By Banji Ojewale
It troubles one to observe that Nigeria’s clean weekday newspapers metamorphose into lewdpapers at weekends. Saturday and Sunday when you look forward to domestic company with child-friendly weeklies, you are trapped in an oppressive nightmare, wrestling with nudepapers. They flaunt naked images of female bodies that are not healthy for impressionable young minds.
But, these expressive photos also harm the larger society with destructive far-reaching consequences: they devalue the dignity of our womenfolk; they offer false and ungodly standards about intimacy between man and woman; they trigger an unending chain of loose moral conduct among the youths and the adults.
We appear to have become quite tolerant of this creepy soft and hard pornography on the sacred pages of our newspapers. It used to be a coy feature in the gossip outlets and fashion magazines in the local media. Later, our submission to the decadent values of the capitalism of the Western world took us to an adventurous and bolder threshold that led to the publication of wholesale underground cover to cover magazines trading in sex.
Since Playboy magazine, whose founder Hugh Hefner died recently, began the business in the 1950s in the print medium, producers of porn have deployed new technologies in filmology, starting in the late 1970s to push the trade to wider and more daring platforms.
They moved from 16mm to the readily available camcorder which even the unskilled could operate to shoot bedroom scenes for commercial distribution. Finally in the 1990s, following the dawn of the Internet, man was completely overwhelmed by this carnal craze. It’s only a button away on your palm device. Of course, it’s one’s choice to visit such sites or resist the urge and recoil from it. No one takes your finger there.
But, this line of defence isn’t acceptable because we need to protect our vulnerable youth and society from easy exposure to potential peril. We can’t be fence sitters if there are threats to our collective cultural purity, sanity and morality such as lewdpaper journalism poses.
There is palpable danger to our humanity. Our traditional values will go under if we are sold to consuming depravity and licentiousness that manifest in displaying sensitive parts of the body that ought not to be so profaned. That is where you find the difference between sedate civilization and its antithetical obscenity.
It is disingenuous to suggest that posting pictures of couples in lovemaking act, half-clad females, models in thigh-high slits and those baring their breasts along with graphic literature on sex is part of the information and education as well as entertainment agenda of the media, which the Nigerian Constitution guarantees. It speaks of freedom of expression, information (and dissemination) and access to it. But it isn’t unfettered freedom. For instance, despite the acclaimed principle of fundamental human rights, the law doesn’t give one the freedom or right to take one’s life.
To be sure, we can’t rule that all photographic portrayal of coital organs or activity is porn. We can have them aplenty in educational or medical textbooks. But the text that accompanies them is dispassionately technical and instructional.
On the other hand, our lewdpapers have a motive to trigger sexual arousal by bringing up pictures of seemingly impeccable women in seductive killer mood. They defile the minds of those who fall for them and force them into an addiction akin to the calamity caused by alcohol and drugs.
When a man is given to porn, he is in a merciless three-fold hold. He has dehumanized himself because he is prey to fantasy and futile chase for gorgon goddesses who won’t spring alive from the screen or the nudepapers. His wife would no longer please him since she has paled beside the newfound youthful sex object in the pictures he is served every weekend. It is the beginning of the breakdown of the home—and alas of society.
Secondly, an early authority, Jeff Olson, had this to say: “as pornography pollutes the mind, it often turns into an enslaving… addiction, where there is a ‘continual lust for more’… an addiction to pornography doesn’t happen overnight. It sneaks out on a man over time…”
The third dangerous effect of this retail of porn in our weekend newspapers is that it rocks the settled sanctity of sex and ruins our respect for women who are the industry’s most violated. Porn attempts to demystify a sacred activity meant to symbolize man’s partnership with God in His plan of procreation and perpetuation of the human race.
It seeks to give flippant flavour to a deep-seated pleasurable affair found only in a conjugal setting. Thus, it gives the impression that men and women are nothing more than animals feeding only on sex.
The danger lewdpapers constitute is regardless of whether the victim is married or single. As far as they arouse in one the red button for adventurous quest, they represent an anathema and a no-go area. Researchers in the United States of America and other western countries report that exposure to porn leads to deviant cravings including rape, child molestation and divorce. In one study, 86% of convicted rapists admitted that they regularly used porn. 57% said they tried to re-enact what they saw in the sex video.
Porn is a deadly assault on our society. It works on all aspects of society—the young, the old and adults. It wages a mind war which is far more devastating than when physical weapons of mass destruction are at work. Such battles aim at the soul—the very essence of a human being. When we talk of the breakdown of society and insensitive leadership and institutions, we must trace the deficiency to a spiritually and morally stricken soul. That’s where you find loose values and insensitivity to character and integrity, which undermine the foundation of the community.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin who caused national grief by killing scores of children in 1284 didn’t drop a bomb. He played seductive music that pulled the kids away from their parents into perdition. Nigeria’s own Pied Piper is in town, in the garish gab of porn.
Ojewale writes from Ota.