The Internet Killed Penthouse. Did it Destroy Your Virginity Too?
Everyone knows that the internet is the place to be. Everyone and their grandmother has a blog, you’re connected with your whole High School on Facebook, and your best friend’s mom likes to comment on your photos (photos that she really has no place to be commenting on). But in this wave of new media obsession, people are reacting differently to things that used to be considered taboo. With Playboy’s decision to no longer run nudes, and Penthouse closing their printing presses for good, has the internet killed old-fashioned porn magazines? Has the death of porn magazines allowed for sexually explicit media to reach new people?
Now, I’m not particularly interested in porn. As far as I can tell, it’s a pretty terrifying lifestyle. Seriously, if you don’t believe me there are some really killer movies on Netflix about the industry (Hot Girls Wanted, After Porn Ends, Tricked). But the death of porn magazines means the death of the taboo stigma around porn. And the death of that taboo can be a good or a bad thing.
Internet porn killed Penthouse. Penthouse was the final “porn magazine” to come off the shelves, shortly after Playboy decided to stop printing nudes, Penthouse gave up. No one gets their porn from magazines anymore, everyone gets it online. There are hundreds upon thousands of websites where you can buy or stream sexually explicit videos. You can fake your age by a simple click of the button. I remember being 8 or 9 years old signing up for games or websites where you had to “promise” that you were over the age of 13. It’s like reading the “Terms & Conditions,” no one ever does it, everyone just clicks “yes.”
Porn is for adults. It’s not made for teenagers to learn about sex. Porn is rarely about what “feels good” it’s about what looks good on camera. All the crazy, terrifying things that have obscure food related names are almost always solely for the camera. Now that porn has become more accepted, women are being viewed more as objects in sex, and they’re no longer the ones in control. It’s one thing if a woman owns it and stands up and says “I want to show you this” vs. a guy saying “come here, come here, show me, show me.”
The removal of stigma surrounding porn and sexuality means men and women are more comfortable exploring their sexuality and discovering what makes them happy. It’s no longer frowned upon to watch a porn video and go “Oh, I want to try that,” or “Is it okay that I want try something different?” It’s OKAY to explore your sexuality, it’s OKAY to try something new and learn what you want, and it’s OKAY to explore. Getting rid of the negative thoughts about sex and about whether you’re allowed to have sex is so important right now. No one is forced to be sexual, but if you want to be, go for it. Do whatever the hell makes you feel good in the bedroom, it’s all about you babe.
Sex is no longer taboo, and that’s great. But how do we deal with the sudden onslaught of sexually provocative material. Where is the line drawn? Is it okay to have billboards of half naked women on the sides of highways? Is slut-shaming something new that we have to deal with or is it just the new taboo? People have slowly been introduced to sexually explicit material, it was slipped into alcohol ads that were once only allowed to be published in Playboy and Penthouse but slowly made their way into fashion magazines and billboards. These ads have common themes, partially naked women or men, standing in sexually provocative poses, selling god knows what. These ads can be severely damaging to the self-esteem and development of young boys and girls, they shouldn’t think that that’s what they have to look like or do in order to be happy.
Porn is not the only media that children are learning about sex from. There are billions of songs and music videos that are so sexually explicit it’s close enough to porn. There are preteen girls who know the words to “Bed Rock — Young Money“, “Wiggle — Jason Derulo,” and hundreds of other videos that open with the same scene of one man surrounded by half naked women.
The end of printed porn magazines really marked a new era of internet use. It shows that people are getting so much of their material from the Internet that a form of porn became obsolete (whoever thought that would happen?). It’s certainly not a bad thing that everyone and their grandmothers are switching to the Internet, it’s allowing new mediums and new people to be heard (people like me!). But there comes a time when certain things have to be looked at with a slightly more critical eye, and sexually graphic ads are just that. There needs to be a line drawn between what is able to be used and what’s not. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes, I’m about as big as you can get for protecting freedom of speech, but is it okay to be driving down the highway and see a huge billboard with a half naked woman advertising… cheese?
Wouldn’t it make you uncomfortable too?