Pornography: not a how-to guide

Sex and relationships are tricky things for young people to navigate. Enter (space bar, tap or side swipe) porn. It’s ejaculated itself into the world of technology. And it’s going the distance. From university students to pornographers, Jordyn Butler investigates.

As more and more people grow up learning how to have sex through porn we need to ask two important questions: 1) Are we at risk of a moral and social a-porn-calypse? And 2) Can our university student noodles handle all these Internet doodles? (And vaginas. We aren’t sexist it just didn’t rhyme).

At the age of 13, Louise Kelly*, now a 20-year-old Australian Catholic University student, had no idea what porn was, until one day she googled “pink”. What initially was a very innocent search for all things pretty and pink, turned into her finding out her brother was searching for porn on their shared computer. “I blackmailed him about it for weeks. I was like ‘I’m going to tell mum!’”

That day Kelly discovered not only what her brother had been up to when the study door was closed, but that the Internet is a whole other universe. And in that universe is an infinite stash of wank banks. Increasingly, porn is becoming something difficult to avoid on the Internet.   Emily Lucin, a 20-year-old hospitality and tourism student at William Angliss, agrees. She says, You’ve seen it. You might not have gone out and planned “Oh let’s watch porn,” but everyone has seen it.”

Bourke Wills is the owner, producer, writer and director for Australian porn website Adult Voyeur. He says, “The Internet has had a drastic effect on the porn industry”. The Internet and by extension: Vine, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media apps, have made it easier for people to broadcast their own content and activity. It’s the tale of a modern day porn star.  In a matter of minutes you can get an enormous following without even stepping out of your bedroom. Horny adults and teenagers worldwide enjoy porn on smart phones, tablets and laptops. Pornography’s success is partially owed to the advent of the Internet. Without it, porn would still be stuck in the brown paper bag. But if we look at history, porn has played a major role in the rise and popularity of the Internet and digital technology.

           For anyone with a bit of time and nothing to do with their hands, it can be a constant repetitive reel of porn and wanking.

In 1994, Playboy Enterprises launched a website. Not only was it was one of the first to push porn into the online realm, but it was one of the first big businesses to have an online presence. On its launch, 802 000 people visited the site and by 1997 it was one of the most popular sites online—with traffic of up to five million visits per day. Author Peter Nowak says in his book, Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How war, Porn and Fast Food Created Technology, “The reasoning was pretty simple––porn is very much a visual medium, and the web removed the biggest obstacle to selling pornography and sexual services: the shame of being discovered.”

Porn opened up new opportunities. Endless opportunities. But like a lot of industries it has also struggled, and is still feeling the effects. Wills explains that in the late ‘90s porn websites didn’t understand how to build an audience and make a profit also. “To try and get page hits, what they started to do was give their content away for free. Which lead to tube sites, most of which are packed with stolen content. And it’s this idea that porn is free that has most affected my industry. Because no content is ever free.”

Free content and unlimited access to porn can be a recipe for disaster. For anyone with a bit of time and nothing to do with their hands, it can be a constant repetitive reel of porn and wanking. With a few clicks you can start all over again. Free pornographic content is both an issue for pornographers and consumers.

In a world were sex sells but porn is taboo, we should understand why so many people grow up confused about sex, sexuality and their bodies. It’s a culture of double standards. We all enjoy sex and, yes, both males and females enjoy porn. But we are taught to be self-conscious and embarrassed about it.

Zac Frevo, video content producer for Melbourne gay porn website Bentley Race, is travelling through Germany at the moment. Talking to me from his hotel room in Berlin he says when it comes to porn generally Australia “is quite closed-minded and very conservative.  “In Berlin, sex…it’s not frowned upon. It’s something that is enjoyed and talked about quite freely amongst all ages of people.”

 But do our viewing habits affect our appetites and expectations in the bedroom?

Do you really want to cum on someone’s face or experience anal fisting? Or is that just what porn has told you?

