Reflection 2: All in your head
Locker room jokes and advice columns alike take care to remind us that the biggest human sex organ is the brain. Nowhere is this more evident than the pervasive spread of internet pornography. Authors Lynn and Arvidsson emphasize that the mind plays an essential role in the appeal of online porn. With no physical contact, viewers rely on their visual and aural senses for stimulation. As such, porn is a psychological matter, not a physiological one. This fact alone is what causes porn to be such a controversial topic. Porn does not occupy physical space; it occupies mind space. The human mind is the last frontier, subject to influence but rarely conquered. Like any new world, danger lurks.
Brottman’s article delved into the havoc and terror caused by internet porn. As expected with the introduction of new technology, the internet stirred a great deal of fear-frenzy as its popularity and reach quickly outgrew its academic and military origins. Internet pornography, in particular arouses fear as frequently as it does carnal desire. It has been labelled addictive and psychologically harmful, destructive to the individual, the family, and the community at large. Worse, porn supposedly holds the power to turn ordinary human beings into brutal pedophiles and child predators. I cannot help but wonder who benefits from this radical condemnation of internet porn. Remember, internet porn is psychological. It has much less to do with moving pictures as it does with thoughts, feelings, and reactions. As such, controlling and censoring pornography is actually control and censorship of the mind. Dominant ideologies continue to condemn pornography presumably because it harms family values. No mother of five or father of two could possibly act as a responsible loving parent and enjoy pornography in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Family and sexuality are seen as two mutually exclusive categories, conveniently ignoring the fact that sexuality is what leads to reproduction and the creation of families. Religious institutions are fearful of the fact that sexuality can prevail over faith, and that lustful desire will cause devotees to reject the religious norms that condemn sexuality. Sex, apparently, can undermine religious institutions. After all, controlling devotees’ sexuality ensures the building of faithful family units. Family units reproduce, creating the next generation of devotees. Furthermore, family units are easy to control. Lustful lovers? Not so much. Women especially must be carefully constrained as they are the producers of these religious heirs. If women were to explore their sexuality, they might become promiscuous and disrupt the family unit. As such, women’s sexual liberation has been slow. Internet pornography is just another step in this process, although “women’s liberation” and “male-dominated bondage” may be difficult to equate, the link remains. Even when women are viewed as exploited through pornography, they are exercising their sexual autonomy beyond the sanctioned act of pure reproduction. Internet pornography, as contradictory as it may seem, is a rebellion as against control, and remains a forbidden frontier where individuals’ minds are free to explore.
Arvidsson, A. (2007). Netporn: The work of fantasy in the information society. In Jacobs, K., Janssen, & Pasquinelli (Eds.), C’Lick Me: A netporn studies reader (69-76). Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.
Brottman, M. (2007).Urband legends, moral panics, and the dark side of the net. In Jacobs, K., Janssen, & Pasquinelli (Eds.), C’Lick Me: A netporn studies reader (69-76). Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.
Lynn, R. (2007). Sex drive: Where sex and tech come together. In Jacobs, K., Janssen, & Pasquinelli (Eds.), C’Lick Me: A netporn studies reader (7-16). Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.