A few days ago, pornography made it to the headlines of several mainstream news organization in quite an unexpected manner: “Florida lawmakers refuse to debate assault rifles, but say porn is dangerous,” reads the title from CNN. Amidst the vehement public pressure to push for gun control reforms in the wake of the most recent high school mass shooting, the politicians in the State of Florida somehow found it urgent to declare pornography as a public health risk, while overwhelmingly slamming down on a bill that proposes to ban semi-automatic weapons.
What? The? Actual? Fuck?!!!!
I cannot say that I am too surprised about pornography being declared as a public health risk, but to push for action against pornography instead of against gun violence, in less than a week after the mass shooting is simply absurd. I cannot help but wonder, if pornography is considered a public health risk and gun violence is not, then what the heck constitutes the issues of public health?
Anyway, being the porn aficionado I am, I cannot help but look up this resolution regarding pornography in order to understand how exactly porn is understood as a public health risk. I will quote some of the points that catch my attention below, but you can read the full resolution regarding pornography here.
A resolution recognizing the public health risk created by pornography
WHEREAS, pornography is creating a public health risk and contributing to the hypersexualization of children and teens, and […]
WHEREAS, due to advances in technology and the widespread availability of the Internet, children are exposed to pornography at an alarming rate and it can serve as their main source of education regarding human sexuality, and […]
WHEREAS, pornography objectifies women, normalizes violence and the abuse of women and children, depicts rape and abuse as harmless, and is related to the increased demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, and child pornography, and […]
WHEREAS, pornography can have a detrimental effect on families, including a reluctance to enter into marriage, dissatisfaction in marriage, and marital infidelity, NOW, THEREFORE, and […]
That the State of Florida recognizes the public health risk created by pornography and acknowledges the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change to protect the citizens of this state.
Let me translate the above passage into my own languages to bring some more sense into this naively drafted resolution:
APPARENTLY, pornography turns children and teens into hypersexual beings, as if children and teens are not already sexual beings in and of themselves. This issue has always bothered me, because who is to say that children are “innocently” asexual? Perhaps, the more precise set of questions would be why should children be thought of as asexual, who is determining children should be asexual, and for what purpose? If it is to prevent pedophilia, shouldn’t it be that a child who really understands their sexuality can better speak up and protect themselves from being sexually violated? The ascription of children and teens to the realm of asexuality then, as Foucault would say, is less of an attempt to repress their latent sexuality, than a disciplinarian effort to make visible, to police, and to regulate those who deviate from the sexual norms. Any child or teen who fails to conform to the space of (hetero-)asexuality, they will be immediately spotted and specified by power (in this case, the government), so that appropriate intervention will take place to straighten up their sexuality. Thus, by hypersexualizing children, pornography is interrupting with the project of policing and molding children into normative heterosexuality: porn becomes a public health concern only because public health is concerned with upholding normative behavior.
APPARENTLY, pornography is bad because it educates children about their sexuality. As if anyone politicians in the US cares about sex-ed, as if there are any systematic efforts to install a sufficient sex-ed programs that don’t simply read “sex is bad, don’t have sex.” Thus, even when it is true that pornography serves as children’s “main source of education regarding human sexuality,” which happens to be true for me personally, would it be pornography’s fault or would it be the educational and cultural system’s failure to address the complicated facets of human sexuality, making pornography the only source of sex-ed for children? Yes, of course, the kind of sexual education in pornography is not unproblematic, but at least there is some ground to start with, somewhere to go from, some concrete problems that can be addressed.
APPARENTLY, pornography turns women into objects, as if women are somehow not objectified without the existence of pornography. What about the President who has been grabbing women by the pussies? What about the prevalence of rape culture in the film industries where the #metoo campaign is taking Hollywood by storm? What about ballet where women are not unlike dolls who are bossed around by male choreographers? Pornography objectifies women no different than any other cultural industries objectify women. Plus, since when did the objectification of women become an issue for a bunch of white men sitting in The Florida House of Representatives? Not to mention some of the fiercest feminist statements are made by people who have been involved with the porn industries.
APPARENTLY, pornography breaks apart the (heteronormative) family structure and creates cracks in the institution of marriage. Is that really a bad thing? If only pornography can really do that – I am thinking out loud to myself. This point is probably the most absurd one of all, exposing the arbitrariness of “public health” that strives to uphold the artificial social structures of nuclear family and marriage under the guise of health concern.
ALTOGETHER, pornography is declared as a public health risk because it interrupts the governmental disciplinarian project of imposing and regulating normative sexuality.