text message helpline to allow young people in Scotland to give information and seek support. This can be about things they see online or through their phones or in their day to day live. You can contact them on: 116000.
You can also visit us at Sexual Health Dumfries and Galloway to seek confidential advice and support for any of these issues. We are a reporting centre for hate crime, domestic abuse, assault and sexual coercion. For a list of third party reporting centres visit here
Link between Pornography and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Though it is true that there are a number of well-known Porn Stars, not everyone who takes part in a porn video may be an actor; some may have been trafficked into the sex industry.
When we think about it, Pornography (together with Prostitution and Sex Trafficking) is another cog in the Sexual Exploitation Industry. These three "industries" support one another by a supply and demand mechanism which originally is fuelled by a worldwide demand for "sexual services", which mainly comes from men.
In simple terms, this demand for sexual services triggers the need to recruit more people into the Prostitution and Pornography industries and the Sex Trafficking industry provides some of the women to satisfy this demand. At the same time, Pornography creates/promotes fantasies that some of the viewers would like to recreate and the Prostitution industry provides a space where these ideas and fantasies can become real.
These industries generate millions of Pounds in profits worldwide for the traffickers and the people running them. What is more, the current global culture provides a logic for these "industries" to continue operating and there will be people that initially will not see the harms these "industries" create until this is highlighted and exposed. Something very important to bear in mind is that if the original demand for "sexual services" disappeared, these industries would collapse and the exploitation and suffering of millions of women and girls would end.
Revenge porn is the sending or spreading of intimate sexual videos or pictures with the purpose of hurting, putting at risk or 'getting revenge' on a person. The images of videos are usually created within the relationship with consent from both partners, however, after a bad break up, fall out or separation of a relationship, someone might use the content against their partner/ ex partner.
This can be an extremely distressing situation for all involved, as the 'revenge porn' is often sent to close family members or friends of the person in the content, can publicly shame a person and make that person feel violated and betrayed.
Revenge porn is considered a serious offense in the UK and because it is usually carried out by a current or previous partner it is also considered as a form of domestic abuse in Scotland.
If someone has used your images without your consent or is threatening to use your images without your consent, you should tell the police. Don't be embarrassed - it's not your fault, it is a form of abuse and that person has no right to share your images.
If you are not willing to approach the police then there are places that can offer you support:
For young people:
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