Yesterday's Pornography | Today's Pornography & Media
Anastasios D. Kalantzis, Surgeon Urologist-Andrologist
The British scholar, sociology and women studies professor Gail Dines explains that there is nothing innocent in pornography, which is the common secret of all men, who try to exorcise it with guilty jokes and which, even worse, as we realize from daily news, with the help of the Internet every day becomes even more hardcore and more humiliating. In her book "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality", she writes: "we are facing a social experiment, where nobody knows how life will end up in pornland, as regards human culture and civilization".
In a recent interview in Conan O' Brian TV show, James Franco (actor, producer, director, writer, scriptwriter, post graduate student in English Literature and poetry, painter, performer and TV presenter) also revealed that he played in an amateur porn film that he made with his girlfriend just for fun, concluding: "All these people in porn movies are excellent performers, they are not just having sex in front of a camera. They are trying to turn the viewers on and sell their product to a wide audience. The amateur porn movie I made with my girlfriend was weird, badly-made and really boring. We thought that porn was an easy thing, but apparently it isn't".
There are more than 420 million "adult" pages on the internet offering sexual material, sometimes for free and other times with an affordable price. 72 users visit erotic sites every month. 77% of the users are men, 46% of whom are married. According to a recent study, 28,258 Internet users are in pornographic site each second, spending $3,075, while every 39 seconds a new erotic video is filmed in the USA. Forbes estimates the users of pornographic material around 250 million. Every year in the USA the number of adult movies made is 20 times bigger than the number of the mainstream movies produced in Hollywood.
In 2006, the porn factory in America had 13.3 billion dollars turnover only from the sales in the USA, and the international profits from the worldwide distribution of pornographic material amounted to 97 billion dollars, when, in the same year, Microsoft declare a total turnover of 44.8 billion dollars.
The first depictions of sexual intercourse go back to the Paleolithic age. The vulva representations discovered in Dordogne in France are dated 35,000 years ago, while 20,000 year-old cave carvings of phalli were discovered in Asturia princedom in Spain. There are pornography samples also in the first historic years. The Turin Erotic Papyrus (Papyrus 55001) painted in the Ramesside period (3,200 B.C.) depicts women satisfying the sexual desires of Pharaoh Ramses II. In such realism that some would characterize vulgar and obscene, it represents striptease pictures and chariots carrying women involved in various sexual activities. Similarly, in plates, vessels and frescos of the Ancient Greek and Roman period we see representations of heterosexual, homosexual and group sex. Furthermore, Kama Sutra, the ancient Hindu text of the Sanskrit Literature, is most probably the oldest text that describes sex positions in an analytical form and pictures. Kama Sutra is the most popular and notable of a group of texts known generically as Kama Shastra and is believed to have been created in the second century A.D. Kama Sutra is dedicated to the principles of pleasure. It was written by Mallanaga Vatsyayana, a Hindu holy man, a sage and a seer who lived in the holy city of Benares, using as is sources the rich collection of Hindu erotic texts already existing at that time.
We see, therefore, that already from the beginning of his existence, man used to draw and depict their sexual experiences.
In 1856, Gustav Flaubert writes his first novel "Madame Bovary" which was published and is considered his masterpiece. The novel was attacked and accused of scurrility by the authorities of the time, he stood trial in January 1857 and on February 7 of the same year he was acquitted. In 1880, Emil Zola publishes his novel "Nana". The book treats female prostitution, even in the higher social classes. By narrating the Nana's life, the author describes the shabbiness and ugliness in which his heroine lives. When it first published it created a scandal raised by a group of people who reacted with rage. 1954 was the year of publication of the book "The story of O" which created turmoil when it was first published, because of its detailed description of erotic scenes. It was written by Pauline Réage (her real name was Anne Desclos, and used also another pseudonym Dominique Aury), who agreed to reveal her true identity at the age of 86. She was a woman who led a perfectly normal life, worked for Gallimard publishers, translated poetry and wrote articles, decided to write this book in order to impress her lover and employer Jean Paulhan, who had made the remark that no woman was capable of writing and erotic novel.
On June 26, 1995, Orsay Museum in Paris first exposed Gustav Courbet's painting "The Origin of the World", representing with impressive realism his lover's vulva. In 19th century France, Courbet expressed the basic idea of the current which became known by the name "Realism", explaining that: "Painting...is but the representation of real and specific things". Eduard Manet's "Olympia" (1863) stirred uproar, because the woman is lying naked, comfortable with her nakedness, offering herself, available. The female nude was indisputably one of Renoir's primary and favorite themes which he dealt with throughout his entire career. Women-nymphs, women-bathers, women-flowers or women-fruits, he prefers them fleshy and sweet, with rich breasts, full bellies and ivory skin. His work created a woman-archetype, who we characterize today, without considerations, as the "Renoir woman".
In the entire long history of art, the female form has always been provocative and overwhelming with her exceptional beauty, unrestrained realism, irresistible charm, as well as her ability to create life.
