Saturday, 14 March 2015

Why blame the Porn Star?

I had a less than pleasant Friday night this weekend. After a hectic week, the one thing we all look forward to, for those of us blessed with an off on Sat, is the weekend that begins after work on Friday.

But it was marred by a message I received from one of my sisters. It was a WhatsApp forward about some lawyer making ill natured remarks on women when asked about defending one of Nirbhaya’s rapists. Radiocity was encouraging us to send an sms to ‘56060’ saying ‘CITY NO’ to gather support (I was riled up enough and did send that sms). Apparently with enough such sms responses this lawyer is going to ‘take his comments back’ (how does this even make a difference anyway? Does him ‘taking his comments back’ mean he is going to reform all his views and become a changed man?) It led to me and my sister having a lengthy discussion on the general lawlessness, hopelessness, lack of safety and the grim future of the society that we live in.

It also struck me with some thoughts. As a collective society what are we doing to make this world a better, safer place for us, our loved ones and the future generations? Is it enough to get riled up, send sms’es and pray that the justice is done by a judiciary system infamous for their less than robust delivery of judgment?

I am sure you are wondering what this article has to do with the Porn Star.

Before we move on to that, I want to talk about one of the most revolutionary shows to take the entertainment world by storm; most of you must be familiar with Game of Thrones.

Highly recommended by many, I watched the first season. The sets were larger than life, the drama very gripping, the sheer gore and brutality in nearly every episode left my stomach churned. There is also a lot of nudity in the show. A few male friends have assured me that it is not the reason why they watch it, I believe them as well (however I fail to understand how an average healthy male will not feel turned on from the display of full breasts and round behinds and wanton women spreading their legs or offering aforementioned behinds here and there).

There was a scene at a princess’s (the Khaleesi’s) wedding where a woman is fucked in the same manner we can see dogs making love on the street. There are more such instances where women are shown in questionable ways but it’s all more or less a bold and commendable step in the entertainment world. It’s also a depiction of a bloody history which has roots in reality etc. Now the show is four seasons old (I did not make it past season one) and the world just can’t seem to get enough of it. We are all waiting with bated breath for season five.

Why am I talking about Game of Thrones? Because while we want nothing less for our entertainment, I wonder if we also realize that this is the food we are feeding our mind and soul.

Venerable monk Thay said that there are many seeds that are in our minds - understanding, wisdom, and forgiveness; as well as seeds of ignorance, anger, fear, and hatred. Depending on the seed that we water, it will bloom in our consciousness and manifest in our thoughts, our beliefs and our actions. So when we watch violence, gore, nudity or the ‘Item number’, or coming back to the title of our discussion, the Porn Star, what seeds are we watering in our consciousness?

If you have been blessed with a nourishing upbringing with care from loving parents, a decent education, a stable roof over your head and a healthy source of living that makes you feel secure then a seed watered by feeding such food to your mind may still have harmless consequences. Even if you do water the seed of desire, you will likely take no harmful action. If your body does experience some lust, you may seek your beloved or a consenting partner, relive yourself on your own, or may ignore it altogether.

On the other hand, the effect of watching the same item number, the same Porn Star will have different results for somebody devoid of a nourishing upbringing, who struggled for his daily bread and is used to stealing, who has been exposed to abuse on himself and violence on women around him and in whom humanity is nearly deadened in the first place.

The same content which you enjoyed in a harmless manner will instead reinforce his view that women are nothing but objects for his physical pleasure. As an action, he may eve tease a woman passing by with lewd remarks or song lyrics, he may grope a woman when opportunity present itself, like on a crowded railway platform. In the worst case scenario he is the rapist and murderer with no road of return to humanity.

Please understand that I am not sympathizing with one who has committed a crime. Each cause has an effect and along with you I pray that justice is delivered. But I do wish to encourage you to introspect.

There was a message in another WhatsApp forward that India is a country where a Porn Star is worshiped as a celebrity but a rape victim is not even considered a human being.

But why blame the Porn Star?

Just as the butcher exists because meat is being demanded, the Porn Star is here because we want her flesh. The item number is highly paid in the industry because we enjoy it. It is somewhat like alcohol. One person drinking it may enjoy it in a light manner while another may go home and beat his wife. But the reason why it is sold is because both of them demanded it. The responsibility becomes collective.

Today we are more likely to be well informed about a Paris Hilton, the latest updates from Google or Microsoft, or those on love affairs between celebs or the latest trend we should be following with respect to our clothes, hair, bags and lipsticks.

 But we may not be so well informed about the gentle monk Thay now at a ripe old age, a teacher of love and compassion and a peace activist beyond compare.

It may be absurd to say that crimes in society will stop or even curtail just because people stop consuming violence and content depicting women in a lesser light. But if on an individual level if we practice discretion, if we think about how is our entertainment affecting us, does it encourage us to live better, does it give us hope, laughter or does it merely titillate? It might just make the world a little more wholesome for you, your loved ones and your born or yet to be born children.

If we cannot detach from or regulate our own temptations, then how do we expect a change for the better in humanity in general? We are not separate from one another.

Can we start thinking about the meaning of collective responsibility?

Note: I apologize for the language and I apologize if I have hurt anybody. These views are strictly my own.