I have learned, through travelling around the world and living in 3 countries that one can always tell just how democratic nation is by seeing how hard or easy it is to find pornography. This is an empirical observation I have made over the years. And one that I have followed through with a great deal of study which is long winded, boring, and most certainly wrong. But the nature of collective knowledge construction is that poorly formed ideas are made public and refined by finer minds until they are more useful.
Perhaps there is a mind listening out there who can take my poorly formed ideas and express them as something more useful.
But I can only speak for my own ideas.
On a recent trip through Greece I had the opportunity to observe the art and culture left over from the first efforts by humans to grant power on to the “demos”. The concept of a human in Classic Athens was by no means perfect, it excluded women and slaves. But it was an effort to move from the dictatorships and aristocratic rules of earlier time to one which each member of the republic had a share in the power of the state.
During this period of moving from the archaic age to the Classical age we see a radical transformation in art. Archaic culture, as reflected in Homer, was dominated by power held by warlords, and its art was dominated by geometric patterns. This age was followed by a period of chaos and colonisation in the Greek states which saw in Athens the emergence of a new order in which the citizens of the state were given the powers and duties of the collective power. This was also accompanied by a change in art, art became both more naturalistic and nude. Sexual content in writing and graphic art increased. Plato was so dirty it was not until recently students read proper texts of him in translation.
Roman Republic, though containing more slaves than free men was also dominated by naturalistic images of nude bodies. Free men create naturalistic nudes.
When a new dictatorship was formed at the end of the Classical period and the new dictatorships emerged in Europe new levels of censorship emerged. It is interesting to note that during the wars with Spartan the destruction of penises on statues in Athens was a crime. In the early Catholic new central power classical statues had their penises knocked off.
I had the chance to be in Ireland in the early 1990s. Ireland had been a “democratic” state for 70 years before that, but a study of the 20th Century Irish society shows it in fact was dominated by the Catholic Church and not very free or democratic. Some Irish would even say that the priests were a kind of secret police dominating the state. Sexual expression and sexual practices were gravely restricted until the late 1980s.
Naturalistic Nude is called, in our time and society pornography.
Again when Ireland reformed itself and its economy in to a more democratic and richer state condoms and pornography suddenly emerged in the stores.
In my travels in Japan and Korea I noticed Japan, which had been democratic since the end of WWII had plenty of pornography. It was very easy to find. In the mid 1990s Korea was just emerging from a long period of dictatorship. Democracy was still rather new and as it spread in the society pornography began to show up in the corners of stores, some films were even showing. I am sure as democracy becomes stronger pornography will become more common.
Thinking about it I can only think that sexuality is central to the identity and meaning of people's lives. Just about everything that means anything to us is sexual. We are men or women, but gender is a sexual construct. We are gay, bisexual, or heterosexual and these meanings are key to our identity. We may decided to be sexually active or to be married with children and true to one person, and these are sexual as well. Its hard to think of things important to how we define ourselves that are not attached to sexuality, and even concepts like race or class get tied with sex. American obsession with race is tied in with sexual fears about black males. Social class in Edwardian England was tied in with sexual exploitation of lower classes by gentlemen.
When sexuality is keep secret these key issues are kept from playing a key role in our culture, existing categories gender, race, identity and family can not be discussed. No discussion not discourse, no discourse no democracy.
Pornography is the discussion of sexuality. Where it is banned there is no democracy.
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