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Should Porn Ever Be Regulated?

by Beth Divine 22 Jan 2019

Porn does well in the USA because of their first amendment rights – the freedom of speech. While not exactly talking, portrayals of sex and partaking of porn in order to satisfy sensual needs falls under freedom of expression, and this does fall under the protection of that amendment. However, hate speech and hate crimes are illegal, and this brings some aspects of porn into a rather dubious grey area. 

Rape is obviously illegal. Video of an actual rape should be used as evidence to convict the criminals, and for no other purpose. However, many people, of both genders, enjoy rape fantasies – scenes in which the sex seems to be forced or a bit rough, but in fact is either staged or will stop once a safe word is used.  So video scenes depicting rapes – or rape-like activity – may, in fact, not be rapes at all, and can be found fairly readily on some porn sites and can be produced for those who enjoy such fantasies without ever acting on them except with a willing and ready partner.

But when such clips are shown in countries that are notoriously less sexually liberated than Western countries – for example, in India (although it must be emphasised, this is just an example and not meant to be condemnatory of that beautiful country) – it can appear to be an invitation to act in just such a way. Youngsters in these countries are often kept separate from the opposite sex, and there is little in the way of sexual education from the point of view of sex being a pleasurable activity or one to be indulged in just for fun.

When youngsters stumble across graphic depictions of sex, violence and other activities that they have no personal experience of, it is easy for their sexual desires to be shaped by these clips, rather than by personal experiences and discovering their own desires and needs in a more natural way. Some experts say that some of the very high profile rape cases in India (hence the reason for quoting that country, although, as mentioned above, these crimes happen in every country, and for similar reasons – for every sexually liberal American teen there is a repressed and uneducated one making the same mistakes as their Indian counterparts…) have come about because men are accessing violent, rape fantasy porn, and then acting on these performances should they see a woman travelling by herself: ‘asking for it’ the same way the actresses seem to be ‘deserving’ of the treatment they receive.

So, should the porn industry be regulated? And should it be an in-industry authority or a wider one? If we allow rules to be applied to legal, consensual porn, what does that mean for the future of free speech? These are questions that do need answers, but the answers are not simple and whichever decision is taken, freedoms are sure to be restricted.