Tackling the issues behind porn and technology

[Aimone Sharif | Contributing Writer]

Valentine’s Day is the one of the most controversial days of the year – you either love it or you hate it. Yet the abundance of technology around us makes it impossible to ignore when Valentine’s Day is near. We are surrounded by adverts, updated Facebook statuses and we even get emails from travel agencies for reduced couple holidays. But Valentine’s isn’t all love and romance. It’s also a day that sees the cyber world flooded with pornography. One example of this is SugarDVD, who revealed that “Valentine’s Day sees an increase of 43% of minutes watched.”

Recent laws were established in the UK on the 2nd of December 2014, banning certain sex acts in pornography, including what the BBFC (British Board of Film Censors) called life threatening: strangulation, face sitting, and fisting. Amongst those acts, spanking, caning, aggressive whipping, penetration by any object “associated with violence”, physical or verbal abuse (regardless of consent), physical restraint and female ejaculation, were also banned.

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 requires that video-on-demand (VoD) online porn now adheres to the same guidelines laid out for DVD porn by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC). This comes under the new law from the government to protect younger children from being exposed to such material. Filters have now been installed on internet providers giving a choice for parents to view adult content by “opting in”, creating a family-friendly internet service provider.

While the measures won’t stop people from watching whatever genre of porn they desire, as videos shot abroad can still be viewed, they do impose severe restrictions on content created in the UK, and appear to make no distinction between consensual and nonconsensual practices between adults.

University of Hertfordshire student Mel Nadarajan, criticises the claims that these regulations are intended to protect children. “People are always going to watch porn,” she said, “It’s absurd in the 21st century when sexuality in politics is gaining increased recognition and acceptance, these laws are taking steps backwards.”

 

Pornography by the numbers

Here are some of the figures available online that will make you think twice before you banalise porn. Surveys show that one third of 14 to 16 year olds had looked at sexual images online when they were aged ten or younger, and 81% looked at online porn while they were at home.

  • 43% of internet users view pornographic material
  • Only 3% of adult websites require age verification
  • 35% of internet downloads are pornography
  • 2011 alone saw 1,337 prosecutions in the UK referring to possession of extreme pornography

The increase in technology also enables people to view pornography on the go and for free, with easy access, compared to the early ‘60s where the only porn you could find was in underground magazines. Research shows that nine out of ten internet porn users access free pornography on their computer or tablet and one out of five mobile phone internet searches are related to pornography.

According to Daniel Jennings in America the life expectancy is around 78.1 years of age for an average American, but only 36.2 years for a porn star. This trend is explained by the high use of drugs and alcohol, and high rates of suicide and disease. Porn stars generally suffer from depression; 90- 95% of porn stars are on anti-depressants, or qualify for them, leading to a lot of cases of overdoses. Careers in that domain are also short lived from about 6 months to 18 months.

 

Protecting the innocent and under-aged

Child pornography has also increased due to easy access of porn. New technology that aids those who produce this material include inexpensive digital cameras and internet distribution, making it easier than ever before to produce and distribute child pornography. The producers of child pornography try to avoid prosecution by distributing their material across national borders, however this issue is increasingly being addressed with regular arrests of suspects from a number of countries occurring over the last few years. In 2010, out of the 1,781 UK convictions over distribution and possession of indecent images of children, 73% of the images were of children.

Child pornography is something very delicate that people do not want to talk about. In America where the rate of child trafficking is the highest, interviewees denied such facts and were oblivious. Child pornography is used to satisfy the needs of paedophiles, and is used for a variety of purposes ranging from private sexual gratification or trading with other collectors, to preparing children for sexual abuse as part of the child grooming process. In 2011, 14% of child pornography was of children under the age of ten, compared to 8% the next year. This number is nevertheless decreasing every year but it is stabilising; child porn isn’t going anywhere.

“Anything to do with people underage makes me feel sick when I hear about it,” said one student. “I don’t see how people can find stuff like that enjoyable.”

Charlotte Mullin, another UH student, addressed the wider issues behind porn. She said: “Porn is incredibly damaging in terms of how people perceive sex. It glorifies violence and creates so many harmful stereotypes about what sex should be like, how men and women should look and behave.”

In spite of these criticisms, the development of technology has led the pornographic world to evolve in an exponential rate. In 1975 the pornography industry made $5-10 million; now it is reaching the immense sum of $4.3 billion just in the US, making it one of the biggest industries in the world.

This Valentine’s day, be aware of what is around you, not thinking how cloying couples make you feel lovesick when they post a picture on Instagram, but how technology affects all our lives in a different way. Recognising the high increase of porn users on that specific day alone, it might be time to change some of these figures.

What do you think about the issues raised? Have your say in the comments below or tweet us @TridentMediaUK!

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Tackling the issues behind porn and technology