Porn Racket: The difference between Erotica and Porn

Actor-Model Gehana Vashist claimed that all videos on several apps come under the category of erotica and has nothing to do with porn.

  • Updated On - 6:35 pm, Thu, 22 July 21
Porn Racket: The difference between Erotica and Porn
How is Erotica different from Porn?

The arrest of businessman Raj Kundra and his associates on charges of making pornographic films may yet again reignite the debate over the difference between erotica as an aesthetic art and porn, which reduces sex into commerce and is fundamentally misogynistic.

On Tuesday, actor and model Gehana Vashist, who is one of the accused in the porn racket reacted to Raj Kundra’s arrest. She claimed that people were targeting them, mistaking erotica for porn. In a video, the actor-model who is accused of using her production house for making porn videos and selling them to several apps, requested people to watch her videos and then decide if it’s porn or erotica.

In a video she said, “Nobody is making porn, they are all normal erotica video”, comparing them to Ekta Kapoor’s Gandi Baat that streams on OTT platform Alt Balaji.

Vashisht added that she had “full faith” in Mumbai police. She requested people to not assume things just because certain videos are found in someone’s device or laptops, claiming that it doesn’t make them the makers of the video.”

She stressed repeatedly that none of the videos fall under the category of porn and that such videos had been made for a long time. Vashisht claimed that only a handful of people were being targeted.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EROTICA AND PORN

According to the author of one of India’s bestselling books, Sita’s Curse: The Language of Desire, Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, there is a very thin but distinct line between erotica and porn.

Speaking with TV9 Digital, Kundu said, “Erotica is high literature, whereas porn is misogynist. Erotica is sensual, it explores the agency of both partners, something that gives you the complete autonomy of your body, unlike porn.”

Kundu cited E L James’s book Fifty Shades of Grey as an example of borderline porn, pointing out that it had no storyline. She further mentioned Mira Nair’s 1996 film Kamasutra as genuine erotica where consent and feelings of both the partners mattered. It showed the importance of sensuality and autonomy, is lacking in porn.

Kundu also pointed to India’s ancient cultural traditions which respected erotica. She claimed the fact that our temples have erotica strewn all over them.

In fact, Ajanta and Ellora are one of the most refined erotica ever. India gave the world the first sex manuals in Kama Shastra and Koka Shastra. Sex was never a taboo in India, and erotica was prescribed to the young to prepare them for adulthood, before the Vedic prudery came about. It is the Victorian Britain that introduced laws in India against what they perceived as ‘immorality’ and ‘obscenity’, for instance Sec 377 which was struck down by the Supreme Court.

WHAT DOES THE INDIAN LAW SAW SAY ABOUT PORNOGRAPHY?

Under Section 292 and 293 of Indian Penal Code, the manufacturing, publishing and distribution of pornography is illegal in India.

The debate in the Raj Kundra case is obscenity versus eroticism. According to legal experts, in such cases, the court simply sees whether the ‘stuff in question’ is obscene or not.

For example, the Supreme Court in the Ajay Goswami case set a test for obscenity, observing that whether an image is obscene or not, is to be judged in relation to three tests, namely:

a) Is it vulgar and indecent?

b) Is it a piece of mere pornography?

c) Is its publication meant merely to make money by titillating the sex feelings of adolescents and among whom it is intended to circulate? In other words, does it constitute an unwholesome exploitation for commercial gain?

In 2006 (8) SCC 433, Supreme court said that a material may be regarded as obscene “if the average person applying contemporary community standards would find that the subject matter taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest and that taken as a whole it otherwise lacks serious literary artistic, political, educational or scientific value.

“Information which is obscene and has the tendency to arouse feelings or revealing an overt sexual desire and should be suggestive of a depraved mind and designed to excite sexual passion in persons who are likely to see it.

“Obscenity has the tendency to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences.

“The idea of what is obscene is fluid. What was considered obscene a few decades back is no longer obscene.”

In the famous case of the movie Bandit Queen movie, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court to stop screening of the movie on the grounds that it showed nudity and rape that the depiction was “abhorrent and unconscionable and a slur on the womanhood of India” and obscene. But the court ruled that the scenes in the movie were “in aid of the theme and intended not to arouse prurient or lascivious thoughts but revulsion against the perpetrators and pity for the victim”.

HOW DID THESE APPS BECOME SO FAMOUS?

In October 2018, the government of India directed Internet service providers to block 827 websites that host pornographic content following an order by the Uttarakhand High Court. The court cited the rape of a 10th standard girl from Dehradun by four of her seniors. The four accused told police that they raped the girl after watching pornography on the internet.

It was after the ban on these websites when various such apps came on the market and made alleged porn videos and sold them on subscription-based models.

In an interview with TV9 Digital, a citizen, who preferred to remain anonymous said the banning of porn websites came as a setback for many, as there were not many options left to watch porn. Most of the websites were blocked and the rest didn’t have standard content.

He said, “Indian porn was bleh until these apps emerged who copied the foreign porn industries and began to bring models to shoot such films. However, not all had the standards. But it did revolutionise the Indian porn industry, now there was more open and bold content than just some cheap MMS in the name of porn.”

SHOULD PORN BE LEGALISED IN INDIA?

Many believe porn like many other countries should be legalised in India.

“In USA, porn is legal. The porn stars enjoy equal stardom as any other Hollywood star. They even have award functions. India too should consider legalising porn, prostitution and sex trade”, says a 30-year-old man who prefers to stay anonymous.

Author Kundu too believes that porn and prostitution should be legalised in India. According to her, most of these apps emerged and vulnerable models were forced into making such videos only after porn was banned in India.