This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
It has pretty much been established that what is forbidden is also the most tantalizingly desirable. Prohibit something, and instantly, some weird kind of switch is activated in your brain, and that which has been banned is that which you want, crave for and lust after. It happened with the apple in the Garden of Eden. And it happens, whether it’s about drugs, someone else’s spouse, or porn.
Utah is attempting to ban porn through legislation. Yes, Utah. That ultra-religious, predominantly Mormon state where a man is allowed to take as many wives as he’d like, sometimes even marrying sisters from the same family as if he were buying them in bulk at Costco. Yes, Utah. That ultra-religious, predominantly Mormon state where government officials and church leaders pontificate about leading virtuous lives, yet where there are more internet porn-site subscribers than anywhere else in the United States. Go figure.
And now, the Utah House of Representatives has just passed a resolution stating that pornography is “a public health hazard leading to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms.” Porn, they say, has reached crisis proportions, and there is a need “for education, prevention, research and policy change at the community and social level that is harming the people of our state and nation.”
Given the relative ubiquity of and easy accessibility to porn on the Web these days, it is true that anyone with an Internet connection can watch porn for free. Although downloading it seamlessly in the Philippines with the excruciatingly slow Internet speeds local network providers have so magnanimously given us makes watching porn here more punishment than pleasure. Although, of course, you can watch porn that bundles punishment AND pleasure, complete with rods, nipple clamps, handcuffs… you name it, and there’s a free video clip of every conceivable fetish on the Internet, awaiting your click.
And it is true that there are some pretty outrageous, sadistic, even improbable permutations of sexual congress out there in the land of triple X Internet porn, where credulity is sometimes stretched to the maximum as are certain body parts. And scarier than the fact that you can apparently ram an entire fist up a vagina, is not that there are people who get off on what would be categorized as extreme sexual situations, but that thanks to porn being everywhere, what is extreme is now considered mainstream—and young kids savvy enough to click “YES” on the screen where it says “I declare that I am 18 years or older” are exposed to these images and grow up with very confused ideas about sex.
On the one hand, society tends to emphasize that sex is something that should occur within a loving, committed relationship—ideally marriage, and that prior to marriage, virginity is prized and abstinence is recommended. Yet we are bombarded with hypersexualized images everywhere, whether it’s to flog the latest fashions or a washing machine. The messages are confusing, and there is obviously a gap in the messaging. It’s the saint vs. slut dichotomy: all like to be saints but it’s so, so much fun to be the slut. Saints are pretty but sluts are hot. Sex is dirty but it’s so, so good. Wherever you fall within this schizophrenic spectrum, you are stigmatized one way or another.
There is a problem with pornography proliferating everyone’s screens with alarming ease. But restricting access to free porn will not diminish the desire for it, however illicit. Making you pay to watch porn may discourage some, however, especially kids who don’t have access to credit cards, or more cautious adults who don’t want anyone else but their Internet service providers to know how they get off. But declaring porn as a public health crisis with the capacity to adversely influence addictive and compulsive behaviors and negatively impact our ability to have healthy and satisfying relationships is not enough. We must also recognize that as long as we continue to equate sex with shame, porn will proliferate. Sex education shouldn’t merely be about preaching abstinence or illustrating how the ovaries release eggs into the cervix via the Fallopian tubes. It should include, among other things, a frank discussion of how sex can and should be pleasurable, and not solely for procreation; how to prepare oneself physically and emotionally for sex; how to be responsible about contraception and be aware of sexually transmitted diseases. It should address fetishes and desires and how, barring incest, rape, and pedophilia—whatever rocks your boat is not for anyone else to judge.
The challenge, however, is in communicating these messages in a clear and objective manner—in a language appropriate to the age and emotional maturity of the audience.
A lot of porn is quite frankly gross. Don’t get me started on the ridiculous attempts of establishing some kind of plot. Some of them are so far-fetched that you just have to laugh.
In fact, that’s what a friend of mine did in London recently. What was meant to be arousing while surfing porn on her iPad—Two Filipinas F*ck Horny Guy—inadvertently turned out to be a laugh-out-loud comedy when the two dusky, petite ladies, who were taking turns performing oral sex on their supposedly eager partner, resorted to speaking to each other in Filipino, and no subtitles were provided.
“Ano ba itong mamang ito!” exclaimed one woman, apparently fed up with ministering to the man with her mouth.
“Oo nga,” said the other. “Hindi naman tumitigas yung titi niya!”
“Sige na nga, himasin mo pa!”
You have to laugh. Nothing like Pinoy humor, even in porn.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
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Art by Dorothy Guya