Thursday, 21 July 2011

Kids and Soft Porn

Want to know something? Last week someone actually asked me if I watched porn. My reaction to her question was a big what the fuck? NO! It is not unusual for people to watch porn these days. People don't even take in to account if their religion prohibits them from doing something. Like this girl, that asked me this question, did not take in to account the fact that she is a Muslim and she should not be indulging in so called sin. My second reaction was, oh my god, but she is a Pakistani! How can she watch porn? Then it hit me, since when has nationality stopped anyone from doing anything. People do much worse things in Pakistan, than watching porn and it has been happening from ages. Difference is people don't talk openly about it. Guys might whisper to their friends, girls -those that do watch- might watch it in secret and never let it be known to anyone else. So why was I so shocked here?

Even though her asking me that question, I felt was a bizarre thing to do; it did get me thinking. She said she did watch porn. That got me in to a very deep thought process. There are a lot of questions that come up in the mind, after hearing such a statement. Why does she do that? How did she get in to this? Then I thought most of us, we try to stay away from hardcore porn, but sometimes we are oblivious to the soft porn which surrounds us. It has become such a normal thing for us to be surrounded by all kinds of soft porn in our daily lives. We want to avoid hardcore porn and in some countries, it is banned by proxies, but yet, we see strong hints of it all the time and sometimes we don't even realise it. What is the use of banning porn, when we can still see traces of it all around?

The ironic thing is, some of us watch porn, most of us avoid it, but all of us want our kids to stay away from it. The proof of that is the countless number of computer programs that are released every year to safeguard children on the internet from pornography. So many programs are available which let you block certain websites or restrict a child’s activity on the internet. The most ironic thing is, we put objectionable material on the internet, like videos which have obscenity in it, but at the same time we use a warning or a rating telling people that this video is for 15 year olds or above, or for 18 year olds and above only. 

How are children being exposed to porn you may wonder? Soft porn of course, that is the answer. We have loads of it all around us. Sometimes we may deliberately overlook that fact, sometimes we are oblivious, but it is around us for sure. Lots of television dramas, films – be it animated or not –, children’s cartoons on television and music videos have references to sex in them these days. Sometimes it is subtle hints or sometimes there are strong hints, but there are there. Lots of jokes in animated movies are for adults. Lots of animated cartoon series have a lot of sex in it or sex references, but just because they are cartoons, kids watch them too. A lot of parents don’t even keep a check on such cartoon series or animated movies, just because they are animated and look like they are for kids. In fact, more and more cartoon series have become inappropriate for child viewing; by any standards. 

A lot of children these days are interested in superhero cartoons and comics. When I was a kid, we also used to look up to Batman, Superman and Popeye, but our superheroes back then were different. The difference was that the animators of the cartoons, the pencil and sketch artists, gave more attention to giving us a plot and a story, than sexualising up the female characters. Cartoons back then were innocent and at most, a character would look lovingly at the character of the opposite sex. It all changed with Archie Comics and Johnny Bravo, which prompted the main male protagonists of the cartoons to be the centre of the universe, being surrounded by or running after girls. In Archie Comics, girls were shown in Bikinis and the main character ‘Archie’ was shown to be kissing. Children read those comics nowadays, just like we read them back in the day. Yes, I do know back in the day, superheroes wore tights and some characters wore spray painted on costumes too, but what bothers me is that, the creators of the cartoon series these days and to most part the channels that broadcast such cartoons, are showing soft porn in cartoons, on prime time and those cartoons are aimed at kids. Cartoon Network’s ‘Justice League Unlimited’ was cancelled for this very reason. It had soft porn in it – in the form of clothing (or the lack of it) and dialogue - plus the female characters were portrayed very sexually. 

