Why we welcome govt exploring porn filter options


4:25 pm - September 6th 2012

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contribution by Holly Dustin

Liberal Conspiracy’s discussion of the Government’s consultation on introducing ‘porn filters’ has included a tirade against some of those who have lead the argument for new controls and a polemic about the state.

The mainstream media has sadly also framed the debate as moral majority versus libertarians, while underlining the likely futility of any technological attempt at a fix.

In an ironically prudish way there has been little reference to the nature and content of the material we’re all so concerned about.

The revolution in communication technologies over the last 10-15 years makes porn widely available on a scale the now quaint-seeming Hustler and Playboy of the 1970s could never have dreamed of.

The enormous corporate interests behind commercial porn employ thousands of people to ensure it comes up high on internet searches and that their free-to-view couple-of-minutes sample entices the viewer into paying to see more.

Its content is as ever grossly objectifying of women, male domination of women is eroticised and normalised, and the portrayal of non-white women and men is extremely racist and would be unthinkable in any other context. Competition has led to the production of ever more extreme and ‘gonzo’ porn.

User generated porn is also a huge phenomenon, said to be seriously worrying the commercial interests who are working on ways to hijack it, and includes untold numbers of images and videos where the women or girls portrayed may not have consented to the further distribution of the material [NSPCC report on ‘sexting’ for an account of how girls are routinely harassed and bullied in schools].

The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Deputy Children’s Commissioner, are increasingly speaking out about the impacts of porn on young men who commit sexual and relationship violence from the evidence they see.

Despite the denial by those who are rightly suspicious of a certain moral majority that there is any proven evidence of harm, studies do in fact show that consuming porn has an impact on men’s and boys’ attitudes to women and increases the tolerance of some to sexual violence.

There is an idle point made that this should just be about parental responsibility because ‘I wouldn’t let my child go to a nightclub and I don’t let them roam alone online’. The harms are potentially so serious that we need to intervene. It is wrong to portray filters as state control or a ban on porn; they are more akin to controls on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition has responded to the government consultation saying that any policy on porn, on or offline, must look at its harms to adults as well as children.

We share the worry that technological solutions may prove inadequate or restrict unintended material but believe the options need to be explored.

We believe that this must go hand in hand with dealing urgently with the catastrophic state of sex and relationships education in many UK schools (not supported by Michael Gove) as a way of addressing these issues.

—-
Holly Dustin is chair of End Violence Against Women Coalition

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Reader comments


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Porn is too vastly popular to be swept under the carpet. We need to stop being prudish and start talking to kids about the role of fantasy; and be open about the more deviant feelings and desires they may encounter as they age.

Claiming that types of porn are being normalised is short sighted. Porn and all forms of it are indeed already normal. Depiction of it is a natural conclusion in the age of visual media.

More forward-thinking Britain, more education and less scare-mongering about how BDSM will cause violence to women. Lets see some real figures and evidence to back up claims of such, and lets cut back on the pseudo-science (psychology) behind arguments against pornography.

A generation of young adults who can encounter porn and chuckle at it is preferable to a new generation of yound adults who will encounter porn and be offended or confused by their various reactions to it.

As for the adult industry itself, that does need looking into, needs more regulation and the women treated with respect by outsiders to the industry. Websites should be looking to acquire consent from all participants before publishing submitted material from amateurs.

I’ll see you on the users list then

I agree with the vast majority of what you say here – particularly about the damaging nature of porn and its impact on adults as well as children – and indeed about the way the debate in the media has been framed as being a ‘libertarian vs moral majority’ debate. As someone who is neither a libertarian nor in the moral majority, I find that difficult.

The thing is, I’m very much against porn – for all the reasons you outline – but I’m also against the government plans. Being against the government plans does not mean that you’re in favour of porn, nor even that you’re against porn filters: it means that you’re against default, automatic, unaccountable filters that are set up without your consent or understanding. What’s more, they’re the sort of filters that are very unlikely to be effective. As you noted in your piece:

“The enormous corporate interests behind commercial porn employ thousands of people to ensure it comes up high on internet searches and that their free-to-view couple-of-minutes sample entices the viewer into paying to see more.”

They will be equally able to employ thousands of people to ensure that their porn gets past the filters – while those filters catch out others who are not pornographic, just caught by the filter systems – this sadly happens all too often. The result: the bad, damaging stuff is still there, people are falsely reassured that the net is ‘safe’, whilst others are censored or blacklisted unnecessarily.

This may make the whole thing seem impossible – and, frankly, it’s very, very difficult – but what is needed isn’t a system like this, but more intelligent systems, more user-controlled systems, and much more importantly more ‘savvy’ users of the internet. Education is the most important factor – as you crucially note, we need better, more comprehensive sex and relationships education. We also need better education about how to use the internet – for parents, for children, for all adults.

5. Chaise Guevara

The title seems to be written on the assumption that the reader is a puritan who hates male sexuality.

6. Chaise Guevara

Also, this article is pretty sexist. I don’t buy into the “objectification” thing for various reasons, and with the “male domination” thing I think you’re confusing fetish with politics. But why don’t you care about objectification of male porn stars, or female domination of men?

I agree with Paul Bernal’s points.

A few years ago, when I was still practising as a barrister I used a mobile dongle for net access. My ISP unexpectedly introduced porn filters, which had the result of me having to ring the ISP every five minutes to obtain access to legal pages and other unsavoury material which my job required me to look at. Obviously that system did not work and it was replaced by me having to pay for access to the whole net! This illustrates the problem with any automated filter: it is bound to catch the wrong stuff frequently.

As with the recent cookie law, the government’s principle approach betrays its non-comprehension of how the net works. The solutions to these problems lie in educational campaigns, not in nannying everyone.

Speak for yourself, Kris! Fact remains that porn does not reflect “normal” relationships, “normal” female sexuality, or indeed “normal” men, even if it does depict common male fantasies. That you think porn is normal says more about you and the effect it has had on you. Anyone who knows how the brain works will know that the argument that porn does not have a corrosive effect on viewers’ beliefs and attitudes is nonsense.

I for one agree that internet porn should most definitely be opt-in, not opt-out. I would definitely welcome a set-up that meant I didn’t have to be assaulted by porn, porn adverts and porn search results when I have consented to no such thing. Let alone my children.

Start down this path and where will it stop?

Filters to stop violence-How will they differentiate between news and gratuitous images of terrible acts? War is pornographic in my opinion but I hate the way images are censored on television so as not to show the most appalling shots of the faces of the dead and dying.

I believe censorship of this kind sanitises wars and terrorist acts and in some strange way makes them ‘acceptable’. If the true damage inflicted on human bodies by bombs and bullets was broadcast then perhaps something might be done to stop wars and conflicts.

I suspect that if porn filters were introduced they would create ‘acceptable’ levels of images more easily available.

Be careful for what you wish for-It might come true.

Mack

“I would definitely welcome a set-up that meant I didn’t have to be assaulted by porn, porn adverts and porn search results when I have consented to no such thing. Let alone my children.”

Unless your computer is ancient, it will come with a content filter pre-installed. Perhaps you should turn it on?

@ Mack. Nowhere did I say anything about porn reflecting ‘normal relationships’. Nor does it need to, to be normal.

You claim to know how the brain works. I would like to see you prove such a broad and spurious claim.

What will happen in a household of varying ages? Presumably some people with children will want to consume porn?

So they will opt out, but if they want to prevent their children accessing porn they will have to install their own filtering software.

But this raises the question: why can’t all parents who are worried about what their children get up to do this? A quick google search brings up plenty of pieces of software offering this service.

The only argument for a general porn filter is either:

i) The government porn filter will be more accurate than current commercially available filters.
ii) A basic efficiency argument that it is easier for people to opt out than it is for households to purchase their own software.

Argument i) does not seem to be obviously true, and no one seems to be making argument ii). This is probably because many people recognise that keeping the government’s hands off the internet is worth parents having to shell out £20 for filtering software.

It’s a good job you know how the brain works Mack.

Shame you don’t know how easy it is to avoid online pornography.

I mean FFS, if you’re a regular internet user you probably find websites using google. The safe filtering option is selected by default.

I’m going to suggest Mack that you are talking out of your arse.

Apologies if that word offends you. There are ways of filtering out rude words as well if you like.

Shit article Holly btw.

I just don’t think it would work, and we’d lose Scunthorpe from the Internet.

16. Chaise Guevara

@ Mack

“I for one agree that internet porn should most definitely be opt-in, not opt-out. I would definitely welcome a set-up that meant I didn’t have to be assaulted by porn, porn adverts and porn search results when I have consented to no such thing.”

It’s called Google Safesearch. Set it to strict. Problem solved. No need to censor the web.

