Exposing tasteless pornification

I read a story recently (this was originally written in 2009) about outrage over a former children’s performer appearing in Ralph magazine. Kellie Crawford, who had appeared on the children’s program Hi5 for ten years, had posed in lingerie for the May Edition of Ralph magazine. It caused great concern to Julia Gale from Kids Free 2B Kids who said:

Older teenage girls will wonder why performers feel the need to pornify their image.

I was outraged and disgusted … PORNIFY … thats not a word. While Ms Crawford tastefully poses for Ralph Magazine, Ms Gale tastelessly misuses the English language.

But she is not the only one! Someone has coined pornification to refer to a game where you change a legitimate movie title into an X-rated version. It can also be done for Shakespeare plays, some examples:

Two Gentlemen and Verona
Measure for Pleasure
The Desperate Wives of Windsor

Since 2009 pornification has become a mainstream word and phenomena. Even Wikipedia has a entry on it (last viewed 2022), although it simply gives a book review of Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Familiesa 2005 book by American writer Pamela Paul, discussing the impact of ready access to pornography on Americans.

When I updated this post in 2022 I found that journalists and scholars have now got onto the neologism bandwagon. Where they may have diagnosed contemporary society as sexualised in the past, they now use pornographicised, pornified (I got that wrong in 2009) and even porned.

Gender and social issues have become much more mainstream and also more openly debated. On one hand pornography is associated with gender inequality, sexism, and violence against women. It is blamed for creating biased understanding of sexuality. Porn is associated with sexism, the commodification of sexuality, and the objectification of women. However, a counternarrative sees pornography as a force in helping to create diverse sexual publics, advancing gender equality, and improving the rights of sexual minorities.

The focus on pornography as a social influence has spawned the term “onscenity”. It is a little vague but seems to refer to taking a more serious look at pornification’s impact, that is, having a focus on the obscenity. Perhaps watch this space.

The full cover can be seen here pornify_hi5.