Online pornography is to have its own domain. In an attempt to clean up the mainstream web, channels with adult content will soon be annexed by a new suffix. Instead of .com, users of pornography will have to type in .XXX.

The aim of this move is the protection of children and accidental viewers. It's become all too easy to google, for example, a recipe for a French chicken and wine stew only to find oneself face-to-face with something rather less wholesome. Both suppliers and lobbies against pornography have expressed concerns about the move. Lobby groups are worried that the designation of an entire domain lends legitimacy to the pornography industry. While representatives from the sex industry have protested that the loss of passing traffic will deal a huge blow to its already struggling revenue streams.

In 2005 I wrote in defence of pornography, arguing against the feminist view that the sole purpose of sex on film was to subjugate and objectify women. Porn is not, I said then, simply the propaganda wing of an animalistic and women-hating patriarchy forced into latency since women won suffrage and stopped being classified as chattels. Women could enjoy porn too!

What's more, it is an arena where women were the key powerbrokers, earning more money than men and often running enterprises themselves. Porn, I insisted, was not necessarily, by definition, a misogynistic industry.

“Far from just playing supporting roles in men's private and misogynistic fantasies, women are increasingly becoming consumers of pornography themselves,” I said at the time.

“It's a tool to encourage sexual arousal, and it works for both sexes. Being in control of the remote, so to speak, and weighing in with their considerable spending power stops women from being victims of pornography. Instead, they benefit from it.”

That was only six years ago, but already much has changed. Back then, the Brazilian bikini wax was still a relatively novel idea and the word labioplasty had barely made a dent into mainstream culture. How different things look now.

And with that change, my sanguine observation of pornography's slow invasion has gradually switched from one of sanguine amusement to profound concern. I no longer believe pornography is simply a benign by-product of a liberated society. It's not just about women either. If anything, the damage wreaked by a slow tidal wave of influence with which the pornography industry is gradually saturating our culture is as equally harmful to men as it is to women.

I don't believe the problem is that pornography promotes sexual violence, or discrimination against women. Instead, the problem is simply part of a wider and feebly-resisted process where the power and agendas of industry takes jurisdiction over our private and personal lives. Thanks to the business of pornography, consumer culture has invaded not just our homes and our workplaces, but our bedrooms. When it's working as an agent of economic growth, and keeping us in iPhones and flat screen TVs, consumerism is separate from the essence of our humanity.

But in invading the sex lives of an entire generation, in shaping sexual tastes, norms and desires, porn has the power to allow the agenda of consumer culture into the essence of what makes us human. Sex, previously the very crucible of human connection, is contaminated by the atomised perspective of the consumer. Thus its importance as a means of exchange, or of communication, is trumped by the importance of conforming, in bed, to physical and behavioural convention.

You might think that talking about the conventions of pornography is an oxymoron. But within the genre there are clear central patterns and principles of aesthetic and behaviour which now find wider expression in popular culture, from fashion to film.

Those representations of copulation which are packaged and sold in consumable, downloadable units across the web are less about sex than they are about sales. The humanity of sex; the intimacy, the personal nature of it has been stripped away into a one dimensional, objective representation that arouses by rote.

Other forms of explicit art - books, paintings, photography, tend to approach the sexual from the subjective, or the personal view. They serve to underscore the individual, the human experience of sex as a means of connection, even on a purely carnal level, with another human being. Pornography, by comparison, is (on the whole) simple anatomy. It's sex not as a human experience, or a means of connection but as a quickly consumable morsel. The view is objective, and objectified. It is also, in the main, emotionally neutral.

More complex and ephemeral mechanisms of desire, arousal, sensuality are sidelined entirely as they don't fall easily into portions that can be readily sold and consumed. It's not morally wrong exactly, just rather sad. Pornography has become the blueprint for the intimate lives of a whole generation. Young adults today are denied the experience of sexual experimentation as part of an intimate, and individual process of discovery with another human being.

They've already seen it all on film, and are expected to perform what they've learned, on demand. The one area of life that remained untouched, for most people, by the grubby fingers of big business has been conquered. - Sunday Independent