So:
– Big porn companies have the know-how and resources to game search results and encourage people to go out of their way to see their porn
– Girls are harassed in ways that have nothing to do with the internet
– The DPP thinks internet porn is bad and wrong (he’s also the guy who insisted the Twitter Joke Trial go forward, so we can tell he’s an internet expert)
– There are studies that show some harm from porn (but the link is broken, so I don’t know what harm or what studies)
– An registered opt-in system for porn for adults is somehow analogous to an age restriction lock-out on alcohol and tobacco for children
– The system won’t work very well

…so we should support it? Seems like a bit of a confused article, unless I’m missing something…

I’d have thought that the chair of the EVAWC would by lobbying against measures to stop people watching internet porn, given the effect it seems to have on rape statistics.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/money/study-finds-online-porn-reduce-incidence-rape-article-1.390028

And as for the “enormous corporate interests behind commercial porn ” she needs to understand that nobody is making any many from pornography any more as file sharing and tube sites mean it is mostly available to the consumer free of charge and nobody is therefore prepared to pay for it.

http://nymag.com/news/features/70985/index1.html

Ultimately, some feminists don’t like porn because it objectifies women and I can understand that. But that objectification is a function of the male sex drive- how we can curtail that in a progressive way would make for a more interesting discussion.

Dustin:

Its content is as ever grossly objectifying of women, male domination of women is eroticised and normalised, and the portrayal of non-white women and men is extremely racist and would be unthinkable in any other context. Competition has led to the production of ever more extreme and ‘gonzo’ porn.

The thing is, not only does this overlook the inconvenient examples of ‘female domination’ porn, lesbian porn, trans/queer porn, gay male porn and consenting BDSM, it also assumes that women don’t consume porn that they themselves want to see. I don’t even get the sense that Dustin would consent to ‘less offensive’ porn being made available, because groups like hers and Object can never point to what they do accept, only to what they dislike about what everybody else does.

Porn doesn’t exist in a fantasy bubble. Vulnerable and trafficked people are involved in it’s production. It infects relationships and defines what is “normal” for users. Teen boys are choosing to ejaculate on rather than in their partners (to put it crudely), overriding basic biological instinct. Young men are pressuring young women to act out what they’ve seen (and not in a loving, experimental way). And frankly if you get off on women being physically, verbally and sexually abused-which is what happens in mainstream porn- any defense you make for your little habit is simply an attempt to justify being an arsehole .

Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.

So here’s how it goes.

ISPs introduce “opt out” porn filtering.
ISPs have a database of all their customers who have opted out.
The list of opt-outs is leaked or stolen and falls into the hands of “Media Watch” or some other so-called moral majority hate group.
Suddenly any company whose directors enjoy unfiltered Internet access, or any politician who watches porn finds him/herself the subject of write-in campaigns or protests by those same right-wing organisations and people start losing their jobs because a narrow and narrow-minded group of people don’t like what they do in their private lives.

No thanks. I don’t want to live in Alabama-on-Thames.

With Cherub @ 15 – you can’t even use the words homo sapien on MSN.

The government is absolutely desperate to control all internet content – this is just part of the:
Highlight a ‘very serious problem’
Introduce legislation to control ‘the very serious problem.’
Police it – rigorously and harshly..
Taking a page out of Herr Goebels’ manual, this sleight of hand worked particularly well for Bush and Blair with the Global War on Terrorism.
Our Selfish Capitalist system has so many ills, it’s difficult to know where to start addressing all our problems but we should definitely take with what we wish for.

My problem with this is govts wants to censor political opinion. You only have to look at the lengths they will go to in pursuing wickileaks because they revealed what govts were really doing in our name.

Whenever govts want to start clamping down, they always use sex as a thing we need to be protected from. At least 4 major whistleblowers including Julian Assange have been accused of sexual misconduct. Scott Ritter. and the American soldier who leaked American torture.

This is just a trial run of how to get control over the internet. Once in place I’m sure politicians will demand an ever growing list of sites and opinions people should be protected from. To view these sites you will have to tick a box saying you want to see them. Just think what the gutter media, will do with this information. The Daily Mail will pursue anybody who does not block what they demand.

Once in place ,there is no end to the demands lazy politicians, eager to curry favour with the tabloids will demand from ISP.

Dustin:

We share the worry that technological solutions may prove inadequate or restrict unintended material but believe the options need to be explored.

Hang on. Dustin worries that ‘that technological solutions may prove inadequate’ – presumably to act as a ‘magic bullet’ which will filter out all the stuff she disapproves of. Yet at the same time she hopes the same technology will be smart enough to allow though the stuff she doesn’t mind (and that’s assuming that it’s feminists like her in charge and not, say, the likes of Christian Voice or Nadine Dorries). Could be a tall order.

Moreover, in both cases the material will still be available on the web (especially if it’s from outside the UK) – not that it will stop anti-porn campaigners coming up with ever-more lurid descriptions to keep scaring people (consensual BDSM is always a favourite, despite the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey).

It’s unclear what form of control are we talking about here, especially as Dustin wants a ‘porn block’ as the the ‘default’ setting for the entire UK instead of ensuring that at least she can set her PC/Mac/iPad with industrial strength porn filters, while others can make their own choices (or choose for their children).

There was a longer comment which I started to write, then realised the futility of debating with people whose idea of a clinching argument is to hit their opponents repeatedly across the head with a sock full of wet sand whilst chanting “Will nobody fink of deh kiddies? Will nobody fink of deh black girls? Will nobody fink of deh poor boys who are being led to believe that all women like to be ejaculated on?”

(On this point, you insult the intelligence still further, by the way; generations of boys exposed to ‘traditional’ sources of porn never believed that all naked women had staples across their bellies, and there’s no reason to believe that their current equivalents seriously believe the latter-day analogues of that).

tl;dr version:

Filtering does not work and can’t work outside of a completely authoritarian context. At least, not work in the way which its advocates claim that they want it to work. It is, however, especially with the ‘opt-in for pr0n’ proposal, a very good way of getting more and more information on our private activities which will be of use either to State agencies or – almost as bad in some ways – predatory advertisers.

If there simply must be an ‘opt-in’ system, then it should be the other way. Those who choose to opt in to having their internet censored (from whatever motivation) could then bask in the warm glow of their own self-righteousness (perhaps even being given a sticker for their car bumper or living-room window to impress the people next door – a sort of “Neighbourhood No-Watch”, as it were), and leave the rest of us to be treated as adults.

I’m sorry Holly I really am that someone or some organisation has lied to you about this.
But the point has been made here and on all such articles ever posted.
“Porn Block” filters flat out will not do anything, everyone who wants to get at porn, who has their own machine and is not supervised by a real human being will circumvent them. It will take a matter of moments after them going up before guides to how to get past are circulating, assuming there is anything to invalidate the current instructions.
All savvy users will get round them quickly, easily and painlessly and less savvy users including children will be shown by their friends, colleagues, siblings.
The only people who will gain anything are those that sell the blocking software and those that monetise the workarounds. Everybody else will lose as the price of our internet connections and/or taxes go up to pay for this authoritarian pointless rubbish.
Don’t forget that this applies to all other blocks based on content or location be it for taste and decency or copyright or whatever.

The problems with blanket censorship are many. Here are a few:

1) It assumes that the Government has a right to censor what you watch, what you read and to what you listen. Taken to its logical conclusion, the Government has a right to ensure that you do not encounter any material that runs counter to its own aspirations, aims and version of whatever might be the ‘truth’. This gives the Government the absolute power that it so criticizes others for implementing and using.

2) It produces a situation in which the Government can declare something to be unacceptable without having to disclose why or go to the trouble of making it criminal. This is power without responsibility or accountability.

3) It assumes that the consumer is unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. On this basis, a certain well known series of children’s story books must be censored as there are no sentient railway locomotives anywhere in the United Kingdom.

4) It treats the symptom, rather than the cause. Rather than properly addressing the badly needed overhaul of sex education and attitudes towards sex within the UK it, retains the prudish attitude of Nanny knows best, and Nanny won’t let you have the naughty picture because Nanny, having looked at it herself, knows that it will corrupt and/or upset you. Not telling children about sex, not teaching them about mutual respect and bringing them up in an environment where women are still expected to be mothers and housewives and men are expected to be fighters and drinkers, or all of the important people in the world is far more damaging than discussing sex and love.

5) It doesn’t work. Need I cite the case of ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’? Available since 1928 the UK finally allowed the uncensored version to be published here in 1960, but copies had been floating around long before then, mostly imported from France.

6) Arising from 5, it assumes that there are constants in morality. Were that the case, we would still be castrating young boys to ensure that they kept their singing voice.

