Pornucopia: The Cult of the Body II

woman 2“Porn reflects the endemic cruelty of our society. This is a society that does not blink when the industrial slaughter unleashed by the United States and its allies kills hundreds of civilians in Gaza or hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Porn reflects back the cruelty of a culture that tosses its mentally ill on the street, warehouses more than 2 million people in prisons, denies health care to tens of millions of the poor, champions gun ownership over gun control, and trumpets an obnoxious and super patriotic nationalism and rapacious corporate capitalism. The violence, cruelty, and degradation of porn are expressions of a society that has lost the capacity for empathy.”

― Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle


Author and psychologist Marnia Robinson thinks that Internet porn is “an extreme superstimulus.” This is due to massive changes in our environment which has left the “reward circuitry” and mammalian brain lagging behind. Bingeing on food and sex evolved as a response to when these opportunities were scarce. Now there is an endless stream of superstimuli which play havoc with our reward circuitry which can lead to withdrawal symptoms, cravings and compulsions for more stimulation, and sometimes more permanent brain changes. [1]

Sounds like the foundation upon which Official Culture thrives …

The cycles of stimulus and withdrawal are caused by peaks and crashes of dopamine making a return to normalcy extremely difficult. Moreover, the genetically-driven push to focus on the object of our evolutionary desires is not necessarily a guarantee that it’s worth our attention or that our mammalian brains have got it right. And usually, it hasn’t.

Urban environments often ensure that we become addicts to a greater or lesser degree placing our attention away from things that offer stability and quality in the long term but do not always deliver the dopamine kick that takes us out of the inevitable melancholy that we face when trapped in these cycles. Dopamine does not necessarily have any connection with the liking or the end result of the “chase” but it is very much linked to the process of wanting. With constant superstimulus soaking the young brains of teenage boys with unnatural quantities of dopamine, this sets up and consolidates the neuronal connections responsible for the various cravings and associated compulsive behaviours that internet porn users become habituated. This leads to massive “re-wiring” of certain images into the pleasure centres of the brain. When these images do not elicit the same level of dopamine response, then more “hardcore” images are needed to do the job.

The final result is a re-shaping of the brain as psychiatrist Norman Doidge observes: “Pornographers promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is addiction, tolerance [the need for more extreme stimulation], and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn’t like it.” [2]

Referring to young male adult porn addicts Robinson describes the addiction in these terms: “There was always another enticing image just a click away, and their mammalian brains were determined to leave no picture unfertilized. Their issue wasn’t shame; it was addiction. When they tried to unhook themselves, they faced intense withdrawal symptoms that fluctuated in intensity for weeks.” [3]

As we will see as a recurrent theme in these posts, the side effects of frequent “supranormal stimulation” means that normal pleasures atrophy and slowly lose their capacity to please us. It is then that we face a progressive habituation to pathology that is caused by a change in our perceptions. It also increases the likelihood of “cross-tolerance” where other forms of addiction are drawn into the sphere of overstimulation. This is one of new and potent addictions characterising Official Culture. If that is so, what effects will this have on the societies in the near future?

Robinson tells us:

A recent study showed that mere exposure to images of sexy females could cause a man to devalue his real-life partner. He rated her lower not only on attractiveness, but also on warmth and intelligence… Other experiments show that porn causes men to devalue marital fidelity and makes them more likely to believe that women like rough sex…These shifts set off a downward spiral, making partners less likely to engage in the generous affection that actually bonds them and lets them enjoy each other. [4]

Children will mimic and experiment with what they see at an early age representing a natural stage in child development that is often colloquially labelled “doctors and nurses.” However, the easy availability of sex and violence on the internet and T.V. with “jolting” images disconnected from context have its effects on the psyche of the child. There are cases which reflect the premature absorption of programming that “forces” children to partially act out certain scenarios for sexual experimentation that will be beyond the emotional maturity needed for such adult explorations. In many cases progressive and habitual exposure to pornography has played a key role in influencing this experimentation.[5] Though it may not be a primary factor in every case, both in minor offences and criminal felonies, pornography is invariably present as an indirect or direct influence, particularly with rapists and child molesters, as we shall see presently. [6]

London is the official porn capital of Europe and with over £31.1 billion slice of the $57.0 billion global market; [7] pornography is becoming so acceptable that teenage girls are beginning to see it as a valid career choice. In “porn-speak” this acceptability starts from “glamour” as it is now named. It is this glamour industry ideal that is attractive to over 63 percent of 1,000 girls questioned in a British survey 25 percent preferred the idea of lap dancing. [8] The mobile phone has also been taken over by instant messaging porn. Now you can get aroused during a coffee break or in rush-hour traffic.

