In an article published over at Wired.co.uk, ATVOD’s latest statistics are torn to shreds as Liat Clark takes a look at ‘why we’re afraid of Internet porn‘.
Clark reminds us all that hardcore pornography is banned on TV and surmises that its no surprise we turn to the internet for our hardcore fix.
the figure that is meant to surprise you: “At least 44,000 primary school children accessed an adult website in one month alone,” screamed Atvod
Clark explains that the 44,000 figure is being used by ATVOD as a means to justify charging content providers a fee, forcing them into compliance or banning their service from operating entirely.
What Atvod didn’t tell you is that the survey it based this argument on classed Ann Summers as “adult content” and came with this caveat from Nielsen, the marketing agency behind it: “The sample size for 6-11 year-olds on the panel is very low. Figures for this age range are still reported, but they are always issued with a ‘health warning’ as being potentially too unstable to accurately project audience size.”
Clark hits on an important point that has been played down significantly in the recent mainstream news coverage by all the major news outlets.
ATVOD was able to achieve headline exposure over the last couple of weeks due to the distortion their press release created. Sure ATVOD’s report carries caveats in relation to the data but their press releases and subsequent news appearances did not.
To my mind this is blatant misrepresentation of their facts. Naturally I don’t dispute that children access online pornography and I don’t dispute that in some cases it’s easily accessed by them.
However I fundamentally believe we are heading in the wrong direction, Government regulation is not the answer. How can the Government or ATVOD for that matter regulate an industry and technology they don’t understand? Instead of legislating against us they should be talking to us and seeking to learn from us on how better to ensure children or vulnerable people are not exposed to adult content online.
why, when we can watch Rihanna simulate sex with the floor wearing a thong and nipple tassels (it’s a skill), and visceral amputations in game trailers, do we consider real sex to be the most harmful thing on the internet today that is not illegal.
The Wired article continues to ask similar questions to those that I put to the ATVOD CEO, Pete Johnson, in June 2013.
I asked Johnson why does he consider sexual imagery more likely to morally deprave a child than the violence shown on TV (The Good Cop was my example at the time which featured the graphic beating of a Police Officer) and video games such as GTA.
His response was simply that he believes there is “something inherently damaging to a child in sexual material.” Needless to say he didn’t share my view and it was clear that regardless of whether ATVOD’s remit is to drive porn out of the UK or not, their CEO is firmly against it. It makes me believe that any kind of communication with ATVOD is likely to only be one way.
You may recall that literally the following day after episode one of the Good Cop aired with the graphic murder of a Police Officer, In Manchester two Police Women were called out to a house, it became clear they were being lured into a trip where the were shot and killed in a grenade attack.
There was not a single shot of sex in the entire series just an episode after episode of bloody violence. The Good Cop aired at 9PM on terrestrial TV.
Clark points out that Johnson himself says evidence for harm will always be inconclusive given the ethical and moral obstacles to collecting it – ie having to expose minors to prolonged periods of adult content for research purposes. Which rightly is a route completely closed off.
“reasonable people must make reasonable judgements based on the balance of probabilities and cannot rely on conclusive proof”
My point would be, given my meetings and e-mail communication with ATVOD they are not able to be reasonable. Johnson is against the availability of pornography which I, and others, consider is an unreasonable starting point.
The recent clampdown seems to be triggered by recent murders, abductions and rapes that have been heavily reported in the media with further pressure being applied to the Government from the Parents of victims such as Paul Jones, April Jones’s father, who has taken to campaigning for what seems to be the complete eradication of adult entertainment.
Mark Bridger, one of the men convicted of the abduction and murder of April Jones, a five-year-old girl, was also found to have been in possession of images of child abuse. The media seem to associate images of child abuse as adult content and pornography – they are not, they are illegal images depicting child abuse and have no place in the adult entertainment industry.
Such images also very clearly appeal to a different and much smaller audience so it is a mus-representation to present them as anything but images depicting child abuse. If anything calling it child porn only serves to soften what they actually are.
It seems to be that finding sexual images of children or in fact any kind of adult content – legal or otherwise - on an individual’s computer, even during a search for a minor offense (on your phone for example) is enough for the person in possession to be deemed a monster in the eyes of the media and then society but also, much more worryingly, such a discovery can be allowed to be accepted as an indictment of an entire industry.
We never hear the reports of how many million of people who regularly consume pornography yet somehow don’t turn into this raging, foaming at the mouth, sex crazed monster like something out of a sexploitation film in the 80′s.
The wired article is worth checking out, there is a lot of info in there including ‘a history of fear’ and a summary of our ‘cultural relationship’ with pornography.