• Wed
  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:33pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 4:48am

Treat porn as a public health issue

There is porn sex and real sex. We are supposed to know the difference. But do we, really?

If it's so easy to tell reality from fantasy, then porn perhaps would be rather harmless, as its advocates claim. But the issue is much more complicated.

Porn is literally at our fingertips nowadays via the internet and mobile computing. For most boys, it serves as their first introduction to sex. And for many, it will remain a source of self-gratification.

Here I am only speaking of the male experience. Perhaps a female colleague will discuss porn from the perspectives of women.

"Porn is without doubt the most powerful form of sex education today," said Gail Dines, a feminist and sociologist, "with studies showing that the average age of first viewing porn [in the US] is between 11 and 14 - and let me tell you, this is not your father's Playboy."

An influential porn critic, Dines pioneers the strategy of addressing porn as a public and mental health issue, rather than as free speech, which favours its purveyors.

She was speaking ahead of the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation summit to be held this week near Washington.

Porn advocates, usually the ones who make the most money out of it, like to argue it expands our sexual horizons and empowers women. Anyone who has seen degrading Japanese porn, a major source in Hong Kong, cannot think the women were empowered. And while we do know a lot more tricks than before, it's not clear that we are better off. For example, fellatio was virtually unknown for much of the last century, according to the classic mid-century Masters and Johnson sex survey in the US. Now it's practically a required sex act in the bedroom. G. E. Moore, a distinguished British philosopher in the early 20th century, thought that sodomy disappeared along with the fall of Rome.

Some argue there is a difference between soft- and hard-core. But Dines points out that soft or mainstream porn of the Playboy era is gone - mainstream porn is hard-core porn.

A lifelong exposure to such material cannot fail to have a profound impact, whatever it is. Since porn is a highly complex phenomenon, treating it as a public health issue gives critics the multi-track strategy they need to address it and fight back.

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This article is now closed to comments

jiawang@adb.org
Poorly written.
alex_lok
What a weak article. The title sensationalises the issue in the hopes of capturing readers and yet fails to give any opinion on the matter but rather just paraphrases other people's work and ends by saying it's a "highly complex phenomenon" but other people need to deal with this issue carefully.
It's like saying "guns and gun control are highly controversial so it needs to be dealt with carefully".
People pay this guy to write this secondary school level essay? *slaps forehead*
5353b57f-a9f4-46e1-903d-34f50a320969
Alex, is Dines pro-p o r n or against p o r n? Is the lifelong exposure profound impact Dines' opinion or yours?
mushi
first off, i have no idea why scmp censors the word p o r n. really, now?
secondly, this is an important topic, but i feel like this column tiptoes around the main issue without addressing any real suggestions for reform. that said, i agree with mr. lo - p o r n is most definitely the main way that boys (and some girls) end up learning about sex. to ignore its potentially harmful effects is ignorant. there is plenty of literature out there talking about how watching too much p o r n can desensitize a person to the real thing, because honestly, sex in real life usually can't compare to all the raunchy stuff you see in those japanese adult videos.
but i don't think it's right to demonize p o r n either. it exists, teenagers have access to it, and they will continue to watch it until the world ends. the nice solution would be to beef up health and sexual education classes (which are atrocious here in HK) and have some teachers or youth leaders talk to kids about p o r n in an honest way. tell them its okay to watch this stuff, but try not to get too consumed by it, and remember that despite whatever horny acts you see on screen, loving (and respecting) a real member of the opposite sex is really more satisfying in the long run. if kids get introduced to these concepts early on, they'll consume p o r n in a more mature way, and the "public health issue" will become a non-issue over time.
gunzy
You say that it isn't right to demonize p*rn, but then is there such a thing as good p*rn? .
..
Secondly, with the sheer volume of "bad" **** on the net, how are we to expect teachers and youth leaders to help kids differentiate between what is good and what is bad?
.
"consume p*rn in a mature way"...what does this even mean?
.
I don't think Playboy and Penthouse is even considered p*rn anymore
5353b57f-a9f4-46e1-903d-34f50a320969
Can anyone consume p o r n immaturely or r u talking about age of consumption?
CatherineOhlLaw
To Impala : please THINK before commenting, if you cant' FEEL . Alex Lo comments come from another article in this paper , but he neglected to explain the reasons **** is detrimental to everyone in the long run, yes, mental and physical.
It distorts relationships , and ALL instances of sexual violence have been linked to ****. and that alone should suffice to ban it. Any responsible man who is about more than his instant litlle gratification/**** WHATEVER THE COST should understand that, or submit to rape first before earning the right to a contrary opinion. eating fast food is every eater's choice, rape is nobody's.
mercedes2233
Impala makes perfect sense.
WHAT distorts relationships? Sex or pornographic material or something else?
What has sexual violence to do with this article? I am sure that violent people don't need to resort to this type of reading/viewing material to lead them to violence. It is a deviant behavior much like all deviant behaviors.
asiaseen
OK, where's your evidence?
gunzy
Here you go, plenty of evidence
.
****feminazi.wordpress.com/2007/12/29/****-statistics-and-research/
****www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/proceedings/20/goldsmith.pdf

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