The Ever-Changing Delivery Route of Porn

We’ve moved on from porn meaning sneaky pictures under dad’s bed or seedy postcards sold on streetcorners. We’ve also moved on from movies needing to be bought or rented in order to be watched.  The internet has brought porn onto doorsteps and into bedrooms, resulting in people “now having access to more ‘hot babes’ than our ancestors had in a lifetime” as someone once put it. This also means that pornography is spilling into many other areas of culture. Servaas wrote earlier this week about the pornification of culture and its effects on women.

In his third post in the series, Jonny Pollock looks at the ‘new’ delivery route of pornography in more detail and examines its implications.

In terms of this question / discussion, the two implications are the desires of humanity and the availability of sexually gratifying material. Historically, the desires and temptations of mankind have been there from the very beginning. In the Garden of Eden,  the principal markers for temptation were there – visual stimulation. Pornography is often portrayed as one of the ills of today’s society, evidence of modern moral decay brought to you by video cameras and broadband access. Yet, as it turns out,  in terms of the culture depravity, modern times have got nothing on the past. Pornography existed long before video or even photography, and many researchers have proved that as humans we are led by visual arousal – in the Garden of Eden, Eve was first tempted to something that was “a delight [craving/desire] to the eyes.” Whichever way we look at it, the diversity of pornographic materials throughout history suggests that human beings have always been interested in images of sex.

In this view, the first known erotic representations of humans might not be porn, in the traditional sense, at all. In early humanity, people were carving large breasted figurines of women out of stone and wood. Archaeologists doubt these “Venus figurines” were intended for sexual arousal. More likely, the figurines were religious icons or fertility
symbols. Yet, it shows the draw of the culture and society, and the importance placed by them on arousal and sex.

Unfolding throughout history, the ancient Greeks and Romans created a plethora of sculptures and frescos, normally placed in very public places, depicting homosexuality, threesomes, fellatio and cunnilingus. The Moche people of ancient Peru painted sexual scenes on ceramic pottery, while the aristocracy in 16th century Japan was fond of erotic woodblock prints. So pornography has a history as old as time, yet the availability of pornography has exploded with the advent of the digital age.

In a recent article in The Telegraph, the writer quotes Cindy Gallop, an advertising consultant, who explains that “pornography manifests itself in movies, TV, music videos, fashion – it’s absolutely everywhere. Nobody quite knows how all this is going to play out because it’s never happened in the history of humankind before. There is a complete lack of open, healthy dialogue around porn in our society. It’s everywhere, yet nobody ever talks about it.”

Gallop’s frustration with what she sees as our refusal to address the “creeping ubiquity of hardcore pornography in pop culture” drove her to create a website called Make Love Not Porn. Her research has shown how the fuzzy nature of “porn” has enabled it to creep into all areas of society. It used to be that the line between what constitutes porn and what doesn’t was clearly defined. Porn existed in the pages of adult magazines, on the tops shelf, or on playing cards that someone ‘found’ when they were on holidays. But now it’s more blurred. In our post-internet culture, we have so much access to information, that our society isn’t confined to paying for or obtaining porn, but making their own, or raising the stakes of their addiction, rather like a heroin addict ‘upping their dose.’

However, the biggest implication is this desensitising to porn that has happened in our society. The issue is that it’s no longer a social taboo – it is all mainstream now. Over the past ten years, technological advances, cultural shifts, and social attitudes have transformed the pornography landscape. Today, men, women, and children are affected by the ubiquity and mainstreaming of pornography in unprecedented ways. The internet, in particular, has made pornography more anonymous, more accessible, and more affordable than ever before, bringing in new users, increasing use among existing fans, and catapulting many into sexual compulsiveness. Children are being exposed to pornography earlier than ever before, in ways that will profoundly affect their sexuality and their lives.

Not only is pornography itself more ubiquitous, the entire culture has become “pornified.” By that I mean that the aesthetics, values, and standards of pornography have seeped into mainstream popular culture. Young girls brazenly pose in pornographic ways on their Facebook pages, even creating porn-like videos of themselves gyrating and preening before untold numbers of strangers. Check out also the semi-clad, curvaceous girls in children’s cartoons and movies for example to see how this has spilled over into every genre.

The message is that pornography is everywhere—and only ever-so-slightly scandalous. It is good for you, and especially good for relationships. Pornography is hip, sexy, and fun. For me, this is the most serious implication. That it has become so commonplace that we have no conscience to dig beneath the surface to the human nature, our desires or indeed the inevitable end of our cultures dabbling with pornography.

// What do you think? Join the conversation! How do you think society and culture have been ‘pornified’? Is this because of the Internet? Is this just a cycle that has been running for decades? //

See Jonny’s other posts here and here.


