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pornophilia, pornography

by Gert Hekma in Columns & Opinions , 01 januari 1970


In US feminist circles a gathering of ladies fighting porn constitute themselves as the keepers of morals. Andrea Dworkin thought up the slogan Pornography is the theory, rape the practice". But sociologists maintain that free distribution of porn will prevent sexual crimes.

The frustration caused by not having free access to `dirty` pictures proves to be a much greater threat than the stimulus it`s presumed to have on potential rapists. Both views are somewhat simplistic. Sociologists denounce too easily the influence of images on social prejudice and criminal activity. But the cause and effect relation feminists presume between porn and sexual violence is also extremely questionable. Besides, their sex analysis, sounding most feministic, is nevertheless much too one-sided. Their supposition being only men produce porn and rape women. But there are also women who produce and consume porn. And there are even women raping and killing for sheer lust.
Nearly every generation worries about the end of the world and the decline of ethics, since porn is supposed to undermine social cohesion and stimulate the deterioration of virtuousness in society. This concern also came on the heels of the invention of the art of printing, the rise of photography and followed later in the wake of film and television. Recently video and internet are the main reasons for concern, while moralists have always pointed at theater and nightlife as another major threat. All the commotion over porn flaring up time and again mainly tells us sexual pleasure is still deeply underrated. The so-called negative effects of porn on behaviour should be reversed: the rotten attitude of society towards sexuality leads directly to sexual problems and produces lousy porn. The miserable porn we see around these days is a direct outcome and not the cause of sexism. A sexism giving rise to homophobia, rape and sexual violence. It also breeds the sordid situation the world of porn is still in these days and helps to reinforce the direct connection of the criminal world with the sex industry. When the tight-assed Philips concern was launching video, they turned up their nose at porn videos. So now this superior system is worsted by less choosy producers eager to make big money by selling porn.

Surreal

The taboo on porn has surreal consequences. In Canada it`s not allowed to show porn with nude genitalia, so in Canadian gay bars you`ll see videos turn dark at the beginning of the sex act and light up again when it`s over: a weird experience. Porn produced under the regime of this ban often looks sordid, with a touch of pathos. Yet the impossibility of showing real" sex stimulates producers to be inventive, turning out half-products, which are often quite hot, since they leave lots of room for the imagination.
Often the inner space of the imagination makes it difficult to determine what is and what isn`t porn. When I was young boys playing football turned me on, or Santa`s black helpers, who (were supposed to) put rascals in their bag and took them away with them to Spain, wargames, animals in cages, certain situations or tittle-tattle, certain images not meant at all to produce sexual arousal, but making me ecstatic. Even without porn daily street-life and the everyday media offer stimulating images in abundance. There are certain words in daily speech causing a lump in my throat.
The fight against porn is helpless and hopeless, since a horny mind might see anything in a pornographic way. It doesn`t matter whether talk or pictures are sexually explicit. In pedo-mags you`ll see boys rather dressed than naked these days, while looking into the camera with an innocent instead of a provocative gaze. It often only makes the picture more tittilating. I think the eternal fight against porn has a completely different aim, namely the ruination of sexual pleasure. Like the implicit aim of the fight against pedophilia is to prevent kids from having sex.

Not sexual, but hot

The fight against porn doesn`t leave the pornophile unperturbed, but he won`t have less images or texts at his disposal. The storehouses of the past and the present offer such a rich supply of erotica, that a horny browser will always have enough interesting material at hand. As I said before, he doesn`t have to rely on real porn only. Images and words most people won`t interpret sexually can give him the desired illicit pleasure. When police and justice were taking a strong line with erotica lovers, these simply took refuge to less explicit porn. The last time the police in Amsterdam dealt severely with common" porn was at Eastern 1996, in a sudden action against erotic postcards displayed on the sidewalks in front of the shops. The anal retentive asses of mayor Patijn and his puritan police corps came in full view, prohibiting on one spot what could be seen in the flesh and in broad daylight just around the corner. The pornophile will pursue his pleasure anyway. Cutting out horny pictures from papers and magazines, buying serious or less serious porn in sexshops and supermarkets, looking in auctions and antiquarian shops for the books of the old masters like De Sade, Krafft-Ebing, Hirschfeld and Fuchs, spurred on on the internet by Projet X or Gay News` Caspar Itz tracing hot new images of stimulation, hunting for catalogues of favourite erotic artists, finding toys at Woolworth or on the fleamarket. Advertisements for underwear will stimulate his lusting thoughts, and in the dark caverns of archives and libraries he`ll dig up images of the downfall of Sodom, of Indian sex temples or phallus symbols from Japan. At times pictures from the family photo-album will melt his heart, images of football riots, weeping schoolboys. At other times he`ll soothe himself with photos by Von Gloeden, Van Vechten, Platt Lynes, Van Manen, Olaf or Warffemius. Excitement is in the eye of the beholder, which can be anywhere.

Next time: public sex



 

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