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Essay: War Against Pornography

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COM 606

MEDIA AND THE WAR AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY

Seminar Paper

MOVORIA OBEYOMA DEBORAH

5/6/2017

TABLE OF CONTENT

Introduction…………………………………………………………….. 1

Definition of Key Terms………………………………………………..  1

The relationship between media and pornography……………………..  3

Harold Laswell’s model of communication……………………………… 4

Uses and Gratification theory…………………………………………..   4

Arguments for pornography…………………………………………….   5

Arguments against pornography………………………………………… 6

Nigeria societal view on Pornography…………………………………..   7

Media fight against pornography in Nigeria……………………………..  8

Conclusion………………………………………………………………..  9

Recommendations…………………………………………………………. 10

References…………………………………………………………………… 11

1. INTRODUCTION

Pornography is a phenomenon that attracts global debate and Nigeria is not excluded from it. There have been arguments on its place in society and the need to eradicate it. While some have opposed this move there has been uproar from religious, feminist, health, governmental and non-governmental groups. The media has been accused of fostering the pornography distribution at such there is pressure on the media to actively participate in the fight against pornography. This paper seeks to identify the effect of pornography on the individual and society, media’s role in disseminating pornography and the methods adopted to curb pornography.

2. DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS

Haruna and Ibrahim 2014 defined media as the different sources through which information is disseminated to an audience. They communicate ideas, knowledge, and information to individuals. It can be the message, the medium, or the messenger; and to complicate things the digital age has made the line blurry (Granados, 2016). It also refers to the channels which enables human and non-human connections to create events which are mutually participatory and as a result, likely to create effects.

There are two types of Media; traditional and new media. The traditional media comprises of television, radio, newspaper and other print publications. New media comprises of social media, video games, website, blogs etc. Technological advancement differentiates new media from the old media. New media is associated with accessibility, active audience participation, feedback from users and user generated media but with very little gatekeeping. Traditional media is characterized by gatekeeping function but with passive audience participation. Generally speaking, the media comprises of films, advertisement, newspapers, e/hard books, music, video games, social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, websites, Blogs and so on.

The term Pornography is of Greek origin, it comprises of two Greek words ‘porne’ and ‘graphien’ meaning to prostitute and to write respectively. Pornography is the representation designed to arouse and give sexual pleasure to those who read, see, hear or handle them (slade, 2000). Billings and Malamuth 1984 defines pornography as communication relating to sexuality. It depicts sexual contents with the aim of inciting sexual stimulation in an individual(s). It displays explicit materials through a medium. Frederick, 2011 believes anything pornographic has the function or intention of sexually arousing its audience.

Pornography depicts actions presumed to be overtly sexual and erotic in nature. Soft and Hard porn are two types of pornography. The difference is the degree or depth of sexually explicit content on display and the violence involved.

3. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MEDIA AND PORNOGRAPHY

It can be deduced from the above definition that for anything to be pornographic it must be through a medium; this is where media ties into the subject. Pornographic contents are consumed through various media forms like video games, sculpture, animations, sound recording, books, magazines, music, and movies etc.

With technological advancement, pornography is easily accessible. The internet makes it easier, faster, and relatively free to get pornography. Thus, there is no pornography without the media seeing that the channels for pornography consumption are forms of media. This raises the question of the media’s effectiveness in its cause to eradicate pornography. Another question that comes to mind is the need for the war against pornography in the first place.

The war on pornography is characterized by arguments for pornography versus arguments against it with arguments against largely outweighing the arguments for. But before going into the arguments it is necessary to note that this paper will be contextualized using Harold Laswell’s Model of communication and Uses and gratification theory. Harold Laswell’s model of communication covers the communication process from the origin of pornographic content to its effect, while Uses and gratification theory covers the individual persons’ use of media and how it satisfy them.

4. HAROLD LASWELL’S MODEL OF COMMUNICATION

This model focuses on who says what, through what medium to whom and to what effect. It traces communication flow down to its effect stage (Laswell’s Model, 1999). In this case producers of pornographic content push their messages through media platforms to consumers of pornography with the aim of sexually arousing their audience and sometimes financial reward. But, the effect of pornography has been largely negative on both the individual and the society.

