Michael Gove: The Runaway Porn Train Ensures Love Poetry Won't Happen

Gove showed he has no idea about regular society because, sure, it'd be nice if they sent poetry instead of sexts but porn has irrevocably screwed working class kids...
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Gove showed he has no idea about regular society because, sure, it'd be nice if they sent poetry instead of sexts but porn has irrevocably screwed working class kids...


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Reading the big papers on Sunday (on the kitchen table, as even after years of being a big paper reader I still get myself in a tangle if I don’t read it on the kitchen table) there was a piece on a recent academic study by Cambridge University. It was all about MRI scanning the brains of people who were addicted to porn and discovering that the signals emitted by a porn addict when they watch explicit material are the exact same as those of alcoholics and drug addicts when they see a booze ad or a person they think can get them drugs. So, chemically at least, a porn addiction is nearly exactly the same as a heroin addiction. The thing is, whilst we know what the long-term effects of heroin addiction are, we have little to no idea of what the long-term effects of an addiction to pornography are.

There was a piece on the next page about Michael Gove’s latest GREAT IDEA about how to get kids to stop sexting. Get them to send love poetry to each other instead. Are you agog? Good. Let’s begin. Such blathering stupidity is to be expected from the man who is the Tory equivalent of Matilda's Miss Trunchbull. However, this latest upper middle class plaster sealed over the erupting geyser of porn and the morality surrounding it really floored me.

The app is obviously the brainchild of a wife of one of the Tory inner circle (whom Gove’s wife is friends with, natch) and recommended by Vogue and The Sunday Times. The app’s premise is that it’s an interactive anthology of love quotes and poetry. It’s narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hiddleston, Damian Lewis, Gina Bellman and Helen McCrory, you know, those hip teen icons. It also costs £1.99.

The kids Gove is talking about aren’t largely privately educated middle aged Tories who know who Napoleon is and give a shit about what he once wrote in a letter to Josephine. No kid is going to fork out £1.99 when they can SnapChat pictures of their boobs and cocks to each other for free. Yes, we might all yearn for a simpler time where people compared the object of their affections to a summer’s day rather than asking them to send a picture of their tits or GTFO but, alas, the runaway porn train is too far along the line to stop it dead in its porny tracks now.

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When I started thinking about how I feel about porn I turned to Martin Amis, not just because he is perennially charming and blithe AND my second favourite Amis to boot (KINGSLEY4LYF) but I turned to him because he writes about sex. Lots of awkward, realistic, artless sex. Especially in his first novel The Rachel Papers. And it is the artlessness and innocence of the sex he describes which I so love. Even though he doesn’t. He once described his first novel as a negative triumvirate of Cs: crude, cack-handed and clumsy.

But for me, the way in which he writes about sex in The Rachel Papers is the antithesis of porn. Where porn is misogynistic and humourless, The Rachel Papers is hilariously truthful about the agony and minimal ecstasy of teenage boydom. Porn is stylised, contrived and, worst of all, devoid of humanity. Devoid of an endearing sense of self-consciousness, utterly ignorant of how ridiculous it is.

Martin Amis describes porn as being a great attack on innocence and spontaneity. And it is. Porn butchers emotion and sensibility. It lays waste to the bond and link that can exist between sex and love. Making a correlation between the two seem foolish and naive.  And as @cindygallop so astutely says in her wonderful www.makelovenotporn.com project, porn is shaping us as a society. And not in a good way.

In an interview Martin gave entitled “The Problem with Porn” he hits the nail on its XXX head. The real danger of porn is that it’s changing the style of the whole sexy operation. It’s changing the very fabric of sexuality as we know it. It’s not even really about  ”no pubic hair allowed” or the ridiculous narrative construct of pizza deliverymen having sex with the pizza receivers. It’s about how it’s silently and insidiously changing the way we think about sex.

And that is something that we’ve got to address and halt in its tracks whilst we still can, rather than trying to get kids to send their favourite lines from Emily Dickinson poems to each other instead of SnapChats of their dicks.