We’ve moved on from porn meaning sneaky pictures under dad’s bed or seedy postcards sold on streetcorners. We’ve also moved on from movies needing to be bought or rented in order to be watched. The internet has brought porn onto doorsteps and into bedrooms, resulting in people “now having access to more ‘hot babes’ than our ancestors had in a lifetime” as someone once put it. This also means that pornography is spilling into many other areas of culture. Servaas wrote earlier this week about the pornification of culture and its effects on women.
In his third post in the series, Jonny Pollock looks at the ‘new’ delivery route of pornography in more detail and examines its implications.
In terms of this question / discussion, the two implications are the desires of humanity and the availability of sexually gratifying material. Historically, the desires and temptations of mankind have been there from the very beginning. In the Garden of Eden, the principal markers for temptation were there – visual stimulation. Pornography is often portrayed as one of the ills of today’s society, evidence of modern moral decay brought to you by video cameras and broadband access. Yet, as it turns out, in terms of the culture depravity, modern times have got nothing on the past. Pornography existed long before video or even photography, and many researchers have proved that as humans we are led by visual arousal – in the Garden of Eden, Eve was ﬁrst tempted to something that was “a delight [craving/desire] to the eyes.” Whichever way we look at it, the diversity of pornographic materials throughout history suggests that human beings have always been interested in images of sex.
In this view, the ﬁrst known erotic representations of humans might not be porn, in the traditional sense, at all. In early humanity, people were carving large breasted ﬁgurines of women out of stone and wood. Archaeologists doubt these “Venus ﬁgurines” were intended for sexual arousal. More likely, the ﬁgurines were religious icons or fertility
symbols. Yet, it shows the draw of the culture and society, and the importance placed by them on arousal and sex.
Unfolding throughout history, the ancient Greeks and Romans created a plethora of sculptures and frescos, normally placed in very public places, depicting homosexuality, threesomes, fellatio and cunnilingus. The Moche people of ancient Peru painted sexual scenes on ceramic pottery, while the aristocracy in 16th century Japan was fond of erotic woodblock prints. So pornography has a history as old as time, yet the availability of pornography has exploded with the advent of the digital age.
In a recent article in The Telegraph, the writer quotes Cindy Gallop, an advertising consultant, who explains that “pornography manifests itself in movies, TV, music videos, fashion – it’s absolutely everywhere. Nobody quite knows how all this is going to play out because it’s never happened in the history of humankind before. There is a complete lack of open, healthy dialogue around porn in our society. It’s everywhere, yet nobody ever talks about it.”
Gallop’s frustration with what she sees as our refusal to address the “creeping ubiquity of hardcore pornography in pop culture” drove her to create a website called Make Love Not Porn. Her research has shown how the fuzzy nature of “porn” has enabled it to creep into all areas of society. It used to be that the line between what constitutes porn and what doesn’t was clearly deﬁned. Porn existed in the pages of adult magazines, on the tops shelf, or on playing cards that someone ‘found’ when they were on holidays. But now it’s more blurred. In our post-internet culture, we have so much access to information, that our society isn’t conﬁned to paying for or obtaining porn, but making their own, or raising the stakes of their addiction, rather like a heroin addict ‘upping their dose.’
However, the biggest implication is this desensitising to porn that has happened in our society. The issue is that it’s no longer a social taboo – it is all mainstream now. Over the past ten years, technological advances, cultural shifts, and social attitudes have transformed the pornography landscape. Today, men, women, and children are affected by the ubiquity and mainstreaming of pornography in unprecedented ways. The internet, in particular, has made pornography more anonymous, more accessible, and more affordable than ever before, bringing in new users, increasing use among existing fans, and catapulting many into sexual compulsiveness. Children are being exposed to pornography earlier than ever before, in ways that will profoundly affect their sexuality and their lives.
Not only is pornography itself more ubiquitous, the entire culture has become “porniﬁed.” By that I mean that the aesthetics, values, and standards of pornography have seeped into mainstream popular culture. Young girls brazenly pose in pornographic ways on their Facebook pages, even creating porn-like videos of themselves gyrating and preening before untold numbers of strangers. Check out also the semi-clad, curvaceous girls in children’s cartoons and movies for example to see how this has spilled over into every genre.
The message is that pornography is everywhere—and only ever-so-slightly scandalous. It is good for you, and especially good for relationships. Pornography is hip, sexy, and fun. For me, this is the most serious implication. That it has become so commonplace that we have no conscience to dig beneath the surface to the human nature, our desires or indeed the inevitable end of our cultures dabbling with pornography.
// What do you think? Join the conversation! How do you think society and culture have been ‘pornified’? Is this because of the Internet? Is this just a cycle that has been running for decades? //