A few months ago I had the gall to suggest that porn should be legalized in Africa and the Caribbean. My suggestion was in response to a recent publication that showed that the porn industry was gaining strength in many African countries, yet it remains illegal in most. Porn is one of the biggest industries in North America and it always manages to sustain and thrive in the worse of economic conditions. So why should Africa and the Caribbean not have access to the revenue the porn industry has to offer? In addition, the issue of porn being illegal in most countries means that those who chose to partake in the industry are doing so illegally and as a result, are more susceptible to exploitation. Additionally, not have legal repercussions and regulations in place in an industry that is obviously thriving despite being illegal, means that participant have no point of recourse for when they are taken advantage of and a lack of regulations means the likely spread of sexually transmitted diseases. While personally, I am not a supporter of legalizing pornography, I always like to ‘rock the boat’ by making sure that all perspectives are taken into consideration.
He responded to my argument by stating:
‘I don’t know about the whole legalizing porn stuff (umm, why do u think Africa needs to adopt Babylon’s culture?). I don’t want to sound too pious or anything, but porn would break down values that sustain families in Africa. Remember, a porn star is someone’s daughter, aunt, niece or cousin first and foremost. Would you want your niece to become a porn star? And while the cheque they get might be nice and the movie itself enjoyable (as I’ve ‘heard’), at the end of the day, it’s just sex for hire…..The bad does not outweigh the good.’
While I must admit that I take pleasure in provoking the most passionate of reactions in people and he makes some very valid points, his response made me think of another question. Why are we as Africans and African descendants expected to adhere to higher moral standards? The success of North America provides as an indication of its acceptance in society. Does that mean that North Americans are morally corrupt and lack values? What satisfaction do we get and what benefits are there to be gained for being morally superior? Are these North American porn stars not someone’s daughter, niece, or aunt?
As a child and even into my later teenage years I was prohibited from watching the Simpsons. My grandmother and aunt expressed that the subject matters covered in the show and the lack of respect Bart had for his father were inappropriate for my young impressionable mind. When I asked how come I was not allowed to watch these shows even though all my friends at school could, she responded, “you nah see how rude these kids are in Canada and the US? Next thing you know, you will be watching these shows and think it’s OK to talk to me like that and talk back to me. These kids up here have no respect for their parents and elders and these shows help to foster pure rudeness, disrespect and slackness!” As a well brought up child from a respectable Vincentian family, it was an expectation that adhere to higher moral standards than my North American peers.
What is it that makes us as African descendants think that we should always adhere to higher moral standards despite being surrounded by ‘morally corrupt’ individuals and things? Is it a religious thing? Is it a cultural thing? Is it the fact that Eurocentric discourse has long expressed that African and it’s descendant are morally corrupt heathens, that we find the need to counter this perception by rebuking and chastising all morally corrupt principles and behaviours? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these factors. While I do not have the answers to these questions, I do know that values and morals are integral to the very fabric of most African societies and families. A breakdown of these principles will mean a breakdown of these societies as we know it.