So I had planned this other post today, one that seriously tackles the Russia “realist” argument from another angle. Then this happened:
Yes, in case you hadn’t heard, Russia banned Pornhub. No, don’t worry, they won’t ban Russian-made porn from your favorite site, they’re just blocking the site from Russia. Now personally I wouldn’t care, were it not for the boundless stupidity of that tweet you see above.
If you’re having trouble trying to figure out what that faceless bureaucrat is trying to say, they’re basically making the argument that banning Pornhub will somehow help Russia’s demographics. Yeah.
Now this is ridiculous for more than one reason. First of all, Putin fanboys are quite fond of pointing out that Russia’s birthrates have seen significant improvement in the past couple years, and of course whenever something good happens in Russia it’s because Vladimir Putin made it so. But we must also note that during the same time, Pornhub was accessible in Russia. So now we have a quandary on our hands. How can they be so sure that it was Putin, and not Pornhub which is responsible for this critical turnaround in Russian birthrates?
Never mind. Ignore that for a second. Please, somebody, tell me the actual mechanism by which pornography threatens demographics. I badgered Roskomnadzor’s Twitter account for an answer, but they had none. In absence of any response, I can only use my imagination as to the possible ways in which pornography can lower a nation’s demographics. As far as I can tell, they’re implying that young men, and perhaps women, sit around all day masturbating and as a result, they do not date, get married, and have children.
Let’s be serious for a moment. There are good reasons to be concerned about the porn industry. Apart from the potential exploitation of actresses and actors, we should be concerned about the messages young men get from a lot (but by no means all) of pornography. Pornography is often hyper-misogynistic, depicting humiliation of women as something desirable or manly. It almost always distorts what sexual relations actually look like, skewing many young men’s views on sex and relations with women. Obviously children need protection from this kind of thing, and teenagers need to be made aware that when they do encounter porn, it is rarely if ever an accurate depiction of how sexual relations actually are. In other words, a healthy society should have comprehensive sex education and knowing the truth about pornography ought to be a part of such a program.
Of course in Russia, all sex education is off the table, precisely because those in charge stupidly believe that sex education actually makes young people have sex. And if that reminds you of our genius school board officials back in the States, it’s not without good reason. Both the United States and Russia have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized world. It’s almost as if…people can have sex without actually being taught anything about it, just as they have been doing for thousands of years.
But hey, we’ve got to save those demographics right? Surely once those young males can’t access their jerkoff material, they’ll go outside and find women to…settle down with and marry so they can have a minimum of six children. This is an entirely plausible scenario. It has to be.
I’ve become positively fed up with all these idiotic initiatives justified on the grounds of demographics. The reason this is so infuriating is because if you ask me what I would do to raise Russia’s demographics I can rattle off initiatives immediately. Improve health care, specifically maternity hospitals. Increase maternity capital and similar benefits. Improve education. Improve infrastructure. Create economic stability and prosperity, as people who feel neither are unlikely to want a large family or any children at all.
It all seems so simple but there’s just one big problem with all of those straightforward proposals. Funding these things means that people in authority can’t steal or steal as much as they want. They want their children to live in luxury, cared for by private nannies and tutors, and preferably educated in the evil, decadent West. Thus the vast majority of Russian have to plan their families accordingly. Thus all the initiatives that are supposed to improve demographics are centered around “morality” and “traditional values.” Again this might sound familiar to Americans.
What began as a rather amusing story about a porn site being banned seems to be another sign that the regime’s days are numbered. No, it’s not because a bunch of nerds are going to emerge from their parents’ flats and march on Red Square. It’s because ultimately the system is not sustainable as it is fundamentally opposed to reality. While the state has thus far failed to present any kind of coherent ideology, it has managed to create a number of self-deluding fantasies, in this case the idea that Russia is some kind of bastion of Western Christian morality. In another sphere it’s the idea that Russia is forging a global alliance against US hegemony. In yet another it’s the belief that Russia’s economic woes will soon disappear without sweeping reforms. Roskomnadzor can “protect” Russia from opposition websites and porn, but it cannot block out reality.