What Is Porn?
You may have heard lots of things about pornography. Chances are you've seen porn somewhere, either by accident or deliberately. In simple terms porn is something that is meant to sexually arouse (turn on) the person looking at it. It can be photographs, magazines, books or videos. In today's world porn is most likely to mean online videos.
Although porn may look "sexy", it isn't sex. Porn is a multi-billion pound business. The people you see are actors who are paid to do a job. The scenes are edited so that the sex looks fun (for some of the people involved) and lasts for a long time. It's not unusual for people to have lots of different partners in porn, and to do some pretty extreme stuff. In most porn men and women tend to be shown in very specific ways and bodies seem to all look the same. There is porn aimed at women, porn made by women, LGBT porn and porn for people of all cultures and backgrounds, including those with disabilities. Most porn though is made by men for men.
Not everyone likes or watches porn. Some people may like some of it, but not all. Some people watch it out of curiosity and others because it turns them on. Recent studies suggest that some young people, particularly young men, watch porn because they think it teaches them how to have sex.
Is Porn Harmful?
We get lots of questions on the site from young people worried about porn. So is it a problem? It's okay to be interested in sex and watching porn shouldn't make you feel ashamed if that's what you like. If you choose to watch then there's a few things you need to remember:
(1) Porn is fantasy and not reality. Porn may have a huge impact on your ideas and expectations around sex. This is particularly true if you're a young person as you may not have many real life sexual experiences to compare it too and your brain is still developing. Many people do not like, or feel comfortable with, the sexual practices found in porn. Like any film, porn is made up. In real life most men can't cum more than once in a very short space of time, group sex is actually not very common and most women don't like men to cum on their face. Real life sex can be awkward, embarrassing, funny, sweet and loving. Porn sex is none of these things. Try to separate your real life sexual behaviour from the stuff you see in porn. You'll feel less pressure and be more respectful to your partner.
(2) Porn bodies are not "real" bodies. In the real world all breasts and penises aren't massive and not everyone shaves their pubic hair. Many porn stars have had surgery to enhance their bodies, or are picked because they look a certain way. Studio lighting can also help. Watching porn can give you a false idea about how you should look.
(3) There's no mention of consent. In porn it's assumed that sex is wanted. In many cases it may even look forced. All discussions around sex take place off camera so that the actors can just get on with the job. This highlights a huge difference between porn and real life sex. Not checking out with your partner that they really want to have sex can cause lots of problems, you can read more about this here.
(4) Condoms are rare. It's becoming more common for condoms to be used in gay porn. However, in most main studio porn condoms are never seen or mentioned. There's never any talk of unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections (not very sexy, right?) In reality these are both very real risks if you're having sex. You can find out more about condoms here.
(5) Some porn reinforces stereotypes about gender. Lots of porn shows women as sexual objects, just there for men's pleasure. They are usually submissive and under the control or power of men. The language used to describe women in porn can also be pretty vulgar (bitch, whore etc.) The men are often dominant and treat women badly, taking what they want without asking. Although this is acting these stereotypes may put pressure on young people to behave a certain way according to their gender.
(6) Some porn is illegal to have in your possession, including images that realistically show:
- an act which takes or threatens a person's life
- an act which results or is likely to result in a person's severe injury
- rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity
- Sexual activity involving (directly or indirectly) a human corpse
- An act which involves sexual activity between a person and an animal (or the carcase of an animal)
It is illegal to possess indecent images of children. This can also include sexting.
The age limit for watching porn online is 18. However it can be pretty difficult to implement this.
(7) Porn may be addictive. There has been lots of research on how porn affects the brain. It is thought this could impact even more on the teenage brain as it's still developing. Watching too much porn has been linked to erectile dysfunction (not being able to get hard) in young men. Like any addiction, porn addiction can lead to a person watching more to get the same feelings.
How Much Is Too Much?
If you are watching more and more porn, you've stopped doing other things with your time, you'd rather watch porn than be intimate with someone in real life or your relationships are being affected by your porn habit you may be watching too much. Try to set yourself limits and have a break. Spend more time with family in the house so you can't access porn on your phone, tablet or computer. See your friends or spend time doing a hobby as a diversion. If you use porn to masturbate try using your own imagination instead, at least some of the time. If you're really worried by the amount of porn you're watching, or even if you just want to ask something about porn in general, you can ask us a question or chat to us on our one to one service.
You can acces lots more information about pornography if you click here
The clip below has a young person's views on watching porn: