Monday 1 September 2008

Pornography- Does it Corrupt Us or Free Us?

Well, believe it or not, though the voting was close, we HAD A MAJORITY IN FAVOUR OF LEGALISING COCAINE!

Though I must concede, there were two irregularities which mean that really, there was in fact a narrow minority AGAINST legalising. jmb accidentally voted the wrong way. And I voted, which normally doesn't matter, but in the event of a tie, it's only fair I remove my own vote.

But it was close, either way. I'm not sure this means that the law on drugs is going to change any time soon, just that you lot are- liberal.

Which is good.

Because this week's poll topic certainly involves an open mind.


What a catch all word...

And what a misused word.

It used basically to refer to graphic representation of sexual acts, whether perfectly normally or absolutely vile, whether in good artistic taste, or just pretty sick.
And I'm not sure the way we view porn is any more healthy than the way we view drugs. Just as we lump cannabis in with heroin, we lump anything that depicts sex in one great big bundle.

And I think we need to admit that the walls already have come tumbling down on pornography.
The question is, do we put them back up?

And yes, I think we most certainly DO need to have a wall somewhere, I don't think anyone would deny that, but where?

What SHOULD the boundaries of 'taste and decency' be?

First, let's look at facts.
Up until 1961, Lady Chatterley's Lover was considered pornography. I think most of now would say it was just badly written and sensationalist.
Carry on Sergeant had an X certificate when it came out because it was deemed a bit too rude.

Things have changed a lot in the last half century.

Mass communication have broken down these taboos.
And left us with a mass of contradictions and potential social dangers to deal with.

We have films such as 'Nine Songs', which are released as mainstream films but have actual sex acts within them.
We also have a thriving underground industry based on the sexual exploitation of children to provide images to satisfy the appetites of the truly sick.

Now we need to be realistic about this.
How ordinary people view seeing graphic images of actual sex acts has changed. It is no longer thought of as perverted to be aroused by watching other people have sex, rather, it is kind of accepted as normal.

We accept that sex, like eating, is one of those bodily functions that seeing it in action kind of raises those appetites.
Unlike say, going to the lavatory.

And of course, many more people now take it further. The fact is that there are many powerful aphrodisiacs, but actually seeing sex taking place is pretty much the most effective way to get a person sexually aroused.

Our culture is getting comfortable with the idea. Go and look at a site like Xtube or YouPorn. These sites are stocked with homemade video footage, made by people not ashamed to post videos of themselves having sex on the net. One wonders what percentage of the global population to date has happily posted videos of themselves engaged in sex acts for all the world to see to the end of time.

And will this percentage rise?

Twenty years down the line will university students trawl the net looking for pictures of their parents having sex with random strangers when they were younger?

Because every person who downloads a video to Xtube must be aware that that is not only a possibility, it is a fairly high probability.

And of course this has an effect on what is culturally acceptable. We've already had live sex on Big Brother, it's only a matter of time- certainly within the next ten years- when real, as opposed to simulated, sex acts appear on terrestial TV post watershed. Maybe it will be the TV premiere of Nine Songs, or maybe a controversial drama series, but it's coming.

Is this a cultural shift we should be appalled about?

I don't actually think so, no.

Sex isn't dirty. Our attitudes to its depiction make it so. I think it's a healthier situation we now have where the 'Adult film' is moving more towards the rest of films in terms of its societal perception and that the boundaries there are blurring. Many actresses who have made a career in adult films now view graduating on to serious films as a viable option.

Will this mean that one day preparedness to actually have sex in a movie is the new equivalent of preparedness to strip for a film?

Probably, yes.

But that's perhaps not a bad thing. I daresay greater ability to use real sex scenes will change film. To be sure, there will still be many films made which have no plot line to speak of and really are just sex films. But there are occasions when I can also see the artistic merits of genuine sex scenes in mainstream films.

What it will mean, is that we can erect the wall where it should be erected.

The sick side.

