The following article was originally posted on the BBC. It has been edited for content and clarity. 7 minute read.

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I was traveling home from London to Newcastle with two children on a busy train. There was one man at a table with three empty seats. I realized he was sitting next to a conspicuous stack of porno mags and leafing through them. Everyone in the corridor had chosen to stand apart from him. “Mummy!” – my four-year-old daughter exclaimed loudly as she swung into the empty seat – “that man has got pictures of ladies with big boobies!” The porno man looked at her, looked at them, and crumpled. He put his mags in a bag and freed up the space next to him so that we could sit down.
– Hellen

Whilst on a flight from Germany to Hong Kong a man in the next seat started up his laptop and was oblivious to the fact that his hardcore porn could be seen and heard by me and people in the next aisle. As a woman traveling on my own on an overnight flight, this made me extremely uncomfortable. I informed the attendant and the man was moved and spoken to, apparently. As for the countless times I’ve witnessed this on the train, there’s been no hope of anyone in authority sorting it out. You either have to move seats, say something and risk being verbally attacked, or seethe quietly until your stop. I’m not anti-men, anti-sex or anti-porn. Yet whenever I’ve raised this issue in the past, there’s always someone ready to call me out for being a prude. I’m not. I just don’t think porn has a place on public transport, or in any areas frequented by the general public.
– Annie G.

I admit I’ve viewed online porn occasionally in the privacy of my own home, but even I was surprised and felt a little uncomfortable when the person on the next train seat began viewing very hardcore porn on his tablet. I ended up moving and informed the guard. He said he would “have a word” with the guy, and duly did, at which point the perpetrator (no doubt embarrassed) got up and moved. The guard apologized to me, then explained that this was an increasing problem.
– Lawrie

This happened to me on a train to London. I was shocked and offended. The man was watching porn video involving a yoga instructor on his phone in the seat beside me. I decided to ask the man to stop watching the video because, like him, I have free will and I could ask him to stop doing something I was uncomfortable with. Of course, he could refuse and I was prepared for that. As it happens, he obliged and actually apologized. It is not the law’s role to protect people from offense. If we disagree with views, we must challenge these views and have an open debate, for that is the only way society can progress.
– Mel

l was on a bus in Huddersfield working with a looked after child who was 14 years old at the time. My young person tapped me and pointed out the man sitting in front of us was watching “disturbing stuff.” He was watching hardcore porn on a large screen. I quietly approached the man and asked him to either sit at the back or please turn it off, otherwise I would have to have very loud words with the driver. He looked horrified when l told him that a 14-year-old had pointed out what he was watching to me. He didn’t say anything, he just turned his phone off and shoved it in his pocket. I still told the driver quietly when l was getting off. I left him having a word with him. I felt l had to say something as a professional, responsible adult and a mother.
– Annabel

When I was 14, I was on a plane with my dad. I had the middle seat and an unknown man was in the window seat with his computer. He was reading a lot of documents and then started watching porn. I was so shocked and then I got scared, like who does that in a plane? I’ve never told anyone about this, but I haven’t forgotten it somehow.
– Lais

Related: Real Stories of People Being Caught Watching Porn at Work

I went to McDonald’s one evening with my wife and children. I sat at a large table while my wife and children went to the counter. A group of children aged between 12 and 14 were watching porn on a large iPhone with the sound on. I asked them to switch it off and received a cold shoulder. I insisted since I had young children or I would report them to the manager. Happily they switched it off before my children came.
– Paul

I was at an upmarket bar/restaurant having a meal with friends. At a table close by a man sitting on his own had his laptop out. I glanced at the screen and the man was searching porn websites full of pornographic explicit images of women. I was rather shocked, particularly as he was making no attempt to be discreet. It felt to me like a blatant case of sexual harassment to myself and my female friend. The waitress agreed to talk to him and he dimmed the screen. I said I would only be happy if it was turned off or we would leave. She went back to him and he closed his laptop and left. In my view a man wouldn’t be able to expose himself in a restaurant so why should he be able to expose degrading images on his laptop?
– Paula

I was standing on a packed train and a man was standing watching a porn movie on his phone. A boy, around 12 years old, realized what the man was watching and moved away. I tapped the man on the shoulder and very loudly asked why he was watching porn in a public place with children around? All he could reply with was “you shut up” and [swore at me]. I told him loudly to stop watching porn and switch it off but he refused. He said it was his personal right. Only my 16-year-old daughter supported me and told him to stop. Nobody else joined in or tried to help me. His behavior was very threatening. I wanted to take his photo but was worried about his reaction. It wasn’t until after he left the train at Leicester Square that other passengers congratulated me on standing up to him. I was so angry I reported the incident to Transport Police. They said if they managed to identify him he would be prosecuted for causing public outrage.
– Sharon

I am a Traffic PCSO working for the Met Police on Safer Transport. There was a young male looking at a gay porn magazine. As there were young children on the bus I asked him to put the magazine away. He refused and called me “homophobic.” I then requested the driver of the bus to pull over and I evicted the passenger from the bus and told him my thoughts. I could have gone down the route of a Section 5 of the Public Order Act – causing harm, alarm or distress. I would recommend anyone to challenge someone looking at porn on a bus, if its causing them distress.
– Anonymous

I was on an overland train and a man, about 25 years old and wearing a hoodie, was watching porn on his mobile as we waited for the train to depart. The speaker was turned up and it was obvious from the sounds that it was a man and woman having sex. The young man appeared to be oblivious to the rest of us. Two women got up and moved to the next carriage. None of us said anything, it was obvious looking around that most of us felt considerable discomfort. The train departed and as the sound of the tracks and its engine increased, he turned up the volume on his mobile.
– Mick

One time in high school I saw a kid watching it on the library computer. He turned around and saw my shocked face cause I’d seen his screen and it didn’t even phase him. Creeped me out so bad I didn’t try to say anything just kept walking. He was like 15.
-Lindsay

Why We Speak Out

Though porn has always been around in some way or another, the stuff that’s available today doesn’t compare to anything else in our history. This is a new issue that our society has never faced before.

And because we live in a digital day and age where we carry our smartphones everywhere we go, pornography has become so popular and mainstream that people are viewing it as they casually wait for the bus or travel shoulder-to-shoulder with other people. It’s a concerning reality that men and women are so dependent on porn, or think it’s so normal, that they choose to watch it in public. Even more concerning is that they think it’s okay to do so.

Related: Uncovering Healthy Habits: How Much Porn Is Too Much?

Science has shown that pornography can be really addictive and it actually changes the brain of the consumer. And not only does it harm the consumer, but it can have serious negative effects on their relationships and their sexual health. And besides the obvious fact that porn is a huge waste of time, viewing it can also make the viewer depressed and anxious, and can even make them perform worse at their job. Not to mention, pornography is also inseparably linked to prostitution and human sex trafficking, and is having a negative impact on our society as a whole.

It goes without saying, we don’t think porn is something that should be normal in our society. Are you with us?

 

What YOU Can Do

Add your voice to this important conversation. SHARE this article and speak out against the harmful effects of pornography.

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