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“How Watching Porn Every Day From the Age of 12 Affected My Sex Life”

Neelam explains why she appeared on BBC Three's Porn Laid Bare documentary.

New figures released by BBC Three show 1 in 5 of 18-25 year olds have been worried about being addicted to porn. A third say they’ve had ‘riskier’ sex because of porn, and 4 in 10 feel concerned about how their genitals look because of what they see in porn.

New documentary Porn Laid Bare, investigates what the porn industry is really like behind the scenes. Neelam Tailor, a 24-year-old from Manchester appeared on the programme alongside five other young people. They visited adult film sets, met actors and watched videos being made IRL. As someone who was addicted to watching porn from an early age, she tells Cosmopolitan UK what she learned.


“I started watching porn on free tube sites when I was 12 years old because my mind was quite sexually active from that age. I guess as soon as I got my first laptop, I instantly typed in ‘sex’ because that’s what you do. I watched porn most days from then until I was 16. So for four years, it was the only sexual outlet I had. And throughout puberty, basically my entire sexual education was from porn.

“As a girl, I was really ashamed of it and I didn’t know any other girls [watched porn every day]. I knew boys did it, but for me it was a huge secret. I never really talked about it with my friends, and I was ashamed because it was so taboo. Even though it’s such a natural thing, for girls to even masturbate is taboo.

 

Neelam researched the No Fap movement, but found it was mostly aimed at men.

“When I started, it was very ‘vanilla’ heterosexual porn. As I got older, it got slightly rougher. When you first watch it, it’s like, ‘woah’. But you quickly get desensitised. When I was about 16, I got my first boyfriend and realised I wasn’t getting wet during real sex. But with porn, I would. That seemed weird and not right. My boyfriend was super amazing and wasn’t bothered at all, but I didn’t tell him about [why I thought I wasn’t getting wet]. That was still at a time when I thought I shouldn’t be watching porn at all.

“I looked into the No Fap movement [an online community for people wanting to avoid porn and masturbation] but it’s mostly for guys. I didn’t see many women that have been physically affected by watching porn. So I stopped watching it in the hope that it would work, because real intimacy was so important to me. It did, and within a few months my body returned back to normal.

“Everything [porn] taught me about the female ‘role’ in sex was completely skewed. When I first started having sex, I thought, ‘Wait, you don’t get orgasms straight away from penetration?’ I thought the female role was to please a male, and that the woman was supposed to orgasm.

“I also got ideas about my place as a woman of colour from porn as well. I saw myself as exoticised and fetishised, because on porn websites ‘Asian girls’ is just an option on a drop-down menu. And that’s exactly how I felt. When I spoke to guys, I thought they’d either be into me because of my skin colour, or they wouldn’t be into me. And that was cemented by what I saw in porn.

“It wasn’t until I got to uni that suddenly girls talked about how they do watch porn, and I was like, ‘Ah OK this is normal now’. It was quite freeing to go to university and have people talk about it and realise I didn’t need to be ashamed anymore.

“More recently, I’ve looked into it and learned your physical reactions and arousal are triggered by your brain. So if you train your brain to be aroused in front of a laptop, when you’re then in front of one person in real life, it can never match up to the stimulus of the porn. I think that makes sense as to why it had that effect on me when I was younger.

“Although porn can play a positive part in people exploring their desires, getting sexual education from porn is a dangerous thing because porn and sex are two very different things. It 100 per cent impacted my views on sex and relationships.

“I still don’t consume porn because how it physically affects me isn’t worth it. Being on Porn Laid Bare gave me a real insight into the industry. If I do watch porn again, it would be Erika Lust’s content because it’s cinematic and challenges a lot of stereotypes. [In her videos] race and sexuality are coincidental, rather than fetishised or the point of the video or headline.

“Porn is actually quite an important service for people who don’t have a sexual outlet. I don’t think that watching it should be taboo. But the shame that comes from it is really dangerous. The bigger picture of porn and the affects it has on peoples’ mindsets towards gender, sexuality and race can be very dangerous, too. The message being portrayed needs to be more responsible.

“I also learned there’s a massively dark side to the industry that really needs to be tackled. There’s so much crossover with porn, prostitution and trafficking and it’s really worrying. I’d be inclined to stay away from mainstream porn because you don’t know where it’s coming from, or how people are being treated.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.