7) It constitutes an enforced delegation of your rights to self-determination to the Government, whether you are a producer or consumer of material. At what point should the Government be allowed to step in to control how you live your life? When all courts can do is make decisions within law, who controls whether laws are required and ethical or just a gross abuse of power?

8) The UK already has a number of laws relating to obscene material that have proven to be hard to interpret and possibly no longer fit for purpose. How does a Judge determine whether or a not a publication will corrupt? What tests do they use? This is particularly worrying as it seems that the definition of publication itself is now changing and nobody can agree on what it might be. That being the case, blanket censorship absolves the law makers of any requirement to make good and enforceable laws, which is bad for all concerned.

9) Blanket censorship assumes that there is no such thing as consent. If we assume that a person is old enough to vote, but alcohol, smoke and go and be killed in a war, why can they not also be considered to be able to provide or withhold consent? If proof of consent can be produced, why should the material still be censored?

10) It removes the concept of responsibility for oneself. Under blanket censorship, it becomes someone else’s problem to enforce something that cannot be enforced and to predict that which it is impossible to predict. It is this sort of thinking that has already led to any number of events and activities being cancelled or scaled back and some ludicrous health and safety decisions by individuals scared that someone might sue them for something at some point. This sort of frivolity is quite rightly derided by many and yet the problems it creates for employers and event organizers persist. To go back to the example of ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover’, imagine the chaos that would have ensued if the Police Force was sued and restructured every time a copy of it was found somewhere in the UK because ‘someone must be to blame!’.

11) Classification becomes very difficult. At what point does advertising become pornographic? I am heartily sick of advertising that has naked or semi-naked women draped over the product that the advertiser is trying to sell. At what point does that become pornographic?

12) Filtering bias is almost impossible to eliminate. While there are still hundreds of advertisements that show scantily clad women on display every day in public spaces, the advertisement for a brand of male underwear that was produced in much the same way was pulled very quickly. This shows that Government and QuANgos are very bad at producing decisions on what is equitable and acceptable.

I’ll shut up now…

The same thing is in the Republicans manifesto. (Which is interesting if you think this is just a tory idea.) Also quite funny as most porn is watched in those God fearing red states.

No this is just the beginning of getting real control of the internet, and blocking out everything the global elites want you not to see.

“Its content is as ever grossly objectifying of women, male domination of women is eroticised and normalised”

As always debatable, certainly in terms of the majority of content on the internet

But “the portrayal of non-white women and men is extremely racist and would be unthinkable in any other context”

I don’t know which websites you’ve been visiting Holly…? You delve too deeply anywhere and well, you get what you’re apparently looking for…

I notice you have changed the title of the blog post

“Why we welcome govt exploring porn filter options” was once “Why we support ‘porn block’ filters and you should too” .

Doubleplusgood Newspeak. Chocolate rations up 30%

My bloghost got hit by an ‘adult filter’ soon after it was setup, the idiots doing the filtering couldn’t tell the difference between a single blog and an entire site.

Large numbers of sex education sites get hit by these filters, constantly.

That’s especially true if they’re talking about LGBT sexuality issues.

Any halfway smart kid will be able to get around any filter installed.

All this futile proposal will do is prevent legit users from accessing legit content. Oh, and open the door to allow further “filtering” and further controls.

All in the name of safety or some such pious nonsense.

@8: You seem to be saying that porn alters a man’s brain and anyone that disagrees has had their brain altered by porn. Do I have it right?

I find it depressing that in a society where we welcome gay relationships and think nothing of people living trans-gender lives we have growing pressure to declare that heterosexual men* being turned on by naked women is in some way deviant.

* Forgive me, redpesto, but I think most of the people complaining would shut up if pornography was mainly consumed by the LBGT community.

Some general rambling about filters and monitoring.

A couple of years ago, I went on a site visit to the IT department of an LEA to look at some tech (nothing about filtering) but the topic came up. Although the LEA represented a semi rural area, they had a metropolitan area network (MAN) and were able to provide a lot of core IT from a central office. (Incidentally, the tech we were looking at was about providing a responsive service in a centralised environment.)

The MAN that they provided meant that every school received internet access via a managed gateway and that every school PC was monitored. The LEA blocked very little but looked at everything. I was pleasantly surprised how light handed it all was but it worked very well for the schools. Genuine problems (accessing inappropriate content and a couple of cases of grooming) were identified and resolved. And the light touch meant that pupils were not prevented from visiting sites that might be blocked by clumsy filtering.

I’ve used software such as Impero that is incredibly invasive and somewhat crude. After seeing it demonstrated for the first time, my colleagues were impressed by some of the features but appalled by its Big Brother approach. I’m sure that most educational institutions who use it turn off lots of the monitoring/filtering options because they are so heavy handed. The full control options might be suitable for internet enabled PCs in a prison where nobody is trusted.

Schools and colleges who attempt to block everything make a rod for their own backs by creating a management overhead (what is or is not appropriate content?). I am sure that there is rubbish software that uses crude content control rules. I’m also sure that there is good software. Like most tools, what a piece of filtering/monitoring software delivers will be as good as the people who operate it.

Note, of course, that I’m talking above about filtering/monitoring software used in a specific scenario for a defined user base. The software can be tuned for that environment. However, that is not true for the random bunch of internet users who comprise the customers of an ISP. The relationship is different too; customers are customers.

ISP customers — home users or businesses — should implement the controls that are pertinent to themselves. No ISP could or should be expected to do it for them.


Many moons ago, when Mosaic was the browser bee’s knees, an academic contacted the helpdesk at work asking whether he could access some of the darker places on the internet as part of his work. The response was “just get on with it if it is an approved part of your job”. Nobody monitored or filtered where she went and the same set of rules applies today.

Hi there,

I note the consultation response EVAWC submitted says:

We welcome the Government’s commitment to finding ways of restricting the accessibility of pornography, and believe that this must extend to adult use too, particularly by men. We note that there are different views about the effectiveness of a default block (including considerations about the range of material that would be blocked beyond harmful pornographic sites, for example sexual health or violence against women campaign or support service sites).

I am glad the coalition haven’t simply taken a pro-blocking approach and have weighed up some of the consequences. I think you are right to be concerned at the range of material that can be swept up, and you name some of the those.

I would like to know more about what you mean when you say you support the government “finding ways of restricting the accessibility of pornography” when applied to adults. In the Internet era, this might either be done through legal restrictions on what is published by websites, or by blocking and filtering. Or is there something else you are suggesting?

Even granting – for the sake of argument – that porn is as bad as you say it is, that it is some huge problem which needs to be “solved”, these proposals are nevertheless terrible beyond words. There is a perfectly good free market approach here.

Compare and contrast: on one hand we have various software companies building an assortment of different monitoring and filtering systems, competing for the custom of concerned parents, who can then try them out and see which work best, passing the word around when they find one which suits their needs, etc..

On the other hand we have a gigantic firewall across the entire country, costing the taxpayer millions of pounds, governed by politicians, invading people’s privacy, and granting one lucky company a wonderful monopoly on running it. It is *guaranteed* not to work properly – censoring things it shouldn’t and letting through things it should stop, annoying the hell out of millions of legitimate internet users and concerned parents alike.

If option two sounds better to you then I really have nothing more to say to you – you are simply an idiot.

One of the groups which will suffer most from this state censorship will be trans people, especially trans children. It is imperative that trans children and their parents are permitted a way fo finding out about who they are and that they are not alone. Every porn filter I have examined filters out any trans related vocabulary (transgender, trans, transsexual, etc…).

In my opinion this is just another attempt by Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists (TERFs) to erase and harrass trans people. Anyone with the tiniest knowledge of how the web works will understand that any adult will still be able to access porn even with these controls, and any teenage boy with the slightest bit of intelligence will still be able to circumvent them anyway.

The answer to sexism, miscgyny, rape and violence against women is not more censorship, it is education. to pretend otherwise is to connive with the Tories on their project of censoring free speech on the internet so that all people have to refer to for information are sites pre-screened and selected by them, like the Daily Mail website. They are petrified of the internet after the #Murdoch #NoTW episode, in which Tory-supporting mainstream media was brought down because of ordinary people using social media. The next time a Tory tries to sell out out broadcast media to a rightwing billionaire, no-one will here about it until it is a done deal if EVAWC has its way.

In the end this is nothing to do with porn, that is just the excuse for centralised govermment/multinational company controil of the internet.

Holly Dustin and her colleagues have fallen for the con whereby political censorship is justified with reference to porn as any attempts to censo the internet have been during the last 15 years or so, from Egypt to Indonesia. If you believe the government is doing this to prevent sexism, misogyny, sexial harrassment and rape you will probably believe that a squadron of pigs has just flown over the Leveson Inquiry.

