The Age of Porn

The Age of Porn

As active college students we watch and criticize movies, listen to music digitally, rave at live music shows, read books on top of the tons of readings we are assigned at school and learn to appreciate art by going to galleries (even when our administration places the only university art gallery “on hold”). Every once in a while — hopefully more often than that — we move down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to fulfill more basic needs. But there is a phenomenon that is neither just physiological nor solely spiritual or cultural.

Students indulge in sexual fantasies with great relish, and porn brings them to life. To uncover the world of porn for UCSD students, we conducted an online survey of 537 undergrads (319 identifying as males and 200 as female) who attend our school. The survey purposely does not define “porn” for the participants, since today, thanks to the Internet, pornographic content comes in all shapes and sizes, literally and proverbially. However, the questions mainly focused on video pornography, as it remains one of the most popular forms of pornography. Now, let’s see what people think.

First things first: 86 percent of respondents do watch porn (74 percent of females, 95 percent of males), and 90 percent of those who took the survey agree that watching people have sex on camera is absolutely normal. It’s no surprise that Yik Yak folks often blame XXX-video fans for ResNet’s slow Internet connection, while Tritonsnap captures students going on Pornhub at Geisel. However, not everyone is as ready to let the world know about his or her porn preferences; not everyone wants to be “that person” at the library. Around one-fourth of UCSD students do not feel comfortable talking about pornography with their friends. But, hey, 65 percent of respondents are totally fine with sharing links and telling each other what they would rather witness on their computer screens.

Meanwhile, the choice of pornographic content directly depends on how the actors please one another, as 66 percent of people said that they care a lot about the type of sexual acts performed in porn. Not only do students want porn performers to be a certain sex, but they also expect them to look certain ways (66 percent), be a certain age (48 percent) and have a particular sexual orientation (45 percent) and race (41 percent). At the same time, UCSD folks are significantly less picky when it comes to details such as the plot, setting or background music. Remarkably, a significant number of respondents confess that they prefer other forms of pornography, such as written pornography, gif-porn and images to video porno. But no matter what content students choose, it is very unlikely that they pay for it, with only 5 percent of students claiming to purchase pornographic content. Sorry, Brazzers, $30 per month is almost four meals at Pines or 24 laundry loads. GRAFS

While the majority of UCSD students do watch porn (and rather often) they are not oblivious to the fact that pornography is a very controversial phenomenon. While our respondents recognize that it can be a great way to explore yourself, relieve stress while masturbating and strengthen your relationship with a partner, some also acknowledged that pornography can also create false impressions about sex, promote non-consensual or unsafe sex, normalize objectification of women, fetishize certain sexual orientations or races and even turn people into porn-addicts.

The data presented by Stoppornculture.com demonstrates that 88.2 percent of top-rated porn scenes contain aggressive acts. Of pornography containing sexual violence, 70 percent of the time, a man perpetrated the aggression and 94 percent of the time the act is directed toward a woman. Despite these statistics, we were happy to find out from our survey that UCSD men and women are equally aware of the objectifying quality of pornography. It is a good reason to believe that in an educated community, like UCSD, even those who are not damaged by socially problematic images displayed in porn are ready to recognize the perpetuated inequalities and fight against them. No matter the race, gender or sexual orientation, students — who account for a third of all consumers of pornogrphy in the U.S., according to Pornhub — should take responsibility for what they watch and always keep in mind that pornography has an influence on our lives, and the influence it has largely depends on us.

We asked UCSD students what do they think about porn

AVATAR_f “Porn is a wonderful and natural thing. Sex is natural and beautiful and should not be stigmatized. The same goes for masturbation or other types of self love. As long as the people involved in the porn making are doing it consensually, I see nothing wrong with pornography. It’s also healthy to indulge in fantasy. I find it empowering to engage in or view consensual sexual acts. I know some people find it degrading, which is bunk. I am the child of an erotic dancer. I was raised by a sex worker. There is nothing degrading about her position. It is her choice to participate, she is in control of her body and she enjoys what she does. What’s wrong with that?”
AVATAR_m “Well, it objectifies the human body, and there’s a lot of weird porn out there. Whenever I watch porn I always think, ‘Damn, that’s somebody’s daughter,’ and then I feel weird.”
AVATAR_m “Everybody needs a release or some way to help them achieve a decent orgasm. There’s no shame in receiving pleasure from yourself. If there’s anything to learn from good porn (yes, it exists in non-violent/aggressive genres), it’s how to better please someone else when the situation calls for it. Porn can be a communicative tool for bettering any degree of health for a relationship, and I definitely recommend young people to explore all areas and find something they’re comfortable with.”
AVATAR_f “The genre options can be extremely degrading toward women, especially those of different races. I just watched the documentary “Hot Girls Wanted,” and I learned there’s a porn genre called ‘Latin Abuse,’ where Latin women are spoken to in vulgar ways and forced to do sexual acts and endure other degrading comments/actions.”
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