JENNI MURRAY: I spent a day watching porn so I know how damaging it is

JENNI MURRAY: I spent a day watching porn so I know how damaging it has been for women. It’s time to protect the next generation

Here we go again. More evidence of the harm that is caused by the free availability of pornography — easily found on a computer, smartphone or tablet — this time focusing on its impact on young women.

Young men who watch explicit material on a regular basis, sometimes alone or with girlfriends or groups of male friends, have suffered from erectile dysfunction and depression.

Now there’s increasing evidence that the number of young women who watch pornography on a regular basis is growing and it’s causing serious harm. The most popular site, Pornhub, has more than 15 million monthly visitors and more than a third of its regular users are female.

In this week’s Mail on Sunday, doctors and psychotherapists spoke of their concern at the effect on the sex lives of women.

Dr Laura Jarvis, who’s an NHS psychosexual specialist, said: ‘The increasingly extreme nature of adult content is making young women fearful of sex. Often, they don’t want to do what is expected of them because it is painful or just not pleasurable.’

Dr Leila Frodsham, a consultant gynaecologist, says she is being overwhelmed with patients suffering a condition called vaginismus — a fear of vaginal penetration — and a recent report in the British Medical Journal linked a rise in intimate injuries and infections among young women to risky and aggressive sexual acts.

Unfortunately, none of this is new. In 2016, I came across a book by an American journalist, Peggy Orenstein, called Girls & Sex.

She interviewed young women aged between 15 and 20 who all felt they were being forced into shaving their pubic hair and coerced into sex they didn’t want to have by boyfriends who thought watching porn was cool.

She concluded that the girls were merely giving a performance for the pleasure of boys and they often said to her: ‘It’s not about me, it’s about him.’

So much for the sexual liberation of women my generation fought so hard for.

Now, I’m no prude and must confess to having watched, once or twice in my youth, the kind of old-fashioned pornography which I could see was quite titillating: there was a plot, of sorts, a woman waited at home for the washing machine repair man who was unexpectedly handsome and what followed was quite naughty but nice. No violence, no brutality, just a bit of rumpy pumpy.

For a feature for this newspaper, together with a colleague — female — I turned on a work computer (neither of us wanted such material to be recorded on our own laptops) and clicked into Pornhub

Porn this brutal should be banned, yet it’s available for free on a device to which almost every child in Britain has access

So, what is going on that is so distressing to the young women of the 21st century?

For a feature for this newspaper, together with a colleague — female — I turned on a work computer (neither of us wanted such material to be recorded on our own laptops) and clicked into Pornhub. Page after page of repulsive imagery popped up with the click of a mouse — no charge, no identification or age requested.

Many of the captions for the films on offer are unprintable in a family newspaper. As for the scenarios that appear as I click on the links, the choice is profoundly depressing and as arousing for a woman as a bucket of cold sick.

The first scene we observe involves a woman and a group of eight men who gather around her, removing her clothes and manhandling her in a most brutal and painful manner. She, noisily, appears to revel in being the object of their attention.

A film marked Romance is better shot than most and, at the beginning, the man does pay some attention to his partner’s pleasure. But the mood quickly changes and soon it’s only the man’s pleasure that matters.

A film marked Romance is better shot than most and, at the beginning, the man does pay some attention to his partner’s pleasure. But the mood quickly changes and soon it’s only the man’s pleasure that matters (file image)

The most appalling sequence I watched is entitled Flexi Dolls. A man enters a hotel room carrying a large black sports bag. He unzips it and begins to unfold what looks like a mannequin.

It’s not. It’s a real woman who is laid on the bed. Unspeakable things are done to her, but she has a completely blank expression.

Porn this brutal should be banned, yet it’s available for free on a device to which almost every child in Britain has access.

If adult men and women choose to watch this kind of abuse, it’s entirely up to them, although it may well account for the high levels of sexual violence that have been all too prevalent in recent years.

What worried me most is that these kinds of images may form a teenager’s first sexual experience. The National Union of Students has revealed that internet porn is now a major source of sex education for most young people.

But porn is not sex education; it’s education in abuse.

Schools must tackle this insidious online threat. It may sound controversial, but the danger of such pornographic material should be included in sex education classes.

If young people are led to believe this violence and abuse is what sex is about, surely it is our duty to show them it isn’t.

Online porn has already damaged a generation of women; it’s time we acted to protect the next.

Oh, Victoria, what a terrible mistake you’re making in your efforts to continue to be the most important woman in your son Brooklyn’s life.

It wasn’t an insult when his new wife, Nicola Peltz, chose not to wear one of your designs as her wedding dress. She’s an adult with tastes of her own.

It was an insult to Nicola when, according to one insider, you stole the first dance song at the couple’s wedding reception. That should have been between bridegroom and bride, not bridegroom and his mum.

No wonder the couple wanted to spend their summer together rather than on a family holiday.

There’s an old saying: ‘A daughter is a daughter all her life. A son is a son till he gets a wife.’ Be careful or you’ll lose them both.

Let’s just say Harry Styles’s much vaunted movie, Don’t Worry Darling, has received somewhat mixed reviews. It stars Harry and Florence Pugh and is directed by Olivia Wilde, but there was plenty for darling Ms Pugh to worry about. Harry and Olivia became lovers on set. Ms Pugh felt a bit left out, I suspect.

Not very professional for the director to be sloping off with one of her stars after all. Both lead actors, surely, should be treated equally. Notes should not be given as pillow talk!

Don’t Worry Darling, has received somewhat mixed reviews. It stars Harry and Florence Pugh (pictured) and is directed by Olivia Wilde, but there was plenty for darling Ms Pugh to worry about. Harry and Olivia became lovers on set

Please M&S, don’t ditch the teacups and saucers in favour of mugs for tea in your cafes. They may be less effort to wash and dry, but tea tastes so much better poured from a teapot into a delicate china cup. 

Fifty is a breeze… It’s seventy that hurts 

I’m so pleased Gwyneth Paltrow says she’s feeling ‘amazing’ as she turns 50. I felt amazing at 50, too, with no assistance from Gwynnie’s Goop, just a cheery acceptance that age is inevitable. It was 70 that was a bit of a shock —the ‘inevitable’ aches, pains and stiffness in the morning. Still here though, and that’s pretty amazing.  

I’m so pleased Gwyneth Paltrow says she’s feeling ‘amazing’ as she turns 50. I felt amazing at 50, too, with no assistance from Gwynnie’s Goop

It’s hardly surprising that a secondary teacher, Enoch Burke, found it difficult to address a pupil previously a boy, now a girl, as ‘they’. The grammar! But his cancellation has gone further than what has happened to a number of gender critical professors who simply lost their jobs. Having been suspended by his school, Mr Burke refused to stay away and has now been incarcerated in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin for contempt of court. Whatever next?! 

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