14 June 2013

Google Searches That Dare Not Speak Their Names

Long, long ago, and far away, I took Psychology.   I know I've forgotten much of it, but I can tell you at least one of its basic principles:  When you forbid something, people want it--or are at least curious about it.  That, of course, makes it profitable for someone.

How is it that the "soldiers", if you will, in the War On Drugs don't understand something so basic?  Most of them have college degrees and, I would assume, took Psych 101:  Probably the only course more college students take is English Composition, as nearly every college requires it.

But I digress.  Once you are aware of the basic psychological principle I've just mentioned, a news story I saw today makes perfect sense.

Here it is:  According to studies--and nearly every human rights organization--Nigeria and Pakistan rate at or near the top of the list of homophobic countries.  At any rate, they have some of the most draconian legislation against same-sex relationships and against people living in, or even expressing the characteristics of, the gender to which they were not assigned at birth.  

Yet Pakistan is "by volume the world leader for Google searches for the terms "shemale sex," "teen anal sex" and "man fucking man", according to a Google Trends report.   I find it interesting, to say the least, that "shemale" comes up so often in searches from Pakistan.

Both Pakistan and Nigeria rate in the top five for searches of "anal sex pics" and "gay sex pics".  Kenya, another notoriously anti-gay nation, rates first in  both categories.

The Huffington Post article in which I first encountered the story attributed such high volumes of LGBT-related searches in those countries to the fact that in those countries, most LGBT people are--not surprisingly--in the closet.  Also, the article alluded to the fact that because homosexuality is not discussed or is denied in the countries I've mentioned, many men have sex with other men--and seek out gay porn on the Internet--without considering themselves gay. That phenomenon seems like a mirror-image of the "down low" in the African-American community.

While "love that dare not speak its name" probably has much to do with the high level of gay and transsexual porn searches on Google in Pakistan, Kenya and Nigeria, I somehow don't think that it explains all of the searches, as the article seems to imply.  As I mentioned, whenever something is forbidden, the people to whom it is forbidden will often develop a fascination, even an obsession, with it.  I think now of the news dealer in Park Slope, where I used to live, who sold porn videos.  Although a lot of lesbians were living in the neighborhood back then (the 1990's), he couldn't recall one buying lesbian porn. "The men--the straight ones, I think--buy it all." 

When I thought about it, it made perfect sense.  Probably nothing is more "off-limits" to a straight man than two women having sex.  Most straight men will never see it, so it is left to the realm of their fantasies.  And, to admit a fascination with it to anyone but another straight man was--and, to some degree still is--a cultural taboo.  

To be so obsessed with such a sexual fantasy ultimately renders the object of obsession as a lurid fascination.  The people involved in such a fantasy, whether they are lesbians, transsexuals or cross-dressers, become freaks--and, thus, all the more an object of obsession--in the mind of the one holding the fantasy.

When you think of it, pornography is a culture's freak show, one that contains whatever is forbidden in the families, communities or societies of the people who look at it.  If I were to meet that newsdealer today, I might tell him that lesbian porn really isn't porn at all for lesbians--or, at any rate, it's nothing more than men's fantasies about what women do when they enter a room and close the door.  And, what can pornography be for straight people but other people--whether they're straight, gay or bi; cis- or trans-gender--doing whatever they can't or won't do in their relationships?

Really, finding out that there are so many LGBT-related Google searches in Pakistan, Nigeria and Kenya is no more surprising than having a woman whom men used to pay for S&M tell me that some of her most frequent customers were clergymen and other men who were considered "pillars" of their communities and had to keep up squeaky-clean reputations. 

William Blake put it best in his "Songs of Experience":

Prisons are built from stones of law,
Brothels from bricks of religion. 


No comments: