While making an appearance at the launch of a new helpline for the victims of crime, Taoiseach Enda Kenny called for there to be a discussion about the ‘corruption’ of young people of Ireland due to their exposure to porn. In a country where open discussions of sex are limited to sex-ed classes and tend to follow the strain of thinking that abstinence is the best, his move is a bold one.
With the burgeoning adulthood of those who grew up with unlimited access to the internet, the corrupting effects of porn on young people has emerged as a contentious social issue in recent years. Describing pornography as ‘ubiquitous and damaging’, Kenny called for a national conversation on the issue and said it would form part of the government’s up-coming agenda.
It pains me to say that the internet and porn are practically synonymous, but porn has consistently been the most searched word since, well, the conception of the internet itself. The ubiquity of porn is undeniable. In fact, my very first experience of the internet involved porn when, as a naive eight-year-old I typed “girls” into the Google search bar and was greeted with an onslaught of naked female pictures. While I managed to recover from the trauma, the hyper-sexualisation of men and women in porn has left an indelible mark on young people today due to its influence on what is considered normative sexual practise. The Taoiseach himself made reference to the contorted depiction of sexual behaviour in porn, which risks becoming normalised in the minds of impressionable youths.
Bringing the topic of sexual education so unabashedly into the public consciousness is an unprecedented move amongst high-ranking political figures in Ireland. I applaud the Taoiseach for his outspokenness, he raises a valid point, and his sentiment for a ‘more caring’ Ireland is touching. I am curious to see what, if anything, will happen on the back of his instigation. Banning pornography is certainly not the answer and is almost one hundred percent not possible either. As long as teachers and parents continue to talk about sex like it is not something to be enjoyed, the internet will continue to be a fountain of misinformed knowledge for the Irish youth.
Will the Taoiseach share his own refined and less deviant ‘lad magazines’ that he mentioned from back in the day? Will the topic of pornography be elevated to the status legitimate dinner-conversation? Or will the country go down the well-tread road it usually does whenever we encounter something we don’t like…absolute prohibition.