When we were in Amsterdam once, we noticed a small video shop in the red light district.
With covered windows.
Now this was puzzling, because the Colour Climax shop sits, windows full of adverts luring the passer by in, right along a main thoroughfare.
What could be so bad this shop needed to be covered?

We went in.
We looked around for about three minutes. Sleazy Dutch guy asks 'You want buy?'

I'm liberal, but I'm not that liberal.

No, I don't think films such as were sold in that shop should be permitted to be made or viewed.
None of them involved children, but unless you wanted a film involving people with animals, people and human waste, or people driving nails through their genitals, there was nothing in that shop to turn on a normal functioning member of the human race.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with human adults watching other human adults doing something that human adults with normally functioning human bodies like to do and like to do very much.
I see nothing wrong with such a basic human process being dragged out from under the carpet and reclaimed as being the perfectly normal and pleasurable activity that it is, and one that in fact forms a central part of human dynamics.

And I see nothing wrong with it being depicted and explored in mainstream art and media.
And really, I'm not overly fussed if the entire population of the globe decides to download videos of ourselves engaged in sex with multiple partners for the rest of the world to see.
And maybe one day we will. Maybe in a generation or two, people will see videos of themselves having sex as just another home movie. They'll be sitting chatting and say 'Want to see me having sex with Darren?'

And of course, with it being that normal, it just won't be a big deal any more. It won't be a billion dollar industry. It will just be- sex. Something people like to do and like to watch.

Because if you think about it, it's actually pretty strange that we'd rather have images of people being tortured and killed on our screens than people making love.

If the activity is legal and consensual, than I see no reason why its visual depiction should not be a perfectly accepted part of mainstream life.

And if it isn't, than the depiction of it is of course, evidence of a crime taking place, and those who view it should rightly be treated as accessories to that crime.

With of course the additional proviso that certain things, though legal, are still abhorrent to the majority, and the majority shouldn't have to accidentally stumble across them, and nor should, these things being accepted as deviant in the extreme, too much assistance be provided to those who want to get kicks out of those things.

I do not want to see the day when people can easily get hold of the sort of material I saw in that Amsterdam video shop.

The only way to stamp down on real perversion and real exploitation is for human culture to fully reclaim human sexuality and embrace the fact that in principle it isn't dirty.

We need to erect a new wall in the right place and welcome everything on this side of the wall into the mainstream.

And then do our damnedest to exterminate what's on the other side.

But anyway, I've said my piece.

Now it's your turn.

The poll is in the sidebar.

Have your say!


Anonymous said...

Well I take it you did not vote on this one yet since so far there are no yes votes.

I guess I would have to say that one should be able to do whatever one likes in the privacy of one's own home but when it spills over into public domain we have to consider children and other people's sensibilities. So I would probably draw the wall far more restrictively than you would like.

Sex is not dirty but it is private in my opinion although obviously not everyone agrees.

Incidentally I'm not surprised at your cocaine poll, in fact I rather thought it might pass very handily in favour. I think younger people have come to accept cocaine usage more readily but I like to think that I am against it for reasons other than my age group. I have looked into it quite seriously over the years, related to my work, attended lectures which covered it and I do not consider it a harmless drug. Sorry, this topic is finished.

No voting irregularity from me today.

Anonymous said...

Hhmmm it's a good topic to think about.

I'm not really sure what my views are..all I know from a personal perspective is that I've looked at on line porn before and yeah some of it can be quite interesting (I didn't know that women can squirt when they orgasm!!) and a turn-on but MOST of it is re-volt-ing. I've been turned off more times than on. The problem is exploitation...there are a lot of women that look like they don't know what they are doing and they seem lost. It's gross and sad.

Anyway...I'm always left with the feeling I've done something wrong and dirty by looking at porn. But then I don't think many men have that problem. When my brother was in the army he and his mates were right into porn and made jokes about it and were quite free with their swapping images and movies and stuff - like a rite of passage.
Girls don't really do that.

