Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Well, yet another gap in transmission due to busy-ness at work.

But that doesn't mean to say that nothing's been happening. The past few weeks have been full of sex-relevant media stories. And, happily many of them have carried a hidden upside.

Poor Jade Goody finally lost her battle with cervical cancer - but on the back of that, in some areas of the UK the number of women taking smear tests is up by many per cent. The economic crisis means that men can't afford to keep mistresses any more - and the upside of that is, hopefully, fewer broken marriages and destroyed families. Plus, Jacqui Smith's husband has been caught in flagrante with two porn films - but that in turn has brought the whole issue of porn squarely into the public domain.

It's been that last story that I've been asked to comment most on - including a long interview for The Times - and I have expressed concern. Yes, I was the one who in the recent Family Planning Association Debate on the issue of porn argued that there are no easy answers. And I still think that burying all sexual images and tabooing all sexual information - as was done in Victorian times - is a very bad idea.

Nevertheless, it's becoming clearer and clearer that while the general principle of openness about matters sexual still holds true, it needs to be done well. When linked with inaccurate information (all men have big penises, all women climax immediately upon penetration) and when surrounded by problematic values (a woman is only valid if she is slim and big breasted, a man is only valid if he keeps it up all night) porn is utterly harmful.

And, of course, addictive. I get more and more letters from women in particular who are distressed and disgusted by their partners' use of porn - and the subsequent deceit and betrayal where such partners promise to stop but then secretly. Relate reports a steep increase in marriage breakdown that is fuelled by Internet porn addiction (though whether the breakdown chicken or the addiction egg comes first is still in debate).

No it won't work to ban all erotic images. It won't work to think that our society can magically switch back to pre-sexualisation days.

But what we can do is to encourage a process of emotional maturity in our treatment of sex, so that we don't get stuck at the 'big tits, big cock' stage of adolescent sexuality. What we can do is topoint out that screen portrayals are not real life, and that real life sex is much much better just because it is real.

What we can do, in short, is to constantly remember that good, positive loving sex is much much better than the ersatz porn variety...

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