What’s the difference between porn and nudity?

This is a topic I see brought up time and time again. Men and women these days just don’t understand what the difference is between nudity and pornography.

On the topic of banning newspaper pornography (also known as ‘page 3 girls’), a supporter said: “the next logical step is to ban children from beaches and swimming pools where they can see lots of partially-clad women in the flesh” [From The Daily Star Facebook page]

Defending fully nude Playboy pornography being displayed in a shop window, a supporter said: “Assuming young children were breast fed it’s not all that long in the past that they were doing more than just looking at bare breasts and there was nothing improper with that.” [From The Daily Mail]

Two thing these idiots – I mean, people, have in common here. They are both defending the public display of pornography through the argument that non-sexualised partial nudity is fine. They really, honestly believe there is no difference between non-sexualised natural nudity and posed, strongly coded pornography which sole purpose is to sexually stimulate. The latter commenter really believes he can compare breast feeding with porn.

Lets just say those two things were the same, then. It is still illegal to walk around publicly fully nude, so why should it not be illegal to display fully nude and pornographic images in public then?

The hypothetical swimming pool or breast feeding situations they argued are not even similar visually, disregarding the pornographic element, to the full nudity they were defending. Secondly, would these people really support mothers breast feeding their infants publicly in shop windows and pictures of breast feeding in newspapers? The general consensus at the moment is no. A lot of people seem to think there is something “disgusting” about that (because it’s natural, in a similar way big tummies and body hair is also “disgusting”.) Facebook allows pro-rape groups to threaten and laugh about raping women, but bans pages on breast feeding and non-sexualised images of mothers feeding their babies.

I think that as well as being naive of the differences between porn and nakedness (good luck in your relationships by the way) that they’re therefore extremely hypocritical, and well, idiots providing illogical arguments that most people seem to accept any way.

I can speculate on the reasons behind this being normalisation of sexualised women’s bodies. The difference today is that if you reject porn, it’s still inescapable. Day-time TV shows, billboard adverts, music videos, daily newspapers and magazines all represent women in this way. We’re forgetting that this isn’t natural, and doesn’t mean it’s automatically O.K.

UR JUS JELUZ

The commenter from the Daily Mail also nicely added: “Are the Art Galleries to have their paintings painted over with jeans and T shirts to preserve the sensibilities of jealous old ladies?”

This is also an issue I see brought up every time I voice my apparent “freedom of speech” against the normalisation of pornography. I’m told by a stranger that I “must just be jelus” (note that they can rarely spell what they are dishing out.) They really, truly believe that everyone in the world believes the same thing that they do and the only reason they may be ‘pretending’ to be against it is because we all secretly love and really want to be in porn too but we can’t because we MUST be old/ugly/fat/feminist; which means we’re jealous.

I’ve been called old fat and ugly because I don’t like porn. I’m 23, a UK dress size 8, and I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I’m not ugly. I’m guessing the guys sitting behind their desks thinking up defences of porn just because they use it, are much more likely to be old, fat or ugly.

Originally posted on my blog here: http://secondaura.blogspot.com/

and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

11 Comments

  1. Posted January 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I think the stronger argument is that attempting to ban pornography is an attempt to control other people’s sexuality and sexual preferences through coercive means, rather than respecting or tolerating other sexualities that may not be the same as your own.

    I am not surprised that when you publicly declare your intention to have the government forcibly repress people’s sexualities, those people push back at you in irrational and even stupid ways.

    I do not believe that is a power that governments should have; it is one that they historically have frequently abused and would no doubt do so further if within their power.

    • Posted January 6, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      This is a whole different topic so I didn’t go into the call to ban ‘page 3′. It is not the same as banning pornography.

      Just to outline it for you- there is a call from a number of groups here to ban the sale of pornography in everyday newspapers and magazines on full display in grocery stores. In the UK, porn is sold in supermarkets and is considered the same as buying any other non-pornographic magazine or newspaper, thus normalising it. It is sold low down on shelves mixed amongst news and non-porn magazines rather than separately under the label of pornography. In summary, the call is to ban the treatment of porn as news and put it in it’s rightful place. Not to ban porn.

      I’ve written an article on this topic separately as I said, it’s a different argument.

  2. Posted January 6, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The problem isn´t really to see all that nudity – it´s all that FEMALE nudity. That´s everywhere – suggesting female people are there for the taking.

    We hardly see that many men naked, do we ?

    Regards,
    Trip

  3. Posted January 6, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure if I understand your argument correctly. are you saying that non-sexual nudity SHOULD be banned?

    If so that’s an odd position to take as a feminist. The true goal is to make non-sexualized nudity more acceptable not less. The world has gotten so sexual that people even associate breast feeding women and ladies giving birth with sex now. That’s wrong. People need to remember we are all human, that nudity is natural, and that not everything is about sex.

    I and many others have argued you *should* be allowed to go naked in public if you want to – telling people that nudity is wrong and evil and everyone must be covered up all the time is the source of so many problems when it comes to sexuality, female sexuality especially.

    Also in many places it is fully legal for women to go topless in public, and thus an image of a bare breasted women in a window, if it was not pornographic, would not be illegal or wrong.

