24/01/2013 05:38 GMT | Updated 25/03/2013 05:12 GMT

How Good Is Porn?

Earlier in the week, Diane Abbott raised concerns about what she referred to as an "increasingly pornified" youth culture in Britain and advised parents to talk more with their children about sexuality and its place in modern culture. This, perhaps, is not a conversation that should be exclusively for young people, but one that we should all be having. How much do we really know about porn and its impact on modern living?

The internet has more or less revolutionized the way porn can be accessed. It's often said that half of the internet is pornographic images. That isn't true (it's really more like 4%) but it can seem that we are subjected to a disproportionate number of sexual images every day, particularly in the form of pop-up ads. I once spent a week keeping a record of the number of advertisements for porn that I came across in normal internet browsing and ended up with a tally of around twenty. Some were obviously more explicit than others, but even the tamest seemed to suggest a degree of objectifying fantasy bordering on the comical- I simply refuse to believe that there are that many hot singles in my area. We are so used to seeing overtly sexual images in our daily lives that we become almost desensitized to it. That's where How Good Is Porn comes in.


I found out about HGIP through a flyer in a collection of Manchester circulars. Its design is deliberately striking and the lack of information bar the web address cannot fail to capture at least momentary attention. Logging onto the site takes you to a short anonymous survey with questions such as 'porn stars are lucky, loaded and love it - agree/disagree'. Answering them redirects to a page that gives you some quotes and statistics in regards to the true nature of porn. Without revealing all the answers here, I think it's safe to say that some of the numbers are, to say the least, shocking. I for one certainly didn't know that 20% of all pornographic images online are of children.

At the end of the survey there is an option to give feedback, through which I attempted to get in contact with the creators in the hope of discovering more about who they are. In response I received an email telling me that HGIP is run by an group of creatives and campaigners 'who for various reasons have become concerned about the negative impact of porn'. They likened the porn problem to 'an Emperor's New Clothes thing... we are simply hoping to be the little kid who points and says "anyone noticed what is going on here?"' Preferring to remain anonymous so that 'people will focus on the cause rather than us', the people behind HGIP are concerned about raising awareness about porn and its unspoken underlying issues.

If nothing else, the HGIP project forces you to reassess exactly how much of a growing concern porn is. Everybody knows at the very back of their minds that so much of pornography is morally questionable to say the least, but we rarely mention it or act upon it. There is a misconception in some feminist circles that porn is just another form of sexual freedom that should be tolerated without comment. This shouldn't be the case - if there is an area where we should be as critical as possible it is sex work. Romanticized images of Billie Piper in 'Secret Diary Of A Call Girl' aside, there are real dangers in the world of prostitution and porn that cannot be ignored, and the How Good Is Porn project is one small step towards bringing these into the public consciousness.

The people running HGIP told me that this campaign is just the beginning of a few things they are intending to do to 'get people thinking'. I don't know how widespread the campaign is, or whether it is localized to Manchester, but I'll be sure to keep an eye out. In the meantime, I urge all who read this to click the link, visit the site and share it around. Let's start a national dialogue about porn.