Tuesday December 12, 2017
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Pornography: Is the extreme picking up steam?

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By Rebecca McCourtie

So I was reading yesterday’s awesome column Break the silence around porn: To watch or not to watch? by Ila Garg and it got me thinking. It got me thinking about internet censorship and whether or not in today’s day and age of VPNs and various other IT softwares, can anything ever really be censored? This further made me think about the implications of access to pornography (whether legal or not) and whether regulations pertaining to its access are even the core issue. porn 2

Let me start by saying that generally speaking, I don’t have an issue with pornography. Sexual intrigue and voyeurism are natural and shouldn’t be snuffed by social ideologies that pertain to the archaic view that sex is shameful and dirty. There’s no need to be mean about flicking the bean. As Garg points out in her commentary, more and more women are watching porn, with 24% of millennial porn viewers being female. This is not surprising given the massive strides that societies around the world have taken in stepping away from the de-sexualisation of women.  In a world where sex is becoming less taboo and more exposed, the question that arises is: what is pornography?

Shows like HBO’s Sex and the City began rolling the cart up the hill when it came to the sexual emancipation of women. Shocking audiences’ world wide, sex in direct relation to women was finally being normalized through these mediums. Often using a satirical overtone, they achieved success in downplaying the intensity past sexual taboos had stained the subject matter with.

This emancipation undoubtedly came off the bat of America’s Golden Age of Porn between 1970 and 1980, when pornography consisted primarily of what is considered to be ‘normal’ heterosexual sex. This era put ‘sex’ out there and in the open. There was no hiding from it. People did it, people loved it. It was officially on the table as an obvious. Pornography can therefore be considered to have paved the way for greater exposure and discussion on the subject matter of sex. This would eventually lead women in the 1990’s into taking charge and entering themselves into the discussion as active, engaged and willing participants.

BUT has pornography gone too far? What is pornography circa now?

At what point does this emancipation become degradation? Gone is the golden era of the porn industry, when sex was simply sex and that was enough to flog the log. It appears that with today’s growing interest in porn, the parameters of ‘sex’ are being pushed to absurd, violent and outright odd boundaries.

Now, I’m not talking about a cheeky spank here and there or the ‘hello, have we met before?’ role play. I’m talking about violence against women and the ever expanding normalization of the ‘uber-freaky’ into the real world.porn

In Rashida Jones’ fantastic documentary Hot Girls Wanted, she explores the growing trend of young American women straight out of high school joining the amateur porn industry. The young women come with mixed agendas, some in the hope of gaining fame and others just to make a quick dollar. What the documentary also explores is the growing trend of ‘extreme’ porn; essentially, acts of a sexual nature that aim to degrade women through violence. For example, acts which culminate in the woman’s self-induced vomiting, acts that involve objects being used to inflict severe pain or outright physical assault. The documentary states that in ‘2014, abuse porn websites averaged over 60 million combined hits per month.’ Is this material really turning people on? The statistics would appear to tell us so. What is worrying is how these acts of extreme sexual titillation translate to the private boudoir and the subsequent expectations placed on the every day woman.

We must subsequently ask ourselves: what is porn? When legislating on the issue and determining its place in society, we must be careful to define the term and avoid casting a net that captures ‘extreme’ porn as being part of what is considered ‘normal’ pornography. Failing to do so will alter norms in society and place unfair, unwanted and unsafe expectations on women to sexually perform on a level that may be physically, culturally, religiously, spiritually or all four combined, wrong for them.

I don’t think that censoring online porn is the answer, in fact I would go so far as to say that it is probably futile. Blocking something by deeming it ‘deviant’ runs the risk of facilitating the growth of interest. As I said, it is human nature to be inquisitive and drawing attention to the very thing one wants to hide is a risky and often counter-productive strategy.

