Porn is about fantasy sex - and the truth is that some women have rape fantasies. But this is very different from the real thing

It does not mean we would enjoy being raped, or that we deserve to be raped. Let's not teach teenagers that Planet Porn is inextricable from the Real World

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A teacher recently told me about a brilliant game she had invented to play with her students during PSHE lessons addressing the thorny and complicated subject of pornography.

To play the game, one takes a series of written statements relating to sex and the students would have to decide whether they belonged in ‘The Real World’ or ‘Planet Porn’. (The example she gave me was “all women have enormous boobs” which clearly belongs on Planet Porn).

The idea behind the exercise, of course, is to educate young people about the distinction between what they see on a terrifyingly regular basis being performed by actors online and what is/should be going on behind the closed (hopefully, if they live with their parents) bedroom doors of real people. Pornography, by its very nature, is designed to be fantasy sex, an outlet via which we can vicariously explore the things we might think about but would never attempt in the Real World.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway for the sake of clarity) that fantasy sex must take place within strict parameters. It cannot be a free-for-all of every slightly bizarre thing one has ever idly wondered about in the dark recesses of one’s sexual subconscious. The sex enacted within pornography must, for example, be between two (or, often, more) consenting adults. Often it is not. We hear all too often stories of vulnerable women and minors being sex trafficked and forced into the industry.

But David Cameron doesn’t know what to do to go about regulating something so covert and powerful as sex trafficking so instead he is banning so called ‘rape porn’.

At this juncture, it would be easy for me to applaud the government for prohibiting something which represents such an abhorrent act and no doubt everyone would say rah rah and pat me on the back for being such a marvellous feminist. But I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to attempt a bit of honesty (and then hide under a table in my flat and await the inevitable backlash).

If we are honest with ourselves, a lot of women have indulged in sexual fantasies about rape. This does not mean we would enjoy being raped, or that we deserve to be raped, in the Real World. Interestingly, few women I know would openly admit to this. The reason I happen to know it’s true is because I’ve interviewed a lot of men who say that their partners have admitted to having rape fantasies in moments of intimacy that can only exist between lovers.

The subject of rape fantasy is taboo because it can so easily be misconstrued. It can seem as though you are diminishing the experiences of women and men who have had to endure the reality of the act. But there is a world of difference between the way we imagine rape when we fantasise about it (which is really just a step away from good old fashioned domination) and what happens during the actual crime in the Real World. They are two entirely different acts and the latter is one we wouldn’t genuinely wish upon ourselves or anybody.

Which brings me to my central point. If there is one place in which the widely-enjoyed rape fantasy belongs it is on Planet Porn - performed by actors who have willingly entered into an agreement to act it out and get paid at the end of it. So not rape at all, then. The very antithesis of it, in fact.

If we are concerned about the effect rape porn will have on impressionable young people who are bombarded with sexually explicit material via the internet, then the solution is to educate them about the differences between what they see on screen and a healthy sexual relationship.

"We are tacitly teaching teenagers that Planet Porn is inextricable from the Real World"

If we ban rape porn, the message we are sending by proxy is “anything that is watched in a porn film will inevitably be replicated!”. We are tacitly teaching teenagers that Planet Porn is inextricable from the Real World. Which brings a whole host of additional problems (their expectations of the job description of a female estate agent/pizza delivery person/secretary etc. being just one of them).

So why do I think this topic is of such paramount importance that I’ve all but admitted that I’ve had the occasional rape fantasy in a national online newspaper? It’s because I genuinely think we are being duped. The government’s recent foray into porn regulation is, in my opinion, thinly veiled propaganda and it makes my blood boil in a way that isn’t at all desirable in this 32 degree heat.

Last Wednesday, the Daily Mail published an article which detailed the contents of a leaked memo from the office of David Cameron. It stated that the much-lauded ‘opt in’ changes to default settings on search engines (which would supposedly prevent minors from accessing pornography) were in fact a smoke screen. In the memo, the Prime Minister had assured internet providers that, in reality, they wouldn’t be making any changes at all. It was business as usual and a PR stunt to reassure the public. The article was tucked away on page 19 of the publication, after a seemly endless parade of speculative royal baby inspired nonsense.

Just like the fake changes to default settings, this ban on rape porn feels suspiciously as though the government are throwing us a bone. They’re distracting us from the fact that they, like most of us, don’t have the smallest Scooby how to tackle the genuinely malevolent aspects of the porn industry, so they’re attempting to appease us with a gesture that, here in the Real World, means nothing at all.

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