Happiness. One word, but a word that is googled so often. A word that magazines, books, courses, make up artists, restaurants and fosters adverts use liberally to advertise their products and claim to improve your chances in getting it. It has now gone from an emotion to a commodity despite the fact that there have been countless studies concluding that you cannot buy happiness. But I would have to disagree. In my eyes the problem is that people confuse happiness with contentment but these are actually two different things entirely.
Happiness for me is a mixture of feelings. It is a mixture of joy, excitement, lust, passion…(insert other positive adjectives here), whereas contentment is that feeling of complete satisfaction, not necessarily because everything in your life is perfect but because at that moment you have no more desires, and as Buddhism suggests, desire is the root to human suffering because with desire comes a feeling of never being satisfied, always wanting the next thing, whatever that may be. Hence why happiness can be sold, because it focuses on fulfilling a desire. A desire is fleetingly satisfied once you have purchased said product but soon that rush wears off and the next desire takes its place. For example, you see an advert for a new dress and you desire to own it so you buy it and for however long, depending on your personality, you are happy. You have fulfilled that particular desire. But then you see another nice dress you want this one too. The desire, in short, has come back.
With contentment however there is no desire to be sold or bought. Therefore it cannot be transformed into a commodity. How do you sell a sense of satisfaction? You can’t because you can’t even begin to describe it, let alone form it into a product.
Until a couple of days ago I had never watched porn. I don’t know if that’s weird…I am only speaking from my own experience. Maybe most people have. It’s just never really been a thing for me. It was never an issue and to be perfectly honest I never really had much of an opinion on it, that is until recently when somebody I know, who works as a teacher, told me that a 10 year old boy was caught watching porn on his phone. I was dumbfounded. Maybe I was naive but it had never occurred to me that children that age would want to access and watch that kind of material. Did they even understand it? At the age of 10 I had my head in Jacqueline Wilson books, not videos of threesomes!
So then I became interested. I started looking into the statistics and according to a survey published in Psychologies magazine in 2010 , one third of 14-16 year old boys had admitted to viewing pornographic images when they were aged 10 or younger. That was five years ago, so with the increase in technology in these past 5 years making it even easier to access porn I can’t imagine the statistics now. I’m sure somebody has written about them but honestly I think it would make me too depressed to read them.
From my brief experience, I have to admit that I was pretty amazed at how easy it is to access, not just what I would call softcore porn but some seriously violent stuff that seemed to just be the norm, including teenage pornography, which is something I wasn’t even aware existed! I even thought I’d start light – a friend had told me about an erotic fiction website that was more badly written than 50 shades of grey…I was intrigued. I thought it would be a laugh like when we played the 50 shades of grey drinking game. But I was wrong. Even the stories were pretty hardcore and when I clicked on one it took me to a porn sight, thus proving that you really are just one click away from endless videos, images and comments. I suppose this shouldn’t have shocked me. After all, in this technology era aren’t we all one click away from anything we desire? But one click away from extremely violent and sexual images and one click away from, say, a Tescos shop, is a little bit different in my eyes! Even when I download films now I’m surrounded by ads for local women who apparently ‘want to fuck’. You can’t get away from it. One of them came up with what looked like cartoon porn! Seriously?! So now you don’t even have to watch ‘real’ women. This just seems a step too far. The world has gone mad.
I know you can’t automatically link the rise in easy access pornography to a rise in sexual assault but surely people have to understand that if you are exposed to anything from an early age it helps to form your ideas and beliefs? Young people are taught when they watch violent movies and play video games, such as Grand Theft Auto, that these aren’t real. That the violence is fake, constructed for entertainment purposes. But does anybody ever teach young people that about porn? Does anybody ever say that actually this isn’t what real sex is? That it is not ok to treat women as objects and victims of violence? No! Sex Education centres around the main issue of the birds and the bees. We perhaps can’t do anything about easy access to pornography, what with technology becoming increasingly used by younger and younger people, but perhaps we can do something about teaching young people about porn. Lets not make it a taboo subject in schools. Let’s talk about the problems with it, the unrealistic expectations and the violence. Hell, kids are continually droned on to about the problems with drugs and unwanted pregnancy but growing up surrounded by sexually explicit and violent images all around you, it is surely more important to teach young people to have respect for themselves and other people?
Perhaps we don’t need to get rid of porn but we do have to start being aware of the effects of it and not be scared to voice an opinion.