 Who   Message Channel   Receiver  Effects

A pornography maker here is not limited to those who make the contents. It also refers to individuals who share sexually explicit contents on public platforms for financial reward, fame or other reason. Once there is a medium and an explicit content has been publicly displayed through such medium there is pornography.

5. USES AND GRATIFICATION THEORY

Blumer and Katz in 1974 propounded this theory. According to Twente 2017, this theory elucidates how individuals gratify their needs with the media, what they do with media and the positive and negative effect of the individual’s media use. The individual here operates actively and not passively. He is capable of selecting media in respect to his needs. Since the audience determines the media message, media competes for audience attention by providing what gratifies the individual. The demand for pornography is argued as the reason for its presence in media.

Media has become an integral part of human activities, irrespective of this, the individual with respect for his own dignity and the dignity of members of the society can choose to not produce or share pornographic materials. He can also choose to ignore sexual explicit materials. This reduces the demand for pornography, the lower the demand the lower pornography in media.  

6. ARGUMENTS FOR PORNOGRAPHY

It can be used for sex education – Pornography is used among youths and adults alike for sexual education purpose. People look up pornographic contents to learn how sex works so as to increase their sexual capabilities. The popular Kama Sutra which contains an illustration of sexual positions is an example of sex education materials. People also use ethical pornography; a type of pornography, to learn positions that foster childbirth.

It relieves stress – A study by Carnegie Mellon University as cited in Dickson 2014 revealed that watching pornography relieves stress. 23% of the 85% female respondents in the study indicated that pornography keeps them relaxed. The study showed that cortisol (stress enzyme in the body) is cut in half when men view pictures of naked girls.

Economic benefits – There is a huge demand for pornographic contents thus creating a huge market. This demand and supply relationship has contributed financially to the running of the economy. Pornographic books, movies, music, animations, and video games seemingly sell at fast rates and added its quota to the entertainment industry. As at 2006 pornography industry generate 96 billion dollars in revenue more than the combined revenue of top technological companies Google, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft (Bartley, 2008).

7. ARGUMENTS AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY

Minimal empathy for victims of sexual assault – People exposed to sexually violent films seems to be less pitiful of rape victims. They implicitly imply that the women actually enjoy being raped. Male and females in this study seem to be no different in their stand when exposed to such films. There is a shift of responsibility on the female rape victim (Bridges, 2015).

It takes a toll on relationships – According to Naomi, 2010 consumption of pornographic contents has led to the separation of marriages and relationships. It was found that consumers of pornography find it difficult in getting sexually aroused and this becomes a problem in their relationship. They pay less attention to their partners and find their partners inadequate. Partners may see pornography as some sought of infidelity on the part of the consumer. This leads to distrust in a relationship which eventually becomes a breeding ground for the failure of relationships.

A correlation between sexual offenders and Pornography – Agitators against pornography have on countless occasions argued that sexual assault and objectification of women are effects of pornography. Malamuth 1986 as cited in Goldsmith 2009 emphasized a connection between pornography to the hostility level women are exposed to. Prolong exposure to pornography insight violent attitudes which can lead to hostility. This hostility, in turn, leads to sexual crimes. Faludi 1993 argued that from the year 1976 to 1984, the U.S experienced 160% increase in sex allied murder. That is murder crimes associated with sexual violence.

Paedophilic acts and child abuse – Although child pornography is legally not allowed in various parts of the world, it still continues to flood society. Child abuse is closely related to child pornography and pedophilia acts. Child pornography involves the use of children for sexual stimulation. The prevalence of child pornography especially Internet child pornography has led to the sale of children and child prostitution (Akdeniz, 2008). Other effects are pornography addiction, sex trafficking, dysfunctional erection, pornography addiction, homosexuality, lesbianism etc.

8. NIGERIAN SOCIETAL VIEW OF PORNOGRAPHY

In Nigeria, the rates at which pornographic contents come into the country have been a total bad ordeal. Like every other country in the world, this can be closely related to advancement in technology. Religious bodies in Nigeria are strongly against the new pornography trend around society. The past President of the Church of Latter Day Saints Gordon B. Hinekley was known for advocating for the purge of pornography from the Christian faith. He noted that pornography ruins families, individual mind, and body.