I’m a female, found porn online at about the age of 13/14 and I think I have a very healthy sex life, ta very much. Anyone who thinks porn is in any way an accurate representation of real life relationships is an idiot.

We need to stop being so scared of porn and sex in general. It’s like when girls are told their virginity is a precious flower – no it isn’t! That sets you up for a great big fall because no one deigns to tell you that it hurts and it is messy, just that it is a very special thing.

Sex is great and as long as everyone consents and practices it safely (no STIs and unwanted babies please) then I don’t see the problem.

@Jim Killock: You’ve got to love this bit of that quote:

We welcome the Government’s commitment to finding ways of restricting the accessibility of pornography, and believe that this must extend to adult use too, particularly by men. [emphasis added]

Do porn filters have male/female/other settings? Or ones for gay/straight men? To be honest, this just sounds like not letting straight men online without female supervision.

It’s worth noting that the argument used here (broadly “yes, we all saw porn when we were kids and turned out fine, but this is NEW EVIL DANGEROUS PORN, 100000% stronger than the porn you saw”) is exactly the same one that the neo-puritans are using against cannabis.

In both cases it’s spurious bollocks, aimed at getting round the inconvenient fact that almost everyone has now tried the thing they’re trying to ban and is aware that the claims being made are nonsense. “Oh, but your experience doesn’t count, because GONZO! SUPERSKUNK!”.

More generally, Nikki at 37 is bang on. Banning things by law is stupid and gives kids completely the wrong idea about life. Talking in depth about things, *especially* embarrassing ones, to the point where they lose their mystique and their power, is the point.

The headline on this piece has been changed to better reflect their position

Just when you think humanity is becoming slightly more intelligent and sophisticated, this crap rears its moronic little head again.

You’ll take my internet porn from my cold, dead hand madam.

Or I’ll just subscribe to an encypted VPN for a fiver a month.

Grow up.

It is the responsibility of parents to protect their children from online porn. Why do we always try and legislate ? If we always do parents job for them where will this end.

Lyndon @ 43

Who is trying to take away your porn, or anything else from your hands?

It’s curious IMO that there is so much public concern over the exposure of pre- and early teens to porn on the internet and so little about this:

“The National Curriculum test results also revealed that in spite of an improvement in English and maths, more than a third of pupils still left primary school without a proper grasp of the basics in reading, writing and maths.” [August 2010]
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ba881948-9f3f-11df-8732-00144feabdc0.html

As well as so little evident public concern that almost a million 16-24 year-olds are not in education, employment or training.

Is there something profoundly wrong with our social priorities?

Jim: in Bombay up until the 1980s in practice (and still by law today, I’ve just discovered to my immense surprise), if one wished to consume booze one needed to acquire a permit from the government declaring oneself to be hopelessly addicted to alcohol. This didn’t literally mean that booze was banned, I guess, but it’s certainly a form of prohibition and stigmatisation that compels people with certain preferences to register these preferences in writing with the government, and as such is directly analogous to opt-out content filters. Suggesting they’re not a form of ban is disingenuous at best.

Sunny:

The headline on this piece has been changed to better reflect their position

…but the first version of wanting a ‘porn block’ (‘why-we-support-porn-block-filters-and-you-should-too’, according to the URL) was probably closer to the truth.

Am I alone in thinking that if more young men ejaculated ON rather than IN their partners, we wouldn’t have such a high teenage pregnancy rate?
I’ve frequently been asked to do this by my wife (not that either of us are teenagers). Should she be sent for re-education?

christof_ff

Am I alone in thinking that if more young men ejaculated ON rather than IN their partners, we wouldn’t have such a high teenage pregnancy rate?

You are alone: most people use a condom and/or the pill. Try a more sensible contribution next time.

51. Richard Carey

If they can pass this with pornography, the next thing will be ‘extremism’.

52. David Landon Cole

I do wonder what, exactly, would be covered by such a filter. It’s not hard to come up with all sorts of difficult cases, quite apart from technical and civil liberties objections. Would it just apply to pictures and video, or text as well? Would it catch some of the photographs on Wikipedia?

@Christof_ff – entertainingly the “pull out” method is statistically equal to condoms in preventing pregnancy (10% failure rate), though most sexual health orgs aren’t keen on that becoming common knowledge for various reasons.

And after extremism they will filter out Owen Jones and then Sunny himself but possibly not in that order !!!

55. Chaise Guevara

@ 53 Cylux

I heard condoms had a success rate of over 99%? Or is that “99% if used properly, and some people don’t”?

56. Robin Levett

@Cylux #53:

@Christof_ff – entertainingly the “pull out” method is statistically equal to condoms in preventing pregnancy (10% failure rate), though most sexual health orgs aren’t keen on that becoming common knowledge for various reasons.

I’d love to see your source for that claim; this page:

http://www.cks.nhs.uk/contraception/background_information/effectiveness_of_contraceptives

Suggests that the reason sexual health orgs don’t want you to know that withdrawal and male condom use are statistically equal in effectiveness is because it isn’t true.

Okay, lets look at one of the pieces of research cited in the OP.

“Participants had anonymously completed questionnaires that included items pertaining to pornography use, attitudes about violence against women, and other measures assessing risk factors highlighted by the Confluence Model. As predicted, while we found an overall positive association between pornography consumption and attitudes, further examination showed that it was moderated by individual differences. More specifically, as predicted this association was found to be largely due to men at relatively high risk for sexually aggression who were relatively frequent pornography consumers. The findings help resolve inconsistencies in the literature and are in line not only with experimental research on attitudes but also with both experimental and non-experimental studies assessing the relationship between pornography consumption and sexually aggressive behavior.”

So men with shitty attitudes to women are more frequent porn viewers and this is because…

a) they get their shitty attitudes from women from porn, or

b) they like porn because they’ve already got a shitty attitude towards women?

Rinse and repeat…

In reality the research evidence on porn and social attitudes toward women is inconclusive, contradictory and subject to serious confounding and in no sense supports any strong conclusions about causality on either side.

@38 – This is exactly the central problem, and one I highlighted in the previous thread. Which I shall repeat here:

“Suppose we have a government who respond to concerns raised by religious groups about children finding positive messages about homosexuality online by legislating for ISPs to classify such material as ‘opt in’. A digital section 28 if you will. If people really wanted to find positive messages they could always ‘opt in’ – would that really be so terrible and arduous?

What if positive messages about homosexuality, aids, etc were not the target of the legislation, but their blocking from non-opted in internet users happened due to collatoral damage caused by an attempt to restrict viewing of other material? Would this be so terrible and arduous?

Lets consider a not exactly unlikely scenario. We have a teenage boy from a religious conservative family background. The kid thinks he is gay, but due his background is incredibly anxious and depressed about this, possibly even suicidal. He searches online about homosexuality, only to find that sites like Stonewall are blocked because his family have not yet ‘opted in’. Do you think he is going to approach his parents and ask for them to call the ISP to change their filter? What do you think his parents are going to say when he asks them to ‘remove the porn filter’”

This central point has yet to be addressed by any of the porn filter supporters.

@Chaise – yeah condoms, if in perfect condition and used correctly, do provide 99% protection against everything. Trouble is people either not noticing any tears or holes, wearing the wrong size, it splitting during sex etc, it’s more to do usage rather than the condoms actual effectiveness. The pull-out has its user-defined drawbacks too, like forgetting to pull out.
Ideally we ought to encourage the use of both at once, which ironically porn could assist with if nations, instead of trying to block porn, were instead to make it a legal requirement of the porn industry to make the wearing of condoms a legal requirement of their actors.

The enormous corporate interests behind commercial porn employ thousands of people to ensure it comes up high on internet searches and that their free-to-view couple-of-minutes sample entices the viewer into paying to see more.

And:

User generated porn is also a huge phenomenon, said to be seriously worrying the commercial interests who are working on ways to hijack it,

So is your objection based on internet porn being dominated by ‘enormous corporate interests’ or unregulated ‘user generated porn’ – because you seem exploiting lazy anti-capitalist rhetoric one minute then flailing around at independent producers the next.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition has responded to the government consultation saying that any policy on porn, on or offline, must look at its harms to adults as well as children.

Oh, won’t somebody think of the children? was a pitiful campaign in itself but it’s clear you want to go far further and ban access to adults as well – a far more totalitarian response than the Tories.

You want to know why people are scared of voting Labour look no further.

Has the internet age coincided with more or less cock-eyed attitudes to sexuality in this country?

63. Chaise Guevara

@ Cylux

“The pull-out has its user-defined drawbacks too, like forgetting to pull out.”

Cheers for clarification RE condoms. I guess pull-out is like abstinence: it’s 100% effective if observed properly, but it’s not observed properly, so it isn’t.

