Trigger warning: This post deals with topics such as pornography, rape, rape fantasy, BDSM, paedopillia
Today the head honcho of the rightous and upstanding party1 announced that by 2014 every UK internet connection will be automatically opted into a adult content filter. Anyone wishing to view porn will have to opt out. Yes, that’s right: you have to tell the government you want to watch porn so they can put you on a list with all the other naughty wankers2.
The reason Cameron gives for this move is to “protect our children and their innocence”6, but utterly fails to see that protecting people’s children isn’t his job. That’s what the parents do. They need to be the one to set appropriate filters on their computers, as they see fit. As a parent I will decide how my child is exposed to sexual information, not you right wingers. As a politician I expect you to do the important stuff of legislating against breaches of trust and consent and ensuring that the justice system does its job properly. In short Cameron, you do your job, and let me do mine.
I want my children to grow up in a sex positive and educated way, rather than growing up in a world where sex, bodies and sexuality are taboo and not discussed other than in basic biological terms. I want my children to be comfortable with their own bodies and to understand where limits and boundaries lie, not just for themselves but for other people. I want them to understand consent from a young age.
Part of that will be talking to them about bodies, relationships, sex and sexuality, in an age relevant but open way. Whilst I wouldn’t want a young child to see BDSM porn, I also don’t want to stigmatise any desires they might have, at the risk of making them repress and be ashamed of perfectly natural feelings. My job as a parent is to decide for myself and my child when is the right age for them to see or talk about certain things, not the government’s.
Another point is whether such a filter will remove vital access to information, discussion and non pornographic content of areas of sex and sexuality. Instead this will be a blunt tool barring anything vaguely groin related and leaving instead links to over sexualised advertising and viagra sales.
My final issue with this forced filter is that I am essentially being forced by the government to out myself as a person who uses the internet to watch, read or talk about matters of a sexual nature. No doubt this data is logged, and could potentially be used against me as a parent. I don’t like that kind of snooping, especially when it won’t help deal with child abuse at all.
In addition to the entirety of the UK’s internet connections being forcibly placed under an adult content filter by the government, there is talk of further legislation against the possession of ‘extreme pornography’2. Not content with the hideous civil liberty infringing statute that is the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (Section 63)3, the government want to copy the Scots3 and make rape pornography illegal to access anywhere in the UK.
This statement makes me angry in a number of different ways. Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rapes are pitifully low in conviction rates in this country4 and the government seem utterly useless in attempting to deal with the matter head on. Instead they prefer to encroach on people’s private sexual activities and demonise sexualities in an attempt to look like they are ‘tough on crime’.
Regular readers of my blog will know from earlier posts that I am no stranger to a non consensual sexual encounter. Given that I have experienced a breach of consent, one might assume I’d welcome a crackdown on porn that sexualises such activity? Well actually, no. I don’t. Because I don’t believe that watching consensual simulated rape porn makes a rapist9. I’m sure plenty of rapists do watch rape porn, after all, I like bondage, and I like watching bondage porn. But it does not follow that watching rape porn will turn you into a rapist, in fact there is good evidence that it does the opposite 7 & 8. I stand for the right for people to watch rape porn if that is what they find erotic, provided the porn is done with adult consenting participants.
People have all kinds of desires and fantasies – rape, bondage, outdoor sex, paedophillia, incest, vanilla sex, fisting, gay sex, necrophillia, watersports – and my claim is that none of these desires or fantasies are wrong10. None of them. Nope, not even the ones that are illegal, or breach consent. Why? Because they are just fantasies. Porn, essentially, is about fantasy. By making possession of such pornography illegal, we are not only taking away what is in most cases a perfectly harmless sexual outlet, we are imposing a moral code on people, and treating them like criminals.
Another issue here is that the majority of pornography is made with consenting participants (even if they are play acting non consent, as in simulated rape porn). Why is it wrong to watch a simulated non consensual activity but not wrong to do it for real, just because of Cameron’s moralising? As Lord Wallace of Tankerness stated in the House of Lords debate over the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, it does not make sense for the consensual act to be legal, but a photograph of the act would be criminal3. Surely restricting access to such imagery for people with these fantasies means they can only do them for real – potentially increasing the risk of sexual assault?
This seems to me as being more victimising of people with non mainstream sexualities and more bullying tactics by the government to intimidate and segregate people with ‘unusual’ desires. Normal citizens are now having their lives ruined and being made criminals for engaging in consensual sexual behaviour, all because it is unpalatable to the government. Pushing people’s kinks and fetishes underground doesn’t work, doesn’t reduce sexual crime 7 & 8 and doesn’t make for a healthy, happy society. The government needs to accept that they don’t have the monopoly on moral sexuality, and that so long as there is consent, there is morality.
Finally the government are drawing up ‘a blacklist of abhorrent internet search terms’ to help them identify potential offenders. More encroachment on our privacy by the government. More censorship. More moralising imposed by the Big Brother state. More victimisation of people engaging in consensual sexual activities rather than dealing with the actual problem. More frantic red herring wagging by the government to detract our attention from their failures in legislation and policy to deal with the issue head-on.
Well Cameron, I call bullshit. I’d like you to show me some evidence that access to sexual information and pornography has a negative effect on people. I’d also like you to explain to me why we should pretend that sex and sexuality isn’t something children should be aware of and educated about. I’d also like you to show me the evidence that says banning porn will reduce sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape or child abuse? I’ll not hold my breath eh?
If you don’t like these proposals, here’s the e-petition to abolish them: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/51746
1: Tongue firmly in cheek.