Culturally speaking, Pornography is frowned at in Nigerian culture as it has no place there. This is true because the Pornography undermines the values of the average Nigerian culture. Cultures in Nigeria promotes family and marriage, they see sexual intercourse as a sacred activity. For example the people of Owan Local Government Area of Edo state consider the explicit portrayal of sexual acts or contents as a taboo on the notion that sexual activities should be reserved for marriage and anything contrary shrinks the moral standing of her culture (IKHIDERO, 2013).

On the Legal Front, the Nigerian law kicks against obscene publications. The Nigerian constitution Section 233 of the Criminal Code Act prohibits obscene articles i.e. anything capable of being likely looked at and read which includes pictures, sound recordings, and films (Anyasi, 2016). In the same light subsection (c) (1) of section 233 in conjunction with Subsection (D) (1) of the Criminal Code Act finds guilty anyone who publicly shares obscene materials as it is detrimental to the public’s virtue. Such a person is subject to 3 years imprisonment or #400,000 fine or both.

Bearing in mind the effects of pornography on the human person and society, and how the Nigerian society perceives pornography it is obvious that pornography should have no place amongst us. The media being vested with the responsibility of surveying the environment, correlating and transmitting its findings is a capable force in militating against this epidemic called pornography.

9. MEDIA FIGHT AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY IN NIGERIA

One of the most active media in Africa is the Nigerian media. Every state in Nigeria has its own radio and television services with about hundred privately owned newspapers and publications, 17 and 10 private Television and Radio services respectively (Igbokwe, 2009).In addition, it has millions of active internet users comprising of bloggers, individual users and other forms of citizen journalism. The implication of this is it is susceptible to pornography seeing that the country is entrenched in media activities. The media as the fourth estate of the realm in collaboration with government and other bodies has employed the following strategies in the fight against pornography in Nigeria.

In a Vanguard report by Anozie, 2016 the National Film and Video Censor Board in 2016 undertook a nationwide policy of raiding areas of illegal and uncensored film production. The swoop began from North-east and ended at the South-west part of the country. Mr. Joseph Ejike head of the task force said that information had gotten to them on the mass production of uncensored films and activities of such film producers online some of such films are pornographic in nature. He added that it is a serious offense to make pornography movies let alone distribute them and those caught face the wrath of the law. The National Enhancement Distribution System was initiated by the task force to fight distribution of such material both online and offline

Punch in 2016 and other media outlets went on wide coverage of the presence of adult content on Nigeria’s online space and mobile platform due to service provider’s message.  There has been the constant menace of unsolicited pornographic contents by service providers of telecommunication and public agitation against this was on the rise. As a result of continual media pressure, the House of Representatives in 2016 proposed a bill to amend the Nigerian Communications Act, Cap.N97  (Ameh, 2016). Telecommunication users have continually harassed Nigerians with unsubscribe messages by service providers most of which are of pornographic content. The bill aimed at the exclusion of adult content by the Internet and mobile service providers.

In 2015, the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation backed by Act 55 of the 1999 constitution, banned 18 songs; foreign and local from her airwaves as a result of its explicit content. Some of the music video banned is Olamide’s ‘Shakiti bobo’, Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda, and Davido’s ‘Fans Mi’. Onikoyi, 2015 reported that the music videos encouraged violence, obscene scenes, and vulgar languages, being the body responsible for regulating Nigeria’s broadcast industry; NBC took the right action

10. CONCLUSION

The Nigeria media; practitioners and regulatory bodies alike have not been successful in fighting pornography as explicit contents still flood the Nigerian media. Films like Dirty Secrete, Strippers in love, Computer Girls and Bedroom Assassins which are soft porn-like have been produced and approved by the National Film and Video Censored Board in Nigeria. These films are available for viewing, purchase or rental on media platforms like Iroko Tv and Africa Magic.

Actresses like Afrocandy freely promote pornography in Nollywood. Big Brother Nigeria is highly viewed in the country and contains elements of soft pornography.Books like ‘Better Lover’ by Sandra Ekwunife is in full circulation and can be easily purchased by non-adults. Blogs and websites share explicit materials in the guise of news, for example, Linda Ikeji Blog, Nairaland. Music videos like Ukwu by Timaya

The inadequacies of the media in tackling pornography cannot be entirely blamed on media and its practitioners, as society has its own share of the blame. The high demand for pornography creates the market upon which pornography thrives and media contents are a reflection of society.

