Our feeble leader announced this week that he'd like to see a national debate on pornography, so let's talk about porn.
My dictionary defines it as, "Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement." So firstly we have to ask ourselves just what are the sexual organs. If you stick to the definitions then neither human buttocks nor the female breasts are technically sex organs. It makes you wonder what all the fuss is about, 'tits & ass," doesn't it?
Going back to the definition of pornography, it includes the line, "Activity intended to stimulate sexual excitement." The scope for that though is massive. In Victorian times the more extreme prudes covered up the legs of the dinner table lest the sight of such bare legs drove men insane with lust. The old definition of porn then would not permit a photograph or video of any table not suitably covered up. The most obscure or normal objects of everyday life may actually be the subject of association of ideas for some people. For example, the word "Sneddler," refers to a man who likes to sniff a lady's bicycle saddle. Do such men wander around getting horny at the sight of bikes? Do they have photo albums featuring hundreds of them hidden on top of the wardrobe at home? If so, could we call that a porn stash? We cannot discuss porn Enda until we know what it is.
So what constitutes this pornography we need to talk about? Take a painting of a naked lady for example. Is the sight of such a thing designed to drive a man wild with desire? Similarly, does a picture of a naked man make women dizzy? For years in Ireland pornography was banned from the top shelf but naturist magazines featuring naked people were allowed. So imagery of nakedness cannot be pornography then. In the world of film and Hollywood the female genitalia are permitted on screen but not the male genitals. In Europe the male genitals can appear but must not seem to be in, ahem, an excited condition. Are you still with me?
Nudity tastefully captured is considered to constitute art so where does art end and porn begin? The dictionary definition suggests the change comes when the material being looked at stimulates sexual excitement in the individual. But hang on. What might stimulate you may have no effect on me. Such stimulation is subjective and I assure my readers that I have never looked at a bicycle saddle twice. I know guys who are kinky but the object of their desires and passions do nothing for me. It is strange when the sex act becomes love-making in one context and disgusting pornography in another.
You may think at this juncture that I'm labouring the point but I know in my heart and soul that if the puritans get their way we'll be covering up the table legs again in no time. I'm a temperate man who dislikes extremes either way. For me, pornography is that which takes the beauty out of love-making and degrades it with anger, violence and a lack of respect. The human body is a wonder and it is beautiful, (well most of them are anyway). It is a damned good thing for our civilization that the male of the species has a healthy interest in the naked female form. Without that we'd be heading for extinction.
But I suspect that Enda believes that there is some kind of deluge of filth raining down on all us via the internet. If it's naked ladies you want to see then the internet is your only man. It is everywhere in the virtual world. But oddly enough, it is that very fact that makes a fellow kind of relaxed about it. Once the obvious novelty value has worn off, it's almost too much bother to go looking for it. I have written before about the difficult nature of the average Irishman where the pint you are not allowed to have is the sweetest of them all. It's the same with what is called porn. When it was banned, a few men's magazines were real hard currency among the boys. Now that the stuff is freely available it has somehow lost its allure.
Think of the nudist beach if you will. By your second day there you don't even notice the bodies around you. Shortly after that, the primary emotion is freedom. It is a freedom of inhibition without any kind of sexual content. This is not to say that you mightn't admire the curves and lines on a particularly good specimen of the opposite sex. But this is just that. It is admiration and this should not be confused with stimulated sexual excitement. A pretty face is a pretty face but all the faces you see are not pretty. I have often likened attractive female curves with those same attractive curves on a Ferrari. A female friend once told me she found a certain Ferrari model sexy too. But like everything else, there are degrees of sexiness.
It is the most natural thing in the world for a boy entering puberty to want to look at pictures of naked ladies though the opposite may not be the case. Does this curiosity make the boy dirty? Indeed, would society consider it preferable if he were looking at photos of naked men? Or would decent society like to sweep all this nakedness under the carpet where they like to keep everything else they don't like? With the modern trend towards taking offense at everything, I fear the latter will be the case if Enda gets his debate going in public. The proposed public debate will not include the actual public at all. The leeches in the Dail will simply discuss things among themselves and the first the public will hear about it is when some freedom-taking law is proposed. It will be a law that restricts and fines the individual for something they rarely dabble in at the moment. It will focus public attention on the subject matter and that's when the trouble will begin.
Like the emphasis on smoking that began in 2004, the numbers partaking just shot up. Smoking prevalence in Ireland went up from 23.5% to 31% in the years after the smoking ban. When the prices were put up the black market was born. They are beginning to do the same with alcohol now even tough consumption figures have been falling steadily over the years. But I predict this will reverse when restrictions come in and a black market in booze will start when prices inevitably go up. If explicit images on the net are banned it will also go likewise. The idiots will make hunting for these things a desirable pursuit, especially for the young.
So for God's sake Enda, let's NOT talk dirty!