This is a programme I think every feminist should watch:
I've always hated porn, and the reasons have been pretty straightforward - it reduces women to the sum of their orifices and pepetuates the idea that women are mere objects to be used purely for male pleasure. The number of rapes and sexual assaults have risen with every year that consumption of pornography has increased for obvious reasons, and women are never going to be seen as equals, at home or in the workplace as long as men are conditioned to view them as vaginas that talk.
But Tim Samuels' documentary (and I'll warn you, he's a smug git of the highest order) has exposed a darker side to the industry than I knew existed and it's time for us all to face up to some home truths. I won't spoilt the programme for those of you who haven't seen it, but here is a summary of the most shocking points:
*Only one porn production house enforces condom use - the others essentially ban it. The porn industry doesn't give a toss about the sexual health of it's "stars", despite there being an outbreak of HIV just five years ago.
*The invisibility of condoms in porn is fueling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in Ghana, where there is no sex education, but plenty of western porn. Women are reporting increasing incidences of rape and sexual assualts carried out by men who gather together to watch porn in the village at night.
*Women in porn are rarely happy or willing. A male porn star interviewed for the programme admitted he found it "difficult" to work with girls who were "crying in the toilets between takes" - yet he didn't seem to have any inclination to stop doing so. What a nice man. A female porn star also interviewed said no women in porn were happy and all had "pyschological issues", and yet she was hell-bent on pursuing a career in the industry. It was later revealed that her pimp - whoops, I mean manager - was also her boyfriend, and was shown on camera to be controlling and verbally abusive, at one point dragging her across a room by the wrist.
*Agencies exploit young women who are breathtakingly naeive about what porn involves. Samuels interviewed a 20-year-old actress who had just signed with a porn agency. She watched porn for the very first time a few hours before her first shoot so she would "know what to do".
*There is apparently a market for porn where men ejaculate directly onto women's eyeballs.
*Worse, there is a market for porn where women are forced to perform oral sex until their throats bleed and/or they are sick, and where women are forced to ingest their own excrement.
The last two points in particular make me think more than ever that porn is not supposed to be arousing simply because of the sex, but because of the depiction of the subjugation and degradation of women. That men aren't actually turned on by women vomiting over themselves, but by the violence. And considering how wildly popular pornography is, that makes me really fearful about what so many men actually think about women. It's no surprise that lads mags were a reaction to the sexual liberation preached by women's magazines like Cosmo, and that porn has got more extreme and more violent with every stride women have taken towards equality - it's all about putting women back in their place, letting them know who's really boss, etc etc. Porn is made by people who hate women, for people who hate women. It's really sickeningly scary. I could throw up thinking about it - I hope that doesn't turn anyone on.