I once attended a Republican party sponsored “Family Values” event. This was back before the party had gone completely insane. Anyway, after 8 hours of speeches and catch phrases the event concluded and several gentlemen there asked if I wished to accompany them for a drink or two. Since my brain, at that point, felt as though someone had dragged Brillo over and through it, I said yes. So we toddled out of the hotel and went to one of Tampa’s top tourist attractions, a strip club. No, I’m not kidding. Don’t get me wrong, I like strippers. Hell, I’m a big fan of naked women in general. But I was the only one who saw a disconnect. To them this was just as God intended. You chat about the sanctity of marriage for a bit and then stuff dollars in the g-string of a stranger. What made the whole thing even more fun was the fact that I happened to know one of the dancers. She was, and still is, the daughter of a buddy of mine. I instantly became the coolest human on Earth when she walked over and said “Hi Uncle Bill, what brings you here?”
So there I sat, watching my buddy’s daughter give a lap dance to my new drinking partner. My therapist loves me just because of shit like this. On the plus side I couldn’t pay for a drink if I tried and, eventually (as in immediately), I quit trying.
Valerie Tarico, over at Salon.com says what I witnessed isn’t new or strange. In fact, the largest procurers of porn live in. so called, Red States.
Red-state conservatives may insist that the rest of us should keep aspirin between our knees and be forced to bear Divine Justice Babies if we don’t. They may refuse to provide cake or flowers for gay weddings, or even to attend. They may pretend that teens won’t do it if we just don’t tell them how. They may adopt the Church Lady posture if anyone mentions sex that doesn’t involve one man, one woman, the missionary position and a pulsing desire for more offspring.
But online search traffic from behind closed doors in Jesusland suggests that the bad, nasty, sexual impulses righteous believers are trying so hard to shut down may be their own. And if Google search patterns mean anything, they’re not succeeding too well: studies consistently demonstrate that people in conservative religious states search for adult materials online far more often than people in blue states.
Ever since Freud first started publishing his theories, psychologists have had a fascination with what he called “defense mechanisms“:
- Denial means simply refusing to acknowledge that some event or pattern is real.
- Repression involves pushing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the far recesses of the subconscious mind.
- Reaction formation is saying or doing the opposite of what you really want but won’t allow yourself to express.
- Projection means assuming that others share the impulses, feelings, and vices that you find unacceptable in yourself.
Freud had a lot of ideas that haven’t withstood the test of time or the scientific method, but defense mechanisms have stuck, in part because they are so useful for explaining some of humanities’ more bizarre behaviors. Like, perhaps, the conservative obsession with controlling everyone else’s sexual behavior.
For almost two centuries, what happened in the Bible Belt, sexually at least, stayed in the Bible Belt. Oh sure, there was the odd scandal involving a small-town preacher and the pretty young wife of a deacon or youth minister, or a big-name televangelist who, for example, asked male followers to get vasectomies and then examined their swollen willies. And there were the shocking-shocking-I-tell-you revelations of evangelical leaders feeling up young female interns or paying male call boys or even behaving like Catholic priests. But most people, for some reason, have had a hard time considering the possibility that conservative religion might actually augment sexual obsessions rather than icing them, that there might be a pattern of correlation between authoritarian religion, sexual repression, and sneaky sex.
The pattern of repression prompting deviant behavior isn’t new. Ancient Roman society was very authoritarian, to the point of forcing women to look pleasing for their husbands upon penalty of death. So when you read that the Apostle Peter advised women not to wear makeup and to dress modestly he wasn’t being a fuddy duddy. He was advocating a revolutionary idea, that women could control what happened to their bodies.
That still hasn’t caught on in some places.
Oh, and in case you missed that day in Bible study, the Romans killed Peter for that. But it was too late, the damage had been done.
Anyway, I’ve shared all of this to get us to the point of this article. Carrie Weisman, also at Salon.com, says that knowing what we know we shouldn’t be surprised by this, but we are.
The Middle East, home of ISIS & Al Qaeda, is the fastest growing porn market in the world.
The world is a big place, and cultural gaps are vast. But there are a few things that connect people across borders. Some people argue food is the best glue while others say it’s education. But there’s a new contestant: online porn.
Porn is being made and watched in the Middle East, and millions more are watching it around the planet. In fact, some of the world’s top porn consumers come out of the Middle East. According to data released by Google, six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. Pakistan tops the list at number one, followed by Egypt at number two. Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey come in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively. Pakistan leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.
According to research put out by PornMD, the terms “creamy squirt,” “blowjob” and even “Kendra Wilkinson” (Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriend) appear on the top 10 most-searched terms coming out of countries like Iraq, Syria and Iran. The word “Arab” is the number-one searched porn term in Egypt, Iran and Syria. Some get a little creepier. “Pain” lands at Iraq’s fourth most-searched term, while “father daughter” and “brother sister” come in at numbers four and five for Syria. Both the words “mother” and “mom” appear on Egypt’s top 10 list.
