The topic of pornography is divisive. But it’s also not clearly black and white. i’d like to share a few thoughts on “pornography”, coming from the perspective of someone who lives in the ultra-conservative Asian country of Malaysia.
In Malaysia, there is no sex education, not even simple education on the importance of using condoms or having safe sex. You never see an illustration of the opposite sex’s genitalia at school, and no-one ever explains how yours (or theirs) functions. As a kid growing up in that environment, the only way to learn about myself and my sexuality was through pornography, although understanding sexuality through pornography is problematic. Regardless of its problematic nature, at least, pornography taught me about my sexuality, my instinctive attraction to ropes, humiliation, bondage, submissiveness and male-attractiveness.
i remember when i first journeyed into this space we call the internet, i discovered a huge BDSM community from other countries (“the West”, as we like to call it), mainly through pornography but also extending into community forums. At that time, i thought of myself as an alien monster, an oddball outcast who got sexually aroused when Batman or Spiderman were captured by the bad guys. If not for the free flow of information and pornography, i would have lived a life without knowing who i truly am, or that i wasn’t the only one with offbeat tastes.
All countries censor. The UK, Malaysia, Singapore, the US, Australia, Eastern bloc, Asia and the liberal West. But it’s important that we’re all aware of what is being censored and whether (and how) that is changing. Blocking or shutting down pornography sites is not preventing moral outrage, it’s disempowering sexual minorities and preventing them from accessing spaces where they can form and live their own identity. By sterilising and homogenising human sexual preferences into just one, plain-vanilla, hetero-based, whitewashed mass, you’re not stopping a person somewhere from trying to wrap themselves in cling wrap. Without the access to community, the process of experimentation around sexuality and deviant sexual acts becomes less educated, and therefore more risky.
i was lucky to be exposed to the community before Malaysia became more aware of the sexual deviance happening online and started putting in more and more blocks. Now, a few sites have been banned in Malaysia, including Recon and Xtube. It’s easy enough to by-pass the censorship, but not everyone has the knowledge.
All in all, is it too much to argue that, censoring pornography is a form of culture annihilation?