“Ideally we ought to encourage the use of both at once, which ironically porn could assist with if nations, instead of trying to block porn, were instead to make it a legal requirement of the porn industry to make the wearing of condoms a legal requirement of their actors.”

I’d have backed this, or something similar, for safety reasons alone – hadn’t occurred to be there could be positive side effects too.

Are we going to also make everyone who bought FIFTY SHADES OF GREY sign a register, or is only internet porn the ‘problem’?

I for one agree that internet porn should most definitely be opt-in, not opt-out. I would definitely welcome a set-up that meant I didn’t have to be assaulted by porn, porn adverts and porn search results when I have consented to no such thing. Let alone my children.

Try turning on your own filters, rather than campaigning to filter the whole country, and avoid serching for ambiguous phrases like ‘big tits’ and ‘showered in jizz’.

66. Chaise Guevara

@ 64

“Are we going to also make everyone who bought FIFTY SHADES OF GREY sign a register, or is only internet porn the ‘problem’?”

Jamie! Have forgotten that Fifty Shades of Grey is mainly read by women, and nice middle-class ones like that? It’s completely different!

67. James from Durham

Will anyone miss Scunthorpe?

CG @ 6:

“I don’t buy into the “objectification” thing”

Good! Because ‘x is the object of my sexual desire’ simply does not imply ‘x is sexually objectified’. This equivocation bedevils feminist theory.

**********************

Three general comments:

1. My daughter, now 26 and well adjusted, often looked at porn with her friends when she was in her teens, even though my wife and I did our best to prevent it. I even found that they were (aged 15) texting and emailing pictures of erect cocks to each other. But, it seems… no harm done.

2. Most porn may do little if any harm; but it is to me tasteless, vulgar and pathetic. If, however, it is ‘forbidden fruit’, I can only see it doing more harm than it would if prohibited.

3. Violence worries me far more than sex. We need considered rersearch into the effects of on-screen violence. Sex, after all, is fundamentally positive and potentially creative; violence is fundamentally destructive.

69. Chaise Guevara

@ 68 TONE

“Good! Because ‘x is the object of my sexual desire’ simply does not imply ‘x is sexually objectified’. This equivocation bedevils feminist theory”

Exactly. And I have yet to hear a satisfying explanation for why a labourer isn’t being objectified for his upper-body strength, or why, if I buy a train ticket, I’m not objectifing the vendor for their train-ticket-selling abilities.

“Objectification” is treated as a special case that applies only to sex and related stuff, using logic that isn’t applied elsewhere. In my experience, its proponent deal with this problem by pretending it doesn’t exist, and presenting “girlie mags = objectification = wrong” as an undeniable fact.

70. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@69

except the objectification is related to a whole gender which makes it significantly different and rather pisses on your firework.

71. Robin Levett

@Cylux #59:

I’ve read the report to the end – did you?

The major point they make is that withdrawal as a method is under-reported; in large part because many people use withdrawal simultaneously (not only within the same menstrual cycle, but also within the same act of coitus) with other methods. They go on from that to point out that this has consequences for reporting of effectiveness; the money quote(if you’ll pardon the expression):

Based on the research described above, we expect that results from some studies underestimate the use of withdrawal. It is unclear what impact, if any, the likely mis-measurement of withdrawal might have on estimates of typical-use failure rates for withdrawal and, perhaps, condoms. This depends in part on the frequency and type of measurement error—for example, whether it is more common to mis-measure use of withdrawal as a primary or as a “backup” method.

In order to better understand the role of withdrawal as a contraceptive method and to accurately estimate failure rates, we need better information about how it is used.

Given that even on the figures mentioned in the introduction to the paper, condom use is more effective, then if condom use is not being reported by those who claim to use withdrawal as their primary method, then this will skew the reported withdrawal effectiveness rate upwards; and if withdrawal use is not being reported by those who claim to use condoms as their primary method, this will skew reported condom effectiveness rate downwards.

72. Robin Levett

@James from Durham #67:

Will anyone miss Scunthorpe?

If you use a big enough warhead, it doesn’t matter if they do; and for a bonus, they might get a good chunk of Hull as well…

73. Chaise Guevara

@ 70 MoCO

“except the objectification is related to a whole gender which makes it significantly different and rather pisses on your firework.”

Is there any kind of explanation coming, or do you think you can “piss on my firework” with a drive-by comment that verges on the content-free?

“Are we going to also make everyone who bought FIFTY SHADES OF GREY sign a register, or is only internet porn the ‘problem’?”

No Jamie – apparently it’s only porn mainly intended for men which is the “problem”.

That’s not at all a double standard, of course…

75. Chaise Guevara

@ MoCO

To prevent early confusion, if your point is “objectification of women reflects on all women”, then:

a) that’s in the eye of the beholder.
b) the same applies to the “objectification” of men (which this group of feminists is strangely reticient about, if not weirdly supportive of).
c) the same applies to non-sexual “objectification”, which can be claimed to apply to anybody following the logic of the original concept.
d) the whole thing is by-the-by, given that I think objectification is a made-up thing (mainly: see below).

There have been times and places where people are/were pretty much literally treated as objects, but with the possible exception of illegal slavery, that time and place is not “here and now”. And if I was looking for that, I’d look for places where people were not considered entitled to their own lives, not where attractive people lounge in magazines in the smalls.

So “objectification” is a metaphorical concept, probably designed to be dramatically phrased, that people seem to be interpreting more and more literally. The idea that, the moment a woman poses in her knickers, men become incapable of realising that she has a mind and personality is pure psychobabble. Indeed, we generally rate attractive people as having higher intelligence and better personalities.

@71

Given that even on the figures mentioned in the introduction to the paper, condom use is more effective, then if condom use is not being reported by those who claim to use withdrawal as their primary method, then this will skew the reported withdrawal effectiveness rate upwards; and if withdrawal use is not being reported by those who claim to use condoms as their primary method, this will skew reported condom effectiveness rate downwards.

That’ll be why they suggested better questions for future surveys then. On the currently available data however, if young lads are going to insist on going bareback (which a number do*) then copying male porn stars by jizzing on their girlfriend’s tits IS better than firing their muck inside them.

*And that’s likely to be a continuing if not growing problem till more of this starts happening.

“the material we’re all so concerned about.”

Err, no. “We’re” not all concerned about it.

“You” do seem to be.

So the phrase should be “the material I’m so concerned about” to which the answer is have a look at your own problems and please, do stop bothering the rest of us.

Depressing as well how certain feminists seem to agree with the right about absolutely everything.

@76. Cylux: “*And that’s likely to be a continuing if not growing problem till more of this starts happening.”

That is about a permit to participate in a porn movie in a single jurisdiction. The decision may make condom use more acceptable, by representation in porn films, but it is to be determined.

Bareback fucking may be by preference, by ignorance or drunkenly with that bloke wearing aftershave that kills flies. Awareness of the consequences is good, but lots of non-porn stars will fuck up and contract STDs. It is life, innit.

Jamie, Keith @64, 74

Are we going to also make everyone who bought FIFTY SHADES OF GREY sign a register

Er, have you had the decency to actually read the OP?

When you walk into Waterson’s the book is their propety and when you buy it it becomes your property and ceases to be Waterson’s property. Why would anyone need you to ‘opt in’ to a book you have just fucking well bought. There is one less copy on the bookshelf.

81. man on clapham omnibus

@75

Ok

First thing first I am not quite sure what you mean by ‘objectification is a metaphorical concept. I take objectification as a shorthand for turning people into objects which has implications such as control and lack of empathy .Of course it is a made up term. So is gravity or quantum theory. What concept isnt!

Your comment regard the objectification of men ignores issues of power and dominant interests which makes it,in the current context trite.

The notion that its in the eye of the beholder is also trite in the fact that you evidently believe that culture and ideology are somehow harnessed autonomously by each individual in a society. Clearly they are not.

I do accept that objectification maybe a facet of the human personality in the absence of prior knowledge.

But the issue here is surely the relentless re programming of human relations to see woman in a particular way. Given that sex is the principal reason for relationships I think it has vast implications for the future modality of sexual relations in the future. Many of these modalities will undoubtedly have negative consequences.

Further,I would suggest psychopathic behaviour is clearly linked with objectification. Like the mass media,the state employs objectification of other states and peoples in order to wage war.

Brevik apparently objectified his future ‘enemies’ by playing ‘shoot em ups’ for a year.Whilst he may be regarded as exceptionable it does nonetheless beg the question as to the role of mass redefinition and the social precursors arising therefrom particularly when linked
existing forms of discrimination.

