Ezekiel Mutua, head honcho of the Kenya Film Classification Board has earned a reputation as the king of censorship. He polices our TV screens like a vigilante, protecting the innocents from pornography in our liberal society, where citizens won’t let anyone infringe on their right to sexual arousal.
Ezekiel Mutua’s censorship stance, comes across as detached from reality, akin to a story I heard about a herdsman who came to Nairobi city to collect his money after selling 30 head of cattle. Well aware of “Nairoberry”, he came to town prepared, carrying a sturdy metal box, fastened with a solid padlock. After the transaction, the money was arranged neatly in the metal box and securely fastened. The herder tucked the key into his socks and went to catch the next bus home at the busy Machakos terminus. As he waited, a trio of young hoodlums, snatched his metal box and varnished among the horde of commuters. Two curious onlookers surprised by his nonchalant attitude queried why he was not running after his belongings. Without missing a beat, he announced,
“They are wasting their time, I have the keys”.
In a way, TV censorship in the digital era is like hiding the keys from industrious youngsters who have found a 100 ways to hack through barriers to the things we adults, label taboo. I empathize with Ezekiel Mutua. He represents a constituency that comes from a place of valid and reasonable concern. In our neo liberal society underage children are the vulnerable victims of deception and sex-politation of the advertising industry. Unfortunately, policing libido takes more than legislation. The only outcomes bans achieve is drawing curious onlookers to the banned list.
Times have changed. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, porn was hard to access. It was a scarce commodity and the penalty of possession was harsh. Nowadays, it finds you in the middle of day, minding your own business courtesy of a whatsapp message from the naughty joker in your high school group.
We are in the age of the unlimited internet and porn. It is affordable, accessible and anonymous. Every single sexual taboo in my morally policed society of youth, has been repackaged as entertainment. It does not even qualify as adult anymore, for any kid with a smartphone and the aptitude to work google search will find it.There is a whole generation growing up in this hypersexualized and pornified culture and the commonplace parental strategy for protecting their innocence is hiding the keys.
Our boys believe girls should be porn ready. The overwhelming majority of images of women they are exposed to, at every turn is the hypersexualized female, with her photo-shopped gorgeousness, inviting lips, alluring eyes, popping cleavage and sensual curves. Young girls are socialised to believe that if they are not hot, they are invisible because what are Beyonce and Rihanna up to all day when not fanning us with their ‘hotness’.
I once thought, in the vanilla days of youth, that the fully clothed Congolese musician Tshala Muana’s Tshibola (Google it, young people) arching her blouse to expose a naked belly and a single thigh was the raunchiest thing I had ever laid my eyes on. That scene would not even make the grade for soft core porn these days.
The average age of exposure to hardcore porn is 12 years. It is used to take my generation nearly half a decade to graduate from holding hands to a shy kiss with the same girl. Nowadays, socially inept boys look up to the hyena as their spirit animal. Their lust is insatiable for overexposure to porn kills the reward system and the young man will crave for more extreme stuff until he crosses the threshold and actively starts pursing his fantasies in real life. Masturbation qualifies as safe sex and sometimes, the single solution a distraught parent can give a horny teenager as the shield against peer pressure.
Digital porn is the remastering our perceptions of sex. The young man, at the randiest phase of his life, is expected to develop a healthy attitude when all his role models are bad and loved. In this DIY sexual culture, all one needs to have sex is internet access. Porn stars never disappoint. No awkward conversation, no rejection, no performance anxiety and they are always available at any time. The advantages of maintaining a virtual reality harem outweigh anything you could find in real life. The only sex education they ever get courtesy of the government is…
“ Please use a condom”.
In adulthood, the same boy is expected to become happily monogamous when what he addictively seeks is the license to be sexually rapturous with as many females as his money can attract. It is the male libido that society is now focused on policing in the era of rising feminist consciousness. All boys are thus born bad and suspects of sexual misconduct by gender association until proven innocent in the female gaze.
Alas! the digital revolution will leave us with digitally mastered sexual deviants, overstimulated with emotions, sensations, images and messages that entrap them in a perpetual state of flight from real human intimacy.
On that score, Ezekiel Mutua cannot be faulted for trying to hide the keys.