Sex & Relationships

Meditations in a Pornographic Emergency

Just because we continue to have easy access to porn sites, it doesn't mean we can't empathize with those who can't get their porn fix.
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano
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Pornography is not a basic need. So, arguably, if access to it is taken away then nobody's going to complain. However, a number of people expressed their frustration—more like rage, actually—when it was reported that access to adult websites was already banned in the country.

Selective Porn Ban?

On Saturday, January 14, the Philippine Daily Inquirer announced that the government had blocked Internet users from accessing adult websites.

The report stated that users who tried to access popular porn sites such as PornHub and XVideos were redirected to a page with this notification: "This website has been ordered blocked under authority of the Philippine government pursuant to Republic Act 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Law."

PornHub, by the way, reported that users from the Philippines stayed on their page the longest (12 minutes and 45 seconds) in 2016. So, naturally, its fans cried foul when they couldn't log on to it.

We initially thought the report was inaccurate, as we could still access every popular porn site we knew. Besides, the porn ban wasn't suggested under President Rodrigo Duterte's term but during his predecessor's.

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Easy Access

In 2014—during the administration of President Noynoy Aquino—the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a memorandum ordering Internet service providers to ban the access to sites that featured child pornography.

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The NTC memo was in support of Republic Act No. 9775 or "An Act Defining the Crime of Child Pornography." However, popular porn sites do not feature child pornography.

Yes, there are roleplay situations depicted adult sites wherein women who are obviously past their teens are dressed to look younger. However—for all the concupiscence contained in popular adult sites—they are actually quite strict when it comes to filtering content that would get them shut down. As such, there is absolutely no child porn—or any other genre that is non-consensual—being featured in them.

How do we know this? Well, it's because we checked all the popular porn sites we could think of when news broke out about the so-called porn ban. (Full disclosure: We've also been visiting popular porn sites from time to time for years. Hence, we know that they don't carry kiddie porn.)

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Over the weekend, a number of us—including our faithful friends who were eager to do research—easily accessed the adult sites through our computers and mobile devices from home (via DSL and WiFi). We weren't redirected to any page. We checked our ability to access porn sites every hour since 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 14, and up until this posting. We didn't experience any problems whatsoever.

It's worth noting, though, that there were people using mobile Internet connections were redirected to the page that claimed a porn ban was in effect. There were speculations that "some Internet service providers are cutting off access to porn sites especially on low bandwidth allocation prepaid long-term evolution (LTE) accounts."

"These porn sites should really be banned because they are being used by pedophiles and other people who subscribe to child pornography sites," Andanar said.

Dirty Conspiracy Theories

On Monday, January 16, Inquirer.net reported that Presidential Communications Office chief Martin Andanar had confirmed that the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) had implemented the ban on porn sites. 

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"These porn sites should really be banned because they are being used by pedophiles and other people who subscribe to child pornography sites," Andanar said.

We presume that none of the reporters who interviewed Andanar pointed out that popular adult sites do not feature child porn. A majority of popular porn sites are based in the U.S., a country with strict anti-child porn laws.

Section 2256 of Title 18 in the United States Code defines child pornography as "any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age)." The law "prohibits the production, distribution, reception, and possession of an image of child pornography using or affecting any means or facility of interstate or foreign commerce."

It's no wonder why popular porn sites take extra care not to feature any content that could get them shut down. Various reports claim that the legit global porn industry is worth around $97 billion—with the U.S. raking in roughly $10 to $12 billion every year. Porn sites could lose millions (or even billions) if minors are in the picture. 

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However, this detail seems to have escaped Andanar, who simply stated, "What's important here is that the President does not like these pornographic videos in [sic] the Internet."

Well, we won't dare argue with that.

But, hey, the last time we checked, each Filipino still had the right to engage in whatever online activity he or she prefers—be it watching sex videos or sharing fake news like crazy on Facebook. As long as no laws are broken, shouldn't we all be free to take pleasure in surfing our preferred sites?

The Great Dirty Digital Divide

Despite Andanar's announcement, though, we still continue to have access to porn sites. It's not that we're complaining. We just can't deny the fact that it's rather unfair. Just because we don't have problems logging on to porn sites, it doesn't mean we can't emphatize with those who can't.

Did the DICT just purposely start implementing the ban on people who are on low bandwidth allocation mobile Internet connections? Are these people going to be forced to buy DVDs of dreadful local porn offerings sold on sidewalks? (Warning: The carnal encounters featured in locally produced porn happen in tetanus-friendly settings such as dusty warehouses, grimy gyms, and unkempt motel rooms.You also often hear somebody off-camera yelling crude directions at the badly made-up actors and actresses.)

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There's still no official explanation for why some people can't access porn while others can. Rappler had noted in their updated report: "There is neither a list of porn sites that would be blocked, nor a list of ISPs that have implemented this filter."

Perhaps, somebody should tell the folks at DICT to do exhaustive searches on popular porn sites first and not just assume that they feature child porn.

Self-Service

To be clear, we don't condone child porn or the abuse of kids or any other beings. The porn we're into is the kind enjoyed by well-adjusted adults who just need a little help to get their freak on from time to time.

Just like drinking, viewing porn should be done responsibly and in moderation. That should be no problem for adults.

As Hustler publisher Larry Flynt once said, "My position has always been that there's two types of people opposed to pornography: those who don't know what they're talking about, and those who don't know what they're missing."

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In the event that a total porn ban is implemented, we'll just have to rely on our imaginations for erotic stimulation. That's what's awesome about dirty thoughts—they can't be banned.

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F. Valencia for Spot.ph
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