Not long ago, Katy Perry released a Sesame Street video. On first hearing about this, one would wonder it would be kid friendly, because of the name Sesame Street. Well, I thought that Katy Perry’s Sesame Street video was soft porn. The dress was displaying way too much cleavage. It is a KIDS show for heaven’s sake. When we were younger and used to watch Sesame Street, we never had any half naked women appearing on the show. We just had Big Bird, Elmo and the others with their usual self, being funny. Displaying a female with a large cleavage and her breasts half dangling outside her dress like that, in a video that is promoting a kids cartoon brand, is wrong.

It's wrong for both the genders, female or male. It was Freud who said that, even young kids start to develop sexual feelings towards their mothers/fathers from a relatively tender age. That's where Electra and Oedipus Complexes come from, along with Castration Anxiety. What is to say they, these kids, don't develop sexual feelings towards other people? I don't think this is as prevalent in Desi Society or Religious Households in a country like Pakistan for example, but in the West, children do start getting curious from a very small age. This is because of the exposure to adult things that the kids are getting, all thanks to the media and the internet. In countries like Pakistan, such exposure is less, but to say it doesn’t exist would be wrong.

Also, in my opinion, girls and guys choose their sexuality when they are kids. Either they want to be queer or they don't. They only come out or realise their true sexuality when they grow up. There could be many extraneous factors because of why this happens. However, why I even brought in the development of sexual feelings is because, when children look at a hot sexy body like Katy Perry's, (that is not the author's opinion, it is the general opinion) they might start to develop feelings or start to get curious. Seeing such things on television may prompt them to ask around before time. Due to peer pressure and interactions with other kids at school, more and more kids will be affected and will be exposed to such things. Then more kids will watch the Sesame Street video. The young girls who might see her body would subconsciously be attracted to her and not even realise that they are developing a liking to the same sex. Later on, when they will be older, some girls who were exposed to this video at a young age might decide to turn Lesbian and they won’t even know it, that this video was the one that triggered their true sexuality. The boys that would watch Katy Perry’s video would start having wild thoughts and feeling sensations that they don’t even know about. They would ask their mum about things, too early. The image of a sexy Katy Perry could embed in their minds and they could start relating their mothers to her, in result getting attracted to their mothers and developing a complex.

Some days ago, I was talking to an acquaintance of mine who is a mother to a 3 year old child. What she told me shocked me a lot. She told me that her 3 year old had taken her phone while she was in the shower, and snapped a picture. Then he also knowingly or unknowingly, uploaded that picture to Facebook. Most probably it was unknowingly. This incident is not really connected to sexuality or why kids should stay away from soft porn, like Katy Perry and her revealing PVC dresses, but it is a statement to the fact that these days’ kids are becoming intelligent and knowledgeable about things. These days things do affect children and are impressionable on their minds. We should be careful with what we are exposing children to. Don't think that it's okay they are just 2 or 3 years old, what if they do see it won't affect them. You never know, it just might. They might not be affected by what they see in the short term or act on what they see, but it might certainly be retained in their subconscious mind, only to influence them without them knowing when they grow up.

I was reading about this controversial book by this author Laurie Halse Anderson. It's called Speak and it is being banned by State Schools in Missouri. This was in the news some time ago. Now the author and other people are rallying support against censoring and banning of the book. It deals with a topic of sensitive nature, Rape. Is it right to censor or stop schools from displaying such a book in their libraries? What kind of literature should kids read? What age is okay to introduce kids/teens to sensitive taboo topics? We have so many things around us which send subliminal messages to children of sexual nature.

Subliminal messages are being relayed in forms which can be found in Magazines, Advertisements and so on. We are living in a ‘Porn Culture.’ Everything that is geared towards children these days is somewhat of the sexual nature. We are living in a hypersexualised world. A lot of soft porn floating around and it is up to us to safeguard ourselves and our children from it. Let us take Justin Beiber as an example. He is the idol to millions of teen girls and young girls worldwide. He himself is very young, just 16 years of age, yet he has become some sort of a demi god/sex god to many. He has a cult following and little girls who probably didn’t even know what words like ‘horny’ meant before, now do all thanks to him. People have created groups on Facebook and chat about him all the time on Twitter. Least to say those discussions is always G rated.

