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Analysis: experts split on whether easy access to porn has fuelled sexual harassment, abuse and assault among young people. The harrowing reports of sexism and assaults in schools detailed on the everyonesinvited. The disclosures have raised concerns that easy access to pornography is part of the problem.


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Half the adult population of the UK watched online pornography during the pandemic, according to a projection by Ofcom. The media regulator found that 26 million individuals viewed adult material in September

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T he last time I saw Gail Dines speak, at a conference in Boston, she moved the audience to tears with her description of the problems caused by pornography, and provoked laughter with her sharp observations about pornographers themselves.

Guardian porn in the audience were newly inspired, and men at the event — many of whom had never viewed pornography as a problem before — queued up afterwards to pledge their support. The scene highlighted Dines's explosive charisma and the fact that, since the death of Andrea Dworkin, she has risen to that most difficult and interesting of public roles: the world's leading anti-pornography campaigner. She wrote it primarily to educate people about what pornography today is really like, she says, and to banish any notion of it as benign titillation.

The book documents the recent history of porn, including the technological shifts that have made it accessible on mobile phones, videogames and laptops.

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According to Dines's research the prevalence of porn means that men are becoming desensitised to it, and are therefore seeking out ever harsher, more violent and degrading images. Even the porn industry is shocked by how much violence the fans want, she says; at the industry conferences that Dines attends, porn makers have increasingly been discussing the trend for more extreme practices.

And the audience is getting younger. Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being.

We are the only anti-piracy company that identifies and stops pirates, not just cleans up after them.

They are bewildered, even angry, when real women don't want or enjoy porn sex. Porn culture doesn't only affect men. It also changes "the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships," says Dines. The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects.

Uk drops plans for online pornography age verification system

This has a terrible effect on girls' sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire. Images have now become so extreme that acts that were almost non-existent a decade ago have become commonplace. From studying thousands of porn films and images Guardian porn found that the most popular acts depicted in internet porn include vaginal, oral and anal penetration by three or more men at the same time; double anal; double vaginal; a female gagging from having a penis thrust into her throat; and ejaculation in a woman's face, eyes and mouth.

In nothing else is their hatred of us quite as clear. Born in Manchester, Dines moved to Israel inaged 22, and soon became involved in the women's movement. An event organised by the feminist consciousness-raising group Women against Pornography in Haifa — in which pornography was shown — changed her life forever. From then on, she knew she had to campaign about the issue.

There were two images from Hustler magazine that she found especially shocking: a cartoon of a construction worker drilling a jackhammer into a woman's vagina, and one depicting a woman being fed through a meat grinder. The couple moved to the US inand Dines has taught at Wheelock College, Boston ever since, where she is professor of sociology and women's studies and chair of the American studies department.

She is something of a lone voice in academia. Aside from what she says are "a handful" of colleagues across the US, most contemporary scholars are positive about pornography, and Dines thinks this is due to both a fear of being considered in alliance with the religious right and the view that pornography represents and champions sexual liberation. This view was reflected in the film The People guardian porn Larry Flyntwhere the billionaire pornographer of the film's title — the head of the Hustler empire — was portrayed as a man simply fighting for freedom of speech.

Dines disputes these ideas. As a result of her research, Dines believes that pornography is driving men to commit particular acts of violence towards women. Sexual assault centres in US colleges have said that more women are reporting anal rape, which Dines attributes directly to the normalisation of such practices in pornography. Men learn about sex from porn, and in porn nothing is too painful or degrading for women.

There are legal sites that feature hardcore images of extremely young-looking women being penetrated by older men, with disclaimers stating all the models are 18 and over. Dines is clear that regular exposure to such material has an effect of breaking down the taboo about having sex with children. She recently interviewed a of men in prison who had committed rape against children. All were habitual users of child pornography.

They were horrified at the idea of sex with a prepubescent child initially but within six months they had all raped. What can we expect next from the industry? It contained a scene of a woman being anally penetrated while kneeling in a coffin.

In Dines's view, the best way to address the rise of internet pornography is to raise public awareness about its actual content, and name it as a public health issue by bringing together educators, health professionals, community activists, parents and anti-violence experts to create materials that educate the public. The backlash against Dines and her work is well-documented. Various pro-porn activists post accusations about her on websites, suggesting she guardian porn motivated by money, hates sex, and victimises women to support her supposed anti-male ideology. Dines is regularly criticised by pornographers in the trade magazines and on porn websites and she tells me that her college receives letters after any public event at which she is speaking, attacking her views.

Does she ever feel depressed by all this?

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But I try to surround myself with good things — my students, colleagues, and my family. The truth about the porn industry.

Gail Dines, the author of an explosive new book about the sex industry, on why pornography has never been a greater threat to our relationships. Julie Bindel.

Topics Women Pornography Feminism features. Reuse this content.