I’m going to be mostly spitballing here, giving my penny’s worth on David Cameron’s war on Internet Pornography. Our Prime Minister is worried about our future generations, and how they might become violent rapey horny savages if they continue to be exposed to web filth.
It’s scary to imagine what it must be like to be a curious teenage boy in today’s Internet Age. When I was in my early teens, fourteen to be precise, my first wank was over a blonde big breasted bikini model in some glossy advert strewn seduction rag. Certain women were objectified, redefined as glamour models, mostly in print, on the sticky pages of Loaded, Maxim and FHM. Back in those salad days it seemed to be a more innocent form of sexual awakening. I didn’t have any knowledge of DP’s, cream pies or gang bangs, unlike the youth of today who effortlessly transition from watching daft cat videos on YouTube to gratuitous pussy eating on Redtube.
Gosh, I get all nostalgic thinking about evenings wasted ogling the likes of Pamela Anderson and erm… the female wrestler Sable (guess I had a thing for buxom blondes); actually, when I think about it, the events of the last few days can be put in a pro wrestling context. I’m reminded of the wrestling stable The Right to Censor, a group that included members such as Val Venis who formerly had a greasy seventies pornstar gimmick and The Godfather who renounced his colourful a pimp gimmick by calling himself The Goodfather, the group were led by Stevie Richards who came from the ‘anything goes’ hardcore Extreme Championship Wrestling. These guys collectively denounced their old ways and became morally righteous. The RTC began protesting about all the violence and smut in the WWE. In fairness there was a lot of softcore smut and unnecessary cartoon violence back then; and it was a long way from the “Eat your vitamins and say your prayers” Hulkamania era. Although The RTC were a parody group who represented the dissenting voice of middle America, the reality was that after pressure from television networks and numerous parental organizations the WWE did indeed clean up their act and produce a fun for the entire family PG product, starting around 2008.
Wrestling changed, it no longer satisfied the sexually charged, testosterone fuelled, predominantly male, eighteen to thirty five demographic. In an attempt to find a new audience the product became vanilla. Wrestlers were rebranded as Sports Entertainers, most of the personality and charisma has gone.
If we compare the WWE to Society, and see Vince McMahon as David Cameron; then the recent announcement that there will be a crackdown on online pornography is the equivalent of the UK going from a boundary pushing sexually liberal society that emerged from uptight traditional values to regressing back into an overly cautious politically correct hive of paranoia and finger pointing.
Many people have waded into the recent debate about the depictions of sexual violence in pornography, and deflected their attention to cinema, mentioning films such as ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’, which contain shocking rape scenes. When viewed in isolation these scenes are just as shocking as anything found on a porn site. Such films have gone through the censors, and have been certified as watchable for adults. Yes, adults, we people over the age of eighteen who should be able to process what we have watched and not let it influence us in any way.
David Cameron’s battle plan against online porn involves internet users being given the option whether or not to opt in or opt out of filters that will block access to pornographic images. Those who opt in are effectively putting themselves under the microscope. Their records will presumably be kept, but I wonder how these records will be monitored; more pertinently how will the ‘responsible’ adult viewer of porn be able to make sure that what they watch isn’t illegal?
Technically speaking there are already filters available, and responsible parents can keep an eye on little Johnny and Jenny and monitor their online history, but can they keep tabs on everything all of the time? Of course not, given the increase in personal technology, such as iPads and other tablets that you can easily carry out of the house – how are parents going to keep an eye on each and every device when it leaves the home?
Also, how can a Society change its online habits, given that “30% of all internet bandwidth is used for pornography”? We cannot argue that people who watch pornography are in the minority. Can parents who use pornography talk to their children about the subject in a matter-of-fact way? Is it up to teachers, who themselves might avidly view porn, to discuss pornography in sex education classes?
Cameron’s intentions are partly noble; he wants to protect children both from becoming victims, and from being exposed to terrible online content at an early age. Rightly images of child abuse need to be eradicated from the net, and those who distribute such images need to be punished. However Cameron’s crusade extends to violent sexual imagery, the area of which is very grey.
The violent pornography aspect is interesting. Because it will be interesting to know how such pornography will be censored – what is deemed to be violent? Is S&M now illegal because it involves some form of physical torture? What if a woman is dominating a man in a violent fashion using a strap-on? How do we know what porn is consensual in illicit fantasy? The gardener propositions the bored housewife, but did she consent? Will professional videos be graded differently to amateur productions?
Could the ban on violent pornography even have a completely undesired consequence, and hypothetically speaking lead to more rapes and attacks against women, as men who used to act out their fantasies in privacy instead roam that streets with lust in their eyes? Will it see sex shops open up in abandoned buildings on the high street neighbouring Starbucks and Poundland’s?
It is naïve to suggest that any man who commits a serious sexual crime is solely influenced by internet pornography; there are almost certainly several other factors involved. In 2005 after the murder of Jane Longhurst by Graham Coutts, the then government planned to criminalise possession of extreme pornography. In court Coutts confessed to having a neck fetish, and an obsession with strangulation. He accessed violent pornography in the lead-up to Jane’s death but though it may have been a trigger, Coutts’ niche interests predated his internet use, and he said that he’d had murderous thoughts about women since his mid-teens. In such cases it is difficult to establish the exact influence of online pornography.
Relatively speaking although technology is developing at a rapid rate, we are unable to slow ourselves down and have a sensible discussion about the pornification of society. The true problem might not be the porn itself, but how its influence has crept through into our daily lives. The hypocritical sidebar on the Daily Mail’s website today contains stories such as ‘Look away Bill! Anna Paquin goes naked in True Blood sex scene’ and ‘Hot Kloss fun! Karlie shows off her incredibly long legs in racy blue dress as she takes her dog for a walk’. Flick on the TV and you’ll see a perfume ad with orgasmic sighs and plenty of flesh. Sex still sells.
Cameron’s battle is a complicated one, and without intelligent discourse making rash decisions and enforcing censorship could well have unforeseen consequences.