Tag Archives: porn

Porn Matters, and Some More

Some thoughts on Ashley Tellis’ article Why Porn Matters:

Ashley opposes the blocking of porn sites, I too oppose the blocking of some porn sites. But I find it hard to relate to certain of Ashley’s approaches here.

Generally in India, invoking the category ‘Dalit’ would silence only a handful of people, given the casteist society we live in. So, without qualification, apparently generalized phrases like “It has become something of a piety to invoke Dalit women or just the category Dalit to silence critics on any given issue. Once one utters the word Dalit or adivasi, the opposition is silenced” come uncomfortably close to the casteist approach of ‘crying casteism’ – where people are falsely accused of ‘seeing casteism where it isn’t there’. I am also not comfortable with Ashley’s definition of the Dalit feminist as a sex-conservative, which he apparently gives in the statement “The Dalit feminist position on prostitution and bar dancing has become clear.” If one understands intersectionality, then one would see that such construction of the idea of Dalit feminism is anti-feminist, since never does Dalit feminism automatically include the stands on prostitution and bar dancing opposed by Ashley, even though certain people identified as Dalit Feminists may take those stands.

Secondly, the ban on the production and distribution of pornography has been there before the BJP government came in power. So Ashley is wrong in saying that this will push the domestic producers of pornographic content underground, because they already are. The recent move involved blocking some popular porn sites, some of which have been unblocked now.

If we are to judge this decision to block porn sites by whether it would affect the viewing of pornographic content by the people of India, then it can safely be said that there would be little success in that. People have DVDs, proxies, numerous other sites that the government has not managed to block yet, the forums and so on and so forth. So, useless in achieving their purpose, such blocks stoke the prevalent anti-pleasurable-sex attitude, which is to be strongly condemned and opposed.

Is access to pornography, which includes various kinds, helping create problematic images of sex in the minds of people? In many cases, yes. If so, is that reason enough to call for a total ban on pornography? No. Bollywood has been the misogyny factory since its inception, few are calling for a ban on Bollywood now. Erotic content needs to be discussed, analysed, criticized and not brushed under the carpet. The rights and plights of the workers involved in the production and distribution of erotic content deserve more articulation, so that the struggle towards a more just society can be waged better.

There is no denying of the fact that a lot of pornography demeans women, men, transpeople, agenders, asexuals, and even harms animals. When we are articulating our stances on erotic content, we must bring this fact into the foreground and think about ways in which the struggle against these can grow. Ashley stresses on the extremely important point of sex education, but does not elaborate on what effects the porn industry in its current state has, given there is no formal sex education. While we are opposing some of the blocks, let us also explore and articulate strongly the problems with so, so many of the porns, the kind of acts, dignity and wages the porn industry subjects to many of their workers, the kind of effects they have on the mindset of the viewers, without falling prey to sexual conservatism. (Ashley does condemn the exploitation in the porn industry.) The opposition to erotic content per se as exhibited by many in the society should be countered, but not with an approach like ‘yay for the porns we have, stop being such spoilsports’. The massive cultural influence of porns that are widely consumed needs discussion. And wouldn’t that be a potent tool to battle the sex-conservatives as well, if we could create an environment where a healthier discourse on erotic content is possible?

by Sutanaya

Porn as an Ally of the Institutions of Marriage and Family

1. Approaching these questions online with a google search – something like porn+marriage – shows most debate to indicate that porn is at odds with or harmful to ‘marriage’. Arguments seem to range from ‘watching porn is considered infidelity by partners’, to ‘watching porn erodes emotional attachments’ to ‘watching porn makes sexual intercourse between partners less interesting’ to ‘porn leads to comparison’ to ‘it makes for bad parenting’ to ‘it is an addiction’ to ‘porn is a pathway to infidelity’ and so on. Clearly, the arguments are as numerous as the people voicing them, hence lack any general value; moreover, they seem like they apply to individual households rather than to marriage in any broad sense.

2.What is also noteworthy of these discussions is that the family they have as reference is the Christian American or European family; some openly state their concerns in terms of findings (“50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted”). Therefore, partly the debate is to be seen as an extension on the general prudish debate, in which religion comes to hold a visible presence against what are dubbed as forms of immorality. The core of the problem, however, seems to be the break-up of the family unit. It is assumed in these discussions that the family is natural to humans. We can imagine similar concerns to come up had these questions been raised in our own context, with “Christian” replaced by the analogous organized religious identity, and other kinds of scriptural references and arguments against porn.

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