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‘Porn is a disgrace’: Is Billie Eilish right to call out sex industry?

WRITTEN BY
12/17/21
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Fact Box

  • In a Sirius XM interview on December 13, 2021, singer Billie Eilish noted how early exposure to pornography at age 11 “devastated” her sexual experiences because of “violent and abusive” porn. She said, “I think porn is a disgrace” in how it depicts women’s bodies and sexual experiences.  
  • The origins of pornography can be dated back to ancient Greek and Roman depictions of sex and phallic imagery and Japan’s visual erotica in the 17th century. Modern Western pornography began in the 18th century with the Enlightenment and exploded in the 1990s with the creation of the Internet. 
  • In 2017, PornHub tracked 28.5 billion visits, and 7,000 gigabytes of uploads per minute.
  • The porn industry is valued at a net worth of $97 billion. The porn industry makes more money than Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA combined. 
  • Children and teens are likely to stumble upon pornography with 65% of 15- and 16-year-olds reporting to have seen it, even as early as age 11. In the survey, over half of boys and 39% of girls believed porn to be a “realistic depiction of sex.”

Maria (Yes)

Billie Eilish struck a chord with women when she called porn a 'disgrace'. Though a generalized statement, it succinctly calls out the misogynistic demeanor of today's porn industry. Internet porn makes it easier than ever for women to watch 'themselves' be portrayed disgracefully and downright dishonestly. Billie rightfully calls out the 97 billion-dollar industry while other celebrities stay neutral or even support it. But unlike them, Billie is just settling into adulthood and processing how porn distorted her perception of sex at the age of 11, expressing that she believes it 'destroyed [her] brain.'

Eilish's story reminds us of how scarily available porn is to children and teens. Furthermore, porn's long history has never seen such an increase in demeaning content against women, and abusive porn is easily accessible. While the morality of porn itself is up for debate, it's all the more pertinent that the porn industry promptly begins correcting its representation of women. Already, young people's minds are at risk to think pornographic depictions are 'the norm' or even expected, which can be outright dangerous. Billie Eilish affirms this, saying, 'I thought that's what I was supposed to be attracted to.' 

Even nonviolent porn paints unrealistic caricatures of women, as Billie observes that women 'don't look like that' and 'don't enjoy things that it looks like people are enjoying.' Undoubtedly, the healthy sexuality of women is being vastly underrepresented in the porn industry. 

The porn industry must urgently reform as abusive, nonconsensual, and underage porn, even on well-known industry platforms, is becoming common today. Eilish was right to use her celebrity platform to speak out and raise public awareness over this critical public health issue. 


Ethan (No)

For those out of work, porn provides a source of income for some and comfort for users. It is telling that Billie Eilish would shame porn stars and sex workers when she is a pop star who makes millions and doesn't have to worry about her income. For some, working in porn and sex work is their only means of survival, and for others, it is something they genuinely enjoy. Either way, it's unfair for Eilish to judge others for their life choices that don't affect her. 

One of the biggest issues many people have with porn is the lack of regulations that lead to misuse. However, it is entirely possible for porn to be produced in an ethical way. If all parties consent, are tested for STDs/STIs, use protection, and are fairly compensated, then the sex industry is just another exchange of goods or services for payment. And because porn is not meant to be consumed by minors, parents can and should understand the reality of how easy access to the internet gives their child access to things like porn. Parental controls exist precisely to prevent 11-year-old children, like Eilish, from seeing content more mature than they can process. 

Though some have criticized porn because of the ways it can cause 'harm,' it's important to remember that, as with all things, the negatives should not overshadow the benefits of pornography. Being a porn star or sex worker, in general, can be empowering to men and women. Preforming in pornographic videos or photography empowers some individuals as they profit off their self-confidence. Porn is a way people explore and learn about their sexuality. That can and should be celebrated.

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