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OPINION: The pros and cons of internet porn

Posted by Alex Pearlman  February 23, 2012 09:07 AM

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looking at a computer.jpgBy Kenny Soto

It seems hard to believe that there was a time when internet pornography didn't exist. Just like water flows freely into our homes at our beck and call, so does free porn. Jenna Jameson, James Deen, and Sasha Grey have become household names (and, in some cases, best-selling authors). At any given moment, your deepest fantasies -- and those acts you couldn't even think up in your wildest dreams -- are available at your fingertips.

We are the first generation to have grown up with access to instant, free, and uncensored pornography. Back when our parents and grandparents were growing up, a man’s (or woman’s) porn collection was a dirty little secret kept out in the shed or hidden in a footlocker. The teenager lucky enough to get his hands on a copy of Playboy or Penthouse kept it under lock and key (i.e., under his mattress) until it was literally worn out.

But how has this instant access affected us personally, sexually, and in our relationships? How has this rush of material that was once considered shameful and outlawed in many communities changed the way we look at the world, our loved ones, and ourselves? How has internet porn affected our daily lives?

“I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night!” said one 25-year-old male, who wished to remain anonymous, when asked what his life would be like without instant access to pornography. “How would I ever write a paper or get any work done?” said another, also 25. Just as some of us have a glass of wine to wind down after a tough day at the office or drink an extra cup of coffee or Red Bull to help us focus on writing a paper, some of us now turn to porn.

But that constant barrage of unrealistic human proportions has also changed the way we view our own bodies. The pressure to turn ourselves into sex objects is higher than ever. Think about what you’ve gone through physically and financially in the last year for body hair removal alone. Women regularly experience the wonder of a bikini wax, while guys know it's no longer safe to share a beard trimmer with their brother or roommate. The hair that the fewest people see is the best-tended.

Some also opt for surgery to help complete the package. The number of breast enhancements performed each year has nearly doubled since 1997. A girl used to get a normal gift (like rhinoplasty) for her high school graduation; now she gets new boobs. And it's not just the ladies: Drug stores now feature dozens of products that claim to increase a man's size and improve his sexual abilities, and penis enhancement surgery, at the low cost of $17,000 per operation, is growing in popularity.

Still, it might not be all bad. There's a possibility that online porn is the crime fighter the world has been searching for. While anti-porn activists often point to the availability of internet porn as a cause of sexual assaults and violence against women, the number of sexual assaults has fallen about 60 percent since the mid-'90s -- the time when most of us got internet connections in our homes. Perhaps potential rapists are instead sitting at home watching The Gang Bang Theory or Breaking Dawn on their iPads, making the internet a 21st-century porn Batman.

As we sink further into the digital world and continue to separate ourselves from actual human contact, free, on-demand pornography will only further penetrate our psyche. To keep from total mind melt, I beg of you, watch with a friend, or better yet, a partner. I’m not here to tell you that we've gained or lost anything due to internet porn, but I do want to make one thing clear: The internet and personal listening and viewing devices have already segmented and destroyed our art, theater, and music communities. Please, don’t let it do the same thing to sex.

Welcome to TNGG’s third annual Sex Week! Check back to TNGG Boston all week for more stories about sex, love, relationships, and dating in Boston, and visit our main site for more material from the rest of our community.

Photo by Joseph Lorenzo Hall

About Kenny -- I'm a professional blogger and entertainer. In my spare time, I enjoy Boston sports and exploring all of the adventures that my hometown has to offer. You can connect with me on Twitter @RealKennySoto.

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