Mummy, I want to be a porn
by Kira Cochrane
‘Imagine if Starbucks offered a shot of alcohol with your morning
coffee. Then there was beer in the office and at lunchtime we all automatically
ordered a bottle of wine rather than sparkling water. If alcohol were
that available we’d all start drinking more and any stigma would
gradually disappear. And that’s how things are developing with porn.”
So says Pamela Paul, the American author of Pornified: How Pornography
is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families.
Paul has been looking into the effects of pornography on society and
her investigation seems incredibly timely. While Britons may lag behind
their European counterparts in education and living standards, it was
revealed last week that the UK has become the porn capital of Europe,
with access to 27 porn television channels. Germany, our nearest rival,
has just five.
This represents only a tiny part of a £31.5 billion global industry.
As even the most sheltered know, hardcore material is available over the
internet, with 25% of all searches seeking to access one of the 1.3m porn
websites. It’s also more available in magazines and even marketed
directly to our mobile phones.
With so much material around, porn imagery has naturally crossed into
the mainstream. It can now be found at children’s eye level on many
supermarket newsstands (in magazines such as Nuts and Zoo), and in advertising
(last year, for instance, a stereo system was promoted with a woman bound
head to foot in black vinyl tape).
It’s there in the lyrics of Christina Aguilera, the styling of
Britney Spears and even the poses of mannequins in Madame Tussaud’s
(where a waxwork of Kylie Minogue depicts her on all fours with her bottom
poking into the air).
So it is not surprising that Paul’s research flags up some shocking
findings, including the appeal of porn’s “glamour” image
to young girls.
“I found pre-teen girls who were putting pictures of porn stars
on their personal web pages and providing links to porn websites,”
she says. “I learnt about them through a porn actress who’d
published a bestselling autobiography and was surprised when pre-teen
girls showed up at signings. They said they saw her as a positive icon.”
These findings support a recent British survey of 1,000 girls, aged 15-19,
which found that 63% aspired to be glamour models, while 25% preferred
the idea of lap dancing. For many, the erotic lifestyle and look is not
seedy but has become aspirational.
Paul also spoke to a group of twentysomething men who had grown up with
the internet, “consuming porn literally every day since they were
14. Our sexual cues and desires are learnt during adolescence, and . .
. these young men were regularly viewing bestiality and group sex”.