Aritra Sarkar
3 min readAug 13, 2021

Should Pornography be Destigmatized?

Around the world, porn is an uncomfortable, mostly taboo subject. In liberal democracies, it’s a legitimate industry; albeit with legal constraints. In many illiberal societies, it’s barred; yet quietly condoned. In extremely autocratic nations, it’s banned with strict enforcement. Notwithstanding its legal status, pornography is stigmatised in every country; across every sphere of life.

In the monetary sector, financial institutions are reluctant to sponsor entities that engage in this line of business. In the artistic world, the arbiters of taste and sensibility are unwilling to grant pornographic creations a space for wider discussions or serious appraisals. In the professional world, decision makers in mainstream organisations are loathe to providing opportunities to artists and technicians who hail from this ‘dirty’ industry. In the arena of relationships, denizens of Planet Porn often experience shame, humiliation, marginalization, abuse or harassment. Judged negatively at the outset, they find it hard to forge authentic relationships – making loneliness a way of life. The social stigma faced by these artistes is so devastating that they often have to change their identity to overcome it.

The story of Mia Khalifa is a clear illustration of the prejudices faced by performers in the industry. Born in Beirut, she moved to the US in the early 2000s. Mia’s family took up residence in Montgomery, Maryland – a fairly homogenous town in terms of racial composition. In high school, she was constantly bullied due to her physical appearance and race. Craving social acceptance and appreciation, she joined the world of porn shortly after graduation. As the first Arab-origin artist in the industry, she became immensely popular after shooting a number of provocative films. After she’d caught the public eye, many people were aggrieved by what they perceived as an assault on the Islamic faith. They manifested their anger by issuing death threats. Furthermore, Mia was cheated from her earnings by the producers of her films. Terrified and disillusioned, she left the industry after a turbulent, scorching quarter. Thereafter, she attempted to enter the mainstream professional world. However, her attempts were met with rejection and humiliation due to her activities in the porn industry. She was thrown cruel labels – such as ‘porn star’, ‘sex kitten’ and ‘slut.’ She was denied opportunities to prove her talent and to achieve social respectability. Objectified and vilified – she plunged into a deep well of anxiety and depression.

Stories like Mia’s are a dime a dozen in the pornography industry. Most artists are starved of acceptance in the mainstream world and end up leading secretive, parallel lives. The inability to lead a life of dignity and respect often takes a toll on the well-being of the artists. Why is porn so heavily stigmatised?

Pornography is the visual representation of sexual expression. In the ancient past, sex was revered; exalted. In Vedic philosophy, sexual intercourse is not an act for the purpose of procreation. It’s an union of souls journeying to the origin of the universe. Sex is therefore spiritual bonding with creation as the outcome. Seen in this cosmic light, the representation of sex should be divine. However, in the modern world, this is not the case. Spiritual intercourse; as described by the Ancients; requires partners who are seeking to expand their consciousness. But in our world, most people are unwilling to work on themselves. They are driven by survival instincts and material desires – such as the need to propagate one’s species. The purpose of sex gets downgraded from spiritual development to physical gratification or pure procreation. Consequently, the divine and exalted essence of the union is lost. Pornography becomes a convenient scapegoat to heap our insecurities, frustrations and failings. It’s the bearer of the stigma that we have created, ourselves, because we’re unwilling to evolve: to overcome barriers; to emit love; to follow our passion; to deepen our values.

As citizens of Planet Earth, it’s our duty to make everyone feel at home. Even if they look different from us; profess different value systems or behave in unfamiliar ways…we must help them feel welcome. Before we rush to judging others, let’s take a moment to question the assumptions underlying our values. Remember, taste and sensibility are relative factors. What’s obscene to you may be perfectly acceptable to someone else. The only way to foster harmony in society is by cultivating tolerance. And, the first step is acceptance. Let’s make a start by accepting pornography as a bona fide field of endeavour.