Porn, For All Its Pleasures, Is Not Reality. It’s Entertainment

Posted on February 12, 2015 in Sex, Society, Staff Picks, Taboos, TalkSexuality
This post is a part of TARSHI's #TalkSexuality Campaign.

By Karthik Shankar:

It was fifth grade; the time of hopeless misinformation and burgeoning puberty. The mornings were reserved for droning lectures that put us to sleep but our lunch hours were reserved for erudite discussions about history, art and politics. No, I kid. It was the hour when young boys discussed the topic that confounded us most – the funny feeling we got sometimes when we saw a girl.

porno

In due course of time we turned to the most useful source of information available – porn. One morning, a classmate beckoned a group of us excitedly. We were four gawky nerds. Our friend, by dint of his slightly extended curiosity about sex, was the ‘wild one’. He told us he had found his older brother’s collection of porn on his desktop and had watched one of the videos. We had never seen our friend so animated. He broke into a stream of garbled sentences about its sights and sounds. The woman was moaning loudly. Her breasts flapped in a rhythmic motion. They were having sex. We were all appalled at our friend’s shocking lack of moral behaviour, but also a little jealous. After all, one of the qualities that define a boy at that age is sexual curiosity.

A few days later, when the friend in question’s parents and older brother were safely away, we congregated at his place. We were too young to realise how weird it was that four boys were watching porn together. That activity took an exalted tone. It was our rite of passage from boys to men.

The video started and all I remember was being disgusted. Sex looked so painful and messy. At that age, with my obliviousness to the nature of sexuality, the people in the video came off like grunting animals I had once seen in a zoo. We couldn’t believe that our parents had indulged in this repulsive act to bring us into the world. Once it ended, all of us were silent. We said our awkward goodbyes and went home. I couldn’t sleep that night because the guilt racked me.

As I grew older, I realised that watching porn wasn’t a sin. In fact, it was also a great stress reliever (that’s about the classiest way I can put it). Every year added a few notches of awareness and porn viewing slowly became part of our ritual as teenagers. We used to exchange videos, debate the hotness levels of the women in Naughty America videos and discuss those close calls – when parents walked into the room at inappropriate moments.

This dissipation of guilt was also accompanied by a deeper understanding of porn once I got into the age of relationships. I realised that it was far from a realistic depiction of sex. Not all women maybe ready and willing to have sex in an elevator or perform oral sex at the man’s beck and call. Moreover, women in porn generally have giant breasts, tiny waist sizes and Brazilian waxes. It’s very much a romantic fantasy catered towards men, not unlike those Anne Hathaway romantic comedies that teenage girls like.

Moreover, my penis does not resemble the members I’ve seen on-screen, which seem to have a life of their own. I spent part of my childhood worried if my penis was the right size because porn had normalised large sizes as the benchmark. Not to mention the ones on screen were erect all the time. If porn has unrealistic depictions of women, it also reinforces standards of masculinity, which we, as men can’t live up to.

Porn also unfortunately creates a stark racial fantasy. Most middle-class Indian boys are reared on porn that features white men and women. I had a heterosexual friend once tell me that he didn’t watch porn if it had a black man in it, even if he was watching for the woman. It was easier for this Delhi bred boy to put himself in the shoes of a white male than a black one, even in partaking in such ludicrous fantasies. I also wonder how many young men in India have formed their primary impressions of white women based on the porn they have watched. It’s not correct to conflate the play acting of porn with the likes of an entire race of people but like porn, a lot of men, for reasons that are extremely debatable, are fantastic at categorising women into good girl, slut, bitch and aunty.

It’s only natural that all of us turn to porn as a source of information. We have few platforms to discuss sexuality in India, least of all with teenagers. This is a country where a majority of schools don’t have ‘sex education’ classes. Even in classrooms, students’ natural curiosities are shut down with either avoidance or curt responses by teachers.

Moreover, female sexuality is still taboo. The few times it is discussed in school by female teachers, boys are sent out. Don’t boys also have a right to know what changes are taking place with the other gender? Puberty is a time of shared concerns. Openly discussing masturbating and menstruation will only engender mutual support and respect.

Ultimately, we are failing our young generation by leaving them to uncover such information covertly. Porn for all its pleasures, is not reality. It’s entertainment. Using it for education about sexuality is like looking towards Dabangg for information about the Indian police force! And if our young men traipse around and expect a woman saying no to actually mean ‘yes’, it’s because we have left all the edifying to videos with titles like ‘Indian aunty hot sex’.

[alert type=yellow ] Do you think porn is one of the sources of information on sexuality for young people? Is that information reliable and accurate? What other sources do young people refer to for such information? [/alert]

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

Conversations that remotely have any connection with sexuality are more often than not pushed under the carpet. TARSHI and Youth Ki Awaaz through #TalkSexuality have taken a step towards creating a space for these conversations around sexuality highlighting the need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

.