Per­pet­u­at­ing per­ni­cious­ness!

Thin veil that sep­a­rates eroti­cism from porn is van­ish­ing fast.

Alive - - Contents - by Ma­haraaj K. Koul

“Pornog­ra­phy is vi­tal to free­dom and that a free and civilised so­ci­ety should be judged by its will­ing­ness to ac­cept porn!”

— Sal­man Rushdie

On 8 Oc­to­ber 2015, the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) in­formed the Supreme Court of In­dia that un­der the ex­ist­ing set-up, it was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to curb cir­cu­la­tion of vi­o­lent porn on the In­ter­net as con­tent providers kept shift­ing Web­sites to cater to the huge “dom­i­neer­ing male pop­u­la­tion” in In­dia be­tray­ing “in­sa­tiable lust and pen­chant for sala­cious ma­te­rial.”

In an af­fi­davit, the CBI said that it was a “bit­ter, ironic truth that paradig­matic ad­vances in the realm of in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions have pro­vided a new di­men­sion to crimes of rape and gang rape across the coun­try.”

The CBI sounded a se­ri­ous warn­ing — the per­va­sive pres­ence of pornog­ra­phy on the In­ter­net cou­pled with rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion is fast dis­con­nect­ing the youth from so­cial val- ues, mak­ing them in­clined to­wards sex­ual of­fences and has called for a na­tional agency to deal with sex­ual as­saults de­picted on the Web.

On the one hand, the agency linked the rise in sex­ual as­saults on women to the ram­pant cir­cu­la­tion of pornog­ra­phy on In­ter­net and on the other; it said vi­su­als posted on the Web go un­pun­ished as no state po­lice had the ju­ris­dic­tion, ca­pa­bil­ity or ex­per­tise to deal with such Cy­ber­crime.

“The ab­sence or se­ri­ous de­fi­ciency of law en­force­ment in the vast arena of Cy­berspace, leads to im­punity amongst the youth, who feel em­bold­ened by the vir­tual as­sur­ance of non-deter­rence and the hope that they can get away with it eas­ily,” the agency said.

Ban or no ban, In­dian cities ac­count for the high­est num­ber of Google searches for porn. The lat­est Google Trends data show that six of the top 10 cities in the world key­ing in porn on the search en­gine are in

In­dia. Lead­ing the bri­gade of porn surfers are Ne­ti­zens from New Delhi, fol­lowed by Pune, Mum­bai, Howrah, Un­nao and Ban­galuru in that or­der.

The data re­flect both fetishes and per­ver­sion. So­ci­ol­o­gists refuse to link on­line ac­tiv­ity with off­line be­hav­iour, and point out that key words used in Google searches are re­flec­tive of the con­tin­ued cu­rios­ity around the three­let­ter word. Since 2008, the most num­ber of ‘an­i­mal porn’ searches were from Pune, fol­lowed by New Delhi, Mum­bai and Ban­galuru.

Miss­ing links

‘Rape porn’ is a widely searched term with Kolkata, Howrah, New Delhi, Ahmed­abad and Pune ac­count­ing for the high­est use of th­ese key­words. Un­nao, a small town in Ut­tar Pradesh, has most searches for ‘child sex’.

In­dian cities lead­ing in porn searches could be a tad mis­lead­ing with many coun­tries miss­ing from the data. Cyp­tog­ra­phy ex­pert Ajit Hatti, also a se­cu­rity re­searcher and co-founder of Null — In­dia’s largest open se­cu­rity com­mu­nity — says while the data are cor­rect, it isn’t com­plete. “There are coun­tries like China, Rus­sia and North Korea that don’t use Google or have ex­tremely lim­ited us­age. Then in coun­tries like the USA and the UK, many use dif­fer­ent search en­gines,” he said.

The grow­ing num­ber of Web users in the coun­try is also adding to the num­bers. Re­cent stud­ies have pegged the num­ber of Web users in In­dia at 243 mil­lion (24.3 crore). In­dia’s top eight cities — Mum­bai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ban­galuru, Chen­nai, Hy­der­abad, Ahmed­abad and Pune — ac­counted for over 58 mil­lion In­ter­net users, the study said.

