A therapists quick fix...

Today, I visited a porn site. And received a thorough education, though it was more like Sex Ed gone wrong. I’ve also increased my vocabulary, only I don’t think I’ll be using these words frequently. Rimming. Anal. Hentai. Orgy. I’m all for sexual expression and sexual liberation, but surely you don’t need to watch actors faking it on-screen to get aroused? Porn sites are like Ben and Jerry’s; whatever your preferred flavour or interest, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs. 

There is something very dirty and base about watching actors get it off on-screen. Maybe that’s the drawing card. Perhaps these videos lure people in because we can only get that kind of bedroom action through porn. There’s a fundamental problem though. This very industry paints women in an abysmally unflattering light. Women who seemingly enjoy acts of debauchery; women who are happy to comply with the instructions of those behind the camera; women who like it rough and can still orgasm in the midst of being choked and gagged.

It’s simple economics—pornography still exists because there’s still a high demand for it. More shocking, though, is the fact pornography is an accepted form of sex therapy. In her December 2016 article titled ‘A prescription for porn: should sex therapists recommend pornography to patients?’, Meagan Tyler wrote the use of pornography in therapy ‘encourages women to mimic those paid to fake their own sexual enjoyment’. She further argued the ‘power dynamics of therapy make it quite difficult for any patient to simply refuse this kind of “treatment” when it is recommended by a qualified professional’. She makes a compelling point.

Unfortunately, this specific use of pornography is hardly a new thing. As early as 1970, porn was used in an attempt to convert homosexual men to heterosexuality. This Pavlov-ian type research concluded the therapy ‘facilitated stronger erections in relation to heterosexual sexual imagery’. They achieved this by depriving the test subjects of water for 18 hours and the supply of drinks was contingent to ‘increased erection response to being shown heterosexual pornographic imagery’. By the 1980s, the focus had shifted to women, particularly those suffering from sexual dysfunction, sexual inhibition or anorgasmia.

Psychologists and sex therapists claim pornography shouldn’t be written off as it helps couples find a deeper sexual connection. Colorado psychologist David Schnarch explains ‘fantasy is certainly a part of a healthy sex life, and porn does contribute significantly to the archive of sexy scenarios in our heads. It can also inspire couples to experiment more’. In addition, Ana Bridges' study found ‘the women with the most positive views of porn's role in their relationship were engaged in a more creative activity.’ In their eyes, it’s obvious pornography’s benefits far outweigh the potential problems it can bring.

On the surface, it does seem as if pornography has a place in our society—a balm of sorts for sexual dysfunction. Dig deeper, though, and you start to see the underlying cracks. Prescribing pornography to women is akin to using a Band-Aid to cover a wound. Is it really helping women come to terms with their ‘problems’, or is it just sweeping crumbs under the carpet? Using pornography to help—and I use the word ‘help’ extremely loosely here—women overcome their inhibitions in bed is simply dodging the real issue.

Of course, one cannot write an article on porn without talking about the feminist movement. What do they have to say about this? Wait, they’ve got it covered as well. Ethical porn. Feministic porn. Female-friendly porn. Does ensuring the pornography industry, and by extension its employees, are covered under FairWork regulations erase the fundamental problem that pornography poses?

The problem lies in the fact this misogynistic industry propagates the thinking that women embracing porn is sexually liberating and empowering. The sad truth, though, is that it’s not. Pornography produces unrealistic sexual benchmarks for both men and women. The industry itself is built on the abuse, discrimination and hyper sexualisation of its actors. The argument pornography is fantasy and therefore cannot be put to task is false and does nothing to solve the same problems perpetuated by the pornography industry itself. If this were true, guns can then not be blamed for mass killings or acts of violence. And therapists promoting the use of pornography are only prescribing more problems.

Yen Li Wong