Free Press Journal

Sex and the city: Axe the accessibility to porn?

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It is disturbing that while there is a Censor Board for films there is no censorship on porn accessibility on the internet for young impressionable minds. What can we as a society do about this?

As far as censorship is concerned, there are always parental filters on internet browsers than can be deployed and apps to track and control the type of websites young children (Ages 5-14) have access to (especially on smartphones).

Several ISPs (Internet Service Providers) block access to certain websites so there are censorship systems already in place based on the cyber-law protocols of various nations. But as kids begin to reach their adolescent age, it would make sense for them to learn to make their own choices and to learn to live with the consequences (however bitter or sweet they may be) of those choices. This is where ‘active parenting’ comes in.


Active parenting is a lot more effective than censorship – in my opinion. Active parenting could begin with making sure that we don’t ‘stigmatize’ discussions on sex and dating. All questions should be welcome so that kids don’t go searching for their answers through dubious sources on the internet. A reliable source (like their parents) is preferable.

Active parenting means helping develop a child’s innate strengths instead of trying to shoehorn a child into what we think is ‘good for him/her’ by ‘censoring content’ and telling him/her ‘what to like’.

Many Indian parents tend to ‘mollycoddle’ or ‘overprotect’ their kids from the allegedly ‘big bad world’. This is the same world they’ll eventually have to learn to adapt to and find jobs in so I think it’s better to teach them to learn to decide for themselves once they’ve reached the appropriate age.

Information is power. While the ‘village elder’, ‘cleric’ or ‘social leader’ usually siphoned the flow of knowledge to control public insight and knowledge – in the olden days, this is not the case today. Practically everyone who chooses to – can have access to the internet, in most situations.

Censorship was born out of a need to help decide for people what was ‘good for them’. It was the control tool of choice for despotic and even benevolent kings and queens in the ancient world. Temples and paintings would be destroyed so that the general populace would never know enough about their rich heritage. This was an effective strategy to keep the population compliant to the new management’s plans and whims. Censorship was born out of a need to control society. The internet has lifted that ability to control information.

In today’s educated and democratic society, this type of absolute control has become a bit of an expired construct in most societies – as people are able to decide what is good for them – on their own – by using the power of the internet to seek information and clarity.

There is still a big stigma associated with dating and sexual experimentation for Indian teenagers. Many teenagers hesitate to introduce their boyfriends and girlfriends to their parents in most familial situations when home should, in fact, be a safe place for them to express their needs and share their dreams. Is enough being done to close this gap between parents and children?

Apart from the provisions of constitutional law, there is no absolute law that works for all people in all situations at all times and that is why I am not sure if the term ‘society’ can also be used this loosely to refer to what you see as a ‘problem’.

Instead of worrying about ‘censorship’ on society’s behalf, I’d encourage you to worry only about your own family for now. This is also a more practical way of looking at solving any issue. Change should indeed always begin first ‘at home’.

Indian society is multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-linguistic society. What works in Kerala may be frowned upon in Haryana. Sensibilities and literacy levels differ from state to state. The film censor board’s job is to act as a certification body to rate content based on its suitability for a certain kind of audience for eg – An ‘Adult’ – ‘A’ rated film is not meant for viewing by children.

Moral policing – which is so common in the country assumes that ‘one’s viewpoint is the only viewpoint that has the right of existing’. Indian Censorship laws have been dubbed as archaic in several forums. This absolutism of what needs to be ‘cut out’ has led to many a conflict between film-makers and the government employees in charge of censoring content – who vary on their definitions of what is ‘artful and acceptable’. Thus, Censorship is also very subjective.

It is important for us (as adults) to learn to decide what it is we would like to feed to our senses or not. We need to support the next generation to make these decisions for themselves as well. They need our support to cultivate healthy lifestyle choices – be it with food, viewing habits, social choices and in finding real meaning and purpose in their professional journeys. Porn is merely a tip of the iceberg. However, we also need to respect their freedom to choose and need to learn new things at a speed that they are comfortable with.

This would mean that you have honest and deep conversations with these so-called ‘impressionable’ youngsters’ – who are a lot smarter than we credit them to be.

The internet is the greatest democratic technological medium of the modern age. To clamp down on it (to censor porn or for other endeavours) would mean leaving out access to information. What begins with censorship of porn can then very well move on to monitoring personal emails in the name of censoring what people talk about or think about. Where does this end? The resourceful minded, usually always find a way to get what they want.

Sound values don’t begin with censorship. They begin in families and with being honest with youngsters. The need for control should pave the way for honest conversations where solutions to issues are ‘negotiated’ rather than ‘forced’ through censorship.

(Aman R Bhonsle is a qualified Psychosocial Analyst and a Professional Youth Mentor with specialisation in Transactional Analysis and REBT. He is available for consultation at the Heart To Heart Counselling Centre.)