11 April 2006

Erotic imagery and the social question

How clear are we in the depiction of human sexuality in our culture?

Sex in fashion photography – as rendered by photographers such as Bob Carlos Clarke and Bob Richardson (about whom I’ve post-ed recently) – is really the tip of the iceberg. The bigger market is in pornography – touted as a $50-billion-a-year industry internationally, give or take ten billion dollars. Even then, some say this is a conservative estimate. God only knows how large this industry is in my own country.

The fact is, erotic imagery is no longer restricted to magazines like Playboy or Penthouse, not to mention art galleries which add a slightly different flavour, but is now available on cable TV and the Internet right in our homes and our offices. Add to that devices such as PDAs and mobilephones which allow exchange of pictures, and the reach for such imagery becomes phenomenal. Obviously there’s a large market for this, whether you and I like it or not.

As a full-blooded heterosexual male, I am aroused by the kind of sexually explicit images of women that are accessible to me, say on the Internet, and I understand why there is such a huge market for such images. However, the matter worsens to an extent when I consider the networked life we all lead. For instance, consider this:

Every time I receive an erotic image from a friend over email or on my mobilephone – even as a joke – and forward it to another friend, my participation in this matter becomes more than that of a viewer. I become a trader of erotic images, even though I do not spend a penny on it to be included in the $50-billion-a-year industry. So, what gives? What gives is a social issue which is larger, wider and more dangerous than what we may believe it to be.

Of course, there are laws against pornography – specifically for the creation and production of it. But what laws are there to stop me from visiting a website of erotic images by a famous photographer? Or, for viewing and forward-ing a sex ’toon, a sexually explicit photo or video clip over email or mobilephone?

No-one seems to know much about this. No clear directions – whether from legislative bodies, courts of justice or from religious and social groups – seem to be available either. And, considering the fact that many children have easy access to cable TV, mobilephones and the Internet, this issue of erotic imagery in our culture is really a serious one. Yet, neither parents nor heads of schools and colleges have spoken up against it.

Can we continue to be ambivalent on such serious issues?

1 comment:

arZan said...

why should it be restricted ??

I think this is something that should be self governed.

The government jumping in and enforcing moral standards, is not the done thing in a mature society.