17.5.08

A dash of porn...

Maverick: Civilise society, add a dash of porn
By Farzana Versey

Covert column, May 15

She stripped down to her undergarments and walked through the streets of Gujarat. She was dignified as a protestor for she wanted to embarrass her dowry-demanding in-laws. No one bothered to find out whether those gawking had any sympathy for her cause. Yet, the moment we hear ‘blue film’ or ‘pornography’, we immediately take a moral stand.

Is it not possible that we are a repressed society because we do not have a liberal porn culture? There is ignorance about the body. It is a misconception that pornography makes women into objects; it is our own preconceived notions that do so. If we use this logic then the mother, the nurse are objects too because they are playing specific roles.

In The English Patient when the man and woman are soaking together in the bathtub, stroking each other, and she asks, “What do you hate most?” he replies, “To be owned”.

Then he touches her shoulder blade and says, “This is mine.” He touches that little hollow between her collarbones and says, “This I like, it is mine.” She smiles and says, “I thought you said you hated ownership.”

Self-gratification is not something to be dismissed. Fantasy is our vehicle but fantasy is a bourgeois concept that gains more sophistication with the social status of a person.

What we need to 'civilise' society is ‘cultural masturbation’. This was understood right from ancient times. At a temple of Aphrodite in Cyprus orgiastic rites were practised with much joy. “Voluptuous reading” came into its own in 18th century England with the first erotic periodical called The Covent Garden Magazine.

Can pornography be absolved of its role in debauchery? Yes, for as active participants we have to shoulder the responsibility. Why is it that when we grant some fine literature and art the status of erotica the rest are dismissed as porn? According to some much respected authorities Playboy is not porn; it is in fact ‘anti-sexual’ with its emphasis on the “reduction of eroticism to sex”.

Playboy and the playboy are mere toys without any feelings. The human becomes inconsequential. Good porn releases one from these clutches. It creates a soothing alternative where fears and preferences are not displayed.

Have any of us escaped the sense of shame where our bodies are concerned? The individual’s natural existence is already socialised and reduced to a body. A man comes into the world with the burden of his phallic symbol and a woman “the psychology of the ovaries”.

She lusts for motherhood and ignores her other needs. Why do women over 50 rush to the obstetrician for exotic motherhood devices? This is emotional pornography. Now, how would they react if they got to know that the unknown donor in fact had to use pornography to bottle his sperm? Would they dare to take a moral position?

‘Wise women’ in 16th century Scotland who showed powers as healers, herbalists and surgeons began to be called witches because it was said that as women they were impressionable, credulous, and more carnal.

That the most prominent of sex symbols of our times, Marilyn Monroe, could be described by feminist Gloria Steinem as “probably having faked all her orgasms” reveals the discrepancy between looking for gender individuality and actual erotic behaviour. Pornography can provide real freedom, but not in a world where fame on its haunches is touted as an icon.

Most people find the regular methods of copulation boring. While civil liberties upholders fight for homosexuality on grounds of human rights, they are the first to dismiss pornography as a perversion. By that token masturbation and dildos are perverse. Going by nocturnal emissions our subconscious itself is pornographic.

There is no escaping it and there is no reason to. It is far better than parading widows naked or stripping tribal women prior to their auctioning. This is socio-political titillation which is exploitative, not the harmless pin-up which in fact helps in the seeking and finding of an identity. It can be the beginning of idealisation.

However potent the imagination, it would be a disservice to humanity if our only contribution were to be a private limited wet dream.

8 comments:

  1. FV:

    This is socio-political titillation which is exploitative, not the harmless pin-up which in fact helps in the seeking and finding of an identity. It can be the beginning of idealisation.

    Profound! How do you say that? Amazing!

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  2. Zeemax (ex-whatmeworry)18/05/2008, 15:52

    The English Patient is one of the very few pictures I have seen more than once (I prefer 'picture' over 'movie'). Very powerful storyline, imagery.

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  3. I did not know what to expect but it is one of the few serios articles on the subject I've read.

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  4. Farzana,

    If you seek the answers to all the questions you asked (all valid), in the end it is like peeling an onion. One's left with nothing. There are no answers.

    So it's better to be old-fashioned ... the regular methods of copulation are the best. Provided affection is involved of-course. Without that it's boring indeed.

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  5. It's horrid how people have to resort to such extreme measures to have their voices heard. One can't imagine what that woman must've gone through to come out in public like that.

    I am not such a fan of 'romantic' stories. But The English Patient was a mind blowing movie. Another romantic story that I liked was Wuthering Heights. Although I consider it to be more of an anti-lovestory than a love story. I tried reading Far From The Madding Crowd recently but it was too mushy in the beginning to hold my interest.

    I think you do fantastic conclusions to anything that you write.

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  6. PS:

    Sometimes, I manage...at other times I watch music reality shows!
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    Zeemax:

    I really liked that scene in the film..."picture" is how they used to always say it at home'; they still do. Maybe I do as well when I speak in Hindi/Urdu/Bambaiyya.

    Regarding the article, the answers lie in the questions...

    "So it's better to be old-fashioned ... the regular methods of copulation are the best. Provided affection is involved of-course. Without that it's boring indeed."

    There is nothing to argue with a personal take on a personal issue.

    I migth add here that many treatises on sexuality date centuries back, so several things were "old-fashioned" even then. Affection and experimentation are not mutually-exclusive...I imagine...

    BTW, thanks for the 'outing'.
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    KB:

    Thanks...there are serious articles but many tend to be overly academic...
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    SM:

    It is indeed humiliating to read about such incidents as the one that happened in Gujarat with that woman...

    Interesting what you say about 'Wuthering Heights'. I thought 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' was a very layered romantic film...even erotic.

    About 'conclusions', thanks...I guess I have a need to round it all up well.

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  7. It is an absolute mistake to trivialize pornography in view of the considerable body of data establishing linkage between pornography and sexual attacks on women and children by predators who got their start through it. The problem with loosening "a bit" is, the loosened bit immediately becomes the norm and people wish to push the envelope further till they can get to a level not sanctioned by society. Legalizing the soft crime only whets appetite for more serious ones.

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  8. BJ:

    There has been no attempt to trivialise pornography, but to examine it from another perspective. Your points are valid and the prevalent view. However, while a considerable number of people may commit sexual crimes inspired by porn, what about those that are committed without any such 'inspiration'. Films, books, several media are blamed for crimes and some are true to an extent.

    What about sexual misdemeanours by the respectable members of society? Religious figures?

    We are not talking about legalising but accepting it as a part of society. A bathroom reader is just as likely to be abusive as one who openly reads it.

    Besides, as the article states in the beginning and later...titillation does come in other forms and demeans those women even more.

    And the 'norms' we have develop over a period of time, and not all norms are 'right'.

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