LONDON – This might come as a bit of a shock to a lot of folks in the sprawling, ideologically diverse, modern anti-porn movement, but the truth is, even those of us who make porn for a living don’t think it should be used as a form of sex education.
Among other things, this is why you’ll often hear directors, performers and fans of adult entertainment emphasize that porn, by and large, represents fantasy scenarios. And while that notion invites the question of whether fantasizing about having sex with strangers inside a minivan, or having sex with one’s pool boy, plumber or pizza guy is really a common enough phenomenon to justify the creation of roughly 47 billion scenes featuring those tropes, no porn fan I’ve met has ever suggested to me that they believed they were about to watch a documentary when they logged in to BangBus.com.
Granted, younger people generally are considered more apt to copy behaviors they see around them than are adults – which is why we’ve seen such massive effort from social conservatives to keep kids from watching mixed martial arts events, films in the Fast and Furious franchise and press conferences held by George Santos.
Wait – what’s that you say? There aren’t major, well-publicized, international campaigns led by social conservatives to keep kids from consuming such things? How odd.
To be fair, I suppose it’s hard to argue that watching MMA or listening to Santos tell lies about literally everything under the sun is making girls want to abandon their gender and become boys. Of course, it’s also ludicrous to argue that porn does such a thing, but here we are. And by here, I mean inside the brain of Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, which might sound like a lesser Game of Thrones character, but is in fact, the name of a Peer in the UK House of Lords.
According to Lady Jenkin, when young girls see the unspeakable things being done to women in the context of porn, they are “horrified by what they see” – and decide they don’t want to grow up to be women at all, with the effect of “pushing some to identify as non-binary or the opposite sex,” as The Christian Institute paraphrased it.
“So it has a very, very dangerous effect,” Lady Jenkin added. “We have no idea what the long term consequences are going to be with regards to relationships… we have to sort it out and we in Parliament have a responsibility to do that.”
Do you, though, Lady Jenkin? Do you have a responsibility to “sort it out”? Pray tell, will any part of this responsibility include speaking to young girls, or to trans folk, or anyone involved in the creation of sexually explicit content, to see if they think your theory has merit? I suspect the answer to that will be a big, fat (but painfully polite, in the British fashion) “No.”
While it’s easy to poke fun of Lady Jenkin’s argument, I suppose in the broader context of novel social theory coming out of the global right-wing political community in recent years, it’s not that strange. Is it any less sensible, for example, than Alex Jones’ concern over the possibility that tap water is, as he once put it, a “gay bomb, baby”?
“The reason there’s so many gay people now is because it’s a chemical warfare operation, and I have the government documents where they said they’re going to encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children,” Jones said on a June, 2010 episode of his show.
You will be shocked, I’m sure, to hear that Jones has never produced the “government documents” which contained the smoking gun evidence that the U.S. military is using tap water to make people – not just frogs – gay.
I’m guessing Lady Brienne Margaery Jenkin would be aghast at being compared with a deranged conspiracy theory-peddler like Alex Jones. After all, his father wasn’t the son of the 4th Baron Rayleigh, and Jones has never been a part of anything called the House of Lords. (The House of Lards, maybe, but not the House of Lords.)
While I might not take Lady Jenkin or her ‘porn is causing girls to go trans’ theory seriously, the unfortunate fact is that a lot of legislators and lawmakers, both inside and outside the UK, do take seriously people like her – and they aren’t particularly interested in whether theories like this hold any water, because they’ll throw in with anyone who favors the same outcomes they do.
Look, Lady Jenkin, let’s be clear here: The reason people like me are opposed to age verification and other mandatory content-filtering measures is we believe they’re just about inevitably both over and under-inclusive in what they block access to; present serious privacy concerns; encourage the chilling effect of self-censorship by non-adult platforms that aren’t sure whether their sites will be blocked, filtered, fined or prosecuted for offering NSFW content that no reasonable person would describe as “porn”; and are often easily circumvented by anyone familiar with the acronym “VPN.”
One last thing, Lady Jenkin: If rough sex in porn is the reason why people are transitioning to another gender, what are we to make of rough sex when it’s depicted within trans porn? Will watching rough porn that features trans performers make already-transitioned viewers want to transition back? Does the answer change if they watch trans porn while drinking tap water? I suppose I’ll have to tune in to Infowars – or a future debate in the House of Lords, perhaps – to find out.