By Gemma Kelly, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, CEASE
As an Irish citizen now living in the UK, I still like to keep up to date with goings on back home. So it was with all too familiar sadness and anger that on on 23 November 2022 I came upon Sean Moncrieff discussing the porn viewing habits of the Irish public with Dr Caroline West on his afternoon show on the Newstalk radio channel.
The title of the segment was, ‘The night of the Late Late Toy Show is the least popular time to watch porn in Ireland, streaming giant Pornhub has revealed’.
In this segment Dr West discussed these habits, referred to the genres of pornography most frequently searched for across the country, and likened watching porn as a ‘treat’ comparing it to fast food – ok in moderation but potentially harmful if consumed frequently.
This could not be further from the truth.
Mainstream pornography platforms such as Pornhub host vast, unknown quantities of heinous filmed crimes. This content includes videos of trafficking, rape and other non-consensual sexual violence, Image-Based Sexual Abuse (‘revenge porn’), covertly filmed material (‘spy-cam porn’), and Child Sexual Abuse Material (‘child pornography’).
Pornography sites also abound with videos depicting sexual coercion, abuse and exploitation of vulnerable women and children, intrafamilial rape (‘incest porn’), humiliation, punishment, torture and pain, and child sexual abuse.
The videos, to which she refers, are not fantasy, ‘romantic’ or representations of the ‘joy of sexuality’. Rather, this extreme content enforces sexism, normalises sexual violence and drives harmful sexual attitudes and behaviour. Videos depicting incest, ‘teen porn’ and child sexual abuse, while they may not be the most popular in Ireland (according to Pornhub), normalise children as objects of sexual desire and drive the demand for ‘real’ child sexual abuse material.
The fact that time spent on Pornhub decreases during the Late Late Toy Show is not something to be made light of. It is quite the opposite.
It should be a siren-sounding wake up call to the country about the vast quantity of violent pornographic material our young men, women (and children) are consuming. Porn that co-opts sexuality, pushes sexual desires further to the extreme and has devastating consequences on its users and society – particularly women and children.
The ’treat’ Dr West so lightly laments as not being long enough, is masturbating to sexual violence inflicted on another human being, most likely a young woman barely, if even, over the age of 18.
There is indeed much to lament. The blatant minimisation and normalisation of sexual violence as a ‘treat’ is a good place to start.”