What is pornography?

What is pornography?

Pornography, or more commonly porn, is defined as sexually explicit videos, photographs or writings which are produced for sexual arousal. It is mostly available online but is still produced in books, magazines, films, comics and photographs. Many different opinions exist about porn and it is often a difficult and controversial topic, despite being so widely used.

How is porn used?

How is porn used?

Porn can be used in different ways; the majority of people watch porn for sexual pleasure. Porn is not always a ‘bad thing’ as it can aid masturbation and self-exploration. Pornography can also be used as part of a healthy relationship, to help stimulation before or during sex.

Porn has been increasingly relied upon by young people as a form of sex education. It is important to recognise that behaviours seen in porn often don’t reflect real-world sex. Common porn themes such as choking, facial ejaculation (“cum shots”), and threesomes do not occur within most adult relationships. Learning from porn can lead to unrealistic expectations about what will happen when you have sex. Its best to learn about sex by talking to someone you can trust and speak freely with.

Unfortunately porn can also be used in harmful ways. Issues such as Revenge Porn are becoming more common. Revenge Porn is the sharing of private sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. This is illegal and can lead to a prison sentence.

Porn and the law

Porn and the law

In the UK porn can seen as both legal and illegal. This legality relates to the porn itself, but also to the person watching it. The law states people should be 18 years or over before viewing porn, however we know in reality most children view porn before that age. We think it is important to talk to children and young people about porn as it is watched so frequently.

In terms of content illegal porn contains any of the following:

  • Grossly offensive
  • Threatening to a person’s life
  • Resulting or likely to result in a serious injury to a person’s anus, breast or genitals
  • An act which involves a human corpse (necrophilia)
  • Any sexual contact with an animal (bestiality)
  • Any non-consensual sexual contact (a sexual assault – link)
  • Any participants under the age of 18

Illegal porn should be reported to the internet watch foundation at: https://www.iwf.org.uk/

How can porn affect me?

How can porn affect me?

Porn can be a very controversial topic within society, especially when it comes to the treatment and dehumanisation of actors within the industry. Some porn tries to ‘normalise’ sexual violence using abusive scenes/characters through ‘storylines’: this is both wrong and disturbing. Porn can contain damaging images such as hair pulling, gagging, strangulation, open hand sapping and ‘rough sex.’ Porn can also be emotionally restrained or lack intimacy, where no emotion is shown during the sexual contact. This is often seen via domination of the female actor in straight porn. Also a lack of concern for the desires of, or pain experienced by, the actors is common. Porn often ignores important factors such as consent, sexually transmitted infections or the need for contraception.

Porn distorts consent and there is often no sign of participants consenting to the sexual acts performed. It’s important to remember porn is not real. Porn is produced using paid actors during sex scenes that are targeted at specific audiences. It’s very important to remember that consent is key to any form of sexual contact (please see ‘cup of tea video’ in the consent section of the website.)

Porn often advocate’s the ‘perfect body’ and unrealistic appearance standards. This can make people feel more self-conscious about their own body and creates body image issues. Most women in porn are young, toned, thin or petite, with large breasts. The males are tall, muscular with low body fat with an ‘above average’ penis size. Both genders will have little or no pubic hair. This is not realistic and should not be used as an example for how you should look and behave.

It’s important to have open discussions about young people watching and learning from porn. This great video from New Zealand highlights this:

Porn addiction

Porn addiction

Some people can become addicted to porn. Porn can be relied upon for stimulation and viewers often become de-sensitised to the content they are viewing. People that rely on porn regularly for arousal may find that they need more extreme images to allow further arousal. This can progress to have difficulties getting aroused without porn, which in turn can have a negative effect on current or future relationships. Most people do not want to participate or recreate porn experiences when having sex, as it lacks any form of emotional attachment or intimacy. When someone relies on porn for arousal it can be challenging to achieve that without it.

Sex in real life can be much better than pornography, because more often than not you know, trust and are comfortable with the person you are experimenting with. Its important consent is discussed prior to engaging in any sexual contact. If you are not comfortable talking about sex (what you like, what you don’t and setting boundaries) should you be having sex with that person?

Where can I talk or get help about porn?

Where can I talk or get help about porn?

If you feel you have an addiction to porn, or are in difficulties with revenge porn, you can get help.

Revenge Porn Helpline: Helpline: 0345 6000 459 (10-4 Mon-Fri)
revengepornhelpline.org.uk

Sex Addicts Anonymous: saa-recovery.org.uk

C-Card scheme
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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

How to access our service:

We have now implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Please contact our services to access this triage system. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

If you are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus please do not attend the clinic. Clear advice for people with symptoms of coronavirus is available at nhs.uk/coronavirus .

Advice from our service:

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

We are currently prioritising these groups for coil and implant (LARC) fits:

  • Those with vulnerabilities including but not limited to those who are: <18, attending abortion and maternity services, homeless, sex workers, victims of sexual assault, people with language barriers, drug and alcohol problems, learning disability, serious mental illness
  • Those aged <30 years

More details on LARC fittings at our service are found here

There is also specific advice on coronavirus available for People Living with HIV here, and for pregnant women here

Self-requested Sexual Health screening by post is available for for under 25s only - more info here

For others with testing requirements please contact the service on 0300 303 3989.

Information is now also available to advise on sexual contact during a time of social distancing here.

Alternative provision:

Please be aware that we may have to cancel, rearrange or shut clinical services in response to changing clinical and staffing pressures created by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - at your local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV postal testing - available to at-risk groups for a small fee -  more info
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info