“A ma­jor­ity of In­dia’s huge popu-

la­tion is in the young age group. We have an even bet­ter mo­bile phone pen­e­tra­tion and nowa­days school chil­dren as young as 12 are watch­ing porn out of cu­rios­ity or peer pres­sure,” says Sh­weta Chawla, head and chief in­ves­ti­ga­tor, SC Cy­ber So­lu­tions and also the founder of As­so­ci­a­tion of Women in In­for­ma­tion Se­cu­rity.

A ver­i­ta­ble Pan­dora’s Box has been opened and the porn de­bate has

been out of the closet since long time. The Tatler magazine told us why the mood of the mo­ment was ‘Porn Chic’. Not only that Paris Hil­ton’s sex tapes sold like hot­cakes; ‘word­’ re­vealed its top searches were ‘Paris Hil­ton’, fol­lowed by ‘sex’, fol­lowed by ‘porn’.

Porn be­came hip­per and ac­cept­able. Vis­ual im­agery of pornog­ra­phy be­came pop­u­lar cul­ture world­wide. And, how couldn’t the porno­graphic curve rise in In­dia?

Who is to blame?

Blame it on Hugh Hefner, who hailed it as a cul­tural vic­tory. “Bring out ev­ery­thing in the open,” screamed Bill Far­ley, pres­i­dent, Play­boy En­ter­prises, “What pornog­ra­phy needed to be prof­itable on a mass scale was to be re­moved from the sex­ual ghetto and brought into the liv­ing room. It needed some­one to adopt it, and teach it man­ners. Hugh Hefner did for porn what Henry Hig­gins did for El­iza Dolit­tle.”

Can there be a porn over­load? Yes, said Naomi Wolf as she shat­tered ‘The Born Myth’ in her cover story for the April 2006 is­sue for the magazine New York. Post-In­ter­net, the world has pornographised. Young men and women are be­ing taught what sex is, how it looks, what its eti­quette and ex­pec­ta­tions are, by porno­graphic train­ing. But does all this sex­ual im­agery mean that sex has been lib­er­ated — or is it the case that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the multi-bil­lion-dol­lar porn in­dus­try and sex­ual ap­petite has be­come like the re­la­tion­ship be­tween pro­cessed foods and obe­sity?

If your ap­petite is stim­u­lated and fed by poor-qual­ity ma­te­rial, it takes more junk to fill you up. Peo­ple are not closer be­cause of porn but far­ther apart; peo­ple are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.

So, what hap­pens when porn im­agery dic­tates the minds of men and women? Does it fill the mind with im­pos­si­ble fan­tasy?

Bad im­pact

The Skin Diva of Bol­ly­wood, Ni­gar Khan says: “If hus­band and wife watch porn to­gether, it’ll help them un­der­stand each other sex­u­ally. Isn’t it bet­ter than hav­ing the hus­band watch alone? How­ever, some women take it very hard. In Europe, girls tell their boyfriends what they like in bed. If your boyfriend wants to take you to an orgy and you don’t want to go, please tell him that you won’t like to share your­self with any­one else! Learn to ap­ply brakes.”

A sur­vey ‘Un­der­stand­ing Pornog­ra­phy’, by Dr Alan Mac­kee, Cather­ine Lundy and Lath All­bury con­cluded that porn helps cou­ples re­lax about their sex­u­al­ity. Psy­chi­a­trist Dr Anupriya Chadha says: “If you study the ef­fect of porn on cou­ples and sex­u­al­ity, there are two schools of thought. Some feel it de­stroys a mar­riage by de­priv­ing a re­la­tion­ship of

trust. I’ve met women who feel their hus­bands are be­ing un­faith­ful if they watch too much porn. Then there’s a con­trary view, that watch­ing porn can be an in­tel­lec­tual ac­tiv­ity which has no be­havioural reper­cus­sions or emo­tional im­pli­ca­tions.”

Ac­cord­ing to a renowned Bri­tish ther­a­pist at the Not­ting­ham Uni­ver­sity Dr An­gela Gre­gory, there is a surge in the num­ber of young men seek­ing treat­ment for erec­tile dys­func­tion. And the rea­son is their ad­dic­tion to on­line porn!

