Illustration by Whitney McPhie


The Oregon legislature must mandate realistic pornography

“Unlike real life, no one is ugly in porn,” an anonymous Portland sex shop worker—who we’ll refer to as Johnny—told Portland State Vanguard. Everyone who has had firsthand experience in this area can attest to the fact that pornography is ultimately a fantasy, a distorted view of what sex really is. However, pornography is still consumed regularly by people who are inexperienced as well as those who are experienced—as a result, the unrealistic expectations propagated by pornography of what sex will be like can often lead to miscommunication in the bedroom. Thus, the Oregon Legislative Assembly ought to pass a law mandating that all pornography produced in the state of Oregon must depict sex more realistically, with a standardized set of guidelines.


“There is definitely a big porn culture in sex shops,” Johnny said. “In fact, I’d say that customers who are purchasing our products are often inspired by pornography. Like kids who see something interesting for the first time, you probably won’t know what kind of unusual—and often gimmicky—things we sell unless you’ve seen it somewhere. They learn by watching.” Accordingly, it’s important to reduce unrealistic expectations in our no-pants parties. Pornography’s main shortcoming in representing intimacy is that it fails to show the awkward parts of our private moments. “The reality is that teenagers are learning just as much from porn as they are in sex ed,” Johnny said. “Might as well demand that porn is more realistic.”


One might ask what exactly constitutes an accurate portrayal of sex. “There should be a checklist,” Johnny suggested. “Porn sets shouldn’t have to fulfill all of them but at least a few of them need to be checked off the list… I suggest that among the ideas, porn from now on needs to include interruptions from children. That’s the biggest missing component, really. Next we should include pets in the background of the set. A dog or a cat licking the actors here or there is fine. That would really capture the awkwardness of real sex.”


It’s clear that pornography fails to capture the accuracy of intimacy in the act of passion—but one of pornography’s biggest shortcomings is its failure to educate our youths about the fallout of what happens after the deed is done. “Porn never prepared me for the sheer awkwardness of what to do after we are done,” Johnny said. “Do I stay the night and make pancakes for my partner in the morning or do I just leave? Should I just be silent and relaxed or should I make small talk? What should I say? ‘Did you have fun?’ or ‘That was good.’ Moreover, porn failed to teach me about the psychological effects when we are done. Sometimes I’m just like ‘why am I here?’ or ‘why do I suddenly just have this clear train of thought?’”


It is these questions the Oregon legislature must consider. If we are to prepare our children for the real world, we must also teach them about the consequences of their actions—therefore, the legislature should mandate that all porn must illustrate the dilemmas that participants face in the aftermath of their exercise.


The biggest problem with pornography, however, is its depiction of scenarios that are wholly unrealistic. “The pizza guy is your friend—he’s just not that not that kind of friend,” Johnny jokingly said. “Frankly, porn needs to stop portraying all sex as passionate or gratifying. I’d kill to see a scene where one of the partners just has a cold and is passive or just leaves in the middle of the scene to go feed the cat or something. But the biggest misconception is that sex is supposed to be fun. It’s not at all fun. Porn shows that sex is gratifying, that it brings orgasms—that’s never happened to me, nor to my partners—ever.”


“It is my hope that Oregon should actively pursue this agenda and make a law already,” Johnny concluded. With continued optimism, Oregon can finally take a step in the right direction to make porn more transparent, and to exploit its potential as a resource for sexual education. Oregon ought to be the nation’s leader in teaching our children the harsh truths of sex. In reality, the “beast with two backs,” to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, is too often nasty, brutish and short.