Thursday 30 June 2016

Porn now the wallpaper of our lives

Published 18/10/2015 | 02:30

Former Miss World Rosanna Davison
Former Miss World Rosanna Davison

We all remember where we were when we first caught a glimpse of nude sexual images.

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I was a child of about nine or 10, in a neighbour's house, when my friend pulled out a book The Joy Of Sex, which was tucked away in her mother's study.

The iconic pictures of the big bearded man entwined with a naked woman were thrilling to look at. A positive step in my sexual development.

Likewise, for many years, Playboy was the starting point for young lads. They'd find it under their brother's bed or pull it off the top shelf of a local newsagents, tittering over the contents until the shopkeeper drove them out.

In our childish innocence we all felt as though we were bold as brass, but looking back now we can see it as a healthy rite of passage. Little did we know that these little naughty moments we all experienced would become child's play in years to come.

What today's generation have to contend with is a complete saturation of sex.

The lesbian scene, the orgy, the ejaculate-in-the-face scene. It's all there at the click of a button.

I was out with a group of footballers in a Dublin nightclub recently and not one of the red blooded 20 to 30-something-year-olds blinked at the full frontal photographs of naked women in various positions hanging above their heads as they downed their pints.

No one put it better than David Amsden when he said that porn is now the "wallpaper" of our lives.

Playboy pulled the plug on publishing naked images this week, describing how its centre-folds had become "passé". As the magazine's CEO Scott Flanders explained: "You're now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free."

The publishing giant cannot contend with the tidal wave of pornography, which is steadily diluting our ability to get our kicks. After 30 years of protests at the magazine's content, rather than a victory for feminism, it represents the most interesting marker to date of what has become of the modern world's attitude towards sex.

In no way is it right to condemn porn or say we should live without it - it can be a great accompaniment in the bedroom - but the sheer volume and accessibility is at the heart of the issue.

These days we are over-stimulated from every direction. We have mobile phones glued to our hands, fat sugary processed food saturates our diet - escapism in all it's guises is available on demand.

And sex is no different.

As Naomi Wolfe pointed out in The Porn Myth: "If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives, but less so."

Last year, one porn site alone, Pornhub, recorded 18.35 billion visits. Think about that.

It's even more staggering when you consider that Playboy magazine reached peak sales at seven million per month. It was just a drop in the ocean in comparison to today's consumption.

In recent days I spoke with former Miss World Rosanna Davison (below) who dominated the news stands when she posed nude for the magazine.

On hearing that naked pictures would be no more in the publication she once graced, she lamented that "we have all been desensitised to nudity and eroticism" due to online accessibility.

"I feel grateful that the internet and social media only came along when I was an adult, and I didn't have those pressures or influences as a child. I do worry about future generations and what they will be subject to from a young age," she said.

"It shows how quickly the world has changed in the past decade and it will be interesting to see if we've reached the pinnacle of easily accessible porn, or if it will continue to grow at such a shocking rate."

As with all pleasures in life, if we ignore the principle of moderation, they cannot please us to the same extent.

Nothing turns a man or woman on in sex more than a build-up. And when you haven't experienced one of your desires for a while, or diluted it by a cheapened version, your senses go into overdrive.

Anyone who has gone on a sugar-free diet knows the intense pleasure they can get from something as simple as a sweet strawberry.

As much as someone who has been binging on fast food discovers that even the tastiest food can go down the hatch without feeling it.

It's only when we learn to moderate the amount of excitement we access on the dim blue of our screens that we can feel the pleasure of the real sex again.

Sunday Independent

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