Pornhub

Above: The landing-screen of the website pornhub.com. Credit: Oscopic.

Porn Web

Pornhub, one of the largest porn websites, currently has 6.3 million porn video-clips available to watch and is the thirtieth most-visited website on the World Wide Web (most of the first twenty-or-so on this list are search-engines in different languages). The majority of these clips demean and belittle women, and intentionally diminish the elevatedness of human sexual union. Pornhub.com has recently been further normalized by Kanye West who will (it has been reported) present its upcoming annual awards ceremony.

The tens-of-millions of free pornographic video-clips found across the Web tend to insidiously degrade women and denigrate the act of human sexual union. Millions of such clips depict behaviour and actions by men which are callous, cruel, lacking empathy, and physically abusive. The tens-of-millions of pornographic video-clips on the Web normalize violence against women. Those modelling and acting in porn clips often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, dissociation, and depersonalization. (They are also often rendered vulnerable by social stigma, guilt, and loss of self-worth.) Many involved in modelling and acting in the pornographic video-clips found on the Web are in a state of desperation--it is absurd to argue that this sort of work is a career-choice--and many such video-clips feature persons caught up in human trafficking or other coercive environments.

Persons modelling and acting in pornographic video-clips found on the Web are, of course, the primary victims. But, with this noted, can we speak also about the general impact of the rise-to-ubiquity of pornography on the Web? (We can add to the super-prevalence of porn, the collapse of age-related censorship for violent-and-sexual films, due to the laxity of Netflix and other streamers.) The prevalence of porn on the Web has a simple impact on the overall quality-of-life of the ordinary person (the ordinary person, in the Developed West at least, is an Internet user). The effect may be described as a coarsening of everyday life; a coarsening which demands that the individual foster a more pitiless, more callous outlook on life--a hardening of one's heart. (A comparable effect is wrought by the flow of vile, vulgar comments posted by trolls across social media.)

The super-prevalence of free pornographic video-clips tends to render acceptable, behaviour once reserved under the rubric of sociopathy--callousness to other humans, absence of empathy, habitual cruelty, etc. For J.G. Ballard, "elements of psychopathic behaviour are [increasingly] tolerated and annexed into normal life ... the general effect of all this is to normalize the deviant and perverse." (The placing of hip-hop into the mainstream of popular music and the astonishing sexism that is de rigueur has further added to this atmosphere of dehumanization.)

The presence of tens-of-millions of such video-clips and photo-images depicting the mistreatment of women insidiously promotes our desensitization to such acts; a numbed-out-ness to such images--the first few times it's horrifying to watch, but slowly that horrified feeling recedes. Some Internet users just shut it out--known as dissociation in psychology. For many, the rise-to-ubiquity of porn on the Web is overwhelming--their reaction is subdued, and can often drift into nihilistic acceptance. This is where we are at after twenty-five years of the Web: the denigrators are in control.

(28 September 2018)