Object Release Another Porn Poll

It seems the NSPCC are not alone. The anti-sex morality group (sorry, I mean “feminist human rights organisation” or whatever they are calling themselves this week) Object has commissioned a poll on porn.

Faced with a complete lack of evidence that can link porn with violence or other harm, Object have cut out the science and gone straight to the public.

object

Do serious researchers think that porn causes violence? No. Does the public? According to this poll (which we’re sure was carried out to impeccably high standards), 64% say Yes. Worryingly, only 2% don’t know. And a very sensible 1% refused to answer.

So we’re carrying out our own “scientific” poll here:

 

Do you think that hatred of sex and sexuality is caused by:

a) Genuine fear that it is harmful,
b) A twisted and hateful view of humanity,
c) Badly fitting underwear?

Please answer in the comments section below or send us an email. We’re sure the mass media will be fascinated to publish our results.

Alternatively, please donate to our campaign to help us continue to oppose this dangerous moral panic, which is aimed at creating a case for Internet censorship.

Open Letter to NSPCC re: “Porn Addiction” Study

The letter below was sent to Peter Wanless, CEO of the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, on Friday 10th April. It is signed by leading academics, sex educators, journalists and campaigners.

 

To: Peter Wanless, Chief Executive Officer, NSPCC

Dear Mr Wanless,

We write to express our deep concern about a report you published last week, which received significant press coverage. The report claimed that a tenth of 12-13 year olds believe they are addicted to pornography, and appears to have been fed to the media with accompanying quotes suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people.

Your study appears to rely entirely on self-report evidence from young people of 11 and older, and so is not – as it has been presented – indicative of actual harm but rather, provides evidence that some young people are fearful that pornography is harming them. In other words, this study looks at the effects on young people of widely published but unevidenced concerns about pornography, not the effects of pornography itself.

It appears that your study was not an academic one, but was carried out by a “creative market research” group called OnePoll. We are concerned that you, a renowned child protection agency, are presenting the findings of an opinion poll as a serious piece of research. Management Today recently critiqued OnePoll in an article that opened as follows: “What naive readers may not realise is that much of what is reported as scientific is not in fact genuine research at all, but dishonest marketing concocted by PR firms.”

There have been countless studies into the effects of porn since the late 1960s, and yet the existence of the kinds of harm you report remains contested. In fact, many researchers have reached the opposite conclusion: that increased availability of porn correlates with healthier attitudes towards sex, and with steadily reducing rates of sexual violence. For example, the UK government’s own research (1) generated the following conclusion in 2005: “There seems to be no relationship between the availability of pornography and an increase in sex crimes …; in comparison there is more evidence for the opposite effect.”

The very existence of “porn addiction” is questionable, and it is not an accepted medical condition. Dr David J Ley, a psychologist specialising in this field, says: “Sex and porn can cause problems in people’s lives, just like any other human behavior or form of entertainment. But, to invoke the idea of “addiction” is unethical, using invalid, scientifically and medically-rejected concepts to invoke fear and feed panic.” (2)

Immediately following the release of your report, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the Tories would be introducing strong censorship of the Internet if they win the next election, in order to “protect children” from pornography. The Culture Secretary’s new announcement would probably lead to millions of websites being blocked by British ISPs, should it come into force. We would point out the experience of the optional “porn filters”, introduced in early 2014, which turned out in practise to block a vast range of content including sex education material.

The BBC news website quotes you as saying, in response to the minister’s announcement: “Any action that makes it more difficult for young people to find this material is to be welcomed.” We disagree: we believe that introducing Chinese-style blocking of websites is not warranted by the findings of your opinion poll, and that serious research instead needs to be undertaken to determine whether your claims of harm are backed by rigorous evidence.

Signatories:

Jerry Barnett, CEO Sex & Censorship
Frankie Mullin, Journalist
Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland
Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University
David J. Ley PhD. Clinical Psychologist (USA)
Dr Brooke Magnanti
Feona Attwood, Professor of Media & Communication at Middlesex University
Martin Barker, Emeritus Professor at University of Aberystwyth
Jessica Ringrose, Professor, Sociology of Gender and Education, UCL Institute of Education
Ronete Cohen MA, Psychologist
Dr Meg John Barker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University
Kath Albury, Associate Professor, UNSW Australia
Myles Jackman, specialist in obscenity law
Dr Helen Hester, Middlesex University
Justin Hancock, youth worker and sex educator
Ian Dunt, Editor in Chief, Politics.co.uk
Ally Fogg, Journalist
Dr Emily Cooper, Northumbria University
Gareth May, Journalist
Dr Kate Egan,  Lecturer in Film Studies,  Aberystwyth University
Dr Ann Luce, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University
John Mercer, Reader in Gender and Sexuality, Birmingham City University
Dr. William Proctor, Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University
Dr Jude Roberts, Teaching Fellow, University of Surrey
Dr Debra Ferreday, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Lancaster University
Jane Fae, author of “Taming the beast” a review of law/regulation governing online pornography
Michael Marshall, Vice President, Merseyside Skeptics Society
Martin Robbins, Journalist
Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn (University of Western Australia)
Dr Lucy Neville, Lecturer in Criminology, Middlesex University
Alix Fox, Journalist and Sex Educator
Dr Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Durham University
Chris Ashford, Professor of Law and Society, Northumbria University
Diane Duke, CEO Free Speech Coalition (USA)
Dr Steve Jones, Senior Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University
Dr Johnny Walker, Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University