As far back as 1999, Internet tracking company Forrester Research, estimated that $1bn of the $7.8bn spent online went on pornography. It has since doubled. Private Media Group, On Command Corp. and Metro Global Media and Vivid Entertainment are just some of the porn corporations listed on NASDAQ. Wall Street knows that selling sex is immensely profitable which is why AT&T, MCI, Time-Warner, Comcast, Echo Star Communications, GM’s DirecTV, Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Radisson, VISA, MasterCard and American Express, as a brief sample, are all involved in receiving enormous revenues from the porn industry. They are understandably coy about revealing this side of their financial interests.

The first cable company to offer hard-core adult movies to subscribers was Adelphia Communications Corp. who had also donated large sums of money to some of the most right wing members of Congress. Some of the hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton earn about $190 million per year from in-room pay-per-view porn videos while AT&T and MCI WorldCom are leading the 1-900 phone-sex market, generating almost $1 billion per year. [9]

woman 2Adult toys chain Castle Superstores Corp operates outlets in 11 Wal-Mart stores in the Mid-West of the US, while Europe too is getting in on the act. In the late nineties German bank Commerzbank acted as financial advisor for Beate Uhse, a German sex merchandise firm that floated on the Neuer Market. It was not the first flotation to tempt the family bank. In fact, it has taken part in many of Europe’s biggest porn-related, corporate deals. [10] Due to the accessibility of internet porn there is undoubtedly a rise in children and teenagers becoming addicted to images which distort an otherwise healthy sexual self, leading to young people objectifying both sexes in their quest for peer approval. Sex and love are terminally confused in the world of the adult, let alone the emerging adolescent. There appears to be a deficit of accessible examples of healthy loving relationships, though there are more than enough instances of sex as the primary channel by which young adults can find their identity – minus the emotional know-how to go with it. For young males especially, porn offers and instance release of tension and an easy access to endless images catering to equally endless hormones.

In one researcher’s words, boys are: “consuming porn literally every day since they were 14. Our sexual cues and desires are learnt during adolescence, and . . . these young men were regularly viewing bestiality and group sex”. Many researchers agree that the average age of exposure to pornography begins at around eleven years old, though 90 percent of children are exposed to some form of pornography from the ages of eight – sixteen, often while doing their homework. [11]

Assuming we are even online at all, how familiar are we with what is out there on the wonderful world of the internet? Carry out a search using the keyword “porn” and you will find over 130 million hits alone with well over 260 million pornography related internet pages.[12] Some of the easily accessible websites include links to a variety of other sites which include hard-core porn categories which make up by far, the biggest market. This may be categorised variously as “interracial sex”, “S&M”, “Fetish”, “Anal”, “Rape” “Mature” “Transsexual”, “Rough” “Extreme” “Bi,” “Lesbian”, “Gay” “Bestiality”, “Teen,” “Hirsute”, “Ebony,” “Latino,” “Blonde”, etc. in an almost endless stream of titles to cater for soft porn to extreme deviancy. All the above categories have sub-titles with endless networked sites that create revenue from DVD sales, sex toys and one off monthly, quarterly and yearly subscriptions.

Although some sites have an adult password age verification warnings, the former can easily be obtained, while the latter is ignored by any hormonally compromised school boy. All, or most of these websites will include free samples of movies and clips of both soft and hard core sex acts from playboy models to Japanese-schoolgirl-sadomasochistic bondage; foot-loving fetish to farm-yard animal exploits. All is accessible on your friendly family search engine if parental controls are not observed.