What isn’t futile though, is talking about sex openly and educating our young men and women on what is the ‘norm’, or rather what is OK and what is NOT. If we fail to discuss sex in a sensible and non-hysterical manner, then young men and women are left to self educate through mediums such as pornography, including ‘extreme’ pornography. The last thing we want is for men and women to be pushing the unrealistic parameters of experimentation to emulate the ‘extreme’ porn industry. Following the ‘extreme’ porn industry’s normalization of the freaky is inadvertently changing the expectations (from both men and women) of what exactly a woman’s role in sex is. This is dangerous and it makes me fearful for the women of today, and even more so for the women of tomorrow.

The normalization of sex within society needs to be discussed. WE should be setting our norms, not the porn industry!

Safe for everyone, Enjoyable for everyone, X-citing for everyone

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India ranks third in porn consumption

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By Harshmeet Singh

Hypocrisy is a strong word to use. But when the stats support the claims, it becomes hard to debate. Though talking about ‘sex’ (even with respect to education) is a taboo in the country, the public outrage over the recent short-lived porn ban by the government was widespread.

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                                                     Top 5 porn consuming countries

If you thought of dismissing that reaction as just a natural outburst towards government’s highhandedness, the latest annual report published by Pornhub can dash your perceptions. According to the report, India stood at the third rank on the global list of porn consumption in 2015, with the top two spots being bagged by the US and the UK.

Another perception that the report breaks is about women not watching porn. According to the report, 30% of Indian porn viewers are women. This number stood at 24% last year. It is significantly higher than the global average of 24%.

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The pornstar turned Bollywood actress Sunny Leone remains the most searched pornstar globally. In terms of the time spent on porn sites, India ranks 4th with an average visitor spending nine and a half minutes on porn sites.

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According to the data furnished in the report, about 75GB of porn is streamed per second globally.

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The great Indian porn debate: Does it create rapists or release sexual frustration?

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By Nithin Sridhar

The Indian government appears to have silently banned around 800 porn websites. According to this Hindustan Times report, the Internet service providers (ISP) received letters directing them to block porn websites from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Saturday. The ISP’s that have enforced the ban include Vodafone, MTNL, ACT, Hathway and BSNL.

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Many people have expressed opposition to this move on social media, though some have supported the move as well. The present ban has again highlighted the issue of pornography.

Prevalence of Pornography:

According to these statistics released by Covenant Eyes, between 2001 and 2007, the Internet porn industry went from a $1-billion-a-year industry to $3-billion-a-year in the US alone. It further says that by 2017, a quarter of a billion people are expected to be watching porn using mobiles or tablets, an increase of more than 30% from 2013.

It estimates that 9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography before the age of 18. It further says that in 2008, a company called Hitwise cataloged 40,634 websites that distributed pornography. It quotes Damon Brown, author of “Porn and Pong and Playboy’s Greatest Covers” as saying:

It seems so obvious: If we invent a machine, the first thing we are going to do—after making a profit—is use it to watch porn. When the projector was invented roughly a century ago, the first movies were not of damsels in distress tied to train tracks or Charlie Chaplin-style slapsticks;they were stilted porn shorts called stag films. VHS became the dominant standard for VCRs largely because Sony wouldn’t allow pornographers to use Betamax; the movie industry followed porn’slead. DVDs, the Internet, cell phones. You name it, pornography planted its big flag there first, or atleast shortly thereafter.

The Hindustan Times report quotes a data from PornHub that says Indians form 40% of its total 14.2 billion users. Therefore, it can be easily concluded that consumption of pornography is widely prevalent across the world.

Effects of watching porn:

Many people, if not most, indulge in watching pornography to either fulfill their fantasies or to relieve their stress. Various studies have been conducted to access the impact of pornography on people, but no conclusive results have been obtained.

According to the Covenant Eyes report: 88% of scenes in porn films contain acts of physical aggression, and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression. It further quotes a meta-analysis of 46 studies, that concluded that exposure to pornography puts one at an increased risk of committing sexual crimes (22% increase) and accepting rape myths (31% increase). It quotes another study of 187 female university students, where researchers concluded that early exposure to pornography was related to subsequent “rape fantasies” and attitudes supportive of sexual violence against women.

