The other day, Porn Recovery UK was asked whether it took an anti-porn stance. On the surface, and considering our name, this might seem like quite a simple question. However, long experience of working in this area reveals that simple questions often require complex answers, and so it is with porn. In order to answer if we are anti porn, we would first have to define pornography. Many people have considered this with varying degrees of success. One of the first difficulties might be how we decide if we think something is defined as erotica or pornography, or sometimes even whether it is art, erotica or porn. In search of a quick definition we might be tempted to go to the more extreme end of porn and look at images and movies in terms of whether there was coercive pressure, exploitation or abuse involved in their production. But how could you really be sure of this? A smiling person is not necessarily a happy one with what they are doing. Of course, some sort of working definition is possible, but is that where PRUK must work out from?
Psychotherapist and author Duncan E. Stafford says: ‘It took me a long time to be able to start writing about the issues people struggle with around pornography because it has a minefield of moralized views, assumptions, political and religious agendas which surround it. Writing about pornography, let alone “addiction” to it or “recovery from it” has an ability in pretty much every sentence to get someone’s back up.’ PRUK takes this sort of view on board and so we seek to avoid judging pornography, cybersex or other related activities, or those who use them. Why? Because PRUK is about providing people who feel porn has become a negative issue in their lives with information and views from other people involved in the debate. We do not take a political stance, and we are not faith based. We hope that this way we will then help and appeal to the widest audience possible for a site of this nature.
PRUK is against coercion, exploitation and abuse but it is pro real information and debate. ‘In order to understand the issues people suffer with and around porn use, you have to avoid short cuts and pleasing soundbites, and engage with the actual thing,’ says Stafford. ‘I think of myself as a fence rider. I don’t sit on the fence making no decision: I feel the discomfort of not releasing myself into the simplistic duality of the anti or pro stance – I ride that active mid-point.’
Duncan is the author of Turned On: Intimacy in a pornized society (WiTTING PRESS 2010). He runs a private counselling, psychotherapy and supervision practice in Cambridge, UK www.counsellingincambridge.co.uk