Lesson learned

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What we should do with our social media accounts in the face of professionalism

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. November 4, 2015

When bodybuilder and middle school teacher Mindi Jensen received an ultimatum from her academic employers to either delete her workout/bikini pictures from her Instagram account or lose her job, it seemed like the whole world collectively rolled their eyes. Here we go again.

There was a time when I thought my teachers lived in the school after the bell rung and plotted our next quiz and homework assignments. While they might have been preparing the following day’s lecture, teaching was far from the only thing on their mind. Turns out, they do have a life outside of school and they barely thought of me after work—just like all people who make money during the day and go home to pursue their personal hobbies and projects in the evening.

Parents of all people should know that. So the fact that some parents approached North Sanpete Middle School’s administrators, the people in charge of Jensen’s career, and complained about the pictures on her personal account is a little appalling. The parents go on to claim that the images of Jensen were “inappropriate” and “pornographic.” Do those parents even know what porn is? Because I scroll through Instagram once a day and I never find “porn,” no matter how hard I scroll.

While it’s true that a professional working closely with children should remain decent on all platforms, it’s unclear where the line is drawn. Here’s how I see it: let’s say the teacher was a man and he had pictures of himself working out and in swim trunks—no!—Speedos. Would he get in trouble? Would the school board threaten to fire him if he didn’t take down those pictures? If that does happen, it doesn’t make the news. What is happening is oppression. What the parents are actually saying is: “You can’t show those pictures, because you are too pretty and you are arousing our kids. I don’t know how to discuss sexuality with them or explain that teachers are people too, with personal lives and aspirations, so I’ll just blame it on you, fit lady.”

At the end of the day, the school came to their senses, realized the legless claim the parents were standing on, and apologized to Jensen. But the question remains: how can we know if something is appropriate for the Internet or not? With nude and embarrassing pictures soaring this way and that through the air, we can’t be certain who would take offence. Therefore, we must go back to the rule of thumb: would we be okay if our mothers saw that picture of us? If the answer is yes, then share it. If no, then maybe it’s best to keep it in our private archives.

When it’s all said and done, Jensen will have a great lesson to teach to her students, one that stems from confidence and defending personal convictions. I think that’s a good lesson to learn in the social media age.

GILF me a break

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Does Japanese elder porn get better with age?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 28, 2014

For a country that censors genitals in “regular” pornography, while producing an ample amount of grotesque tentacle erotica, bukakee, and tamakeri, it’s not hard to believe that 20-30 per cent of the current adult entertainment in Japanese cyberspace is elder porn, i.e. old people having sex on camera.

It makes sense, after all: Japan has an aging demographic with a younger generation less interested in intercourse and more interested in relationships with animated avatars, inanimate feminine objects like pillows or dolls, and computer generated personalities. Now, I’m not one to criticize what other people do in the bedroom as long as no one is getting hurt—which I’m not always sure of when “researching”; what bothers me is that pornography is starting to give modern society a musky stank and an unachievable expectation for intimate interactions.

“It’s mostly older men who watch. Maybe some single women who are a little older,” Shigeo Tokuda, 79-year-old porn star told the Globe and Mail. “Definitely, they want to have some connection to a character that’s their age, to feel they can have the same satisfaction.”

I get it; we all have fetishes and we need outlets so we don’t repress the animal urges inside of us and explode. But we have made pedophiles out of people who are attracted to young girls and boys—would watching animated pornography (hentai) of children be any more acceptable? Niche markets work, every art form relies on some form of niche to keep the medium afloat, but just because there is a supply and demand, does that mean it’s appropriate?

I personally don’t want to see my grandparents doing it—and I wouldn’t want other people seeing my family members do it either. That shit is traumatic. The same way a family would be disappointed in their teenager for partaking in recreational drugs, having an elder adult porn star at the dinner table is not any less reassuring.

That being said, all porn stars must deal with that eventual fate of having someone near and dear see their work; it’s just a naked, wrinkly elephant in the room.

Sure, elders are adults and they deserve to make decisions of their own, but with the Internet being accessible to anyone of any age, shouldn’t we be more conscious of what is online?

I don’t want to make any low blows here, but the term elder porn means that the people participating in the act are old, and therefore, will soon face the inevitable. What would it be like living in a world where we’re watching pornography of people who are no longer alive? What will that do to our psyches with such content so easily accessible? Will videos be relics or artifacts of Japan’s ahead-of-its-time evolution? The Internet is able to hold content temporarily, but any computer-user can save the files onto their own hard drive. Porn stars die, but the pornography they create doesn’t.

I’m not against elder porn; I’m against the idea that the pornography world has created bedridden, tissue-wasting creatures who aren’t trying to achieve anything greater than self-satisfaction—oh, and sex robots. Sure, what people get off on is none of my business and I don’t want it to be, but I do feel there is going to be a legitimate problem; maybe not now, but if the trend continues and the Japanese continue to build an empire of bizarre erotic entertainment, how is that going to affect the next generation?

The same way recreational drugs have made a blip in our radars and demanded attention—I foresee pornography doing the same, perhaps to a wider scope.