Would it be possible that all these novels, paintings and sculptures that marked their eras and received excellent critiques be considered, despite their theme, as pornographic material?
As Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, mathematician and pacifist, characteristically says, "People with solidified opinions say that these pictures seriously harm other people, however no one of them is willing to admit that they are harmful to themselves".
In 1964, the American Potter Steward said: "I can't define pornography, but I can certainly identify it
So, what is pornography, how is it defined and how is it identified? If we record what happens in our bed, will this be pornography?
Dr. Donald Van de Veer, author of the book "Health Care Ethics, An Introduction" (Εισαγωγή στην ηθική της υγείας), attempts to give the definition of porn, making a rather subjective and not very representative description, saying that: "A clear representation of the sexual intercourse if it is proved to be aiming to sexually arouse the consumer".
If we described and decoded the image of a porn movie, we could say that pornography is: "the provocative, revealing and extreme expression and depiction of sexual intercourse, putting emphasis on the flawless external appearance, does not correspond to reality, with ultimate purpose the sexual relief of the viewer or the reader". The reason why the world of porn is extravagant and extreme, is exactly its aim to awaken our instincts. It is not our real life, it's just a fantasy.
The occasional use of pornographic material which is accepted of both partners may renew and reinforce the relationship of the couple as well as their sexual interest. When the pornographic material is used in order to activate sexual play, increase our sexual excitement or draw "new ideas" and experimentation, it will not have a negative effect in our sexual life and expression.
Pornography offers a strong sexual desire which, however, is usually relieved with masturbation; therefore it orientates us towards the satisfaction of our own needs only, ignoring the desires and needs of our partner. Also, with the use of pornographic material we cancel and nullify the autonomy of human sexual fantasy which ends up being totally guided. The problem begins when our fantasy eventually becomes our sexual routine.
It is common for people who lose control and become mainly involved with pornographic stimuli and not with real human relationships to start implementing the behaviors they see in the pornographic material, including compulsive sexual promiscuity, voyeurism etc. Sometimes they carry these behaviors in their own beds and oblige their partners to participate in them. When it has become an obsession, the use of porn is based not on desire, but habit and repetition. We should start worrying when we seek our sexual satisfaction in an egocentric way.
The incontrollable use of pornographic material and our addiction to this kind of expressing our sexuality will lead us to loneliness, isolation and alienation from our partner and our social environment. Sexual addiction is a psychiatric condition which requires therapy because of the catastrophic consequences it has for the "patient". Porn is not the answer to our sexual problems, or the way to effectively deal with them. Using porn as a substitute we do not solve the problem, we only cover it. It has been observed that men with erectile dysfunction problems use porn as a solution to their sexual problem. However, they don't realize that the temporary pleasure they experience traps them in a condition and they enter in a vicious circle which, not only does it not provide solutions, but impedes the treatment of their problem as well.
As parents, we have repeatedly feel worried about the repercussions of our children's, and of young people's in general, exposure in pornographic material. It is a fact that free access to the Internet and to pages with pornographic material applies to young people too. Despite the fact, however, that sex is omnipresent, especially in western civilizations, young people do not end up having an incontrollable or problematic sex life.
In Germany, teenagers and today's generation are called "Porn Generation". Communication Specialist Petra Grimm talked with quite a few young people regarding their relationship with internet pornography and believes that the term "Porn Generation" is exaggerated: "This characterization stigmatizes an entire generation and limits it to something that does not reflect reality. For this reason I reject this characterization. There are many young people that resent the consumption of porn products on the Internet; on the other hand there are others who think positively of Internet pornography".
Nowadays teenagers have less sex than in the previous years. Young people, either boys or girls, are stressed out and react to the slender, fit and flawless role models that the show business is trying to impose to them.
Contrary to us, the young are more informed, mature and self-possessed, they can recognize and separate fantasy from reality, and they are able to realize that their own sexuality is expressed in a completely different way.
However, are we absolutely sure that only the Internet, the pornographic sites and magazines are responsible for the aforementioned problems? Have you ever wondered what kind of pictures and information we are bombed by on an everyday basis? Our age is unfair to love, hasty, full of anxiety, aggressive, stressed out.
Love has become a scandal, magazine and news reports material, disclosure, viewing figures, merchandise.
Names of renowned people such as Bill Clinton, President of the USA or Dominique Strauss-Kahn, President of the IMF, appear in the front pages of newspapers and magazines for the sexual scandals in which they are involved, and become headlines in all news reports of all TV channels.
The Italian porn stars protested publicly for the provocative clothing of TV presenters accusing them of unfair competition as the latter offer the sight for free.
And let's not forget how many young girls promote their "career" through various Life Style shows of TV channels and the magazines that deal with such matters, in order to raise their "price", and how many girls in the Show Biz, role models of our times and the young, offer their companion in return for payment.
As the writer Dionysis Haritopoulos says, "in this generalized prostitution of souls and bodies, nobody has the right to exclude themselves. The whore is as guilty or innocent as her customers".