By Remya Mohan
12 January, 2006
Indian Woman Online
The rampant proliferation of pornography has a definite role to play in the numerous cases of internet and camera-phone sex-scandals unearthed periodically across India. The convergence of technology has made it easy to distribute pornography while enabling peddlers and users to maintain their privacy and dodge the law.
There is an undeniable link between media-images consumed and human cognitive make-up. Just as bloodshed and violence in movies and videogames have a positive correlation with anti-social behavior, pornography has subliminal implications and promotes a brand of sex devoid of respect and intimacy which must permeate real life.
Curiosity among teenagers who have unlimited access to pornography can escalate in to dependency which determines the personality of the subsequent adult individual. Boys who are constantly exposed to pornography glean their ideas of a woman’s sexual behaviour from these images and his mind becomes a cul-de-sac picturing girls as sluts with voracious sexual appetites and abnormally proportioned bodies. Girls too feel that such behaviour validates their sex-appeal, pushing them in to experimentation without analyzing the consequences. This is compounded by a new set of pseudo-liberal values endorsing casual sex and unrealistic libidinal standards. There are cases of people forcing their partners to undergo plastic surgery to attain X-rated norms.
Defenders claim that pornography is a harmless fantasy and a cathartic safety-valve which releases sexual tension, thus preventing sexual crime. The truth is that there is no positive correlation between higher pornography use and reduction in sex-crimes anywhere in the world. On the contrary, it has led to a decadent popular culture where sex is completely delinked from relationships and is linked with child abuse, violence against women and breakdown of families.
Women who are part of the industry are not ‘fantasy’ phantoms, but exist in ‘real’ flesh and blood. Pornography is a thankless short-term career, where inspite of being desired, a porn-actress does not receive respect or appreciation, only ignominy. Girls must not be lured by a misplaced sense of glamour or riches and end up dealing with pregnancy, disease, rape, drugs, emotional issues and isolation.
Many individuals from countries freely permitting pornography admit that it was their primary source of sex education. Just like alcohol and drugs, it is used by men as a refuge from problems like loneliness, broken homes or low self-esteem. Governments which allowed uninhibited pornography in the name of freedom and profits are now spending money on researching its harmful impact on society and are setting up help-lines and de-addiction centres for addicts and their families. Many sex offenders have admitted to being motivated by pornography to commit heinous crimes.
In India, the line between subtle erotica and pornography in mainstream media is becoming hazier by the day. Music videos and item numbers are an understated version of pornography. It is time that the government introduces a certification system for the entertainment industry so that viewers can judiciously choose what they consume.
These trends are a ticking time bomb which can explode in to a social menace. The short-term solution is astute regulation and legally channelising distribution sources. A complete ban will spawn a black market and lack of regulation can turn society in to a virtual sexual phantasmagoria. Dehumanizing material which portrays rape, abuse or sadomasochism must be banned. The legal environment must be modified on a continual basis to deal with cyber-crimes.
The long term solution lies in phased sex-education at school wherein non-oppressive, mutual and relationship-based sexuality is discussed. Publishers and schools must introduce interesting reading material which can help adolescents develop the maturity to evaluate and accept their own sexuality in a healthy manner.