Internet produces pornography that is new, strange: Out of the Bedroom

Aug 26 2013, 18:48 IST
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Even in countries like India, where consumption and distribution of pornography are punished by law, we know that pornography is rampant. Even in countries like India, where consumption and distribution of pornography are punished by law, we know that pornography is rampant.
SummaryWe have shared it with our friends. We have watched it with our lovers...

sending inappropriate sexual messages through his cellphone — gives us some idea of what internet porn looks like. It is not just something captured on a phone-cam but interactive and collaboratively produced. Or as our own Porngate, where two cabinet ministers of the Karnataka legislative assembly were caught surfing some good old porn on their mobile devices while the legislature was in session, indicated, porn is not something confined to the privacy of our rooms. Naked flashmobs, young people experimenting with sexual identities in public, and sometimes bizarre videos of a bus-ride where the camera merely captures the banal and the everyday through a “pornographic gaze” are also a part of the digital porn landscape. The world of virtual reality and multiple online role-playing games offer simulated sexual experiences that allow for human, humanoid, and non-human avatars to engage in sexual activities in digital spaces. Peer-2-peer video chat platforms like Chatroulette, offer random encounters of the naked kind, where nothing is recorded but almost everything can be seen.

The list of pornography produced by the internet — as opposed to pornography made accessible through the internet — is huge. It doesn’t just hide in subcultural practices but resides on popular video-sharing sites like YouTube or Tumblr blogs. It vibrates in our cellphones as we connect to people far away from us, and pulsates on the glowing screens of our tablets as we get glimpses of random strangers and their intimate bodies and moments. An attempt to ban and censor this porn is going to be futile because it does not necessarily take the shape of a full narrative text which can be examined by others to judge its moral content. Any petition that tries to censor such activities is going to fall flat on its face because it fails to recognise that sexual expression, engagement and experimentation is a part of being human — and the ubiquitous presence of digital technologies in our life is going to make the internet a fair playground for activities which might seem pornographic in nature. In fact, trying to restrict and censor them, will only make our task of identifying harmful pornography — porn that involves minors, or hate speech or extreme acts of violence — so much more difficult because it will be pushed into the underbelly of the internet which is much larger than the searched and indexed World Wide Web.

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