In the 1860’s, archeologists lead by Giuseppe Fiorelli excavated the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Fiorelli created the technique of injecting plaster into voids of the volcanic ash where he noticed a decomposed body lay to preserve the positioning of the city’s citizens when Vesuvius erupted. He also found a lot of sexually explicit paintings and pottery. And you might be thinking of those talking women on the Greek vases in Disney’s Hercules, but what they actually found was much more R-rated: explicit depictions of bestiality and orgies, among other findings like phallic decorations.

Though it is old, Pompeii isn’t even the oldest example of sexual images carved out of stone or painted on walls, but it does show that erotic images and pornography have been around for thousands of years. Considering how long humans have been thinking about sex (forever) and the creating depictions of it (almost as long), we are often asked this question:

Why now? Why bother fighting pornography today when it’s always existed?

As if to imply that something capable of surviving centuries can’t be that bad, and that porn is some kind of sturdy, time-honored pillar in society that should continue through the ages because it’s “always been there.”

This isn’t a very convincing argument for a lot of reasons, but let’s tackle the biggest two.

The status quo

Accepting things the way they are doesn’t leave any room for change, and change can definitely be a cool, healthy thing.

Sometimes our society seems to take ten steps forward, ten steps back, but for the most part, people are trying to improve the lives of themselves and of those in their community, right? Throwing up our hands and saying, “Well, this is the way it’s always been,” doesn’t help us grow and improve as a society.

Related: Porn’s Harm Is Changing Fast

By that logic, we could say we should never have fought crime to lower the homicide rate because murder has been around forever.

Or perhaps it also means we shouldn’t protect against rape because that dates back beyond Ancient Babylonia and Assyria.

Maybe we never should have abolished slavery because that practice happened the moment humans invented agricultural economies and started to live together in large populations 11,000 years ago.

See how this “it’s been around forever” argument gets ridiculous real quick?

All of these issues used to be accepted somewhere, at some point by someone. But it took a mass of people to argue against the status quo and change things up. Of course, none of these issues are completely resolved, but we now know those things are damaging to society and unhealthy for the individual. And now, it’s generally understood things like murder, rape, and slavery are not acceptable.

With pornography, we’re still in the phase of society believing it’s healthy and normal, but it’s neither. And now it’s time to change things up.

The old vs. the new

The second problem with saying porn has always existed is it assumes porn has stayed the same through the centuries, with the same impact on the viewer.

What harm is looking at porn when it’s been around for centuries? Well, simply put, consuming today’s latest hardcore Pornhub videos is not the same as looking at caveman drawings from the dawn of time.

Now, we’re not saying that objectification has ever been healthy, however, it’s undeniable that times have certainly changed with the mediums it’s been presented in.

Related: Porn Yesterday Vs. Porn Today (Infographic)

In our modern day, porn is easier to access than your high school Hotmail account. Gone are the days of sneaking off to buy a Playboy to peek at the pictures or as the old argument goes, “just read the articles.” Mindgeek, the massive monopoly porn provider behind hundreds of sites like Pornhub and Redtube, uses more bandwidth than Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon and has basically taken over the internet with the most graphic, degrading content imaginable.

The Romans may have passed by erotic pottery or statues on their way to the bathhouse, but today’s porn consumers can watch the most extreme content for hours off of devices they carry with them everywhere.

Related: The Alarming Ways Porn Normalizes And Fetishizes Abuse

Not only is porn more available and accessible than ancient times, it’s also more explicit, violent, and abusive. What was once considered hardcore a few decades ago is now primetime TV—all it takes is an HBO subscription to realize it. And it’s only getting more extreme.

We can’t say with certainty how the sexually explicit material thousands of years ago affected the cultures it was embedded in, but the research we have today on modern pornography paints a grim picture of how it affects our society. If porn were the exact same as it was thousands of years ago, or even decades ago, we doubt we’d see a 74% rise of kids being convicted of rape or 46% of adults surveyed saying they don’t have a problem with “forced or painful” acts portrayed in porn. Yikes.

Refuse to accept the way things are

The idea of accepting porn just because it’s been around for a while is weak, to say the least. The comparison between the old and new simply doesn’t match up. How so? Last year, 64 million people a day visited Pornhub. Wow.

Clearly, this is not the porn of yesteryear. So we’re not going to treat it as such. You with us?

Get Involved

SHARE this article to bust the myth that porn is the same as it’s always been, so we should keep it around. Not cool, and not true. Keep fighting.

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