Billie Eilish's statement about porn is going viral. The 19 year old singer-songwriter said while being interviewed by Howard Stern that "Porn is a disgrace," and that it really messed her up psychologically because she was exposed to it when she was only 11.
"I feel it really destroyed my brain and I feel incredibly devastated that I was exposed to so much porn."
One of the reasons Eilish made her anti porn statements was the fact that she feels porn misrepresents women and women's sexuality.
Now, let me begin by saying I believe Eilish's brain got messed up by being exposed to something so adult at such an early age. I also think she is right that most porn, mass produced porn especially, caters to the worst of the worst of the male gaze and objectifies women. That doesn't even begin to cover the heteronormative elements that porn perpetuates.
And since I'm a white guy, I'm not going to touch the racist parts of porn, there are plenty of black authors and thinkers who can cover that point nicely.
What I will say though is that Eilish and people with her level of privilege should not attack pornography as a whole. Porn itself is not the problem, the problem is that our capitalist society perpetuates isolation through bigotry, and a big underdiscussed part of that bigotry is our societies hatred of non heteronormative sexuality.
The fact is that there are, quite literally, millions of sexually repressed people. I am not talking about incels, to hell with those whinny losers. I am talking about the people who have no means of exploring their sexual and gender identies except for the internet. A lot of porn is being consumed by these people and without it, their already challenging relationship to sex is challenged even further.
While Eilish's sentiments are valid, her conclusion that all porn is a "disgrace" is flawed because it 1. erases the women and sexworkers who consent to participate in porn (yes, they exist and they really don't want rich 19 year olds trying to save them. 2. It ignores the fact that many in porn perform because they have no other means of selling their labor to surivive. and Lastly 3. That it turn means she is ignoring the reality endured by sexworkers because she is not acknowledging the structures in our society that perpetuate harmful porn, those structures that oppress women and objectify their bodies are rooted in systemic oppression that are inherent to capitalism.
Let's break these down one by one. 1. We need to stop pretending that everyone of a certain demographic is of a hive mind. Not all women think the same way. Not all men think the same way. Not all black people think the same way, and we need stop pretending that universalizations are rooted in anything except nearsightedness. Considering the fact that Eilish is rich and comes from a well contected family, I think its fair to say she might be a little near sighted here. Eilish is speaking for herself here, granted, but she should be careful not speak for all women and we should also not universalize her as a voice for all women. A person of privelege should not speak for people they have no context to speak for.
2. Sex work is work, period. And even if we created a society that was openly understanding and systemically perfect, there would still be hookers and pornstars of all sexualities and genders. As long as we've had posable thumbs, we've been working our own tools as much as we have the ones the made us evolve. And because the current labor market favors porn so heavily, many have no other means available to them for survival other than performing in porn. Eilish's sentiments about how it messed her up are totally valid, what is not valid is ignoring all the people who have survied this cruel economy thanks to their participation in porn. Again, wealthy people need to stay in their lane.
3. The problem with porn and the reason so much problematic or "abusive" porn exists is because we perpetuate our sexual repression by repressing our sexual interests to "fit in" or "appear normal." If we as a society could just talk about sex without reactionary losers throwing temper tantrums every time we did, I guarantee porn would be a litle more nuanced. But once again, we have to remember that porn is the only means some have of exploring their sexuality and gender identities, and that sex work is real work. One cannot be anti porn as a whole and support sex workers at the same time. Eilish is dangerously close to playing savior here and for the love of god people, stop trying to be a savior and stop looking for them!
Again, I strongly agree that Eilish should never have been exposed to porn at such a young age. I just have a few questions, 1. Where the hell were her parents!? and 2. Why is Howard Stern suddenly the place where you open up about being anti porn? I mean, she made this comment to a guy who got famous because he broadcasted sexworkers riding sybians from his studio. Not disresepct to Howard Stern, but, is he really the guy you want to open up to about the mental damages caused by porn?