Linda Thompson: Pornography is just another form of violence

WE don't condone violence, cruelty or humiliation. We no longer accept violence directed at women from their partners, their families or wider communities. Why then do we accept pornography and hold it up as an example of empowerment, sexual freedom and liberation?

I welcome the Scottish Government's move to legislate on extreme pornography. This welcome comes from a desire to reduce and eliminate the violence that is enacted against women every day and not from any moralistic stance on sex itself.

Pornography is more linked to power and control than sex itself, presenting women as objects. It eroticises submission, degradation and humiliation and mixes sex with power – taking our sexualities and selling them back to us in a package, further reinforcing inequalities.

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The boundaries between pornography and mainstream culture are ever more blurred with technology giving easy access to porn on the go. Extreme porn and rape porn are only two clicks away on our computers, with the average age of first seeing porn now 11 years old.

Pornography has changed our cultural landscape, laying out how we should look, behave and act when having sex. Young girls wearing T-shirts printed with "Porn Star", young boys concerned about their bodies, couples increasingly identifying porn as a negative and intrusive element in their relationship.

Is this empowerment or the result of an increasingly pornified culture?

The legislation is not about regulating sex lives but sends a clear message that violence in whatever form is not acceptable.

It recognises that more responsibility must rest with purchasers of extreme porn, it challenges their demands and holds them accountable for what they purchase.

We do not endorse cruelty or degradation of women but somehow accept this in pornography. How do we reconcile that paradox and still move forward to being a more positive equal society?

Linda Thompson is a spokeswoman for the Women's Support Project

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