Thursday, Dec 09, 2021 | Last Update : 02:10 PM IST

  Life   More Features  03 Mar 2017  Know your porn

Know your porn

THE ASIAN AGE. | SURIDHI SHARMA
Published : Mar 3, 2017, 12:21 am IST
Updated : Mar 3, 2017, 6:34 am IST

India is grappling with illegal porn videos that seem to have reached every pocket, thanks to the ever growing phone chat groups.

Madhureeta is making a documentary on how porn is shaping men’s thoughts about women.
 Madhureeta is making a documentary on how porn is shaping men’s thoughts about women.

“I was sitting with a 40-year-old woman in a burqa, talking to men about women’s safety in Mandaveli in East Delhi, when a man said that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to provide safety to women who are stepping out to work and they are all so sexy, it gets difficult. The woman in the burqa protested that she was grabbed a day ago! That is when I realised that these men are not even talking about real women. They are viewing women from a certain perspective due to a certain kind of porn that is circulating on social media,” says filmmaker Madhureeta Anand.

Madhureeta is making a documentary on how porn is shaping men’s thoughts about women. “Even sex workers are complaining that men come and want to try all sorts of weird things. Sex workers tell them that there is a difference between pornography and real life. Ideas about BDSM have been messed up. A lot of porn is confusing young people. So, I have realised that teaching women about women’s safety makes no sense. We need to reach out to men.”

 

Madhureeta says that she enjoys porn as well but people need to understand what kind of porn is not right to watch. “No, we do not want to ban porn at all. We recognise the fact that people want to watch porn and banning something is never the solution. Anyway, we are living in a digital age and no matter what you do,  people will find a way around it. There can be policing for people who watch rape videos and child porn; but everything else is a useless pursuit. We want to work with people who are watching porn regularly.”

The past four or five years has seen an explosion of male WhatsApp groups leading to a free sharing of porn. “The person who is receiving it doesn’t really have a choice. These videos don’t consider factors like the state of the receiver’s mental health. Many people sharing and receiving these videos don’t even know that it’s illegal to watch child porn and rape videos. I feel this a ticking time bomb and needs to be addressed at large. Young people do not know if there has been any manipulation in these videos and the figures are alarming,” rues Madhureeta.

 

A 2014 study, by the NGO Rescue, showed that 80 per cent of college students are accessing porn on their phones. About 40 per cent of them watch rape porn regularly. Of the ones watching rape porn, 76 per cent said that they really feel like raping women after watching it. “This is the kind of direct result that we have seen. Men are showing off porn videos now. It has gotten a sense of acceptance. Many youngsters want to be like the men in these videos. It is not just the safety of women but also the mental well being of men that is at stake here,” she explains,

The awareness series that Madhureeta wants to make will be circulated on men-only WhatsApp groups and will also be given to schools if they want it. It will also be dubbed in several languages for a wider reach. “We are dealing with factors like illiteracy and the fact that this series won’t be watched with family. So we plan to have a direct communication, we will also be providing helpline numbers,” she says.

 

While doing research for this documentary, a lot of information emerged about porn viewing habits in India, most of which happens to be illegal. “But we don’t want to put out messages that judge people who watch porn. The last thing you want to tell an addict is that it is morally wrong. It is a sure way of putting them off,” she adds.

Madhureeta has also met men who say they are fed up of the overdose of explicit porn videos. “I asked them why don’t they get off these groups? I was told that the moment you get off these groups your friends call to ask what happened, you went soft? This sort of crude stuff occurs. So for an attitude change, someone from the inside will have to make a positive move.” To make this happen, Madhureeta has tied up with some NGOs that work with men, who will take it to communities and schools and start talking about it.

 

Talking about the role of cyber cell to stop illegal videos from circulating, she says, “They have banned quite a few websites that have child pornography. The efforts are real but not enough. The main issue is that  people don’t think it is really bad. They haven’t really understood the exact implications of something like this. If a cop is sitting with a guy who is watching a rape video, he is not likely to arrest him. It is because nobody has made the effort to make him understand that this kind of porn is totally illegal. No body has understood the legality and our position on matters relating to sex and sexuality is already very private. You can consume porn privately but you are not supposed to talk about it publicly. There are blurry lines. The court has given some really good judgements related to rape and child porn, but people don’t know them.”

 

Madhureeta is trying to tell people that they can differentiate between legal and illegal porn. “For example, in the West if you are watching a rape video or child porn, you certainly know that you are doing a wrong thing. But in India we are not sure. Such is the mindset. Of course we are not telling people what to watch, everyone has different preferences when it comes to porn. But we will definitely tell people that if rape and child porn is found on you, you can go to jail for ten years. They should start to tell the difference themselves.” In the documentary series she also plans to include quotes by people who many men look up to.

 

Crowdfunding for the project on Wishberry, Madhureeta adds, “I am not only getting funders but partners in this movement too. The idea is to impact society. It is about people. Every person who puts in money for this is sort of committing to this cause. I hope this documentary will create enough awareness and let people choose their porn wisely.”

Tags: sex workers, whatsapp, porn videos