Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Awash in a veritable sea of porn

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Is porn and the sex industry becoming too mainstream? Photo / Thinkstock
Is porn and the sex industry becoming too mainstream? Photo / Thinkstock

An adult department store has opened on a prominent site by the roundabout in Newmarket. It's in the same premises that once housed an excellent children's toyshop but the toys here now are strictly for grown-ups only.

Now we can pick up a cushion from Freedom Furniture, some fake flowers from The Warehouse and lube and X-rated DVDs from Gigi - which also stocks lingerie, costumes, shoes, games, novelties, pills, lotions, stimulants and English corsets. Do they bear any resemblance to tummy-taming Nancy Ganz pants? I'm guessing not.

Each night I receive spam emails from "lonely kitten" and "single female" who are in my area, and who wish to share their photographs with me. If I wanted I could easily discover how to give my wife "better nights" and "pleasance" to my "loved one".

When I used to venture onto chatroulette.com it seemed every tenth participant was either a topless woman or a flashing man.

Auckland Theatre Company recently staged In the Next Room, aka "The Vibrator Play", and sales are still strong for the Fifty Shades trilogy of so-called "mommy porn" novels.

Now I understand that one person's pornography is another's erotica and there's a fine line between smutty and sensual - especially when it is dressed up as art or literature.

Although unfamiliar with the attractions of the English corset, I have a high tolerance for crudeness, grossness and disgusting jokes. I sat front row to view the debauchery of Q Theatre's Tartuffe and, unlike most cinema patrons that particular session, managed to watch the entire documentary The Aristocrats as it descended into pointless, gratuitous bad taste - not to mention multiple references to fornicating with siblings and other family members.

So I guess that's why it took an Independent article Hardcore, hard-wired: How the prevalence of porn is changing our everyday lives to connect the dots for me, to make me recognise what the religious right probably identified years ago: that we're awash in a veritable sea of porn, innuendo and sexuality.

Pornography used to know its place. It was once the domain of plastic-wrapped, top-shelf magazines and poorly-scripted movies involving pizza delivery workers. But now it's somehow become sanitised, mainstream, the half naked stuff of music videos and everyday life.

Objects that used to be procured from seedy back streets late at night are now sold from spacious emporiums on prime shopping strips in broad daylight. Customers once were raincoat-clad sleazes; now they're likely to be iPhone-tapping businesswomen.

Sex has become so respectable and acceptable that it's a ubiquitous backdrop to our lives, an ever-present and slightly rude wallpaper we don't recall downloading. When exactly did this shift occur -and can we attribute it to the internet which seems to wear the blame for most contemporary societal ills?

In Better Porn: Alain de Botton's naked ambition pushes the wrong buttons we discover the modern day philosopher wants to start a website offering a better class of porn. It's a worthy - if somewhat sanctimonious - aim that spawns some delicious oxymorons such as "tasteful smut", "clean filth" and "crazy smart guy".

But if you needed any more evidence that the state of pornography has reached some sort of crisis point, then please observe exhibit A: a well-meaning intellectual intent on offering discerning consumers a new, improved, certified highbrow version of arguably one of humankind's least rarefied endeavours. Good luck with that, Alain.

Do you think that pornography and the sex industry have become more mainstream and perhaps too accessible? If so, to what do you attribute this shift? And what do you think the downstream effects will be?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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