To porn or not to porn

“You’re such a good friend Abha.” A male friend texted me many years ago. “It can get lonely in a hostel. And I don’t really fit in here

“Why?” I texted back. It was late at night and I’d met this guy through Facebook. We had quite a few friends in common and it seemed like a good idea to chat.

“Just….the guys out here are weird. I don’t really like them.” He said.

“What do you mean? Haven’t you made any friends?” I wrote.

“I have!” He hesitated. “But I don’t really understand their way of life. Like, I like to watch Friends during my downtime and they like to….”

“They like to…???”

“Well they like to watch Porn. And it gets really awkward.”

“Oh.” I didn’t know what to say so I took a few seconds. “I’m sorry” I said. Poor guy. He probably liked to do debates or play football and here he was, stuck for the next five years in a place full of raging hormones.

Over the next few weeks I tried getting to know him. We talked every once in a while but becoming friends was hard because he would keep bringing up porn apropos of nothing. Quite often he’d tell me he was taking a walk outside, not wanting to hear the sounds of moans and squeals and grunts in his room.

“My roommate is never off his computer.” He said. “Yesterday I walked in on him masturbating”.

“Can’t you go anywhere else?” I asked.

“No. Everyone’s doing it. There’s not a single guy who is not doing that.”

I sympathised and suggested other things he could do to get out of that space. I asked him questions about himself to keep his mind off of things, but he’d somehow circle back to it. In fact, I started becoming a little suspicious.

“I’m so sorry Abha.” He texted one day. “I don’t want to lose you as a friend. But there’s something I want to tell you.”

“Oh god, what? What happened?” I immediately responded.

“I haven’t been completely honest. I said everybody watches porn here. But the truth is- I watch it too. I wanted you to think I was a better guy. But I like doing it.”

“Oh” I replied. That’s why he wouldn’t stop talking about it. For weeks I’d heard him whingeing about how he hated porn and now it turned out he was quite into it. “That’s OK” I rallied a bit. I didn’t want to seem judgemental. “It’s normal. You can watch it but I don’t think we need to talk about it”.

“Do girls like to watch Porn?” He asked.

“I’ve no idea”. I said, shortly. And as far as I was concerned, the subject was closed.

He wouldn’t take the hint though. I couldn’t tell if he was genuinely distressed or just having me on. Countless texts about the same thing. It was non-stop. He’d use words like ‘porn’, ‘masturbation’, and ‘sex’ a lot. I was patient for a while but I finally had to ask him what he wanted me to do about it. After a lot of wrangling, he confessed.

“Abha I’m sorry. You’re going to get mad at me.” He wrote. “I watch Porn a lot. I watched it today and ended up thinking about you and masturbated all over the sheets and I had to clean it up.”

I was absolutely speechless. It suddenly hit me that this was his way of coming on to me. I’d never given him any signals and I’d only wanted to be polite. I had tried sincerely to be a friend and hadn’t humiliated him about his predilection. I was trying to be an adult. Sex wasn’t a big deal if men and women could talk about it openly. But my healthy attitude was in tatters and I was absolutely furious with myself. Why didn’t I pick up on the fact that if a guy watches porn all the time, he’s not really going to know how to talk to women?

It was interesting because I’d watched Porn a couple of times myself. When did I watch it for the first time? When I was 16. Did I think it was fun? Sure. Did I enjoy it? In the beginning when it was a novelty, yes, but it was wearing off. I knew it was taboo and there was a lot of nudity so that was pretty much the extent of my interest. I’d never seen a penis before and this seemed like a good way to get a peek at it.

But I felt a growing sense of disgust and distrust. Disgust because I was watching something private as if someone were taking a pee or clipping nose hair and I was ogling. I had to ask myself something I didn’t really want to. Why did I want to watch other people do it? There was no story here. No human connection. No emotion. There was a car, a dungeon or a bedroom and two people were doing it. Sometimes there were three. Sometimes it looked like the the entire State of Delaware was doing it in the back of a van.

Was this what pleasure was supposed to feel like? Something intimate that had no intimacy? I never imagined that sex could get so dull. As if you could do it on autopilot. Take the car to the mechanic, get the plumbing fixed, make a sandwich, pick up the dry-cleaning…oh wait. I forgot. Fuck a MILF.

The growing distrust was because there was something quite cynical about the way they made Porn. They didn’t really need to be creative. They knew as long as it had sex, people would come and watch it. The more extreme the sex, the higher the views. It’s the same principle that erotica is based on. There doesn’t need to be any art. As long as there’s lots of fucking, people don’t care what they’re watching. Tired of seeing the same thing in books and movies, all of which lacked finesse, depth and reason, I undertook the task of researching Porn. A quick look on the internet revealed that the Porn industry was worth 15 Billion Dollars. When I dug deeper I found that India was the 3rd highest country of porn-viewers. It started dawning on me that there have been others before me, who share this moment of horrified realisation with me, that every new generation that discovers porn grows up believing it’s normal. The state of Sex Ed in most countries is so poor that this is our only introduction to sex. Can you image if that’s what a 11 year old boy saw today? Bald vaginas, ball gags and blow jobs?

Kids with such warped views grow up to be the men in that fraternity march at Yale:

Yes Means No! No means Anal! 

Where did they get that from? Not from their Mammas, that’s for sure. Probably an online capitalist venture that commercialises sex and refuses to teach consent.

