Porn is fine — yeah right!

I was in my teens when a sudden rush of sexual publications became available, thanks to a change in censorship law.

The Left-wing bookshop where I worked bought boxes of them, mostly lurid black and yellow-covered paperbacks of Robert Burns’ jaunty poems about fornication, The Kama Sutra, and The Perfumed Garden.

We possibly made a profit for the first time ever, though these were mostly rather dull clinical descriptions of the contortions you can get into having sex, just to prove it can be done.

They were innocent times. The Joy of Sex appeared, with illustrations of people performing and encouraging – from memory – the wearing of a kind of absurd loincloth arrangement to spice things up.

People huddled over copies of this in their lunch hour, too timid to be seen buying them, too nervous to take them home. I think they thought this was pornography. How quaint we were.

I’d seen the real thing by then, shown to me by older men who little cared how disgusted I was, and what the images showed so explicitly. It wasn’t pleasant, it never is, and it didn’t have a pleasant effect on me, but the thrill of potentially corrupting young people is irresistible to corrupt adults.

Nothing has changed since, as far as I can see, except that much more degrading images are now freely available everywhere, with the result that some young men’s brains get hard-wired with images that degrade women, and none that celebrate affection.

We thought feminism had won the battle for equality only to find young women, who now excel academically, are targets of misogyny that reduces them to sex dolls for male amusement.

The pity of it is that many young women think this is OK. Some boast of being prostitutes to support themselves through degree courses, and somehow we’ve come to think this is OK.

It’s OK, in other words, to be a high achiever so long as you demean yourself at the same time. No harm done. I don’t believe it. Continue reading

  • Rosemary McLeod is a New Zealand writer, journalist, cartoonist and columnist.

News category: Analysis and Comment.

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