Kelly, a student of psychology, says she has felt the pressure “to look attractive,” and look like she knows what she is doing when it comes to sex.  Like many she wondered “I’ve never done the stuff that I saw in porn so am I doing something wrong? Then you think what should I be doing?” Lucin has also felt this burden from porn. She laughs, “You hear like – from porn and even from movies- all the screaming and the noises and the groaning. Sometimes I just want to sit there quietly.”

Frevo—who is shooting new content for the Bentley Race website—acknowledges often people watch porn before they experience sex. “When you have sex yourself, for the first time you’re like ‘this is not how it was. Or my penis isn’t as big. Or her boobs aren’t as big. Or we didn’t last as long as they did.’” He remembers the first time he watched porn. He says he was about 16 and had had a girlfriend for a couple of years. “We had sex not long after that. And now that I think about it, I remember feeling the same way going ‘this isn’t what I remember watching.’”

The issue isn’t porn, the issue is the complete lack in our society of an open healthy, honest, truthful conversation around sex in the real world.”

Often people are watching porn and expecting it to be the same as having the real experience of sex. Or are finding themselves doing sexual acts that they get no pleasure out of because they think that is the way sex has to be.

Cindy Gallop is the founder and creator of and An advertising consultant and businesswoman, she launched MakeLoveNotPorn at her TED talk in 2009.  “I was having sex with younger men. I was encountering a number of sexual behavioural memes,” she says. “I went ‘Oh I know where this behaviour is coming from and if I’m experiencing this then other people must be as well. And I’m going to do something about it.’”

Porn is omnipresent. It’s universal and ubiquitous. And it’s accessible anywhere with Wi-Fi. It’s the age of the digital. And that means even people who don’t engage with porn are affected by it. Unless you are Amish, its ramifications are reverberating. At her home in New York Gallop clarifies, “The issue isn’t porn, the issue is the complete lack in our society of an open healthy, honest, truthful conversation around sex in the real world.” She concedes, “Everybody wants to do it right, so you make the mistake—because nobody has ever told you otherwise—of getting into bed for the first time with a real life boy or girl and going ‘and now I have to act out what I saw in porn because that is the way you do it.’”

Gallop believes people are misguidedly mistaken into thinking that what they see in porn is the way you have sex–because nobody has told them otherwise. We suppress and ignore it. We refuse to speak openly and honestly about porn. We refuse to tell our boyfriends, our girlfriends and our friends what we like and don’t like in the sack.

It seems the issue isn’t porn or the lack of censorship and Internet filters (Iceland – I’m looking at you!). Rather it’s the way we treat, talk and educate about sex and most importantly porn. No different to an Indiana Jones or a Star trek film, Frevo says it’s important to understand porn is like any other production. “And if [people] are taught that, then they can understand that, ‘well I can enjoy what I am watching, but it’s not realistic.’”

Darling, we know you’re online. We know you’re looking at hard-core porn.

Porn is a production of fantasy. It takes sex from the real world, edits out all the blunders, the awkward pauses and embarrassing moments for an audience’s entertainment and above all pleasure. It is not designed to demonstrate how to have sex. But sex education is now porn education. “Once upon a time, back in my day, if you were a parent prepared to have the actual conversation it use to be purely logistical,” Gallop says. “So the conversation used to be ‘this goes into this, when a man loves a woman, the birds and the bees.’ The conversation to have today as a parent goes, ‘darling we know you’re online. We know you’re looking at hard-core porn. We just need to explain to you that actually not all women like be tied up, bound, gang banged, raped, choked and have men cum all over them. And actually not all men like doing that either…’”

Porn is, ultimately, a production and so we need to speak and educate about sex honestly. We need to ask ourselves, are we striving to make our sex lives pornos? And do we really want this? Those who don’t agree; don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll cum around.

*Name changed for privacy reasons

By Jordyn Butler


Image via Flickr 

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