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Filmed at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 23rd April 2013.
Hooray for porn! What would we be without it? Bored, repressed, frustrated. Porn nails the lie that sex is something we should be ashamed of. Porn tells us that that sex doesn’t just come in vanilla flavour. Porn lights up the lives of the depressed, the lonely, the sexually unadventurous. It spices dull marriages; it brings excitement to relationships; it tells us where to look and where to touch. Porn allows the timid to indulge fantasies they’d never live out in real life and the adventurous to experiment with new forms of pleasure. Now that it has stepped down from the top shelf and waltzed across the internet we can all enjoy it without the stigma of being cast as dirty old men… and women. Secretly we all know it’s one of the great pleasures out there: all that remains is that we stop pretending it’s something dirty and come straight out and salute it.
Or maybe not. Is pornland really such a nice place to be? Far from nailing a lie isn’t porn selling a lie: that women are always eager and willing to engage in extreme practices, that bodies are always tanned and buffed, breasts always pert, orgasms always explosive? Isn’t this a recipe for frustration and disappointment? And to attract the restless voyeur, porn is always having to up the ante — cyber-sex is getting ever harsher, more degrading, more extreme. Salute it? Why? When all intimacy is reduced to heave and thrust what scope is left for sensitivity and tolerance and love? And what kind of a warped, desensitised view of the world of human intimacy does this offer up to our children? Men finding it harder to be satisfied with their real world partners; women feeling inadequate and pressured to live up to the cyber-competition — this is the reality of pornland.
So which is it — the great liberator of the libido or a blight on human intimacy?
*Speakers for the motionAnna Arrowsmith – Pornographic film director working under the title Anna Span; runs a campaign site for erotic workers called www.WeConsent.org which campaigns against moral panics and anti-erotic industry legislation
Dr Clarissa Smith – Reader in Sexualities and Culture, University of Sunderland, whose research focuses on the everyday uses of pornography, and how the people who use it feel it fits into their lives
*Speakers against the motionGermaine Greer – Feminist author, academic, and broadcaster
Dr Robert Lefever – Leading expert on the treatment of addictive and compulsive behaviour
*ChairViv Groskop – Writer and BBC Radio 4 broadcaster
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