Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Only for the articles, ma'am. For real!

Last December, when I was in the old country, a middle-aged cousin in the extended family commented that his cohort of parents find the internet to be terrible for how it has made porn so easily accessible to their high school- and college-age children.  "Most of the time these kids go to the internet cafes only for this" he worried.

Life was easier when I was a kid, and then a college student.  There was no internet and no easy access to porn.  In the world that I inhabited, there were no porn magazines either, which is why some of the stories of reading porn that classmates joked about during the reunion surprised me.  But, their stories about porn were tamer than the sex and nudity of a typical "R" rated movie these days.

Porn is seemingly everywhere.  One has to be careful to click when visiting webpages, or typing the URL.  The run of the mill porn is free and unlimited, while one has to pay to read the NY Times after the freebie offerings!

This has had one good result though--Playboy is in financial trouble:
From a peak of 7.2m copies in November 1972, its circulation has shrunk to a mere 800,000 today.
Ah, yes, the "shrinkage" is for real ;)

So, Playboy is "reinventing the brand by banning full nudity from the Playboy website."
On October 13th Playboy Enterprises said that from March next year Playboy will not publish full nudity any more, though it will continue to show “sexy, seductive pictorials of the world’s most beautiful women”. It will also continue to choose a “Playmate of the Month” and hire a “sex-positive female” as a sex columnist. And it says it will go on publishing long-form journalism, interviews and fiction.
“The quality of the content was always overshadowed by the nude pictures,” says Americus Reed at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
What does the living American icon of feminism, Gloria Steinem, think about this?
it’s as if the NRA said we’re no longer selling handguns because now assault weapons are so available.
A good line ;)

So, about the abundance of porn that parents all over the world are worried about.
The more traditional critiques say that pornography is inherently degrading to women – or whoever happens to be the object of sexual activity – and fosters unrealistic expectations of sex. It decreases the quality of real relationships and the self-image of those involved – and increases negative sexual attitudes and actions. Porn-users compare real humans to the fantastical images, and either come out unimpressed and reluctant to have real sex, or, at worst, demanding the types of behaviours they see on screen, regardless of their desirability to their partner. One poll from the US Pew Research Center in 2007 quantified the feeling, finding that 70 per cent of Americans said pornography is harmful.
Do any of these criticisms hold water?
 A good question to ask, right?

After reviewing a bunch of research, the conclusion is:
The negative behaviours we blame on pornography, in other words, might have emerged no matter what; porn is perhaps more symptom than cause.
Porn is, to use my favorite Hitchcock phrase, a McGuffin!
The way to change that – and to change the negative effects such a misperception can have – isn’t to restrict or ban pornography. It’s to bring the discussion of sexual pleasure to the foreground, especially in sex-ed. ‘We need to supplement pornography with non-porn sexual education, so that porn becomes fantasy sex rather than a real-world template,’ Zhana Vrangalova, a psychologist at NYU who specialises in sexuality, told me. ‘We need to give people permission to enjoy sex. Until we do that, they will go to porn. Because you can’t kill curiosity.’
We cannot kill curiosity, which leads the young to the forbidden places in the old country.


Anne in Salem said...

"Pornography," by some narrow definitions, has existed as long as people have existed. Nude sculptures and paintings at one time were considered immoral and were covered by fig leaves or oddly draped cloaks, no matter how odd the revision looked. Viewing artwork, whether considered pornographic or not, has given viewers false impressions of the human body for just as long. Do you know of John Ruskin? Read up on his very Victorian marriage story.

I know someone who subscribed to Playboy many years ago. He recently resubscribed but cancelled after three issues, complaining the women looked plastic and unnatural. Maybe photoshop was Playboy's undoing.

Sriram Khé said...

Thanks to your comment, I read up a few things related to John Ruskin and his marriage. I didn't even know until now that there was a recent movie that dealt with this issue ... seriously, the guy was turned off by his wife's pubic hair????

Ramesh said...

I shall remain my prim and proper self and refrain from discussions on matters that, in the "old country", are considered to to "put the country’s security in danger, encourage violent acts and unacceptable behaviour in society ".

Ha Ha Ha

What DID you read in the school days. Surely not Nabukov !!! Muhahahahaha

Sriram Khé said...

Back in the old days, I read the "KamaSutra" of course ;)
Ok, I have never read it. But then I doubt if there are even a thousand people who have read it. I think it is more talked about than anything else.

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