Posts Tagged ‘porn’

In defence of porn (or at least, sensible public policy)

26/07/2013, 03:27:12 PM

by Sam Fowles

“Opting in” to porn is a band aid for a cancer. If our leaders truly care about the next generation they must forget about ineffectual pseudo censorship and tackle the underlying issues: a dearth of proper sex education and a public discourse that treats women as little more than wax models.

Conservatives are migrating home for the summer, or at least returning to political home ground. David Cameron’s “war on porn” is, from this perspective, a PR coup. Convincing his more swivel eyed party members, aghast at the imminent prospect of gay marriage, that he’s just as rooted in the social values of the 1950s as he is the economic values of the 1930s.

But, as so often happens in public policy, in all the cacophony of (male) politicians and (male) tabloid editors reminding us all that they don’t like porn, two important questions have been ignored: What is the problem we’re trying to solve? And: Will our proposed solution be effective?

Unfortunately it seems like the answers are respectively: “Not sure” and “probably not”. There is a problem with sexual morality in this country. One in three girls report inappropriate sexual touching at school, 750 000 children per year witness domestic violence and a third of teenage girls have experienced sexual violence by a partner. However, it’s unclear whether the PM actually wants to tackle this incredibly significant issue or whether he just thinks porn is a bit icky. If it is the latter then he’s about to perpetrate a fairly serious affront to civil liberties in the name of a morality that Elizabeth Bennet would find constricting. If it is the former then his proposed solution just won’t work.

In terms of the practical aspects of how internet filters will actually work, Alex Hern gives a thorough overview of the problems in the New Statesman. In essence, the generation that this measure aims to prevent accessing porn highly internet literate. It’s virtually inevitable that a way around the filters will spread throughout the country in a matter of days.

In addition a significant amount of porn is user generated. This has a more insidious social effect than the stereotypical badly lit, excruciatingly scripted, commercially made porn. While one may make women feel like they must objectify and demean themselves in order to satisfy or get attention from men and men feel like they must demean and objectify the women in their lives in order to “be a man”, the other is the manifestation of that actually happening. Yet an “opt in” porn filter will have absolutely no effect on the social media sites through which this content is shared. Unless David Cameron wants to ban Facebook, Tumblr and Snapchat (in which case he can probably wave a merry goodbye to the Generation Y vote) an “opt in” mechanism for is essentially useless.

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