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The childish state

by sissytisha about a month ago in industry
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Chapter 17, "The Sexual Environment," in Li Yin's translation of John Gagnon's The Sociology of Sexuality, focuses on the evolution of censorship of works with sexual content in the United States, and is thus one of the most fascinating chapters in the book. Censorship of "pornography" in the United States was at its most stringent before the two wars, and it was never just the actual pornography that suffered. Not only Hemingway and Remarque, for example, had their works banned, but even the most "moralistic" Lev Tolstoy was also on the list of banned books. In the 1920s, the list of banned books in the United States not only included Joyce's Ulysses, Lawrence's Women in Love, etc., but also Arabian Nights and Remarque's No War on the Western Front, which could only be published in abridged form. Coincidentally, I happen to have a domestically published copy of No War on the Western Front, also in abridged form, and abridged to the point of being breathless. The similarities, I believe, are more than just interesting. When we used to talk about the domestic over-sensitivity to certain contents of books, films and TV, we always attributed it to the loss of the different national conditions in China and abroad and let the system of meeting be different. If we compare the 1930s in the United States with China now, we can easily find new clues.

Since the Great War, censorship of pornography in the United States has been steadily increasing. The result has been a frighteningly long list of banned books from federal to state and municipal governments, while sexually explicit works have been desperately suppressed. Not only did the authors mentioned above suffer, but even the Bible and Shakespeare's plays were only available to young people in abridged form. The Bible took out the Song of Songs, Shakespeare took out the so-called obscene content, and as a result, children simply could not understand it. Of course, it was not only books that were restricted; movies did not escape the net of censorship either. The representation of prostitution, prolonged lovemaking, nudity, drugs, half-breeds, venereal disease, childbirth and mockery of the clergy were forbidden in the movies.

The strict censorship of the time had a theory, a theory that all overtly positive (non-condemnatory) discussion of sex would lead to a proliferation of sexual activity, because knowledge of sex was a precursor to sexual behavior. This means that sexual impulses are powerful and are expressed automatically when stimulated. Complementing this is another theory: that sex is dangerous, that people are weak, and that it must be controlled to protect them. This view is very similar to the current view that advocates strict control over literature. In our country, it is being argued that juvenile sex crimes are related to books and videos, and some parents report that their children read sex-related books and magazines that affect their studies. Therefore, they advocate that books and videos with sexual content should be severely restricted.

However, in my opinion, there is always a bit of confusion because such views are put forward by people who lack scientific training. Let's take the American theory of the 1920s. Scientifically we can only admit that it is a hypothesis that must be tested to be valid; and it is the worst kind of hypothesis, so ill-defined that it is impossible to devise a test. I have seen statistics in the press about how many sex offenders have seen "bad" books or pornographic videos, but this is a false argument.

In fact, a valid argument would be to indicate how many youths who have read "bad" books or videos have committed crimes. In probability theory these are two different inverse probabilities that have no definite relationship and cannot be substituted for each other. As for the parent's claim that the child's reading of sex-related books and magazines affects learning, what is actually being proposed as a causal model? Reading certain books and magazines - affects learning.

Experienced sociologists will agree that building a reliable causal model is very difficult. In the case of the aforementioned parent's complaint, first of all you have to prove that your child read certain books and magazines first and then his academic performance dropped: secondly you have to prove that there is no single factor that affects both the child's reading of certain books and the child's learning, and I know of one factor that has to affect both of these things: the child's sexual maturity. Therefore, the above parent's complaint cannot be justified. Children today are well-nourished, sexually mature, and have a need for sexual knowledge earlier than their parents. As far as I know, this is one of the reasons for the general concern. If parents only gave them steamed buns and salted vegetables to eat, it would solve the problem (making their sexual maturity come later). The point of the above discussion is that the public's conclusion about the corrupting effect of pornography on young people is not the same as the conclusion that experts can make, without which experts would not be experts.

Of course, the charge that people put on so-called pornography is not only that it corrupts young people, but that it corrupts society. One example of this in the book is the Danish experiment in the 1960s, which opened up pornographic literature (real pornography) works in 1967 and pornographic photographs in 1969, providing that pornography could be produced and sold to citizens over the age of sixteen. This experiment had two important results: one was that the Danes only bought some pornography when the ban was first introduced, and then bought none or very little, so that a few years after the ban was introduced, all pornographic stores had disappeared from the residential areas of Copenhagen, and were now operating in only two small areas, and surviving only on tourists. The book's author concludes: "People have many interests, of which sex is only one, and pornography is only one small side. Few people have sex as their main interest in life, and even fewer people have pornography as their main interest in life. The second major finding of the Danish experiment is that the opening up of the pornography industry has had a significant impact on certain types of crime. The incidence of child molestation dropped by 80 percent, and there was a significant drop in exhibitionism. Violent defilement crimes (rape, indecent assault) also decreased. The number of other crimes remained unchanged. This example shows that the opening up of pornography reduces, not increases, sex crimes, and I cite this example not to advocate anything, but simply to show that this is true.

