I don’t have a problem with pornography—in theory.
I think sex between consenting adults is perfectly normal. I think people watching sex between consenting adults is also perfectly normal. I don’t think we can abolish the making or consumption of pornography, but I do think we need to change the way we talk about it.
People are afraid to talk about sex for a number of reasons. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t know where to begin. We don’t know what we should or shouldn’t be talking about.
You can talk to whomever you like about sex as far as I am concerned, as long as you are also talking to your partner(s). If you think you are ready to have a sexual relationship with someone, then you should also feel comfortable enough to have a conversation about that sexual relationship.
If you are watching porn, this should be part of your conversation. Trying to hide a part of your sexuality from your partner may heighten the sense that you are getting away with something, but will only diminish the trust you have built that led you to this sexual relationship in the first place. You should feel comfortable talking about your desires and turn-ons, as well as sexual acts that make you uncomfortable. Most of all, you should be talking about consent.
My problem with pornography is that you have to assume consent. You can’t call up the actors in the clips or films and ask for their consent that you watch them. You can’t ask if they consented to all the acts that were filmed, and you can’t ask if they would consent to the same acts again.
Maybe they were fine with being filmed at the time—best case scenario, they even had fun while doing it—but now, days, weeks, months, years later, wish it was no longer available. Maybe they said yes to filming it on Tuesday, but when it came time to film on Thursday, they didn’t want to anymore but were now contractually obligated to, and therefore did even though they weren’t really into it. Ethically, this is where I get hung up.
Consent for me is an important idea. Realizing that consent given for one act, one time, does not mean that act is consented to in perpetuity, is key to understanding the changeable nature of all of us. We are all allowed to change our minds, at any stage of a sexual relationship about how and what we are comfortable experiencing within that relationship.
Until we can give that simple and crucial right of changeability to the actors within a piece of porn, I don’t think it’s ethical to consume.