8 responses to “The Ever-Changing Delivery Route of Porn

  1. I always wondered if people realised the severity of Rihanna’s song “S&M”, and the effects it could have on society. People are just turning a blind eye to things like this these days, and it’s terribly sad because Rihanna, as an individual, is worth so much more than that, but it’s like no one’s ever told her this. I feel like we’ll never get past this, the media is just constantly pushing boundaries. I think the internet has probably had a massive effect on this, but porn has so gradually become more and more accepted outside of the internet, and on TV and in films and in magazines etc. that the internet isn’t really the problem any more, it’s the responses of the general public.

    • I agree! I think as I’d said before that the line between what’s acceptable and not right now is very blurred. This isn’t a new phenomenon, I remember Madonna in similar fashion like Rhianna, Katy Perry etc. (yikes, I’m showing my age!) As the writer says, there is nothing new under the sun.

      However, I agree that with the media, in particular the internet, making the exposure to “pornified” images much more prevalent, people are desensitised to it. Boundaries will always be pushed, yet if there is no-one pushing back, then we’ll end up losing whatever boundaries we have.

      • “Desensitised” is a great word to use in that it completely terrifies me when I begin to consider what may be next. I just wonder WHY no one is pushing back any more; are they afraid they’ll be labelled as a prude?

  2. I don’t think the “medium” through which porn is accessible is an issue. It doesn’t matter if its on wall, magazines or internet. Unless there is time where porn doesn’t pay, it is going to be exploited, one way or the other.

    But, society is definitely getting benefited by porn. In many ways. One thing comes to my mind immediately. If none of the men jerked off to it and released their “tension” (for a lack of better word), women could forget about walking 5ft without being harassed verbally or physically.

    I remember a couple of my girlfriends telling me that when they were walking in a secluded area, a guy (think of him as a homeless bum) showed up and started to jerk off right in front of them. I wish I could give him some porn. Just an initial thought.

    However, this is quite a debatable topic which is out of scope for this comment.

    • V – I understand the theory behind this comment, but as in much of life, theory doesn’t always equate to reality. I think ‘because’ of much of porn, and it’s unrealistic “stories” (for want of a better word), men are pushing boundaries with girls because they think that is what they want.

      As far as porn as a substitute for sexual behaviour, many times this feeds a desire rather than satisfying a need. Gemma has written about this in previous posts linking pornography up with addiction.

      Thanks for your comment! It has really opened up discussion on the realities that are out there. Everyone, myself included, needs to understand that this isn’t a theoretical discussion on an internet page, but a reality that many are affected with… Whether they want to be or not.

    • Hi V, I also need to challenge your assumption made in the above comment. I am personally convinced porn holds no benefit to society – at best it can help a struggling sexual relationship to regain a bit of a flame but the full sexual experience would remain substandard to that of one in which the two partners are only committed to one another without any third parties interfering – be it via fantasy or physically. If you can list researched benefits with which you stand in agreement I would appreciate it?

      Secondly, it is a myth that men need to constantly masturbate or can’t control when they do it. The reality is this though, if any man is a regular reader of FHM/Maxim/Men’s Health/etc., watcher of digital pornographic images, and continually exposes himself to these stuff he will be a constant masturbator. If one feeds yourself with porn you will naturally and continually be turned on and in need of relieving that ‘tension’ you mentioned.

      If however you choose to not engage in those material you will be way more stable and will begin to crave it less over time as well. You will return to normality although your previous indulgement in it leaves habits which need to be opposed should you wish to rather go without it. It is no different to any other addiction (as Jonny mentioned Gemma mentioned).

      Even the homeless man you mentioned can be free of it. Masturbation is not always even ‘sexual’ if I can put it that way. It is a way of quieting ones flesh as it desires satisfaction. Like with other addictions it is an emotional need we try to satisfy by feeding the flesh – some will eat, some will drink, some will cut themselves while others will masturbate but the issue will remain undealt with.


      • Apologies V if we’ve taken you up wrong – I do understand the sentiment behind what you are saying. In terms of deviant behaviours, there have been paths to ‘take the edge off’ in order to prevent those behaviours. Think Methadone as a treatment for heroin addiction, for example. There have also been noises (I can’t find the research atm) in using porn to satisfy urges, in particular for people who would act out in child abuse. However, as Servaas has noted, psychologically, physically and emotionally, this normally only serves to ‘feed’ the desire rather than satisfy it.

        As followthenortherstar has also put it, many times the narratives in porn have led people to believe that some of these behaviours are normal, and are actually ‘welcomed’ by women.

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