What Indians look for in desi porn: Homemade videos, 'bhabhis', and familiar settings

Editor's note: India is a country where porn is widely and tremendously consumed. It is also a country where making porn is illegal, and where nearly 900 porn sites were banned last year to prevent it from becoming a 'nuisance'. The morality of it (or lack thereof) aside, the narrative around it is made all the more complex by questions of gender and how it is represented. The way we perceive sex may also impact our consumption of porn (and vice versa).

In Cyber Sexy: Rethinking Pornography, Richa Kaul Padte offers views into online sexual cultures — camgirls, fanfiction writers, 'home-made' videos — while also exploring questions such as consent and its violation. Her book, which draws from research and anecdotes, is published by Penguin Random House India.

This excerpt contains strong language. Reader discretion is advised.

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cyber sexy book cover

The scene is a simple, typically middle-class bedroom. There are windows closed off by peeling wooden shutters. A dirty grey wall that must have been white several lifetimes ago. The bed—the centrepiece of the frame—is covered with an orange-and-black Rajasthani bedspread, similar to the kind my grandparents had across their bed when I was growing up. A laptop sits propped up on several pillows, but it is inconsequential to the scene that we watch through the lens of another camera.

A woman in her 20s sits on it, dressed in a purple skirt and a black, V-neck top. Her partner, a dark-skinned, goateed man enters the room, sits down and lifts her arm across his neck. They begin kissing, and then undressing each other slowly. The sex that follows is, for many viewers, relatable. Blowjob. Doggystyle. Cowgirl. Reverse cowgirl. 69. And predictably, it ends in a cumshot. Or rather, it almost ends there. It actually ends with the couple smiling at each other, and the man leaning forward towards us to turn the camera off. We briefly glimpse an upside-down shot of a previously unseen part of the room. And then it ends.

I watch this 29-minute video at the suggestion of 30-year-old Rahul, who sent it to me as an example of the porn he likes. ‘Me and most of my friends prefer amateur porn,’ he writes in an email. ‘Good quality is a bonus. Nothing particular, just young couples and good, real sex. Nothing scripted.’ The video he sends me pretty much fits the bill, and its title ‘Indian hardcore sex’, together with numerous tags, including #homemade, #desi and #blowjob, signal to viewers that they’ve arrived at a specific place.

Rahul used to assume that his love for DIY porn was a personal preference. But a few months ago, he was using a male friend’s computer, and he spotted eight open browser tabs featuring Indian amateur porn videos. ‘It reassured me that I’m not alone in my choice,’ he recalls.

India is often seen as a hotbed of amateur porn, and this positioning is rarely a kind one. It tends to equate the world of amateur porn with, at best, a seedy underbelly of desire, and, at worst, a rape video. These concerns aren’t misplaced— especially given the context of a hugely gender-unequal society. But what often gets left out of the conversation around amateur porn is the simple reality that making porn in India is illegal. There is no official porn industry, because our laws do not allow for it. Where professional porn featuring Indians is produced, it’s generally produced outside the country. Sunny Leone, case in point.

So it’s quite possible that as an Indian living in India, where white walls become greyer with every monsoon and laptop wires trail helplessly across beds in garbled webs, you may find yourself at the doors of homemade porn.

In 2015, the most-searched-for phrase by Indians on Pornhub was ‘Indian Bhabhi’. This is in part to do with the image of a bhabhi as off-bounds and therefore sexy, but it is perhaps also in great part to do with a desire to fuck bhabhi, not Barbie. Be it your bhabhi neighbour or the bhabhi you were introduced to at a wedding—or your brother’s actual wife—a brown-skinned woman on her bandhini bedspread is a lot closer to reality than a big-breasted, tiny-waisted blonde woman in a jacuzzi. And for many viewers of porn, and especially homemade porn, reality is what they’re after.

One respondent to my porn survey says that what she looks for is ‘a personal connection between the actors’. She goes on to say, ‘Actually, my favourite kind of porn is real-couple porn. I like it if they’re in love (or at least pretend to be).’ Rahul tells me that ‘Western studio–made stuff feels more like a gymnastic performance and less like real sex’— and he’s got a point. One woman who filled out my survey says that what she wants to see more of in porn is ‘the girl not orgasming the minute there is penetration. It’s unreal. I’ve been asked by a guy why it takes me so much time.’ Similarly, another respondent says what she is looking for is ‘sex not being choreographed and perfect’. The thing about a lot of professionally made porn—and almost all mainstream porn—is that it makes sex look good—all the time. There is no laughter, conversation or fumbling around in a wallet for a condom. It’s smooth and scripted, and rarely what IRL sex feels like.

The desire for reality in porn is also a question of context. Most of us didn’t grow up in a scenario featuring vibrators and pizza-delivery guys and Christmas trees ripe for the f**king-under. These are not our worlds, and even if we place brown bodies inside them, they will never be ours.

Excerpted with permission from Cyber Sexy: Rethinking Pornography, Richa Kaul Padte, Penguin Random House India

Also read on Firstpost: Pornhub Insights for 2017 reveal just what Indian men and women are searching for online

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Updated Date: May 31, 2018 14:57 PM