I like porn. To deny it would be like Jamie Oliver denying he likes olive oil- the man probably drizzles it on his cornflakes. But, these days my libido has been overtaken by a general air of confusion when it comes to that oldest of the ‘dark arts’ because frankly, I’m not even sure if it’s dark at all anymore!

When I was a kid porn was illegal. No question about it.

Sure, there was ‘soft’ porn everywhere. The kind that jumped out at you from page three of a daily rag, alongside the model’s personal ideas on how you ought to avoid traffic on the M62. It was accepted that nudity was fine. Even actual porn, the ‘top-shelf’ magazine kind that my mates and I would dare each other to grab from the upper levels at W.H. Smiths and quickly bury in a copy of Angling Times before getting kicked out, was accepted. In it were very clean, glossy images of woman in various poses, naked, save for some attempt at ‘story’ in the form of a nurse’s tabard or a cowboy hat and a bale of straw.

What the acceptable face of porn lacked in those days was anything resembling sex. No penises, no erections and certainly no penetration! That kind of vile filth was saved for the evil big brother of ‘Soft’; the aptly named ‘hard’ core porn. And, as far as I was aware, it was illegal.

Every kid of the 70s and 80s had sat, nervously, in a dark basement with a band of teenage brothers to watch five minutes of grainy intercourse on a VHS tape that was so over watched the tracking (whatever that was) needed adjusting with a lump hammer. We would be sworn to secrecy because we were told that just being caught in possession of that tape would land us in jail “for five years”. Hardcore porn, the kind with actual sex in it, was illegal and never spoken of. It was the Voldemort of home entertainment.

Now, just like that noseless egg-head, it’s considered completely harmless and is bloody everywhere! Where once it was the thing that no self-respecting person would ever admit to watching, it’s now openly accepted as an everyday option for viewing pleasure, like the news, but with a very different kind of ‘and finally’ ending. There was even an episode of Friends about it! PornHub is a massive enterprise, it pays taxes and advertises and sponsors events like it’s Heineken! When did this change happen? Is it still illegal? Did I miss some announcement? Why isn’t every single person in the world doing a five stretch?

Like I said, I do like porn… regular porn. Sex between consenting adults of any sexual orientation. It’s fine by me. And there’s no point denying people watch it, so why keep it unspoken? It makes sense that we should address the thong-wearing elephant in the room.

My worry, now that I have a six-year-old son and a whole raft of rapidly-growing boys around me, is that the stuff I thought was ‘hardcore’ and had to plan a glimpse of like a bank job, is now so tame it’s barely  even considered sex. Today’s hardcore is extreme and getting ever more so by the day. Plus, it’s so readily available that every person, no matter what age they are, is walking about with access to an infinite amount of the most degraded, perverted, ‘niche’ porn right in their pocket! I recently heard a group of nine-year-olds use the word MILF. I’ve watched kids on a wedding video dance in that ‘doing it from behind’ rodeo style, complete with hair pulling and regular arse smacks. That’s BDSM!

As a kid, I had to stash my ‘mucky’ playing cards with nude women on them in a way that would have foxed Indiana Jones. I had to tear choice pages from the underwear section of Kays Catalogue. I had to colour Linda Lusardi in with bloody crayons! Now my autistic son can ACCIDENTALLY stumble across golden showers and Japanese rape fantasies in Ultra-HD 4K while looking for Peppa Pig on his kindle!

Kids today can order up whatever their grimy little minds can imagine without getting out of bed, and it’s all FREE! I’d have needed a fake ID, two grand and tickets to Bangkok to see that!

And it’s that ‘grimy imagination’ that is the real concern as far as I can see. Porn has, like any business, always had to move with the times. Standing still means falling behind so the search for the next big thing never ends. The problem is that it’s this need to create something new that is forcing more and more viewers down some very dark and disturbing avenues. Everyday sex can get a bit ‘samey’ after a while. The same bodies, same bits, same settings, same moves… it’s understandable that something you’ve never seen before should pique your interest.

It starts as a laugh, maybe some morbid curiosity, or a friend has said you’ve ‘got to see’ some viral clip that shows people doing things nobody should ever do to themselves or others. Before you know it, it’s normal, accepted and eventually just as ‘samey’ and boring as a saucy postcard. So, even freakier and more dangerous ‘genres’ are produced in the name of ‘give them what they want’.

But they only ‘want’ it because you showed it to them! Nobody expected to have a 19” bald penis before they were shown them on freakishly, falsely-endowed actors. Nobody knew of massive, spherical breasts like a photo-finish in a hot-air balloon race before porn pointed them in that direction. Nobody was sitting at home writing an angry letter to XHamster demanding more simulated rape scenes were they? And yet we now have a recognised ‘rape culture’ where the open violation of women is gleefully embraced.  Gangs of teenage morons are posting clips of their crimes like they were moonwalking on TikTok and are shocked when they get arrested because, to them, it’s normal. It’s just sex, right? ‘Incels’ are a thing now- an entire community of misguided, angry virgins who hate women and openly discuss their murder and torture exists like it’s a chess club for twats, and nobody seems to think there’s a connection with unlimited free access to extreme porn.

The amount of deeply disturbing ‘entertainment’ out there, freely available on every screen, in every pocket in the world, is desensitizing our youth. At a time when the abuse of women and sexual responsibility is rightly at the forefront of society’s conscience thanks to the #METOO movement, I think it’s no coincidence that it comes at a time when violent, abusive and dehumanizing porn is part of everyday life and can be viewed, without fear of arrest, by anybody, at any time, anywhere at all, completely free of charge.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Mary Whitehouse and I’m certainly no prude. I like porn. I just worry what today’s idea of hardcore will give rise to tomorrow and, as a dad, who will be watching it.