So Pamela Anderson is back in the news, defending her hypocritical, sexist, uneducated, no-fap porn-worrying. Saying that “when porn becomes a replacement for real, live, sexual interactions between loving adults, we’re all in trouble. When the impersonal nature of porn supplants the passion and intimacy of real lovemaking, then we’ve lost the ability to connect. (…) And the growing addiction to porn is creating a level of sexual desensitization that requires a national conversation. Porn is teaching men to view women as caricatures who are all cover and no book, all form and no substance. Both men and women deserve better.”
Which, to be fair, sounds good.
Until you realize that it doesn’t make any sense.
One: Way to be a self-hater, Anderson. You made your fame, your lifestyle, and your fortunes off of the adult sex industry. And, now that you have all those things, you feel like you're the person to throw the people in the industry and its consumers under the bus by calling them losers? I think those men and women, both creators and consumers, deserve better from you.
Two: Who are you to judge other people’s sex lives? Who are you to say that porn can’t be a part of “real, live sexual interactions between loving adults?” Who are you to decide what’s better for other people? Maybe porn doesn’t work for you. That’s fine. But you don’t get to decide what works for someone else. So long as it’s not actively harming anyone, what business is it of yours—any of ours, of anyone—to interfere with other people’s private lives? To say we know best for them? As Tina Horn said about Anderson’s so-called “sensual revolution”, “the idea that ‘porn,’ as a whole, represents degradation, while ‘erotica’ describes something pure and healthy, is a totally bunk proposition. It’s based on a subjective and classist idea of taste — how can Anderson (or anyone) tell us what distinguishes ‘porn’ from ‘erotica’? We should always be suspicious of such assertions, because who ultimately gets to dictate what is ‘good’ sex and what is ‘bad’ sex? The powerful people, the people with social capital.” And, as we've seen from celebrities to lawmakers, the people in power are probably not the most qualified people to decide this.
Three: You are confusing the issue. The problem is not porn; the problem is how we as a society discuss and think about sex. The one thing I will agree with is that we need to have a national conversation about this, because we are still not getting it right.
Most often, when you hear this topic discussed, it’s by pearl-clutching parents who somehow think that if they wring their hands enough and stand on enough soap boxes maybe their kids will somehow consume less porn then they do. Spoiler: they won’t. And pretending like you can somehow stop them does no one any good, least of all your kids.
If you're really all that worried about what your children will think of porn and how it will affect their ideas about sex, you could...oh, I don't know, talk to your child about sex and porn and how you fear it might affect them. You could talk to them about what sex in the real world looks like and how it differs from a lot of the unrealistic and often harmful narratives in porn. You could direct them to sites, like Scarleteen, that talk about sexual education and answer many of the questions far too many teens seek out answers to in porn.
You could also acknowledge that people, from teens to adults, will view porn. They will also likely enjoy viewing porn. Because most people, male & female, do. And, acknowledging that truth, you could advise your kids to be smart and responsible with their porn consumption. You could try having this conversation more than once. You could make it part of the conversation of parenting.
And you yourself could advocate for more ethical porn, where the producers of porn, from the actors to the writers to the filmmakers, are all treated well and act responsibly, where they care about the content they create and the impact it makes on the world around them, and where basic standards of decency like consent and mutual pleasure are emphasized.
There is a lot, as a concerned person, you could do to help fix the "public-health crisis" of porn in real and tangible ways beyond just freaking out and longing for days that are never coming back and likely never existed. Because I remember what it was like getting porn before the internet; it wasn't that hard and was often more nonconsensually toxic without a lot of the more ethical options we have today. And, as Tina Horn also said, like a lot of the things we love, from skydiving to ice cream, “Porn and sexting are treats (…) So treat yourself in moderation, if you’re so inclined. And don’t let anyone shame you — you deserve it.”