Tuesday March 19, 2019
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Pornography: Is the extreme picking up steam?


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

Next Story

All You Need to Know About the Ban on Porn Sites

Government playing with 'personal liberty'? Or was it a Government notification turned into a propaganda?

Some people linked 'porn ban' to the right-wing politics of BJP. Wikimedia Commons
Some people linked 'porn ban' to the right-wing politics of BJP. Wikimedia Commons

by Shantam Sahai

  • In 2013, Kamlesh Vaswani filed a petition to ban all access and distribution of pornography
  • DoT notifies ISPs to ban 857 URLs
  • Only porn sites showing child pornography will be banned, later clarified government officials

In August 2015, the Government of India banned access to 857 porn sites. Department of Telecom notified internet service providers to block access to these 857 URLs, under Section 79(3)(b) of Information Technology Act, 2000. The content on these websites related to morality, decency as given in Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India.

This list of 857 URLs was given by petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani to government officials on 17 October 2014. However, later the Government backtracked by saying it only plans to ban websites showing content related to ‘child pornography’. In November 2014, the Government had banned access to sites hosting pornography, the ban was later lifted due to heavy public pressure to unblock porn sites.

Read more: Govt’s order on ban on porn sites “vague and unimplementable”

India, the country where 'Kama Sutra' originated, faces serious problems with censorship of sexual content. Wikimedia Commons
India, the country where ‘Kama Sutra’ originated, faces serious problems with censorship of sexual content. Wikimedia Commons

Analysis of the ‘Porn ban’

By order no. 813-7/25/2011-DS (Vol.-V), the department of Electronics and Information Technology has asked the Department of Telecom to notify internet service providers to block access to 857 URLs. The notification functioned under provision of Section 79(3)(b) of Information Technology Act, 2000.

Section 79(3)(b) of The Information Technology Act, 2000 says:

“(b) upon receiving actual knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate Government or its agency that any information, data or communication link residing in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary is being used to commit the unlawful act, the intermediary fails to expeditiously remove or disable access to that material on that resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner.”

In this case, the intermediary are ISPs and the ‘unlawful act’ is publication of pornographic content by websites. Under Section 67A of Information Technology Act, the publication of pornography is a punishable act which amounts to 3 years in prison and a fine upto Rs 5 lakhs.

Basically, publishing pornographic content is an offence in India, but viewing it is not. 

Hence, any debate on ‘Right to Privacy’ or ‘Personal Liberty’ won’t stand as the Government banned 857 porn sites under a defined law. It did not ‘ban’ anyone from viewing the content. The content was banned from being accessed by us. All that is left to debate, are legal loopholes and philosophy.

The Internet is a web of networks. In today's world of tech-savvies and the BIG Indian market, there is little or no way to ban any content. Pixabay
The Internet is a web of networks. In today’s world of tech-savvies and the BIG Indian market, there is little or no way to ban any content. Pixabay

‘Technically’, can’t ban porn

A notification by the Government to internet service providers in regard to 857 websites was being translated to a ‘porn ban’. However, a ‘porn ban’, technically, is quite an impossible task. For example, banning torrents just resulted in more sources from multiple servers around the world. Piratebay is still running full throttle.

You may also like: India ranks third in porn consumption 

Avoiding access to a bunch of URLs doesn’t mean a ‘ban’ on porn. Since viewing porn is not an offensive act and India is a huge market, people will figure out way to bypass and the traffic will just keep shifting.

Who is Kamlesh Vaswani?

Kamlesh Vaswani is a lawyer at Indore High Court, who filed a petition in 2013 to ban access and distribution of porn in India. He had heard of numerous brutal rape cases and after Nirbhaya, he decided to do something about it. Vaswani ended up in drawing a connection between pornography and crimes against women. His petition said:

“Watching porn itself puts the country’s security in danger, encourages violent acts, unacceptable behaviour in society, exploitation of children and lowers the dignity of women and he believes watching online pornography has a direct co-relation with crimes against women.”

The Supreme Court had rejected the petition saying it is a violation of Right to Privacy.

The big question! Does porn cause sexual violence?

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

If “watching online pornography has a direct co-relation with crimes against women”, then why don’t we relate murder in a movie with murder in real life? Just like a movie, pornographic films has actors in staged situations which are discussed in advance. Some of the content does involve fantasy dominance and non-consent, but these are performed by consenting adults.

The questions left are, was this Government notification an enforcement of law? Or was it an enforcement of right-wing ‘sanskaar’ for political appeasement?

2 responses to “All You Need to Know About the Ban on Porn Sites”

  1. “If watching online pornography has a direct co-relation with crimes against women”, then why don’t we relate murder in a movie with murder in real life?” Easy answer. When people watch violent movies are they sitting there stabbing a pillow for 30 minutes with a kitchen knife? No, they don’t. But when they watch porn they’re typically stimulating themselves and releasing neurochemicals that create a neural pathway, like a trail in the woods.. The neural pathways are deepened with REPETITION of the actions – watching and stimulating. We’re wired for sex and naturally going to build neural connections based upon our sexual activities.

  2. Is it legal to run an adult blogging site in india which does not contain child porn and porn videos it only contain adult industry pornstars news?