The specifics are representative of a broader change taking place in a society all but defined by extreme “moral” standards. The fact that porn trends within the region can even be tracked is impressive, given that the sale of erotic material is banned in nearly every Arab country except Lebanon and Turkey.
In 2009, Iraq’s government moved ahead with new censorship laws, prohibiting material deemed harmful to the public. Taher Naser al-Hmood, the country’s cultural minister, claimed, “Our Constitution respects freedom of thought and freedom of expression, but that should come with respect for society as a whole, and for moral behavior. It is not easy to balance security and democracy. It is like being a tightrope walker.”
Ahmed Mohammed Raouf, chief engineer for the State Company for Internet Services, told the New York Times, “I don’t want to stop a person from seeing a certain thing, but I also want to protect society.”
More recently, the Saudi Arabian government announced that it had hacked and disabled about 9,000 Twitter accounts associated with the publication of pornography and arrested many of the handles’ owners. The move was organized by the Commission for the Promotion and Prevention of Vice, also known as Haia, the Saudi religious police.
The good news for porn fans in the region is that a lot of these restrictions seem fairly easy to overcome. It’s not uncommon to find vendors lining the streets armed with pornographic videos. Nor is it rare to find young men hanging around popular shopping centers, selling cards to disable Internet blocks.
Meet the Stars
Mia Khalifa, a 21-year-old born in Lebanon, has just been voted the “Number 1 Porn Star” on Pornhub, a free website that is the 73rd most popular site on the Internet, according to analytics company Alexa. Khalifa moved to the United States at the age of 10 with her family. Corey Price, vice president of PornHub, told Buzzfeed that the site has seen more than 750,000 searches for Khalifa since Saturday.
Khalifa plays up her Middle Eastern heritage in her movies, sometimes wearing a hijab and sporting heavy eyeliner to emphasize her “exotic” look. The raw sexuality of Khalifa’s work literally strips away common western stereotypes of Muslim women. In his piece, “In Praise of Vulgarity” Charles Paul Freund argues, “Broad-based culture, popular and vulgar, is far from being a mere distraction or a source of self-absorption. As Islamists have learned, it can function as a bulwark against coercion. More than that, it can even be a means of democratic resort.”
But then there are those in the opposing court. NOW Lebanon’s Juliana Yazbeck wrote, “For someone who has struggled so much to assert their presence as a human being with a working, thinking brain, I cannot deny that I felt a pang of despair when Mia erupted across social media and entertainment news. It never even crossed my mind to think, ‘She doesn’t have the right.’ What did cross my mind was: Really? Of the very few Lebanese women who are making global headlines, it had to be a porn star?”
Yazbeck’s response was fairly mild compared to other more extreme protesters. Many conservative Muslims have targeted Khalifa via Twitter, writing things like, “@miakhalifa You do realize that you’ll be the first person in Hellfire right?” Another user posted a manipulated image of an Isis militant holding Khalifa’s decapitated head.
And she’s not alone. After Sila Sahin, a Turkish-German actress, posed nude for the German edition of Playboy, she received a slew of criticism. Threads on Islamic websites read, “She must pay” and “She needs to be careful.” One user wrote, “I would kill her. I really mean that. That doesn’t fit with my culture.”
Is this a sex problem? Or is it a porn problem? Or is it just another hiccup in the long, thorny path to gender equality? Women are given center-stage in a lot of pornography, after all. Maybe some in the Middle East aren’t interested in seeing that happen. Or maybe they feel that sex should be restricted to a more private and procreative space. Many Muslim states declare that cemented social morals should not be violated. The data out there, however, suggest their public may feel otherwise.
Mia has been using her new-found celebrity status to, as you might have guessed, help recruit football players for Florida State University.
You just can’t make stuff like that up.
Nevertheless, the overall point is that repression represses nothing. It’s like squeezing a tube of toothpaste very hard and then trying to get everything back in when you’re done.
XVIDEOS (NSFW, or school, or ….) has surrendered and set up a dedicated page for Middle Eastern amateur porn videos. Actually, they have dozens of pages of it. And they aren’t the only ones.
A quick Google search for “middle eastern porn” will keep you reading for hours, if not days.
One thing you’ll note right away, if you watch any of the videos, is that they come with male narration. Usually the camera guy trying to figure out if the model speaks English. Everything else is porn like you’re used to, but that little oddity drives home the point. They’re not used to this and are still trying to figure out what works best.
Judging by the couple of videos I viewed while researching this today, they’ll get there sooner rather than later.
So if seeing a hot young lady in a hijab do the nasty with some random guy makes your day, you can thank the nice terrorists for that.
One thing’s for certain. That toothpaste ain’t going anywhere.
"Salam & Love" from Julien Rotterman aka "el rott" on Vimeo.
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