Enda Kenny and his Avalanche of Porn

This week saw Taoiseach Enda Kenny denounce the “avalanche” of porn that is “corrupting” our youth. His announcement that we need to have a national conversation about porn quickly became a hot topic with the Irish media including segments on Newstalk’s morning and lunchtime programmes. While I agree that we do need to discuss the topic of pornography, I believe that we need to take a much more rational and less pearl clutching approach than what has become a cliché at this stage. Porn isn’t something that need be up for political debate, in the same way that fraping should never have been brought up before the Oireachtas. It is a topic which deserves to be discussed between parents or educators and children in a mature, age-appropriate way that is free from judgement.

The reason I say this is simple: Ireland is not going to get rid of porn, nor should it. As Enda Kenny said himself, online pornography is “ubiquitous.” Last year the Irish Times published a sex survey that showed that 83% of respondents had viewed porn (99% for males aged 17-34). In 2009 the University of Montreal had to scrap a study they were doing about the effects of porn on the mind. The reason they ended the study was because they wanted to use young men who had never watched porn as the control group, and sure enough they couldn’t find any. So long as the internet exists in Ireland, so too will porn. So unless the government want to kiss all those major foreign tech companies goodbye including the world’s largest porn conglomerate, Pornhub, whose headquarters are in the Silicon Docks, I think it’s  safe to say that porn is here to stay.

Enda Kenny on porn in Ireland, avalanche of porn, discussion on the topic of porn - HeadStuff.org
“This big, yeah, massive, yeah, yeah” – Probably what Enda Kenny was saying. Source.

One of the main beefs that some have against porn is that they claim that it rife with misogyny that creates unrealistic expectations for youngsters about what sex is like in real life. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with misogyny in some adult entertainment. This is much more of a reflection of society’s own misogyny rather than the root cause of it. More insidious are the everyday systems that oppress women and people in the LGBT community and are socially acceptable. For example employers that require their female employees to wear makeup and heels; segmenting boys and girls departments in toy stores; a housing crisis which forces people to stay with abusive partners for fear of becoming homeless.



There are even more examples of non-porn media giving unrealistic expectations about sex. Lest a film be slapped with a dreaded NC-17 rating, the only sex you’re likely to see in a film is penis-in-vagina with no condom and both partners climaxing at the same time. You almost always see women climaxing from penetration, but in reality only about 25% of woman can orgasm from penetration alone. In fact in 2010 the Ryan Gosling film Blue Valentine received an NC-17 rating for a scene in which his character goes down on Michelle Williams’ character. In contrast in 2014 the Wolf of Wall Street, which depicts Leonardo DiCaprio’s character receiving a blowjob in a sportscar and then blowing cocaine into a sex worker’s anus within the first five minutes of the film, was nominated for several academy awards.

Enda Kenny on porn in Ireland, avalanche of porn, discussion on the topic of porn - HeadStuff.org
Virtual porn could really bolster the Irish economy. Source.

Although it’s tempting to pick out the most overt form of sexual entertainment and blame it for society’s ills, we need to look much much deeper. What is your government doing to support narrowing the wage gap? What are we doing to support bodily autonomy? What have we done to strengthen LGBT and women’s rights? These are all issues which are intrinsically linked and have much more business being discussed by the government than porn. The people who believe we should use the blunt instrument of banning or censoring it like in the UK should be more introspective about their ability to talk to their children about sex.

If you are finding it difficult, here are some excellent resources to help:

Featured image source.