Prone to porn af­ter mar­riage

Ac­cord­ing to a new study, men watch less porn af­ter mar­riage, while women watch it more. Amer­i­can re­searchers in­ter­viewed mar­ried men and women to es­tab­lish how be­hav­iour and at­ti­tude to­wards sex­u­al­ity change be­fore and af­ter mar­riage. Of the fe­male par­tic­i­pants, 9 per cent re­ported view­ing porn be­fore mar­riage and 28 per cent af­ter mar­riage. Among men, 23 per cent watched porn be­fore mar­riage and just 14 per cent af­ter mar­riage.

So­ci­ol­o­gist-teacher Dr Aarda Suren­dran says it would be wrong to link porn with at­ti­tude to­wards women and sex­ual crime. “Pornog­ra­phy of the main­stream va­ri­ety is one of the many forms of ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion of sex, and within it, women. There is no em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence to prove an essen­tial link­age be­tween watch­ing porn and vi­o­lence against women,” says Dr Suren­dran, adding that sex­u­al­ity in main­stream pornog­ra­phy is in ac­cor­dance with the ‘male gaze’ and may en­cour­age un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of fe­male

bod­ies and sex in gen­eral.

“The ob­ses­sion and ex­otic, macabre or ex­tremely vi­o­lent forms of pornog­ra­phy (in­clud­ing child porn) can also be re­lated to the close­ness and rigid­ity sur­round­ing sex­u­al­ity in so­ci­ety, and the taboo around its pub­lic dis­cus­sion.”

Porn out­num­bers clas­sics

Here are some hard facts: Hol­ly­wood re­leases 400 films each year, while the pornog­ra­phy in­dus­try re­leases 700 movies in the same time frame. Says the au­thor of Kin­dered Spir­its Kusum Sawh­ney: “The truth is that ev­ery­one watches porn in their bed­room. But it’s not a nat­u­ral way of hav­ing sex. The word ‘pornog­ra­phy’ it­self is a neg­a­tive word. I be­lieve there’s a cy­cle to ev­ery mad­ness. I pre­dict there’ll be a calm­ing ef­fect soon. We’re not se­cre­tive about it any­more.”

By some ac­counts there are more than four mil­lion porn sites on the In­ter­net, and the in­dus­try in the USA alone is es­ti­mated to be worth over $15 bil­lion a year.

While re­ply­ing to the age-old ques­tion — does pornog­ra­phy have an ad­verse ef­fect? — writer Ed­ward Mar­riott says: “If any­one says that, he’s laugh­ably out of touch.” Ni­cole Narain, an In­dian-Amer­i­can model for Play­boy agrees: “We’re liv­ing in a sex­u­ally lib­er­ated world. We’re swing­ing be­tween the pro­hi­bi­tion­ist and the pu­ri­tan­i­cal. That’s the naked truth of the mo­ment. There’ll al­ways be those who con­demn it.”

What can we in In­dia do about it? Con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist Dr Swap­nil Desh­mukh says porn ad­dic­tion has in­creased man­i­fold over the past few years and this re­flects in be­hav­iour.

“Nowa­days, there is an in­creas­ing ten­dency among peo­ple, es­pe­cially young­sters, try­ing to cap­ture in­de­cent pho­tos and videos of their col­leagues, friends and fam­ily mem­bers. Easy ac­ces­si­bil­ity is the main rea­son for rise in porn con­sump­tion. Parental locks on porno­graphic sites and bet­ter sex ed­u­ca­tion at school could check the trend,” ar­gues Dr Desh­mukh.

Young­sters try­ing to steal a mo­ment to watch porn on net.

It sounded like Sunny Leoneʼs pastis haunt­ing Bhu­pen­dra Chaubeymore than Sunny Leoneher­self. Ni­gar Khan keeps an open mind onporn watch­ing.

Ni­cole Narain: An In­dian Am­ri­can model for Play­boy.

Braille porn is pro­vid­ing plea­sure tovis­ually im­paired.

Pornog­ra­phy in pub­lic bill board.

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