    I personally strongly believe that our society is seriously messed up when it comes to nudity and sex. I can understand banning images of sexual acts from public display but simple non-sexual nudity should be no problem, in any context. That goes for both naked men and women.

    Do you disagree?

    • Posted January 6, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      I’m saying that pornographic nudity is very different from natural, non-sexualised nudity. I think porn should be banned from public display (in this case from shop windows and in every day newspapers that kids have access to) I think Non-sexualised nudity should be allowed in public, for example Facebook groups on breastfeeding at the moment are banned, which is ridiculous considering porn nudity is everywhere in our society.

      So yes, I agree.

      • Posted January 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Laura,

        I don’t think anyone in the UK will say that the ‘page 3 photos’ are pornographic. Distateful, puerile, demeaning, maybe, but not pornographic. And Playboy might be crude, but it is nowhere near pornographic (by British standards).

        You ask a question in the title to your post. So, what is the answer?

        What is the difference between “…pornographic nudity…” and “”… non-sexualised nudity”? The publisher? Newspaper: bad. Womwn’s blog: good? Gay magazine: good? Straight magazine: bad?

    • Posted January 6, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I strongly agree with everything you write here, honeybee.

      I also agree with you, Laura, that ubiquitous male-gaze pornographic nudity is obnoxious and oppressive and desperately needs an infusion of equality and anti-objectification, and that much of the mainstream pornography industry is horrifying to me.

      I’m just trying to explain why people might use such stupid arguments on you: it is because when, historically, the government has the power to coercively declare certain sexualities abnormal and banned from public view, that has invariably been a tool of repression and condemnation of the natural variety of forms of expression of natural human sexuality.

      People who are conflating sexual and non-sexual nudity are very possibly doing so because historically, governments that had the power to coercively ban pornography took an ever-increasingly expansive view of what ‘pornography’ entailed. If the government had this power, you should expect to see a lot more censorship of borderline cases and crackdowns on minority sexualities, because that is what has always taken place in the past. Basically, in taking the viewpoint that government can and should have the power to censor and define some sexual expression as abnormal, you are empowering Rick Santorum to take that ability and run with it.

      Of course, maybe I’m being too understanding of these people writing insults at you and they are just people afraid of losing patriarchal privilege and incapable of thinking clearly.

  4. Posted January 7, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments Sam. The purpose of this article was not to discuss the ‘banning’ of soft porn from public display, although I do understand your points which are true when it comes to banning anything and censorship issues. I am a bit surprised at these comments but I see why people are getting a bit argumentative about this! it wasn’t my intention to discuss banning or even say that I agree with banning however.

    ‘Smiley’, your views are a good example of common views held today. That page 3 and Playboy porn aren’t really porn, they’re just nudity. You are seeing the two things as the same thing, more or less.

    “I don’t think anyone in the UK will say that the ‘page 3 photos’ are pornographic. Distateful, puerile, demeaning, maybe, but not pornographic. And Playboy might be crude, but it is nowhere near pornographic (by British standards).”

    There is a group called “Turn your back on Page 3″ and another group called “Object” who do say page 3 is pornographic. There are also lots of individuals who think so.

    You are looking at it comparatively. Relative to internet, “gonzo” porn, it’s extremely “soft core”, yes. Relative to how people in the 50s perceived Playboy and what we now term “soft core” porn , it’s not as bad as it once was. That’s the problem though, temporal shifts of acceptance have normalised porn so that young people are confusing it with natural unsexualised nudity.

    By very definition, pictures of topless page 3 and Playboy models ARE pornographic. What’s the difference between a picture of a naked woman in an anatomy text book and in page 3/Playboy? A topless woman on a bus, breastfeeding is not posing with the intention of sexually stimulating. The latter is constructed to be looked at sexually. Its sole purpose is to sexually stimulate. Their bodies are put into unnatural positions and poses that may simulate sexual positions, to purposely make the viewer look at them as sexual objects.

    Oxford English dictionary: printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

    Wikipedia: Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.

    • Posted January 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Laura,

      Thanks for the education.

      “A topless woman on a bus, breastfeeding is not posing with the intention of sexually stimulating.”

      No, she isn’t. But what is so bad about posing for sexual stimulation? If no coercion is involved, why should someoen not be allowed to partake in that activity? Some may argue that a young lady wearing a miniskirt in a bar (or in the street!) is doing just that. Would you ban that too?

      Also, is a gay magazine pornographic? If yes, I presume you would ban those as well. Yes? No?

      • Posted January 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        You’re welcome.

        I never said there was anything bad about posing for sexual stimulation. I gave the example to show how pornography is different from nudity.

        I did not write this article on whether porn should be banned, therefore I’m not going to talk about whether porn should be banned.

    • Posted January 9, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Not sure I really buy that – I think it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

      Different people find different things visually stimulating. I have often found myself attracted to someone who I’m sure had no intention whatsoever of having others see them that way. But my feelings and desires aren’t dictated by the intentions of others – they are dictated by my own sexuality.

      If there was a topless woman on a bus, just riding to work, minding her own business, not looking for attention, or a woman breastfeeding even, others could very find seeing this sexually stimulating. And since in general we have no control over such impulses simply finding it stimulating is perfectly acceptable (doing something about it is another matter).

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

6501 queries. 11.366 seconds