The wave of censorship of pornography in the United States suddenly ebbed after World War II, and the author of this book argues that this has to do with the transformation of the United States from a conservative, rural-dominated, mono-puritanical country to a pluralistic one. The former was anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-communist, and xenophobic, with society in the hands of the moral police; then it became an urbanized, industrialized society, and that background of strict censorship was gone. This illustration is very meaningful to us, as our country is also a predominantly rural one. As for the Puritan tradition, we have not had it. The Puritans believed that human nature is evil and must be restricted. The traditional philosophy of our country believes that man is good by nature, but once he reaches the age of "mulberry", he is no longer good. So for people after puberty, the two sides of the view is exactly the same. The author of this book gives a timeline of the degree of openness of American pornography, listed here for reference: earlier than the forties: any female nudity or anything that evokes such associations, including hints of lifted skirts and nipples, were forbidden; forties: nude female backs in pornographic magazines; fifties: side view of breasts;, sixties: nipples; women in Playboy magazine pussy;, the seventies: the main male genitalia appeared in Viva and Playboy magazines, and the female labia appeared in Penthouse and Playboy magazines, and whenever the magazines went further, the censors cried out that disaster was about to strike; but then there was no disaster. So these people fell into the dilemma of the child who cried "wolf".

In the book The Sociology of Sexuality, the censorship of film and television publishing is seen as a sexual environment.

The main target of this censorship is pornography, so serious works with sexual content are only "piggybacked" here, and the so-called serious works, in my opinion, should be works that write about sex, but not for the purpose of writing about sex. These include literary and film works that aim at artistic perfection, professional books of sociology and anthropology, and some books of medical psychology. As far as I know, these kinds of works sometimes run into some trouble. In a sense, serious writers, film and television practitioners can also be considered experts. What conclusion should be drawn from an expert's perspective on censorship?

At the beginning of the reform and opening up, Nie Hualing and Engel came to China and visited a group of old generation writers in China. Engel at the meeting time: How come you don't write about sex in your Chinese works? Sex is a very important thing in life. One of our older writers replied: "We Chinese are not interested in it! This is of course a lie to the foreign devil, which is far from being the case, but the foreign devil did not take the lie and asked again: What is the matter with the many children in China? The subtext of this statement is that these children are not created by you holding your nose and holding back your nausea. Of course, we can answer: We are doing this like a bitter medicine! But to say so would be to admit that we are all hypocrites.

The fact is that sex is a very important thing in Chinese life, and our attitude towards enjoying sex is no different from that of foreigners. There is no need to pretend to be a hypocrite in this regard. Since it is important, it is natural to discuss it. Serious literature cannot avoid it, sociology and anthropology have to study it, art films have to show it; this is for the sake of science and art, but society wants to limit it in this respect, so that the problem is no longer the sexual environment, but the intellectual environment.

The book The Sociology of Sexuality describes how obscene books were convicted in the United States in the 1920s: the prosecutor took a passage from a large book, read it to the jurors, and said to them: Do you want your children to read such books? The result was Hemingway. That's how Lawrence and Joyce got banned. I don't know if there is a great writer like Hemingway in our country now, but I know that if there is, he must have struggled with the difficulty of getting his work published. Could Hemingway have written a book that would have satisfied the prosecution? No. I am an author myself.

I am an author myself. Any author whose book is published has no control over who it will sell to. If a serious writer writes about sex, even though his intention is not to sensationalize or pander, but to express the true meaning of life, there is nothing to prevent the book from reaching some boy and playing the role of sexual arousal before masturbation. Therefore, the verdict of society on the writer is: because there are such boys exist, so your book can not be released. Isn't that too wrong? But I thought that such a thing is not wrong, sociologists and psychologists than he is wrong. The fact is that society requires every serious author, professional author to imagine their readers as sixteen-year-old boys, and these boys still seem to be the kind that do not want to improve, ready to learn bad.

I myself am a reader, and I need to read professional books, and I like to read serious literature, but the only books on the market are the Decameron with sixty-two stories, the abridged version of the Golden Lotus, and the slaughtered Remarque; there are also some books on sexual psychology and sociology, which, to put it politely, are completely messy. The other day I bought a copy of Foucault's History of Sexuality, but I can't read it at all, and now I'm trying to find an English copy to read. This situation is a great disservice to me, and I am not modest to say here that I am a high-level reader, but the book censorship treats me like a sixteen-year-old child.

The logic behind this kind of thing is that the publishing business in our country must be low, not high. A book can be published not depending on the fact that it will have a large number of readers with artistic appreciation or expertise, and the book should be beneficial to them, but depending on the fact that there are readers in society who have no appreciation or expertise, and the book cannot be harmful to them. For me, book censorship is not a personality environment, but an intellectual environment, and it is the same for other intellectuals, which is not mentioned in the Sociology of Sexuality. In the 1920s and 1930s, Americans with brains, such as Ernest Hemingway, all stayed in Europe, and then Hitler whisked all intellectuals back to the United States, so that the United States had an era of advanced science and humanities. If Hitler had not burned books and killed Judeans in Europe, I dare say the United States would still be a country of dirt compared to Europe. I dare not say that the withering of domestic talent is due to book censorship, but if Hitler had come out of the United States now, we would have more domestic talent.

If there are books on the market that I need that may not be conducive to the growth of certain recalcitrant teenagers, books that are conducive to the growth of teenagers are not suitable for us.


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