Therefore, consumption of porn, especially of the violent and hardcore variety may have a deep impact on minds of the people which may lead them to commit many sexual crimes as well.

But, according to this report by Christopher J. Ferguson and Richard D. Hartley:

Evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to pornography and sexual aggression is slim and may, at certain times, have been exaggerated by politicians, pressure groups, and some social scientists. Some of the debate has focused on violent pornography, but evidence of any negative effects is inconsistent, and violent pornography is comparatively rare in the real world. Victimization rates for rape in the United States demonstrate an inverse relationship between pornography consumption and rape rates.

It further quotes a study conducted in Japan that concludes that increasing availability of pornography is associated with declining rates of rape and other sex crimes.

A 2007 study made a survey of 1023 consumers of pornography in Australia. The consumers were asked to specify what effect did watching pornography have on their attitudes towards sexuality. The study revealed that 58.8% people thought that pornography had a positive influence on their attitudes towards sexuality, 34.6% felt it did not have any effect on them and 6.8% thought that it had a negative effect on them.

The positive effects listed by the pornography consumers included making them less repressed and more open minded about sex, increased tolerance towards others’ sexuality, giving pleasure, provided educational information, made them more attentive to partners sexual needs, and helped them to talk to their partners about sex.

The negative effects listed by the consumers in the study included increased tendency to objectify people, caused unrealistic sexual expectations, caused loss of interest in sex and relationship problems, and let to serious addictions.

These various reports clearly depict two things: one, there are definitely both positive and negative effects of watching pornography; two, though excessive viewing of pornography may lead to various sexual crimes in many cases, but, it cannot be considered as a driving factor that leads every consumer of pornography to commit crimes. Some studies also depict co-relation between increased pornographic consumption and decreased sexual crime rate.

Watching pornography is not same as creating pornography

The Supreme Court of India has recently stated that watching a porn movie within the four walls of the house cannot be considered as a crime. Watching porn inside a house is a private activity that harms no one, hence it may even become an issue of fundamental rights. On the other hand, creation of pornography may involve mafias who abduct women and make sex tape, or might secretly be filming couples using hidden cameras, and other activities. Hence, the law clearly bans creation and distribution of obscene materials. It is only with respect to child pornography that there is a ban on production as well as consumption.

Education and not prohibition is the solution

The Delhi incident of Nirbhaya rape, wherein the perpetrators of the crime used beastly methods of torture, can be linked to portrayal of such scenes in many hardcore pornographic videos. As quoted earlier, extensive and excessive exposure to pornography does have a negative influence on some people which may result in their committing various sexual crimes.

But, at the same time, majority of the pornography consumers are not criminals. It may well be argued that stopping people from watching porn may lead to increase in sexual frustration which may in-turn lead to increase in sexual crimes. Those people who used to satisfy their fantasies inside four walls, may come out and try to fulfill those fantasies through people.

If that happens, then there would be an opposite effect than what the ban intends to implement. From the various studies, it is clear that watching porn or not watching porn is not the driving factor behind various sexual crimes. It is the attitude and character of people which is the root cause.

People who are well rooted in values and have strong character, don’t indulge in sexual crimes, even though they may be watching hardcore porn at nights. On the other hand, those who are raised to believe that women are to be objectified and exploited, they become more encouraged to commit sexual crimes after watching pornography.

Further, it is practically impossible to stop people from watching porn. There are thousands of porn websites and many new websites come up every day. It is not practical to block all of them. Yet, even if we assume that a total block is implemented, even then, people will access porn through other means like CD’s and DVD’s. In fact, the business of various CD shops and porn CD manufacturers is going to flourish again, the way it did in pre-internet days.

Therefore, it is vital for the government to realize that only through proper and wholesome education that includes education on ethics, morality, and sex and relationships will it be able to counter any negative influence of pornography or other kinds of obscenity and prevent sexual crimes.

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Break the silence around porn: To watch or not to watch?

