Pornography has a bad name, but what exactly constitutes it?

One dictionary gives the following definition: “Sexually explicit videos, photos, writings, or the like, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal.”

So who’s passing judgement? Why is it wrong to repress our natural chemistry of desiring sexuality, especially for many people who have no access to touch or hugs? It’s an important part of who we are.

There are different perceptions of pornography. Some consider the naked body, in its natural state, to be pornographic. Others deem breast feeding as such. Not everyone agrees with this, and there are campaigns which are fighting to make breast feeding in public acceptable and legal. There’s also the Free the Nipple campaign by those who object that men’s nipples can be visible, but not women’s. Breasts are not just sexual objects.

For centuries, nudity in art was the acceptable way of seeing naked images, while writers dedicated their time to write erotic novels. In societies where nudity is normal and acceptable, there is very little need for pornography. In repressed societies like the Britain I was brought up in and in Malta, there’s a great need for an education which goes beyond the clinical how-to-make-babies syllabus. We’re not allowed to question what exactly the body of the opposite sex is really like.

We were kept in the dark and in fear because of the censorship of nudity. In more liberal countries such as the Netherlands and Germany, sexual images are easy to come by, and nudity and sexuality are not used to create guilt and fear in young people. We have emotions, yet we’re not trained to understand and handle these. We should differentiate between nudity and sexuality. They are different.

Today we have the internet, and in the absence of an informative and wholesome sexual education for teenagers, young people learn about sex from a mass of easily available images and videos.

Most of the videos which they can freely watch are about “heavy bang” sex, which involves little or no foreplay – the twenty minutes or so a women needs for arousal. Therefore, they believe this is the normal way of going about it. The result is an entire generation of boys who do not treat girls with respect, by taking it slowly in a loving, sensual and consensual manner. There is little tenderness or understanding of emotions. This results in many girls having unpleasant experiences which can result in trauma. Boys expect them to behave, react and submit like porn stars.

Sensitivity is missing. Conscious sexuality is missing. Relationships fail after initial excitement.

Women and men like to watch arousing videos, and a small number of video makers create the soft, sensual images which teenagers should see as a role model. Sometimes these are described as “made for women”, but men would benefit from seeing these instead of the regular misogynistic material. However, as long as men and women are deprived of intimacy, they will live in their fantasy. It’s all they have.

It would be wonderful to guide teenage boys and girls, and older people as well, towards sensitive, respectful loving intimacy which is not what they are mostly seeing now, but I feel that there remains a huge cultural block by most parents to be open about sexuality and indeed about their bodies.

In this vacuum, pornography is today’s sex education, and will dangerously remain so unless the vacuum is filled with something which will enhance the lives and loves of the young generation in a conscious way.

We have the solutions, but advice to teenagers about sexuality is usually dismissed as encouraging them to be sexual.


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