My view is that, while sex is completely natural and beautiful between consensual people, it is kind of dumb and pointless to want to watch other people do it on a regular basis. There is an element of desperation and loneliness to watching a lot of porn.

Anonymous said...

Who defines what is normal?
If it does not involve children or animals, I have no problem with porn or those who chose to watch or participate in it,as long as it is away from prying youngsters eyes. Adult shops here have their goods away from the public eye with windows and doorways blocking easy viewing of whats inside. It makes me laugh when others complain to have an adult shop closed. It is not as if you can see from the streets what is inside and no minors are allowed access. To put it crudely, everyone has something that gets them off and if its porn, who cares? Just not around kids!

Anonymous said...

An interesting, potentially provocative well thought out post, raising some equally interesting questions.

Where do we draw the line? I guess the definitive test is does it do ‘harm’ to ‘anyone’.

By ‘anyone’ I include anything that can feel from humans down. By ’harm’ I mean something they do not consent to, or are unable to consent to, and might reasonably be expected not to consent to if they could.

Consent and the ability to consent are also really slippery concepts at the edges and limits.

There is an argument for including descriptions, drawings, or simulations in this, you refer to it. I feel this is quite a grey area because it might prevent legitimate art, or material designed to examine a subject. Even academic research. This idea is now applied by the law in the case of child pornography in the UK for instance. But what about the legitimate for the story line depiction of a rape in a movie?

Just because an individual or group dislike something should not be a reason to ban it. Bondage might be disapproved of by certain people for various reasons, but if between consenting individuals should it’s depiction be banned?

Personally I guess I am against any form of censorship unless absolutely necessary. Making some people uncomfortable is a price I figure is probably worth paying for freedom.

I do see Sparsely Kate's point about the worth of watching pictures of others do it if you can't join in ;-)

Anonymous said...

Pornography doesn't free anyone- especially if the sites being viewed are to "use other people" to create a psychic phenomena and to use and manipulate others to get ahead.

Sort of like the next poor fool who is going to visit the site who will probably get their computer hacked into and get their personal identity information stolen.

My advice about pornography?

Keep away from the fucking internet, and don't click on anybody's links who put them up through blogger.

Another bit of advice? Pay special attention to the "subliminal messages" left on blogs. That is, if you don't work 100 hours a week and you actually have the time in your day to see these things.

Sort of like the recent advertisement at the bottom of this blog page about addiction.

Freedom of addiction in an addicted society first comes when all of the big coorporations aren't allowed to use subliminal messages as a means of advertising to BRAINWASH the world.

So I guess the answer to your question is:

Anything which is used as a means of manipulation corrupts. Pornography is just one word in a dictionary full of words which all lead back to the LIE everyone feeds into.

Anonymous said...

jmb- Well, we don't let children watch Silence of the Lambs either, but you or I can watch it when we want.

And which would I rather my ten year old child watched? Two people having sex or Hannibal Lector carving up his guards?

I don't think Cocaine is harmless, but I don't think the fact something might have negative points should mean it's positives points aren't fairly assessed. And capacity to deliver pleasure is always a positive.

Kate- And one we need to come to some sensible verdict on as a society, I think.

There is a lot of pretty revolting stuff out there, yes, but I guess it's horses for courses.
I must dmit I don't much care even for anal stuff, but then in some ways, I'm actually quite a prude.

Sometimes the age they recruit girls for some of these films concerns me. Still, I expect it's better than them working on the stret and far more lucrative, plus these days it can often be a path to better things.

One reason to watch other people do it is that try as I might, I'll never be black with a twelve inch organ...

Nunyaa- Yes, I really don't see people's problems with adult shops. Here also, they are covered over.

A few years ago me and a mate were discussing whether an intersting move would be to open a normal video store with a basement section. Not sure that's been tried in the UK.

Moggs- I think on the whole, I would agree with where you put the line.

With a couple of exceptions.

I do not think that extreme depictions of sado-masochism, rather consensual or otherwise should actually be permitted )nor should activities which, shall we say, contravene basic conceptions of hygiene.

