• Emily Ainscough

Let's Talk Porn.

TW: This post mentions dark themes that many readers will find upsetting. References to human trafficking, sexual violence, exploitation, pedophilia and the distribution of sexually explicit content without consent. No graphic details or descriptions included (if you read this far this trigger warning is pretty much as bad as it gets)


POV: It's 2122, the art of creating pornography is akin to cooking. Consenting adults are encouraged to obtain their preferred flavor of porn from a licensed non-profit organisation that is certified to only create and distribute content that is safe, above-board, accessible, sex-positive and secure. Like a chef wants a meal to be both yummy and nutritious, your sexy video/audio-book/pics/literature/whatever aims to be both intensely pleasurable and help you think about sex in a more inclusive way. Minorities are represented but not sexualised for their minority-defining-attribute, sexual appetites are catered for in a non-judgmental way that does not inherently abuse the rights of any individual, and the sexy superstore from which you obtained your slice of erotica also hosts classes and distributes literature on a variety of topics: 'How to talk to your kids about sex', 'Sexual development in an age appropriate way', 'How to be internet savvy and report non-certified content'. They also offer legal and practical advice for people suffering from sexual abuse and free therapy sessions for people affected by the pornography they have distributed. (Maybe you thought you'd mix things up this week and instead of ordering your usual 'lesbian sex on the ASDA escalators' you went for 'lesbian sex on the cheese counter' and are deeply regretting it... "I thought I was ready for it Doc, but I can't un-see it!") And on top of all that your content comes along with mandatory information and advice on how to make sure your funky kinks don't leak into the way you view real people in the real world.

Dream sequence over, by comparison, 2022 is a fucking minefield...literally(!) Right now we are living at a time in which more than ever our eyes are being opened to the horrors that are suffered to create the things that we consume. On the one hand that is wonderful, we are moving as a people towards a more compassionate homeostasis where we think more about where the things we buy and use have come from, and the evils that have been done under their name. On the other hand, it's incredibly overwhelming, because before we are able to make things better, this generation is baring the weight of being aware of what we are doing wrong. And that, for anyone with even a shred of empathy, is devastating. During the time between the two dates with the venerable vegan, I found myself really spun out. I was sat on my bed, looking around the room and realizing that I had no idea what has happened to create any of this stuff. The threads, the fabrics, the paints that make up my house, almost everything will have some dark stain on it's history of the suffering of people and living things. It was like I was looking around my house and the whole thing was soaked in blood (look, I warned you this wasn't going to be a fun one).

Okay, so let's bring this back, that state of shock, although completely understandable, isn't very useful. There's no point being too hard on yourself or just being so overwhelmed that you can't do anything anymore. I've learned that the best thing to do is not to judge yourself for living in this mess, but instead to piece by piece and little by little, never taking on more than you can bare, clean up some of the blood from the things that are the most important to you. Even if your whole life is a big dark splodge of unethical consumption, if you can go to bed with a little patch of clean to fix your eyes on, then there is hope. And, this being Sex Love and FND, today we're going to do a little Autumn clean of whatever you're searching on 'incognito mode' late at night! With no judgement and no shame, let's leave today knowing that we've wiped a little bit of blood off the porn industry, by taking ownership of what we consume.

It's a little easier for me to keep my porn clean. I am a lucky member of the demographic that has a penchant for written erotica. Actually seeing folk get funky is a bit too much for my sensitivities and when you're reading and imagining the rest then there is still a domain of control. (When you're watching porn the only control you have over it is whether or not to stop it, when you're reading it you have a little more control over what you allow to include in your imaginings and when you're just imagining you have complete authority over what happens... So choosing porn is really an exercise of boundary setting and risk assessment!) But as I was saying, it's easier to keep your porn on the sunny side of ethics when you're just reading it because there are no actual real bodies involved. At the very least what you can confidently assert when reading erotica is that you are not watching rape. (This is how low the bar is). Different appetites can fairly confidently explore their preferences with the knowledge that no actual harm has been done to real people to create that piece of writing. Of course there are still lots of other grey areas, but we'll get into that another time.

Now, it's a little harder for people who find that the written word just doesn't get them going. If the visual element is an important part of your sexual satisfaction then you've got to be a little more diligent with where you're buying your orgasms from (it might be free for you, but is somebody else paying the price?). There is no way that big companies in this day and age can insure that every video in their myriad is between consenting adults. There is just no way. They're the fast food of the virtual sex-shops and their beef burgers are made of real people... sorry for that image.

We can't solve every problem today in the porn that we consume, but as a base level, let's make sure that the places we get our porn from are not also abusing children or trafficking people into a rape that is then replayed and replayed all over the world. If we can just collapse in post orgasm euphoria knowing that we haven't directly been a part of the torture of real people...well that would be a good start. I know it's harder to do the right thing when it's late at night and it's dark and you're horny, but your half hour with what seems like a relatively OK video from a seemingly reputable source could so easily be documentation of a horrific crime that is still happening. So here are some alternatives:

If you really gotta get that human flesh on flesh content, maybe have some honest conversations with people looking for a similar thing and see if you could DIY some!(Or even some live action...!) Alternatively if you're not too fussed on them looking too realistic then I recon there's some animation out there that could hit the spot for you. You could even get creative and try your hand at making your own sexy artwork! Just maybe try not to base this on real people without their consent.

If all that seems like a step too far, there are some websites out there that are at least trying a lot harder than most to make their content ethical. I'll let you do your own research and find what works for you but the important thing is that if you're feeling overwhelmed remember that it's okay, we are all just trying our best, make small manageable steps and talk to each-other. One day the onus won't be on us, and until then, every little swap and step we take is leading the people of the future towards that paradise we dream of.

Now, I could chat about porn for hours and hours, and a lot of the issues are a lot less clear-cut than this, so I'm sure you'll be seeing me revisit this topic again soon. It's also worthwhile to note that I don't have the answers, and probably, nobody alive right now has the answers, but our conversations of trial and error and brainstorming are building a people that one day might. But for now: safe and sexy surfing readers - and give that dirty content an ethical clean, you'll feel so much better for it.

P.S. How sexy is this honey pot picture!? If we can desensitize ourselves then maybe we can sensitize ourselves too . . . maybe the porn of the future will be entirely food-based.






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