82. the a&e charge nurse

[81] ‘New research out of the University of Montreal suggests that pornography is so widely digested, and with such a seemingly low correlation to “pathological” behavior, that it is grossly over-demonized. The research is funded by the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Family Violence and Violence Against Women. Simon Louis Lajeunesse, a postdoctoral student and professor at the School of Social Work, set out to examine the effects of pornography on men, which would involve studying men in their 20s who’ve never consumed pornography. “We couldn’t find any,” he says’.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-10407102-247.html

As a matter of interest have you watched porn, and if so why?

I’m sure most of us must be a great disappointment to the god bothers or other groups who want to fashion the world in their likeness?

83. Chaise Guevara

@ 81 MoCO

“First thing first I am not quite sure what you mean by ‘objectification is a metaphorical concept. I take objectification as a shorthand for turning people into objects which has implications such as control and lack of empathy .Of course it is a made up term. So is gravity or quantum theory. What concept isnt!”

What I mean is that you’re not literally turning people into objects. People – all people – are either objects or not, depending on how you define your terms.

So what “objectification” is short for is “seeing/presenting people as being nothing but one aspect of themselves”. Usually sexuality. I’m not convinced that this happens on the scale that people claim.

“Your comment regard the objectification of men ignores issues of power and dominant interests which makes it,in the current context trite.”

It’s not trite at all. If objectification is a thing, it happens to both genders. So why do certain feminists insist on talking about “objectification of women” when “objectification of people” takes the same amount of time to say? The former phrase deliberately excludes men, because it’s designed to create the false impression that this is a one-way street. It’s sexist, and shows that the speaker doesn’t actually have a problem with objectification. They just see complaining about objectification as one weapon in an arsenal.

If you have a problem with people taking their clothes off for money, what do you lose by including male “victims”?

“The notion that its in the eye of the beholder is also trite in the fact that you evidently believe that culture and ideology are somehow harnessed autonomously by each individual in a society. Clearly they are not.”

I’m not saying people aren’t influenced by their surroundings. I’m saying that you don’t know what I think if I see a scantily-clad woman. If you see such a woman and think: “Oh look, a sex object, she must have no intelligence and personality and is good only for a shag”, then that’s essentially your problem. Don’t project that reaction onto me.

“But the issue here is surely the relentless re programming of human relations to see woman in a particular way.”

Ignoring the sexism of this statement… relentless? Really? Most media present women as rounded characters, just as much as men. In fact, there’s a current trend that the “satisfying” outcome of a scenario is to show the woman embarrassing the man by being better than him (see half the ads on TV). This is a backlash thing, sure. It wouldn’t happen if we weren’t emerging from a patriarchal culture. But the point remains that women are shown on TV etc. to be strong, fleshed-out people.

“Given that sex is the principal reason for relationships”

Speak for yourself. Some of us value love more highly. That doesn’t make us better than you, but again, don’t project your personality onto me.

“Further,I would suggest psychopathic behaviour is clearly linked with objectification. Like the mass media,the state employs objectification of other states and peoples in order to wage war.”

Firstly, recent studies suggest psychopathy is caused by physical brain damage. Secondly, you’re make “objectification” do a hell of a lot of legwork here. You’re equivocating between skin mags and wholesale oppression. Just because you can connect the same term to two different issues doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing.

Try: “The National Lottery is racist. I know this because other ‘national’ things, like the British National Party and the National Front, are racist.”

84. Just Visiting

A&E

> set out to examine the effects of pornography on men, which would involve studying men in their 20s who’ve never consumed pornography. “We couldn’t find any,” he says’.

Am I picking up an undercurrent here, that because ‘we all’ use porn, that it must be a neutral thing?

Isn’t there an analogy to alcohol – ‘we all’ use it, but for some they become alcoholics. And so we have laws to restrict it’s use among children, where addictive behaviours are most easily set up.

In the Guardian yesterday – in a review of Naomi Wolf’s :

The evidence isn’t entirely there yet, but Wolf’s argument that heavy porn use seems to follow an addictive pattern, desensitising users …causing them to lose interest in affectionate sex with a partner whose name they know, seems increasingly plausible.

As fas I can see Pagar is the only one who would be willing to remove the laws that protect children that restrict access to alcohol, tobacco, adult cinema, sex clubs and etc.

For the rest of us – well ?

85. Just Visiting

@84 Naomi Wolf just got her arse handed to her by a Mumsnet interview, where a lot of her non-answers for her recent spate of rape apologism featured “science” from her latest book.
There’s now the very serious danger that while she claims her vagina and brain are linked, that her mouth is linked with her arse which is why she talks a load of shit.

80, Jim:

Do me a favour – look up the word “sarcasm”, then you might understand the point of posts 64 and 74.

Or is EVERYTHING that one-dimensional and unnuanced to you?

It’d explain a lot.

It seems reported incidents of rape have remained roughly level over 2002-2010. No, I haven’t done any statistical analysis. Changes could be heavily influenced by the likelihood of attacks being reported.

There has undoubtedly been an increase in the availability of porn of all types over that time. There was a change in the way crime was recorded before then, so previous numbers are not comparable.

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110218135832/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs10/hosb1210chap2.pdf
Page 32

2002/2003 to 2009/2010 reports of rape of females:
11,445 12,378 12,869 13,327 12,624 11,629 12,140 13,991

89. Chaise Guevara

@ 85 JV

I don’t want to be rude, because you’re one of the better people on this site. But I would describe your lengthy hyperlinked quote as “hippy crap”.

90. the a&e charge nurse

[84] well, like alcohol, there may be issues about access, or social acceptability but prohibition did little to stop demand, while the main people to benefits were criminals.

I agree with commentators above that porn would become only one stopping point on regulation of the net, and those doing the regulating would be pushing their own political agenda.

John B @ 41:

“In both cases it’s spurious bollocks, aimed at getting round the inconvenient fact that almost everyone has now tried the thing they’re trying to ban and is aware that the claims being made are nonsense.”

But it’s significantly easier to access porn now that it was before the internet, so, assuming for argument’s sake that watching pornography is harmful, it follows that the potential for harm is now correspondingly greater as well.

Planeshift @ 58:

“Suppose we have a government who respond to concerns raised by religious groups about children finding positive messages about homosexuality online by legislating for ISPs to classify such material as ‘opt in’. A digital section 28 if you will. If people really wanted to find positive messages they could always ‘opt in’ – would that really be so terrible and arduous?”

Well I’ve yet to see any reason to think that such a scenario is at all likely. And besides, the government could equally use its power to stop schools teaching positive messages about homosexuality, but I don’t see anybody arguing from this that state involvement in education is a bad thing.

“What if positive messages about homosexuality, aids, etc were not the target of the legislation, but their blocking from non-opted in internet users happened due to collatoral damage caused by an attempt to restrict viewing of other material?”

That might happen in some cases, but I don’t think it would result in positive messages about homosexuality being totally wiped from the net as you seem to be suggesting. At the very least, I reckon that organisations like, e.g., Stonewall would have enough political clout to have their websites unblocked (even assuming they were blocked in the first case), so your hypothetical gay teenager would be able to find support there.

And yes, I do realise that even then there would be some OK websites which would fall foul of the filters. But there are lots of examples where we accept laws or regulations even though they’re something of a blunt instrument. Take age of consent laws, for example: some people under the legal age will be mature enough to meaninfully consent to sex, some over it won’t, but we accept the need to have age of consent laws, even though it’s not a perfect solution. Similarly with drink driving laws: some people can take their alcohol better than others, and some can drive safely over the legal limit, but we don’t therefore reject the notion of drink driving limits altogether. I don’t see why we shouldn’t take a fundamentally similar approach to pornography regulations.

A&E @ 90:

“well, like alcohol, there may be issues about access, or social acceptability but prohibition did little to stop demand, while the main people to benefits were criminals.”

Erm, you are aware that the government aren’t trying to prohibit internet porn, just restrict access to it, right? Sort of like they already restrict access to alcohol, cigarettes, physical copies of pornographic movies, and so on. Funnily enough I don’t notice many people here arguing that we abolish those regulations as well.

“I agree with commentators above that porn would become only one stopping point on regulation of the net, and those doing the regulating would be pushing their own political agenda.”

But we already have regulation of the net. If I start a blog posting libellious statements about public figures, or distributing images of child porn, or illegally displaying copyrighted material, I’m going to face consequences for it. The idea that the web is currently in a state of pristine freedom from regulation which these proposals are going to shatter is just false.

@ Mr X

But we already have regulation of the net. If I start a blog posting libellious statements about public figures, or distributing images of child porn, or illegally displaying copyrighted material, I’m going to face consequences for it.

No, we don’t.

In the first example, you would lay yourself open to civil action from the person libelled.

