SUMMARY: The slope is already slippery. Let's get the slide out.
Editor’s note: This post features adult themes and content and is NOT suitable for reading at work. We also welcome your thoughts and comments by email.
The world’s biggest porn sites have long offered ‘teen’ categories. Now, totally predictably, the world of VR porn has followed suit.
It might sound like a minor difference, but this really is a can of worms.
Pass the tin-opener.
Fantasy v reality
Whatever you make of ‘teen’ porn, or porn in general, there is at least the reassuring fall-back that it is a fantasy.
No one is pretending that policing thoughts is the answer. The school-tied ‘teens’ of YouPorn or RedTube are all over eighteen (this is a legal requirement for all major studios).
Fantasy is fantasy – and anyone getting off of these films knows it.
But VR porn lets you live the dream
VR porn is still a fantasy, yes. But it’s a fantasy that’s sold on ‘feeling real’.
Now a ‘teen’ fanatic can, for example, enjoy the VR porn game VR KANOJO (girl in Japanese). It’s makers state in broken English:
In the game, a girl named Sakura appears. She is a VR girl, but her skin and hair are real, face is very cute, body is alive.
Game players feel her body temperature and breath so they think that she is a real girl beside them.
And then, the rub:
One day, you visit Sakura’s home near your house in order to teach her homework. You are looking forward to visiting her room.
You are getting intimate with her gradually, and you will feel that sexual atmosphere fills her room.
The perfect immersive virtual sex !
This game is not unique. We’re used to seeing the sexualisation of teen girls – both in the West, and in cultural flourishes like Japanese anime.
Here though, you can have sex with her, and the creators want to make it feel real.
A fantasy – still
Now, before you balk, remember: this is a fantasy still. No one is getting hurt – directly at least.
In the future, there may (or may not) be real-world consequences.
Despite much-heated debate in recent decades, most agree that violent games do not cause people to be violent. It’s an uncomfortable subject, but does that mean sex with pre-pubescent girls in VR is ok?
As someone trying to balance feelings of staunch feminist concern with wary digital liberalism, I feel torn.
But we need to ask these questions, because the ethics of VR is only going to become more complex.
The big paedophilia debate
As VR porn becomes a playground of sexual fantasy, it’s easy to foresee the slippery slope ahead.
How young is too young, for example; is the Japanese schoolgirl scenario ok, because she could be 16?
What about girls or boys who look younger?
Consider the paedophiles of the world who are programmed – through genetics or otherwise – to be sexually attracted to children.
Is it ok to let them abuse virtual 5-year-olds online because it isn’t hurting anyone?
It’s been suggested that VR paedophilia could have positive real-world consequences, giving paedophiles an outlet to express their sexuality without harm. Or the contrary, would allowing paedophiles to explore their tendencies have the opposite effect – fanning their sexual desires, with terrible real-world consequences.
It’s already been posed to The Memo that there needs to be some regulatory board for VR – in the same way there is for cinema. But this hasn’t yet become as reality, and where would such a board draw the line?
Is extreme sexual violence acceptable in VR? Is sex with dead people? How do we deem what’s acceptable or not? And who can we trust to make those decisions?
Whatever you think, we know that this is just the beginning: the can of worms is open.
It might be uncomfortable and challenging, but this debate needs to happen.
I’m keen to know what you think…