11. RECOMMENDATION

The responsibility lies on the individual person to discipline him or herself against pornography. One should have regard for the dignity of the human person by not sharing sexually explicit materials in any form on public platforms as this threatens the moral sanctity of society. Similarly, parents should set up parental control system on DSTV and the Internet. They should install internet tracking applications that would help them identify what their children view on their devices when the parents are not home. It will also be effective if parents continually educate their children on the subject and its repercussions.

Self-regulation by the media is an important step in winning this war. According to Foley 1989 media practitioners should apply ethical codes when developing contents for its platforms, these contents should be of common good and respect the dignity of the human person. The Nigeria Press Council should enforce its code of conduct by ensuring that media professionals act in ethical capacities that promote morality and ethics to the public.

Television programs, music, movies should be regulated to prevent pornography of any sought from airing.

A re-evaluation of the role of the National Film and Video Censor Board by the government is necessary. The board needs to take an inflexible approach in carrying out its functions. Similarly, film/music producers and directors, script writers should strive to portray women in a motherly and positive light rather than in sexual glorifying light. Although, media organizations make money from advertisement and there is an illusion that sex sells. It is necessary for media practitioners to turn down such advertisement and accept adverts that respect the human person. When they continue to do so, advert agencies will utilize less sex glorifying style of adverts.  

The media should sensitize and enlighten the public on the dangers of pornography through media campaigns and reportage. These campaigns can be on online platforms in the form of Twitter Hashtags, on radio, television, newspapers and others. For example, in reporting rape cases whose perpetrators have been found to be porn addicts, the media can use such cases to create public awareness on the subject. Involving celebrities or influencers will facilitate the awareness process. The campaigns should also educate the public on how to stop pornography addiction if one is already addicted to it.

RFERENCES

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Akdeniz, Y. (2008). Internet Child Pornography and the Law: National and International Responses. In The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender. London: RoutLedge. Retrieved 1 June, 2017, from https://books.google.com.ng

Ameh, J. (2016, October 28). Reps move against unsolicited telecoms services, pornography. Retrieved from PUNCH: http://www.punchng.com

Anyasi, N. (2016, August 28). Legal War Against Pornography. Retrieved from 247ureports.com: http://www.247ureports.com

Bartley, B. (2008, January 22). Pornography and the Economic Benefits. Retrieved from Abdn Website: http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk

Billiings, N. M. (1984). Why Pornography? Models of Functions and Effects. Journal of Communication, 117 – 129.

Bridges, A. J. (2015). Pornography’s Effects on Interpersonal Relationships. University of Arkansas, Department of Psychology. Fayetteville: Department of Psychology, University of Arkansas. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from http://www.socialcostsofpornography.com

EGOLE, A. (2016, December 3). NFVCB moves against online showing of pornography, piracy. Retrieved from Vanguard: http://www.vanguardngr.com

EJ Dickson, K. H. (2014, July 8). 9 unexpected benefits of watching porn. Retrieved from The Daily Dot Website: https://www.dailydot.com

Eze, U. (2013). PREVENTION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN NIGERIA. ANNALS OF IBADAN POSTGRADUATE MEDICINE, 65-70.

Faludi, S. B. (1993). In C. L. Mary Kennedy, Making Connections: Women’s studies, Women’s Movements, Women’s lives. London: Taylor & Francis.

FOLEY, J. P. (1989, May 7). PORNOGRAPHY AND VIOLENCE IN THE COMMUNICATIONS MEDIA: A PASTORAL RESPONSE. Retrieved from Vatican Website: http://www.vatican.va

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Goldsmith, M. (2009, May). SEXUAL OFFENDERS AND PORNOGRAPHY: A CAUSAL CONNECTION? New South Wales: Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from http://www.aic.gov.au

Granados, N. (2016, October 3). What Is Media In The Digital Age? Retrieved from Forbes Website: https://www.forbes.com

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Laswell’s Model. (1999). Retrieved 6 1, 2017, from Communication Theory Website: http://communicationtheory.org

Onikoyi, A. (2015, August 19). NBC bans Shakiti Bobo, Fans mi, other songs. Retrieved from Vanguard: http://www.vanguardngr.com

slade, J. w. (2000). the definition of ponorgraphy. Retrieved from Frontline Website: http://www.pbs.org

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Weeks, N. (2010, January). Effects of Pornography on Relationships. Families and Communities. Retrieved May 30, 2017, from http://www.digitalcommons.usu.edu

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