Yesterday the House of Lords held a debate titled “The Impact of Pornography on Society” secured by the Bishop of Chester.

More than 15 members of the House of Lords spent over two hours talking about porn! Let’s make no mistake about it – this does not happen very often. It must be getting fairly serious if even the Lords are talking about it, right?

Could it be that our parliamentary giant is stirring to consider online pornography as something to pay attention to?

Yes – I think it is.

It was in fact a good debate as not all who spoke agreed with one another. Lord Farmer explained that our society was “sleep-walking our way through deeply concerning changes to norms of decency and acceptability” due to the prevalence of online porn and Lord McColl liked the usage of pornography to that of drug abuse. Baroness Uddin warned that the shift of porn from sex shops to smartphones means that children and young adults can access porn even with the most vigilant parents.

Others were less keen to legislate on the area with Lord Giddens insisting that more research was needed and that we do not yet understand this new sexual revolution. Lord Parekh expressed that in a liberal society we cannot be in a position to tell people what they can and can’t watch and Lord Scriven went a step further explaining that the legislators have no right to interfere with adults private sexual preferences.

I recently read[1] that the word “pornography” comes from the Greek pornē, meaning ‘prostitute’, and graphein, meaning ‘to write, or record’. It literally means “a recording of prostitution.”

A large part of the debate focused on exploitation. The Bishop of Chester explained that pornography trains peoples’ minds to objectify others into sexual items which can be discarded after usage. It seemed clear from the Bishop and others that pornography encompasses exploitation and objectification in many different ways. Combine this with its literal definition and it would not be hard to conclude that pornography is virtual prostitution.

Lord Parekh, who did not sound overly enthusiastic to legislate the porn industry, did explain that sex is motivated by mutual love and respect, and porn is motivated by mutual exploitation and objectification.

Private sexual lives or not, we campaign vigorously to end human trafficking which is rampant with objectification and exploitation, seriously damaging lives in the process – why can’t we seem to work in this same vein when it comes to online pornography? Organisations like Naked Truth clearly explain the damage porn is having on peoples’ lives.

The basic conclusion of the debate was that children must be protected from online pornography and that more research is needed to prove the harmful effects on individuals before legislating.

A small step then.

Perhaps the giant is not quite awake but I sense it may be starting to opens its eyes.

[1] http://fusion.net/story/212078/how-mindgeek-transformed-the-economics-of-porn/