Do-it-yourself-porn is also online with a vengeance. Webcams are hosted by either company backed porn starlets or individual “amateur teens” branching out into their own blog with “pay-to-view” live-cam experiences. We can be sure that the internet is providing an expansion of both amateur and professional porn entrepreneurialism. The internet is merely reflecting the next phase of “market need” that is appearing within the technology-savvy living rooms of our “American beauty” suburbia. [13] Dating websites have the technological capability to meet your every sexual need it seems… A variety of spin off porn-come-dating sites have sprung up where you find the partner of your dreams or just have “no strings attached” (NSA) fun. Sexsearch, Adultfriendfinder, Be Naughty and countless others have millions of members between them. Via online instant messaging linked with a webcam you can obtain your “quickie” and get a good eye-full of what lies in store.

Most however, discover that the majority of these potential dates are either those looking to exercise their online fantasies without ever leaving their home and others who are merely “scammers” looking to earn an extra income by stripping off. Most of these women are from 18 to 30 the average age being 21. Theses entrepreneurs  use dating websites to hook potential clients from the “chat” system eventually asking for payment for a nude show from the individual’s mobile or an online payment system. Obviously the dating websites are none too pleased but attempts to stem the flood of such young lucrative exhibitionism is an uphill struggle. Young men and women are also getting in on the act by creating subscription webcams with a variety of carrots to retain their followers.  There are also websites which allow you to submit your own amateur porn to a communities of ardent hedonists.  Blogging platforms such as Tumblr are particuarly awash with closely networked hetero and gay subject matter which spans artistic erotica to simulated rape.

All of which is accessible to your average young teen – if they aren’t getting in on the act themselves that is.

The porn industry is proving to be highly lucrative. Web-cams or digital videos, the do-it-yourself amateur porn business is booming with “self-help” books teaching you “how to get rich quick.” A cursory peruse around internet book stores offer such titles as Adult Website Money: How to Build, Start, and Market an Adult Website Business for Little to No Cost in 30 Days! Or, How To Use Your Computer Internet Skills To Get a Date or Have Sex with a Video Porn Star, Stripper, Escort or Model. Then there is the feverish title of Adult Video Business: How You Can Find Attractive Women to Star in Your Own Adult Films, Make Money, and Quit Work in 7 Weeks. They are beginning to appear more frequently each year. And as the author of one popular paperback claims: “She lives happily on the beach in Malibu with her Jack Russell terrier, Arpy.” [14]

With such a glowing endorsement of well-adjusted porn stars with their contented pooches it seems there is no need to worry, the porn business is comfortably seating itself into the mainstream. That being the case, one piece of research urges caution over what they consider to be a “porn myth” as regards online saturation of pornography websites. In a study conducted by Dr. Steve Lawrence and Dr. C. Lee Giles for the NEC Research Institute they found that only 1.5 percent of Web sites contain pornographic content. This is more understandable when “the Web contains about 800 million pages encompassing about 15 terabytes of data and about 180 million images.” And further: ‘The sex sites were much less than you would have thought,’ Lawrence said.” Their findings also confirm that it is not so much pornography that has taken over the web but corporations and their commercial websites that make up 83 percent of internet with only 6 percent containing scientific or educational content. [15]

images© infrakshun

Nevertheless, there is much more the search engines cannot access or index which logically amounts to millions and millions of sites. Yet half of the porn sites (though not the most popular with US surfers) are hosted outside the US, so American-based legislation will continue to be ignored. This is both good in terms of censorship and bad in terms of those underage. Possibilities for blocking are available, assuming that parents are sufficiently able to monitor their offspring which is unlikely. Moreover, whether there are only 10 million, 20 million or 260 million, if a child punches into a search engine an overtly sexual term – which they will – it does not matter the precise number if websites that will instantly appear offering hardcore images to view. The pages are there. And pornography of even 15 years ago has transformed into the cyber porn of the 21st century which bears no resemblance at all to its former top shelf days. Playboy and Penthouse are like the soft whispers of a tabloid angel compared to the material any school boy can access.