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Sunny_Leone_walks_for_Apala_Jewels_at_IIJW_2014By Ila Garg

While most people avoid talking about it, almost every adult has watched porn. Even when they discuss it, it’s only done in whispers. The mention of the word ‘porn’ can cause a catastrophe in the Indian society which is full of hypocrites. If you ask someone about their interest in porn, they will simply deny it though they might be addicted to it in reality. No wonder, Sunny Leone topped the Times of India list of most desirable female stars.

Recently, Supreme Court raised an important question: whether watching porn in a private space should be considered an offense or not. Chief Justice HL Dattu, while hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Kamlesh Vashwani to block porn websites, asked, “Could he not argue about his right to freedom to do something within the four walls of his house without violating any law?”

Pratyush Prakash, a newbie Bollywood lyricist told NewsGram, “Porn, at times, becomes a need. There is nothing wrong in watching porn unless it drives you to do something ill or heinous. Watching porn in private within four walls of house is not an offense, making one is.” Prakash here is clearly implying how making porn without the concerned individual’s consent is a serious offense. Meghna, a Delhi University student says, “as long as it is being watched within four walls, it is fine until its repercussions aren’t visible in public.”

Well, the truth is that watching porn is a debatable issue and should be an individual choice. Porn is no evil and therefore should not be treated as a taboo. Excess of everything is usually believed to be bad then why is an exclusive hype being generated in the case of porn? People have different views on porn. While some watch it on a daily basis, some find it over the top. For some, it is vulgar and a desperate act.intimate-couple-83110503-610x300

Watching porn has its own implications. It can be addictive. However, it should be noted that all people who watch porn can’t be termed as addicts. Some might even find it repulsive. But banning it is no solution.

Blocking pornographic sites is futile as people in authority themselves watch it. In this respect, Media has brought several incidents to light. Politicians in Parliament were caught watching porn while the session was on. According to most of the people, pornography dehumanizes women into becoming sexual objects, things, commodities. But viewers feel that women find pleasure in pain and that is why they want to try it for real.

Many activities shown in pornographic films can have a bad impact on the young minds. For instance, some people believe that it fosters “violence against women”. Why do you think there was so much controversy around the release of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’? The spanking, beating, tying women with ropes, blindfolding them is all good on-screen but when people try implementing it in real, it can get messy. Perhaps, that is what porn-addiction means and in that case it is certainly bad.

According to a study, the young women are watching porn more than ever. This implies they don’t find porn as encouraging violence. While 76 percent of the millennial porn viewers are men, 24 percent of millennial porn viewers are women, said the study done by popular porn web platform Pornhub for Mic.com – a New York-based website focused on news for millennials.

618_348_missing-out-in-intimacy-top-10-sex-mistakes“Perhaps if this trend continues, we will get to a place where porn is produced with both male and female fantasies in mind,” the Mic study said. According to Pornhub’s data, Sunny Leone is the most searched for porn-star by Indian viewers.

According to the data, 60 percent of porn-viewers watch it on their smartphones while only 33 percent watch porn on computers. “Lesbian” is the most popular search term. The data, however, suggests that the people searching in this category are not actual lesbians.

There is nothing wrong in porn. In fact, putting a ban on porn will only increase the desire to watch it among youngsters. It is the sexual fantasy that often tempts the young adults to visit such sites.

Adwitiya Borah, a fiction writer says, “Of course it’s okay to watch porn. It’s absolutely okay as long as the viewer is above eighteen years of age, understands the concept of ‘consent’, and remember that sex in real life is a lot different from porn.”

Some married people have a mixed view on this too. While some believe watching porn is alright, others go to the extent of considering it as cheating. At times, husbands tend to draw a comparison between their wives and the porn-stars who look flawless. Also, wives can sometimes feel discontent too. With many forums voicing out in support of women masturbating and watching porn, it’s time to broader the horizon a little. Porn should not be treated as a demon and at the same time, it should not be excessive.

To watch it or not is a question that remains after all…