As we speak, heads are turning within this government to take away that most cherished privilege of the modern male: Pornography. Before feathers are ruffled, let me admit: World, listen! Women watch porn too. Just … not as much. And not with such vigour.
Generalisations: That great argument supporter. And for this argument, the hunched figure of the young adult male in front of his computer screen with eyes bulging out of his eyes ogling some nude form of a woman improved by thousands of dollars’ worth of surgery is a generalisation that will come in handy.
We have been that figure, we have imagined that figure, we have reviled that figure, and we have pitied that figure. We have taken that figure and turned it into the epitome of solitude and shame, simultaneously hidden and shown it in all its pathetic glory.
And that figure, lonely, alone, frustrated, reaching both a sexual and emotional climax, is the very reason pornography exists, and will continue to exist. Much like the world’s oldest profession, this will perhaps be the world’s most persistent habit. Millions of hands joined together in mutual … self-flagellation?
The government has other ideas. Tarana Halim and Co are on their way to, at first, recognising what these sites are, which contain “raw porn.” I have, subsequently, tried to decipher the term. Do they mean hardcore? Do they mean sites which feature only pornography and nothing else? Do they mean some fetishised combination of cuisine and sex?
Either way, colour me intrigued.
It’s not exactly a turn on. But you can’t stop it from happening. But, at least, you can stop it from becoming a legal sin
Is this a good idea? I understand that, with religion being an issue, whichever one you wish to subscribe to, tackling the issue of sex is tricky. What to do when premarital sex is such a no-no in religious canon and there’s an entire, multi-billion dollar industry built on just that (and much worse because … money?) and your sons and daughters have such easy access to it?
Won’t their nascent minds give in to the hedonistic decadent influences of the West, and won’t anarchy be the name of the game in their supple little minds, and won’t their moral codes be completely destroyed, and won’t teenage orgies (three? four? five? More the merrier, we say!) be the norm, that it will so inevitably become if pornography is allowed to take root in this country?
The simple answer: No.
Let us assume that these are bad things (ie anarchy, orgies, hedonism). The kind of freedom that allows for these kinds of behaviour to fester, let alone become the norm, is not the kind of freedom that Bangladesh can even boast to have. Every guy who has had a girl over while his parents are out will know the stare of that one security guard with the slightly orange-tinted beard.
Our country is not conducive to the kind of free-spirited decadence that older generations or other classes of people might be afraid of.
And take a look at Pakistan: Theocratic, oppressive, conservative. Also: Boasts as being the country with the highest number of porn-related searches. Also also: One of the 10 worst countries when it comes to rape.
No one is saying that pornography prevents rape. But what aspect of oppression and censorship do people find so hard to understand? If someone from the government showed correlations between the banning of pornography and reduced crime, or happier populaces, or more economic growth, anything, really, I would gladly concede: You go, girl. You have a point.
But that is not the case.
Oppression leads to reaction. The more sexually repressed a populace, the more chances of reactionary behaviour such as sexual assault and rape. The harder it gets to access these sites, the easier it is for opportunists to provide alternatives to a bulging need amongst the populace.
How will young men learn about consent, about mutual agreement, when the government intervenes and tells them: a) You can’t touch this unless you’re married to this, and b) you can’t see this until you’re married to this either?
What happens to the urges? What happens to that “growing” pain that points upward in shame? What happens when, after years and years of sexual frustration, a young man “bursts”?
I do not mean to provide excuses for rape. Repressive, oppressive government or not. Understanding these things, being open to newness, or the very radical idea that women are occasionally useful for something other than as a sperm receptor, can only be brought about through education.
And that education requires handling the issue head on. Grab it by the tail and yank it. Put it up on the big screen. This is sex. We all want it, we all have it, do it, have weird thoughts about it. In fact, most of the time, it’s all that we think about.
Just do it good (also, well, but you can be forgiven for not keeping up here). Hurt no one. Don’t impregnate a teenager. No means no. Yes means yes sometimes. Be safe. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Have fun. Be happy. It’s just sex. And when you’re in your room all by yourself, imagine, without sexualising, billions of similar hunched figures doing the exact same thing.
It’s not exactly a turn on. But you can’t stop it from happening. But, at least, you can stop it from becoming a legal sin.
SN Rasul is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.