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Prime Time Porn – An Information Striptease

Your doubts on porn, dispelled based on the book 'Cybersexy' by Richa Kaul Padte

What is that thing that makes people go chhee chhee thoo thoo but then they keep going back to it for more too? About which they say, “Close your eyes, don’t look,” because, kya pata, you’ll get hooked? Kaun hai wo? Porn hai woh!
Can’t resist porn’s temptation, but constantly feeling unsure if it’s unhealthy, sexist, and wasteful? Wish there was a Dr. Porn to sort out the yay from the nay?
You got it. Your doubts on porn, dispelled based on the book Cybersexy by Richa Kaul Padte.

Is erotica elegant and porn perverted? 

The short answer – not at all! One person’s erotica is another person’s porn and vice-versa.
HISTORY: Historically, porn/erotica came into being when European aristocracy decided all naked bodies or sexy-life excavations were open only to top VIPs (ahem – wealthy white men) in super secret hideaways and outlawed to the rest. India being England’s foremost colony, similar anti-pornography statutes came to be applied.
But the printing press and then the computer and then the Internet made access easy, and porn abundant to meet the ever-growing demand.
HISTORY KA NATEEJA: Matlab – making something scarce, then calling it exclusive, is a purani aadat of elites. Nowadays these topdogs are lawmakers and cultural gatekeepers. According to their respectability charts, sexy stuff with gated access = erotica. Fast, easy, cheap = porn.
It’s a blurry line, basically. (And no, it’s not because masturbation gives you bad eyesight.)

Am I oppressing women by watching porn? 

It’s true that the kind of porn made for male pleasure often ignores women’s desire. But dekha jaye toh advertisement billboards and so many songs and videos surround us with examples of women’s objectification, barging into our view without any warning or permission. Fortunately for us, porn comes in many varieties that we can choose from, including those which women may find more mast. Basically, porn is also a spectrum.
HISTORY: A brief look at this idea that ladies log + porn = the great oppression.
In the 70’s, anti-porn feminists said porn was no good because:
-     It’s made for men’s pleasure
-     So it’s objectifying women, even violent towards them
Then there was the pro-porn side featuring feminists, sex workers, porn actors, and others who believed that:
-     Sex by itself isn’t bad and can be enjoyed by all genders
-     It’s bakwaas to think women neither enjoy having sex or watching it!

Do women watch porn (or are they too romantic and all)? 

In 2017, 30 Percent of Pornhub’s Indian traffic was… ladies log! Stereotypical thinking imagines that women don’t have sexual desires, thoughts and actions. Parantu, women watch all kinds of porn – straight, lesbian, romantic, kinky, you name it. You may think women are only for nayansukh, but actually nayansukh (and other-part-sukhs) is for women too.

Oh no! Am I addicted to porn?

Probably not. Do we ever say, “Oh no, am I addicted to radio? Oh no, am I addicted to Candy Crush?” with the same panic?
Since porn = sex, most people think even a little is too much. You may go through phases of watching a lot, but that’s not the same as a disorder that disrupts all else and one’s everyday life.
For a lot of us, porn is easy to access because of its anonymity, affordability, and availability. But talking of it as addiction has more to do with the shame associated with porn than any real definition of addictions and disorders.
Does porn become a dependence that makes real-life sex difficult? Some people feel it does. But this can be overcome if our overall attitude to sex is more delicious.

I want to make homemade porn. Will I get into legal trouble? 

While watching porn in private is legal in India, making porn is not. However, if you make porn at home, for your private consumption, without publishing or sharing, it’s legal if:
- You did star in your own porn (for an audience that consists of only you).
- You capture yourself with someone else with consent (for an audience of only you who star in it), with no intention of the recording getting out.
Making someone watch porn is also a punishable offense. If you publish it or share on any media, even with consent, it is as illegal according to laws that deal with obscenity.

What are the risks involved in children exploring porn?

There have been instances where teenage children, having been caught sharing and playing with sexual content, were charged by laws that are actually in place to protect them, like the POCSO Act.
The law sees both of these as obscene offences:
- Coercing someone to upload videos of sex acts.
- Willingly creating and sharing pictures/videos of sex acts.
Child pornography, its creation or consumption, in any way, shape, or form is a criminal offense, even if made with consent under various laws including POCSO and Section 292 of the IT Act.
The Internet, while it informs young people about experiences related to love, sex, and relationships, also warrants caution and it’s a good idea to inform young people about how to keep themselves safe.

Doesn’t porn teach you wrong things about sex? 

Do action films teach you wrong things about strength? Do romantic comedies really show us love as it is? No, na? Like Bollywood, porn is also full of exaggerated content – for entertainment, vagehra and can give you inaccurate information about sex.
The complexity arises from porn being the only source of sexual information. School sex-education is either absent or abstract or taught like moral science. For the young and curious, porn at least reveals the basic mechanics of sex.

Will watching violent porn make me a violent lover?

Just because we have certain fantasies, which we may indulge through media or art, that does not mean we act on all of them. Several studies show that there is no direct link between what people watch and how they act. But the combined effect of many same-same shows, news, games, etc may have an impact on our actions by shaping a sexist, casteist or racist world view.
Ek common confusion: Many violent-seeming sex acts are often inaccurately associated with Kink and BDSM. But the Kink community operates on a very strict principle of consent. The violent-seeming sex acts involve communication and understanding, which porn may or may not show outright.

I like porn but not the unhealthy body standards it promotes. What to do?

You got it right, that just like large parts of entertainment media, mainstream porn promotes unrealistic bodies – giant boobs, mammoth penises, impossible waist sizes.
Replacing these images with diverse body types is an ongoing journey for all – sometimes we do it by taking our own nudies, even posting them with hidden identities online over trusted forums. Sometimes we search for films, videos, songs – like Lizzo’s ‘Scuse Me (While I Feel Myself)’ or ‘Aga Bai Halla Machaye’ from Aiyyaa to watch Rani Mukherjee ace it even with a chubby belly.

But finally, porn can’t be legalised na? Wouldn’t it be harmful?

If porn is legalised, what will happen is:
- Everybody involved will have to follow industry standard rules and regulation of consent and violation.
- It will help distinguish between porn made with consent and without consent.
- People who want to make sexy content and share it, could do so without the criminal charges.
Porn bans are often done in a blanket fashion supposedly to keep more and more people out of harm’s way, but instead blocks out helpful information or harmless pleasure. For example, banning all content with the tag ‘trans’ blocks out all information on the transgender communities who are already deprived of important rights. Hence, the harm caused can be greater than the good done in the case of most bans.
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