Animals obviously, are already ruled out under where you put the line.

Shelley- You may be right.

I'm not so sure.

Anonymous said...

I suppose my views are fairly predicable for a wooly liberal tube... As far as I am concerned anything goes in prvate between two or more consenting adults so long as
1. the adult(s) can give consent
2. no kids
3. no animals

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting topic.
I generally think that the worst thing for children going up these days (women in particular) is the mixed messages we get. Sex is horrible, dirty, only for marriage, etc, etc-- but this message is tossed amidst Victoria Secret ads and discussion of bikini waxing for pre-teen girls.
As such, I think we need to work on coming to a more healthy depiction of sex in the popular culture (e.g., mutual, something woman enjoy as much as men, healthy) before we just start depicting MORE of it.

Anonymous said...

Crushed, “consensual or otherwise”? As far as I am concerned if it is not consensual it should be a crime. The act certainly, or making a record of it. Though there is a case for allowing it to be described/depicted in some way in a novel, movie or research/case study.

Close something down too much and you close down discussion and then how can you find new (hopefully better) ways of dealing with it. Close it down too much and you breed ignorance and weird ideas.

Maybe there should be some concern in case any depiction encourages, or promotes non consensual acts, but then I guess you could argue that many a book, movie, or game, may promote violence and crime, ‘Grand Theft Auto’, or the latest Batman Movie, for example. That might idea be applied to extreme BDSM, the trouble as mentioned is it is a grey area.

I think you should be careful not to mix up what you personally don’t approve of, or find disgusting/a turn off, with what actually does real harm. Even if you can find others who share your particular views.

Princess Pointful makes a very good point about mixed messages.

Anonymous said...

Jams- I would agree, but I would impose extra conditions when it comes to publically disseminated material.

Sorry, I don't think imagery depicting people driving a nail through their penis is something that should be encouraged.

Princess P- There is a lot to be said for that. We have a society which still maintains gender distinctions with regard to what is acceptable sexual behaviour.

As I've often said, the third phase of the feminist revolution will also be the second phase in the sexual revolution.

We need to overthrow the idea that a woman should be judged on her sexual appetites.

Moggs- I concede there are grey areas. The novel 'Lolita' and film reprsentations of that novel are a case in point.

Ok, what about consensual cannabalism? Are we to say that people cutting off eachothers ears with the consent of the other pary and filming them both enjoying a good fry up is allowed? You say that's extreme, but I refer you to that case in Germany.

There is always a danger that people will be encourages to do this sort of thing BECAUSe they can film it. I think there ARE instances where we should say, we can't stop you actuaklly doing it, but we're damned if we'll allow you to show other people you do it. We really don't want people seeing this.

And thee are sound reasons why to do with that fact that people often become fixated on something they initially find traumatic.

There is a whole amputee community in the US who voluntarily go round amputating themselves. In origin, it's an extreme reaction to dealing with a fixation with amputation. Do we want to create such fixations?

I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Crushed. I was saying that the guide ought to be if things are consensual, not just for pornography, but I guess in sexual relations/activities. If it isn’t consensual then it is a no-no.

As far as what can be pictured, (moving or still) I was saying it is difficult to make hard and fast rules, because there are grey areas in art as an example. I was also saying that as far as possible restrictions should be minimal. They are a form of censorship, a restriction on free speech maybe, and that should not be done lightly. I just think the general guide ought to be not to ban anything without an overriding reason to do so and taste/prejudice/beliefs should not be sufficient.

I had not heard about your cannibals and I thought that cannibalism is generally a crime in most places, I bet it is in Germany, so there should be laws to cover it already. Maybe researchers or the police might need images, hopefully no one else. Creepy…

Anonymous said...

"Pornography- Does it Corrupt Us or Free Us?"

Like all things you see, taste, touch, smell it is how you consume it, what it is made of and the intent of who made it.

Mamma making you an apple pie rather than the simple apple may have an affection on what you become.

Synthetic or natural, addictive or wholesome.

Can't tell the difference?