When I was still in law school, I worked with a Non-Profit that was teaching Sex Ed to school children. It also provided legal support to victims of child sexual abuse. In India four children are abused every hour. Why was this happening? The head of the team gave an unequivocal response.”It’s got a lot to do with little information about healthy sex and far too much exposure to Porn”. India is home to the highest number of sexually abused children in the world.

“I’ve had a case where a teenager raped a 5 year old.” She told me. “He’d inserted a light bulb  into her vagina.” I was stunned. Where did the boy learn to do such a thing?  After 20 years in the field, she sounded resigned. “Young boys and girls don’t know the difference between Porn and Real Sex. He probably saw something online. He isn’t sexually deviant. Society is sexually deviant. Kids haven’t grown up on love, respect and compassion. They’ve grown up on instant gratification and dehumanisation of gender relations”

Here are some quick facts about Porn I tweeted in 2017:

If you go on to Quora, you’ll find a story about a guy from Ohio State University in 1987 who was late for a business meeting and walked into the wrong room. There was a porn shoot going on. Two women were having sex. One of them was heavily pregnant. The guy apologised and the Director asked him to shut the door on his way out. The pregnant woman’s water broke. The Director said there was no need to take her to the hospital. The guy offered to help carry her along with some of the cameramen and to help with the birth. The guy felt his way inside the birth canal to see where the baby was. Then he saw the other woman masturbating to the child-birth. The Director was eating Cheerios in a corner. That’s when the guy lost it. He was so nauseated by the whole thing, he walked out of the room. He said it was the worst thing he’d ever seen in his life. Quite macabre isn’t it?

When I tweeted in 2017 about Porn and what it does to the human brain, I had not predicted the reaction I’d get. I was doing it because I wanted people to be self-aware. I received hundreds of tweets from girls, some as young as 10, thanking me for talking about something that they could not understand but knew that boys were obsessed with. A 15 year old said to me “My boyfriend doesn’t stop watching it. Even when I’m talking to him. I don’t know what to do?“. A 21 year old said “When we’re having sex he keeps porn going on in the background. I’m not sure he even knows that I’m there.” There were activists and social workers and women with doctorates in gender studies who lauded me for talking about Porn.

Then. Came. The. Porn. Brigade.

They thought I’d declared war on Porn. Boys, girls, kids from my generation, viciously attacked me for expressing concern over Porn.

I’m going to call out your bullshit. Porn is for entertainment and no one’s going to tell me what it does no matter what the science says.

-Business graduate

She’s banning porn. Some women like being treated badly. She’s trying to shame women who have fetishes.

-Female stand-up comedian

When I said that I wasn’t really giving an opinion, but actually basing it off of research that had been around for decades, one woman sounded particularly disturbed:

What’s your source? I need a source. I don’t believe it. Don’t make stuff up!

-Medical student

When I talked about how 75% of women cannot reach orgasm which is not what they show in porn, I got even more aggravated tweets.

That’s not true. If you don’t believe it I could make you come with my fingers

-Mechanic

Stop spreading lies! Porn prevents rape! If men can watch it then they won’t do it! You c**t!

-Disc Jockey

And the icing on the cake was this comment on my YouTube channel, where I talk regularly about fighting rape culture.

She should be raped. If there’s someone who deserves to be raped, it’s her

-Anonymous

I’d had enough. There were people much older than me who had shared their wisdom and people much younger who had shared their worries. But my own peers, they were outraged. Porn has side-effects? You’re asking us to be accountable for our mental health when we watch Porn? You have a degree in law and a background in women and child rights? We’ll get you, b**ch.

Is the point to ban porn? No. When the Indian government made a ruling to ban porn sites, I wasn’t in favour. Our government is trying to put a band-aid on a knife wound. It wants a quick-fix, not a systemic change. The problem is Sex Education. The problem is Consent. The problem is Awareness. It is not porn itself, but choosing to watch it without knowledge that is the problem. There are questions we need to ask. How is Porn made? How does it affect me? How does it impact my sex life? How does it alter my perspective on men/women? Would I want my kids to watch this? Is hardcore BDSM the same as regular sex? Am I using Porn as a substitute for connection/intimacy/pleasure/love? Am I wasting too much time watching this instead of finishing a report/doing yoga/meeting a friend/reading a book/finding a partner/travelling to a new place or simply taking some time for self-care?

If you want to know what’s going on, it’s there. It’s all there. Studies, surveys and real life accounts, they’re hiding in plain sight. All you have to do is switch on that computer, open the search bar and type in the keywords. I could ask you to read this article and maybe, open the door to that conversation. The one that you’re going to have a couple of years down the line with your kids when you try to explain that there are some things on the internet that may not be real.

But you probably don’t have time for that, do you? You need to do more important things in life, right? Like jerking off?

I’d hate to get in the way of that. Please, carry on.

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4 Comments

  1. Manu Adams says:

    You have raised some very valid points in the post. I have to totally agree with you. Pornography develops unhealthy and unrealistic approach towards sex. But the topic needs a lot of research. Hope your blog provides a good insight into it.

  2. Abby says:

    I did do a lot of research into it actually. The problem is people confuse awareness about porn with restrictions on exploring your sexuality. They’re two very different things, but the moment you talk about bringing awareness, there will always be people up in arms. Hope you got the insight you wanted. Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Draven Reign says:

    Thank you for this post. Very helpful and informative one

    1. Abby says:

      I’m glad you liked it.

Comments are closed.