In Asia, many Japanese men feel threatened by the growing sophistication of women in their country and are therefore turning to the fantasy of prostitutes dressed up as school-girls. “Image Clubs” as they are called cater for every paedophilia fantasy for a price tag of over $170 an hour. As it is legal for men to have sex with children older than 12 and with no specific child pornography laws, porn involving minors is regularly and widely consumed. Japan is drenched with paedophilia imagery from Manga comics to coffee adverts.

Prosecutions of hard core contraband have actually decreased as popularity for more extreme versions of porn have increased which include bestiality, sadomasochism, necrophilia, rape and incest. In the early 1980s, European and American pornographic video tapes were the most prevalent form of contraband seized by Japanese custom agents from travellers returning from aboard. One researcher illustrates the level of the American exporting of porn has now been normalized abroad: “These materials were routinely confiscated. Now such tapes are locally produced and readily available in Japanese shops. They often contain actors or actresses that are still legal minors.” [16]

The spear-heading of the new Capitalistic-Communist phenomenon that is the Republic of China has the sex industry generally at the forefront of its economic drive. The country now provides 70 percent of the world’s sex toys. Plastic vaginas, red bondage outfits and all shapes and sizes of vibrators are part of the new boom industry.[17]

China’s youth is also becoming more promiscuous with increasing cases of Triad-run prostitution rackets. A lack of sex education is being filled by porn, violent computer games and conformity to the state. To ease the transition from one form of Pathocracy to another; a communist paucity to a capitalist excess is now fusing together.

The interactive possibilities of cyber-porn has corporations salivating at the prospect of finally and literally plugging in our senses to a virtual world of soft, seductive fantasy. This is still far from reaching the dizzy heights talked of in cyber magazines and net journals. However, imagine that you can eventually install an “in-game body” to act just like your biological body, where your brain is disconnected from your biological senses and connected to a synthetic ones?

Somehow, I don’t think this will end well …

 


Notes

[1] p.136; Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships by Marnia Robinson. Published by North Atlantic Books,U.S.  2009. / ISBN-10: 1556438095.
[2] Ibid. (p.149)
[3] Ibid. (p.143)
[4] Ibid. (p.146)
[5] ‘Hamilton School Children Imitating TV and Internet Porn in Sexual “Experiments”’ April 5, 2004 LifeSiteNews.com
[6] W. L. Marshall, ‘The Use of Sexually Explicit Stimuli by Rapists, Child Molesters, and Non-offenders,’ The Journal of Sex Research 25, no.2 (May 1988): 267-88. This study reported that 53 per cent of child molesters deliberately used the stimuli of pornography as they prepared to offend.
[7] N2h2.com survey from http://www.securecomputing.com
[8] ‘Mummy, I want to be a porn star’ by Kira Cochrane, The Sunday Times September 18, 2005.
[9] ‘Wall Street Meets Pornography’ by Timothy Egan, New York Times, October 23, 2000.
[10] ‘Selling sex: A Beate Uhse store’ by Edward Helmore, The Observer, September 12, 1999.
[11] p.58; Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships and Our Families by Pamela Paul. Published by St. Martin’s Griffin; Reprint edition, 2006 | ISBN-10: 0805081321.
[12] N2h2.com survey from securecomputing.com (data from 2003).
[13] ‘Officers discover sex-slave cult’ BBC News, 19 May 2006 “Durham Police discovered the bizarre sect after raiding a home in the area, after receiving complaints that a woman was being held against her will. But a spokesman said the Canadian was a willing participant and the other people involved were consenting adults. The group, called Kaotians, follow the Chronicles of Gor novels which depict a society where women are dominated. The 29-year-old woman is said to have voluntarily attended the sect after finding out about it over the internet.
[14] 1-2-3 Be a Porn Star! A Step-By-Step Guide to the Adult Sex Industry by Ana Lori
[15] ‘Why is the Web like an iceberg?’ By Joel Deane, ZDNet News, July 6, 1999.
[16] ‘Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan’ International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 22(1): 1-22. 1999.
[17]  ‘Sex is China’s latest boom industry’ by Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, June 25, 2005.

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