In the second example, you have committed a criminal offence.

In the third example, you could again be subject to civil action but, of course, the technology makes this practically impossible (which is why the big media companies lobby government to introduce legislation to make copyright infringement criminal).

Of course it is possible to commit criminal offences via the medium of the internet (see the current BNP post) but what is at stake here is a proposal to censor and filter the net at source, via the gateway of the ISP. It is an attempt to interfere with the operation of the medium itself and, once the legitimacy of doing that is established, the freedom of the internet is fatally compromised.

Can you convincingly distinguish between restricting access to porn because you believe it’s morally corrosive, and restricting access to information about contraception and abortion because you believe *that’s* morally corrosive?

94. domestic extremist

8 Mack: “Anyone who knows how the brain works” – is well ahead of the scientific community, which is more conscious of how much remains mysterious.

95. Just Visiting

I know wiki is not always a reliable site – but their page on Porn addiction has loads of sources to follow up.

It looks to me that range and quality of those sources – help to strengthen the case for treating internet porn as something that we should add to the list of ‘things limited so as to protect growing minds’ .

I may be in a minority in this thread to take that view – as the rough consensus seems to be that internet porn is essentially benign (compacting the argument down to just one word !)

Mr. X@91:

“Erm, you are aware that the government aren’t trying to prohibit internet porn, just restrict access to it, right? Sort of like they already restrict access to alcohol, cigarettes, physical copies of pornographic movies, and so on. Funnily enough I don’t notice many people here arguing that we abolish those regulations as well.”

False comparison. In none of the categories you refer to is it necessary for the potential consumer to register with a database (or series of dbs) that you know are likely to be, a) hacked, b) lost, or c) used by the state and/or corporations for purposes which have nothing to do with “keeping ver lickle kiddies safe!”. What a goldmine for blackmailers!

As I said on the other thread (I think), if people – for whatever reason – want a censored netfeed to their homes then they should be free to have one, but it is they who should have to opt in and leave the rest of us to exercise our full rights as adults.

97. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@ 83 MoCO

”What I mean is that you’re not literally turning people into objects. People – all people – are either objects or not, depending on how you define your terms.”

I don’t think there is a great deal of latitude in defining what is meant by the term objectification.Check it out in the dictionary if you’re not sure.

Your comment that ‘you’re not literally turning people into objects’ raises more questions.In my view it is entirely irrelevant.

Objectification turns everything into objects irrespective of whether the object breathes or not.

‘So what “objectification” is short for is “seeing/presenting people as being nothing but one aspect of themselves”.’

That isn’t what objectification means unfortunately.

”“Your comment regard the objectification of men ignores issues of power and dominant interests which makes it,in the current context trite.””

It’s not trite at all. If objectification is a thing, it happens to both genders. So why do certain feminists insist on talking about “objectification of women” when “objectification of people” takes the same amount of time to say? The former phrase deliberately excludes men, because it’s designed to create the false impression that this is a one-way street. It’s sexist, and shows that the speaker doesn’t actually have a problem with objectification. They just see complaining about objectification as one weapon in an arsenal.

If you have a problem with people taking their clothes off for money, what do you lose by including male “victims”?”

I don’t have a problem with anything much Chaise but the issue under discussion is principally in relation to women.

”“The notion that its in the eye of the beholder is also trite in the fact that you evidently believe that culture and ideology are somehow harnessed autonomously by each individual in a society. Clearly they are not.”

I’m not saying people aren’t influenced by their surroundings. I’m saying that you don’t know what I think if I see a scantily-clad woman. If you see such a woman and think: “Oh look, a sex object, she must have no intelligence and personality and is good only for a shag”, then that’s essentially your problem. Don’t project that reaction onto me.”

It helps if you consider these things in a less personal way. I’m not projecting anything on you.Frankly I’m not interested. What I would emphasise is the all consuming effect of culture and of ideology in the formation of objectified catagories. The formation (brainwashing) of armies is a case in point which amply demonstrates how perception can be managed.So to the comodification of sex through the process of objectification which ,I think,is highly relevant to the discussion.

”“But the issue here is surely the relentless re programming of human relations to see woman in a particular way.”

Ignoring the sexism of this statement… relentless? Really? Most media present women as rounded characters, just as much as men. In fact, there’s a current trend that the “satisfying” outcome of a scenario is to show the woman embarrassing the man by being better than him (see half the ads on TV). This is a backlash thing, sure. It wouldn’t happen if we weren’t emerging from a patriarchal culture. But the point remains that women are shown on TV etc. to be strong, fleshed-out people.”

Love the unintended pun by the way- fleshed-out people – Very good indeed haha!

I dont think anyone was suggesting that objectification relates to anything/anyone in particular.It is a process.It follows that all things can be objectified but this recognition in itself hardly gets anyone anywhere.I think what is more useful is how certain groups are socially constructed and by who and for what purpose and the role of objectification in that process. Quite apart from the sex industry I think the cosmetic industry is a principal case in point.

”“Given that sex is the principal reason for relationships”

Speak for yourself. Some of us value love more highly. That doesn’t make us better than you, but again, don’t project your personality onto me.”

If sex wasn’t the principal reason for relationships then none of us be here. Moreover I would suggest that without sex, society and interpersonal relations would take on a whole different character.

”“Further,I would suggest psychopathic behaviour is clearly linked with objectification. Like the mass media,the state employs objectification of other states and peoples in order to wage war.”

Firstly, recent studies suggest psychopathy is caused by physical brain damage. Secondly, you’re make “objectification” do a hell of a lot of legwork here. You’re equivocating between skin mags and wholesale oppression. Just because you can connect the same term to two different issues doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing.”

Quite apart from your ‘recent studies’ my statement is still valid. With regard to your other comments perhaps it might be more constructive to comment on what was actually written as opposed to what you think maybe the intent of the contribution.

98. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@85

Thanks for posting. Interesting article.

99. Chaise Guevara

@ 97 MoCO

“Objectification turns everything into objects irrespective of whether the object breathes or not.”

And what does that *mean*, exactly?

“That isn’t what objectification means unfortunately. ”

Here’s my problem. I’m playing around with definitions because I think this debate is filled with equivocation, and it’s helpful if we can check whether we’re discussing the same thing. Whereas you are snarking from the sidelines but not actually adding your own view on the matter. I’m trying to have a sensible discussion, you’re aiming to derail it.

“I don’t have a problem with anything much Chaise but the issue under discussion is principally in relation to women.”

10 points for dodging the question. As I said, “women” and “people” take the same amount of time to say and type. Two syllables, five letters. So the former isn’t merely shorthand. If someone insists on sticking to the former – or, like you, tries to dismiss it as “trite” when someone points out the sexism – they either simply don’t care about male “victims”, or they see some political advantage in trying to misrepresent the issue.

More men are mugged than women. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about female mugging victims, or try to sneer them out of existance.

“It helps if you consider these things in a less personal way. I’m not projecting anything on you.Frankly I’m not interested.”

Replace “you and me” with “Frank and Bob” in my previous post, then.

“What I would emphasise is the all consuming effect of culture and of ideology in the formation of objectified catagories. The formation (brainwashing) of armies is a case in point which amply demonstrates how perception can be managed.So to the comodification of sex through the process of objectification which ,I think,is highly relevant to the discussion.”

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I agree with this. Why is it a bad thing, and what do you want done about it in terms of policy?

“Love the unintended pun by the way- fleshed-out people – Very good indeed haha!”

Glad you’re having fun.

“I dont think anyone was suggesting that objectification relates to anything/anyone in particular.It is a process.It follows that all things can be objectified but this recognition in itself hardly gets anyone anywhere.I think what is more useful is how certain groups are socially constructed and by who and for what purpose and the role of objectification in that process. Quite apart from the sex industry I think the cosmetic industry is a principal case in point.”

This is (genuinely) a fruitful line of dicussion, but only if we can ensure that we’re discussing the same thing when we talk about objectification. Which you seem averse to doing.

“If sex wasn’t the principal reason for relationships then none of us be here. Moreover I would suggest that without sex, society and interpersonal relations would take on a whole different character. ”

*Cough* naturalistic fallacy *cough*. Sex may be the principle reason from an evolutionary standpoint (although you could argue that in fact it’s child-raising; not all animals maintain relationships). But you don’t get to tell other people what the principle reason is for them.

“Quite apart from your ‘recent studies’ my statement is still valid. With regard to your other comments perhaps it might be more constructive to comment on what was actually written as opposed to what you think maybe the intent of the contribution.”

Or perhaps you’d like to sign off on something concrete rather than vague accusations and an unsupported claim of validity.