Children these days have become dependent and reliant on images from the media for their identity and it affects a lot on their personality as well. Children rely on over exaggerated and hypersexualised material to find out what is hot, cool and suitable for their peer group. All this is told to them by the media and children blindly follow and become involved. These days, soft porn culture which includes Katy Perry’s PVC dresses, have normalized the porn/rock star look in every household to a certain extent and anything less looks dowdy, prim, proper and downright boring. Children who cover up or wear reasonable formal clothing are being made fun of.

Soft porn is bad for the kids, especially for girls that are growing up. An American Psychological Association’s study has concluded that sexualizing young girls has a lot of negative effects in a variety of domains. ‘These includes, damage to cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitude and beliefs.’ Some of the effects include, risky sexual behaviour, higher rates of eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem and lower academic performance.

Good thing is many people are realizing what damage soft porn is to society and our children and they are doing something about it. Like in the case of the cancellation of that Cartoon Network series. Also, it is an effort at the personal level. Parents should step in and give a hand in this, to stop this menace. The culture should be helping us raise our children and it shouldn’t be that the culture is undermining us. We should start at a personal grass roots level and spread awareness about this and keep our kids safe, before their innocent minds are corrupted or most probably, further corrupted.  

4 comments:

Zeeshan Ahmed said...

First and foremost, the topic picked up here is a really controversial one. Soft porn has been around for a long time. Let it be the use of suggestive language and innuendo in popular shows or subliminal messages in popular songs.

The problem actually starts when underage kids are exposed to it, as you mentioned. A small kid would know nothing about such stuff and yet, when he is exposed to it, a certain new horizon comes out for him, that he knows nothing about. Imagine a little girl observing Katy Perry and then realizing "Why am I not like her?" or a boy developing 'feelings' for her. It sounds disastrous.

Mainstream media has become too 'obscene' these days. A child can have access to countless sources for soft porn, hence life becomes tougher for a parent.

Sex education is a part of life, that is plainly ignored by parents at times. I do agree that a child must not get exposed to it too early in his/ her life. But one cannot let him/her know on his/ her own too, technically speaking. He must be told of the wrong and the right things. The difference between them and so on. Gone are the days when everything used to happen secretly. These days children start knowing of such stuff quite early in their lives.

It is really difficult for a parent, in my opinion. It's like everything outside is there to damage a child's psyche, and yet the parents can do little about it. But then, why not hand your son or daughter an armour? Why not let your children know about the good and bad? In that way, a child would have a frame of mind in which he or she can ward off the 'evil' stuff and keep himself or herself in check. It's like don't let your children go far away, and keep an eye on him/ her.

You're right about the good old times. There were times when the focus was on the plot and story rather than scantily clad women and ultra-sexual themes. You can find sexual themes in most of the things currently shown on television. Let it be mainstream music, movies or TV shows, or even the literature these days. Sexuality is one of most mysterious aspects of a human being, and is being used these days to manipulate the psyche of the audience.

Well, a nice and well-thought piece of post I have come across. Really liked it, and among all the other issues, this one can have one of the most damaging long-term effects ever.

-Peace

Aisha Yaqub said...

I loved ur comments. x

TheChameleon84 said...

Well there's a bigger picture here that seems to have gotten lost. Islamically speaking, why is watching porn any different from, say listening to music, having a gf/bf, or even something as small as being cruel to your relatives/neighbours? IMHO, the problem here is not specifically with sexual imagery around us, but more generally with the upbringing we receive. We are taught to be hypocrites right since birth. That hypocrisy manifests itself in every aspect of life, including religion. To achieve a positive change, it is important to realise the root of the problem and address that, rather than focussing just on symptoms such as watching porn.

ASY said...

Nice comment :) I'll keep it in mind for my next blog.

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