It would seem that erotic images really do sell and that they infiltrate our society from all directions. Aside from the obvious venues for erotic images and films, pictures of handsome individuals in provocative poses are plastered all over our cities and flashed, it would seem, at every conceivable opportunity both on the internet and on television. However, images are for those who can see, which means that a substantial population is “spared” this constant barrage of depictions. Questions of morality aside, pornography sells! In fact, Lisa J. Murphy’s Tactile Mind is one example of how erotic imagery continues to fill newer and more numerous social niches. Murphy’s Tactile Mind is “a handmade thermoform book consisting of 17, 3-D tactile photographs on white thermoform plastic pages with the visual image and descriptive Braille accompaniment” (see website). The book is sold for an extravagant $225, but single pages can also be purchased for $25 a page. Another example of such “niche-filling” is “Porn for the Blind,” which is
a website which purports to offer sexual stimuli for blind people over the internet. The website is composed of a white background with a list of links to mp3 sound clips of pornographic content contributed by volunteers. A ‘translator’ will watch preview clips of videos and give a play-by-play of the events. Contributors are not allowed to use sexual words when describing existing videos and must give purely clinical descriptions of the events. (see citation)
Although, on the one hand, it might be argued that erotic images are inappropriate even in socially sanctioned contexts, it does seem a bit paternalistic to do those who can only read braille a moral favour by denying them access to erotic material. From my understanding, the two examples I provided above are quite censored as it is. The images in Murphy’s book lack faces and are featured only in single poses while the mp3 descriptive recordings do not use sexual words in their descriptions.
There is certainly a debate over the appropriateness of pornography (see Natalie Purcell’s “Feminism and Pornography: Building Sensitive Research and Analytic Approaches”), but at least now it’s everybody’s discussion!