Porn free, but everyone in chains

Porn free, but everyone in chains

Juliana Lazarus, August 19, 2015, DHNS

Truth is, can anyone watch porn and be impervious to it? Porn leaves a mark on men and women alike.

Speaking out against pornography is a bit like hurling yourself against a tsunami wave in the hope of sending it back where it came from. But if you think that’s going to stop me from speaking, perish the thought. In the last few days, we’ve heard all the arguments as to why pornographic websites should not be banned.

Let me begin with the tidal wave of an argument that it’s not wrong to watch porn within the confines of one’s home. My only problem with this is that the porn-watcher has to, at some point in time, step out of his home, his head full of smut, his body floating in hormonal hell. At best, he’ll leer at the next woman he sees. At worst, he’ll violate her in unimaginable ways. Ted Bundy was one such person. Let me tell you his story if you haven’t heard it already.

Bundy was a 42-year-old American rapist, kidnapper, necrophile and serial killer who tortured and killed numerous young women and children in the 70s and 80s, before he was caught, tried and executed in 1989. There’s not much to take away from his life except an interview he gave to psychologist Dr James Dobson, hours before he died.

Asked about what prompted him to rape women, Bundy said the roots went back to when he was 12 and stumbled on pornographic magazines at the local grocery store. From then on, it was a journey downhill – “The more I read, the more I wanted to read. Once I was addicted, I needed more vulgar stuff.” And it wasn’t just him. Bundy said, “I have lived in prison for a long time now. I’ve met lots of men who were driven to violence just like me. Without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography.”
And the blame, according to Bundy, lay squarely with society. As he put it, “Society should be rid of criminals like me. But is not fair that society should condemn people like me, while doing nothing to stop the spread of pornography.”

This was nearly 30 years ago when magazines were, by and large, the source of all porn. Today, porn has spread its tentacles and lies not on the racks of bookstores, but in the palms of your hands. It’s much more private, more easily accessible and lives with you all the time.

That’s the difference between Bundy’s time and ours, but the similarity is that we still have well-meaning, decent people condemning the behaviour of rapists and molesters while becoming apoplectic at the mere mention of banning porn sites. They find no connection between pornography and sexual violence. They quote research – funded, in all likelihood, by one of the stakeholders in this multi-billion dollar industry – to prove their point.

But the truth is, can anyone watch porn and remain im-pervious to it? Porn leaves a mark on men and women alike, as surely as a good book or movie can be a life-changing experience. You don’t need research to prove that. Bundy didn’t. He knew.

Porn and prostitution

Closer to our time, in the aftermath of Nirbhaya’s brutal rape, a national news magazine carried a story of how porn has changed the way the world’s oldest profession functions. It spoke of how men now visited Mumbai’s red-light districts, armed with pornographic video clips.

Sex was no longer sex – it was becoming increasingly bizarre, violent and unpalatable. Sometimes, it was consensual, many times it was not. Beyond the red-light districts, the victims included innocent women on silent streets, a young woman on a lonely Delhi bus, innocent children in schools and even toddlers.

I deal with about 500 young women in the age group of 18-23 years on a daily basis. And this swimming against the tsunami is really for them. Though some of them, like their counterparts elsewhere, will probably be talking about freedom of expression and how porn shouldn’t be banned, little do they know that it’s actually begging for the unleashing of sexual violence.

They will probably say that porn is necessary because nobody has taught them about sex and it’s important for them to know. But porn is not sex education. They could say that porn does not affect everyone alike and so long as you’re in control… But that’s what drug addicts also say in the beginning. And that’s also what Ted Bundy said. The truth, however, is very different from the arguments you hear. If only we can see it. But of course we won’t. The internet service providers will make sure of it. If they don’t, netas will.

If netas don’t, the media will – I mean, of what good is freedom of expression if we can’t read/watch what we want and do what we want. In short, powerful forces multiplied by three. But remember, we collectively adopted Nirbhaya in 2012. Do you want more of our daughters to go through such horrors again?

(The writer is Head of the Department of Journalism, Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru)

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