Porn in the Family: Easy Access

Are you worried that your spouse or kids are using porn? Part 1

Posted Jun 25, 2019

Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Once upon a time, it was difficult to find pornography (especially hardcore, as opposed to softcore like pin-up calendars and Playboy magazine). Typically, adults searching for hardcore porn had to get in the car and slink across town to a not-so-nice neighborhood with a poorly lit, disinfectant-smelling adult bookstore so they could pony up hard-earned cash (never a credit card) for expensive magazines—all the while desperately hoping to not be seen by anyone they knew. If they wanted video porn, they had to order pricey stag films advertised in the back of the aforementioned magazines, or they had to find an adult bookstore with video booths or an adult theater, where they once again ran the risk of being seen. Or worse yet arrested in a raid.

Kids also had a tough time accessing porn. Usually, pornography came to them by raiding a parent or older brother’s stash, finding something in the trash, or using sticky fingers at the local gas station. Video porn was pretty much non-existent for kids unless they got lucky and stumbled across something (and also had the equipment they needed to view it). Mostly, kids just played sneak-a-peek with whatever sexy images they could find.

Then technology happened. In the 1970s and '80s we got softcore on cable TV, with R rated shows and movies on HBO—stuff like Basic Instinct, Benny Hill, and vaudeville revivals with tassel-spinning strippers. And of course, there was Cinemax, which some viewers called Skinemax in reference to its late-night programming. With Skinemax, we saw lots of bare bouncing breasts and the occasional rear-end, but no genitalia or actual penetration. The sex acts were implied rather than explicit. Those options, coupled with mainstream choices like Victoria’s Secret catalog, sexy MTV videos, and Baywatch, moved softcore porn into mainstream culture.

Then came the VCR. With that, we got video stores where we could buy or rent movies on VHS. And many of those stores had a back room (usually separated from the main store by swinging doors or a beaded curtain) filled with porn flicks. Suddenly, hardcore video was in our homes. However, these tapes were expensive to both make and buy, so the selection was nearly always limited to the most commercial (and therefore the most generic) performers and acts.

At the same time, magazine porn was becoming more accessible—on sale in convenience stores, at newspaper stands, and even in regular bookstores—including hardcore like Penthouse and Oui and specialty rags featuring BDSM, male models, and other niche interests (though nothing unlawful). For bestiality, snuff, child porn, and other illegal imagery, you had to travel to Europe and carry it back on a plane, visit certain adult bookstores (though only a few places were likely to stock what you were looking for), order it from overseas and have it shipped to a PO Box (never to your home), or shoot it yourself and share it via US mail. For the most part, however, illegal porn was unavailable.

That’s the way things stayed until the mid-1990s. Adults could find magazine and video porn, both softcore and hardcore, without much effort. But the viewing selection was either relatively vanilla or difficult to find and expensive.

Starting in the mid-90s, home Internet became a thing, and with that came Internet pornography exchanged via online bulletin boards, newsreaders, and membership-driven websites. If you had Internet access, you could find pornography. If you had a credit card, you could find a lot of pornography. If you were resourceful, you could find niche pornography—gay, lesbian, fetish, kink, animals, kids, rape, snuff, etc. The modems were screechy, but porn was suddenly both readily available and anonymously accessible.

Over time, porn has become affordable as well as readily available and anonymously accessible. Nowadays, pretty much anything that turns you on can be located and viewed, free of charge. By anyone. Including kids. If your 10-year-old son wants to see a naked woman, all he has to do is type that into a search engine. Google or Bing or any other search engine will provide him with hundreds of options. With no safeguards. At most, he will need to click a button that says, “Yes, I’m over 18.” After that, he can look at pictures and videos for a week straight and never see the same thing twice.

In today's increasingly digital world, porn is in the house. Every type of porn you can think of. And it’s freely accessible, anonymous to view, and eminently affordable (i.e., free).

For the vast majority of people, this is not an overwhelming issue. Most people are able to view and enjoy porn and other forms of sexnology (sexualized video chat, camgirl/camboy performers, VR headsets, etc.) without becoming compulsive, getting into trouble, or experiencing other negative consequences—just as most people are able to enjoy things like video games, online shopping, and online gambling without becoming compulsive or experiencing major problems.

For children, easy access to porn may be a sincere and legitimate fear. Nobody wants their kids intentionally or unintentionally exposed to age-inappropriate content that might confuse or harm them.