100. Chaise Guevara

@ MoCO

BTW, did you put “recent studies” into quotes to indicate sceptism? If so, http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/9800/20120508/psychopath-treatment-brain-abnormality-murder-rape.htm .

101. Churm Rincewind

@ MoCO – “Sex is the principle reason for relationships” Oo-er. I have strong relationships with my friends, my brothers, and my parents. Does that make me a sicko?

102. man on clapham omnibus

@ 99

The problem is with this conversation is that the idea of objectivication isnt agreed on. I got mine from wikipedia.
I dont know where you got all your various definitions nuances or indeed why you think its a good idea to
‘ play around with definitions because I think this debate is filled with equivocation’

The whole point of definitions is they define things.

Just this admission on your part invalidates any serious contribution you are attempting to make.

On the point of ‘I don’t get to say what relationships are’ apart from the fact you then go on to qualify the same, maybe we should extend your notion of personal relativity and take a vote on whether the sun go round the moon. Maybe that’s a reality for someone.

If you wish to indulge in that approach it does kinda undermine your subsequent reference to a study into psychopathy. Do they get to tell you the causes of the condition or are we going to have vote on that too.

103. man on clapham omnibus

@101

only you can answer that one my friend.

104. Chaise Guevara

@ MoCO

“The problem is with this conversation is that the idea of objectivication isnt agreed on.”

No, really? It’s almost like I keep trying to tell you that.

“I got mine from wikipedia.”

Right, so your working definition is “the treatment of a human being as a thing, disregarding his/her personality or sentience”, yes? Finally, something approaching a straight answer.

Now, dictionaries and encyclopedias define things based on usage. If a word is used a lot, it gets included. All well and good. But what the dictionary doesn’t tell you is whether that word is describing something real, or a made-up phenonemon.

I think that the term “objectification” is bandied around very assumptively. People essentially say: “she’s wearing her knickers in a picture, so it’s objectification, case closed”. This makes the huge assumption that those looking at the picture disregard the subject’s personality or sentience, – or at least, that they do so any more than they would if the subject was fully clothed.

“I dont know where you got all your various definitions nuances”

From the way people use the term. For example, you probably wouldn’t say that a woman modelling baggy jeans and a wooly jumper was being “objectified”. If so, then sex is part of the issue even if it’s not mentioned in the above definition.

“or indeed why you think its a good idea to
‘ play around with definitions because I think this debate is filled with equivocation’”

I’ve explained this already. It’s not my fault if you ignore anything you don’t like.

“The whole point of definitions is they define things.”

Christ, you’ll be telling me that 2+2=4 next. Mindblowing stuff! Is there a point in here somewhere?

“Just this admission on your part invalidates any serious contribution you are attempting to make.”

Edited for truth: “I can feel myself running out of arguments, so I have invented a rule that allows me to declare victory!”

“On the point of ‘I don’t get to say what relationships are’ apart from the fact you then go on to qualify the same, maybe we should extend your notion of personal relativity and take a vote on whether the sun go round the moon. Maybe that’s a reality for someone. ”

Maybe you should stop lying about my argument? It’s really pathetic, and indicates that you’re incapable of addressing what I’ve actually said. This isn’t about some kind of stupid relativism where all viewpoints are equally true. It’s about whether you have a better idea what the principal reason is for someone’s relationship than that person does.

“If you wish to indulge in that approach it does kinda undermine your subsequent reference to a study into psychopathy. Do they get to tell you the causes of the condition or are we going to have vote on that too.”

They do indeed tell me the causes of the condition, or at least our current best guess. You seem to be avoiding the conclusions. Why is that?

Pagar @ 92:

I’m afraid I don’t see why it’s OK for, e.g., a court to order somebody to take down libellious statements on a website (which I’m pretty sure they can do, though please correct me if I’m wrong), and not for filtering websites. Yes, the method used in the latter case is different, but I don’t see how that makes it qualitatively different in principle, as you seem to be suggesting.

The Judge @ 96:

If watching porn is the sort of seedy thing you’d want to keep secret, then surely it’s good to make it harder for children to access? Or alternatively, if there’s nothing really wrong with it and hence no need to filter it, why care whether or not people find out you watch it?

“keeping ver lickle kiddies safe!”

Now you’re just being silly. So what, any legislation aiming to protect children is automatically wrong?

107. Chaise Guevara

@ 105 Mr X

“I’m afraid I don’t see why it’s OK for, e.g., a court to order somebody to take down libellious statements on a website (which I’m pretty sure they can do, though please correct me if I’m wrong), and not for filtering websites. ”

Well, one argument would be that the libellous statements are illegal, so the court is just enforcing the law. Whereas pornography is legal, so it would be enforcing certain people’s tastes and sensibilities.

That’s assuming you’re testing the breaking point between libel and porn. If its “taking stuff down” vs “filtering”, I’d point out that the former is targeted, whereas the latter casts a wide net and will inevitably catch non-relevant content.

So what, any legislation aiming to protect children is automatically wrong?

Oh dear, you have used the argument that ‘someone has criticised something therefore he must support some other thing’. No, it can just be a criticism of that argument.

Which is: “won’t somebody think of the children” is not – or shouldn’t be – an automatic win.

109. Just Visiting

someone did say that govt might want to filter more than porn —

Health minister warns ISPs: Block suicide websites or face regulation

110. Chaise Guevara

@ 109 JV

I think they want to block pro-ana sites (places that support anorexia as a lifestyle choice) as well. This bothers me. Pro-ana, while admittedly stupid and damaging, is ultimately political. It’s not a good precedent.

Mack,

I would definitely welcome a set-up that meant I didn’t have to be assaulted by porn, porn adverts and porn search results when I have consented to no such thing.

Does this actually happen to you? Genuine question. It did to me, when I first joined the internet about twenty years go (I remember being shocked by the search results for “pot holing”) but not in the past five to ten years, as I recall.

OP,

There is an idle point made that this should just be about parental responsibility because ‘I wouldn’t let my child go to a nightclub and I don’t let them roam alone online’.

ISTM there are more difficult things related to raising children than mitigating the risk of them being exposed to objectionable online material. I honestly wonder whether some parents have actually made an effort to look into it or if they have just bought in to The Fear. Or perhaps they are idle. Then again some people do have an irrational “Oh I could never work that out” thing with technology – it’s very odd considering they are intelligent people who can do all kinds of other things.

Google “keep your child safe online”, first two results are DirectGov, the fifth NSPCC. There is good free advice out there that is relatively trivial to follow.

someone did say that govt might want to filter more than porn —

Health minister warns ISPs: Block suicide websites or face regulation

Which is why the principle of stopping them filtering the net at the point of access is so important. If they do it, we are at their mercy as much as are the Chinese.

For where will it stop?

Terrorist sites, druggie sites, Islamic jihadist sites, handgun sites, bull terrier sites, anarchist sites, racist sites or dangerous lefty blogs?

113. Chaise Guevara

@ 112 pagar

Well, there was that police flyer from a while back urging people to report any anarchists they knew, so…

To all commentators stating “but they do this for alcohol, tobacco etc.” In such cases there’s an assumption that I’m an adult unless there is suspicion that I’m not. For opt-out porn filters there’s an assumption that I’m a child unless I state I’m not.

If we had the same ‘filters’ for alcohol as are being proposed for porn we’d all need to register with our stores or carry some form of photo-id around to display at every purchase.

Incidentally can anyone point to the law that would prohibit Waterstones et al from selling a copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” to a 13-year old?

@ Chaise

Well, there was that police flyer from a while back urging people to report any anarchists they knew, so…

Do left-leaning, mutualist libertarians count?

Back in a moment. Someone’s at the door…..

116. Chaise Guevara

@ 115 pagar

“Do left-leaning, mutualist libertarians count?”

Weeeeell, I got the impression from that flyer that the person who wrote it thought “anarchist” means “someone wot wears a balaclava”, so you might be all right.

@Holly Dustin

studies do in fact show that consuming porn has an
impact on men’s and boys’ attitudes to women and increases the tolerance of some to sexual violence.

No we don’t. We have studies showing that men who use porn have a higher rate of tolerance of/actual use of sexual violebce.

This is not the same thing.

The studies could mean that:

1 Porn causes thes attitudes.

2 It could mean that those with those attitudes are more likely to use porn

3 That both factors are caused by some other unknown cause.

I have to wonder what sort of sites these people who claim to be being “bombarded by porn and porn adverts” whenever they are online visit. I would put it to them that from personal experience that if you are being bombarded with porn adverts you are either looking for porn or for pirated copyright material. I’ll admit I’ve done both from time to time (the latter mostly to view US shows unavailable in the UK) and that’s the only times i’ve felt bombarded by porn and porn adverts.
Either that or they spend most of their times on places like 4-chan.


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