Added post-publication:

Dr Anna Arrowsmith
Tuppy Owens, veteran campaigner for sexual rights for disabled people
Eric Paul Leue, Director of Sexual Health & Advocacy, kink.com

Footnotes:

1) http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/internet/explicit-material-vod.pdf Page 15

2) Article published at sexandcensorship.org by Dr David J Ley http://sexandcensorship.org/2013/11/sex-porn-addictive-david-ley/

Silencing “Hate Speech” Doesn’t Stop Hate

Anti-fascism is in my blood. As a teenager in the late-1970s, I became involved in Anti Nazi League protests and attended free Rock Against Racism festivals. I was concerned with racism in part because I attended a school where 90% of pupils were non-white, and I could directly see the corrosive effects of racism. But I was also aware of fascism because of my grandparents’ experience in the Jewish East End of London during the 1930s, where locals and anti-fascist supporters faced the real threat of fascism on a daily basis, and eventually had to physically confront the fascists in the streets.

You can read the full article at Huffington Post UK.

I Am Mutilated

Yesterday morning, whilst reading the news, I was shocked to learn that I have officially been mutilated. My junk, one of the rare parts of my body I like the look of, has undergone a “harmful procedure” that has left me officially a sufferer of Female Genital Mutilation – and what’s more, I paid someone to do it.

Around two years ago, I sought out the service of a friendly gent in a sterile environment to do the deed. For the small sum of £40, he, with my consent, unwittingly committed an act of Female Genital Mutilation upon my formerly unscathed lady-bits. My quick, and not entirely painless, outing left me with a shiny clitoral hood piercing, which has since brought me great aesthetic and sensory pleasure – but today it has been classified by the Department of Health as a mutilation. Not that my ears, tongue, lower lip or navel has been mutilated; only genital piercings constitute an act of grievous bodily modifications, and only on women.

As with all arguments around sensitive issues, there is always the complication of nuance to consider. So let me be clear here: I was 24 years old when I had my clitoral hood pierced. I was a consenting adult, neither coerced nor under the influence of any substance. I consented; nervously, but wholeheartedly. And whilst I’m not about to go into the finer points of my sex life (there are many trolls out there I’d rather not feed), I can say that decision has brought greater pleasure into my life since. I am against forced procedures or piercings on men or women of any age. However, I am also against branding women as “mutilated” for choosing to modify their genitals.

I want greater protection for women and girls who suffer genital mutilation; but protection does not start with smothering the rights of adult women over the control of their bodies.

This is the second time in the last few months our government has taken away the expression of female sexual pleasure in the name of protection. First we were told face-sitting wasn’t allowed in British porn; now we’re denied the right to pierce our bodies, and questions about consensual labiaplasty are being raised. Rape convictions rates in the UK are amongst the lowest in Europe; there are 170,000 women in this country living with real FGM. And now someone wants to ignore the issues and fudge the statistics by throwing consensual body modification into the mix.

As one of the molly-coddled masses in question, I have to ask: how is reducing the range of my available sexual expression and genital pleasure – both aesthetic and sensory – going to protect me from being aggressively sexualised, raped or genitally tortured?

We don’t ban BDSM because of domestic violence. We don’t ban acid face peels because of Katie Piper; one is a consensual cosmetic procedure and the other is a sickening act of grievous bodily harm. So why is the fate of my genitals determined by the harm done to another woman? In revoking the rights to consensual activity, we aren’t protecting consent. We’re denying it. Intrinsic danger provokes the need to make an act illegal – not the potential for abuse.

I know what mutilation is. As a former self-harmer, I have waged war against my own body with a number of sharp objects, and I have the scars to prove it. I haven’t committed bodily abuse against myself in 7 years; so to be told my decision to have my clitoral hood pierced was an act of self-mutilation – to be denied authority over my own body as an act of protection – has seriously pissed me off.

I want the World Health Organisation to prevent forced genital piercings. I want to provide protection to those suffering from FGM. But I also want our governing bodies to understand the difference between force and consent. And what they seem to have overlooked is this: the irony of classifying a consensual act as illegal is that it removes the right to consent from women. It forces them to abstain from modifications, thereby making a decision for them. It revokes their right to consent – and to bodily authority.

Most of you will agree that a dangerous acid attack and a cosmetic chemical peel are in no way comparable. Many of you will note that there is an enormous distinction between my own self-abuse issues and the torturous removal of female foreskin, and I will absolutely concede. Andperhaps it is ridiculous to compare legislative force to forced genital torture; but then, if these things are ridiculous, so is the comparison between a consensual piercing and an unwanted surgery. Ridiculous – and harmful to FGM’s cause.

No Sex Please, We’re British! UK Judges Fired for Looking at Porn

It emerged this week that four judges have left their jobs (one resigned, three fired) for looking at porn on their work computers. As usual in any news story involving pornography, the newspapers all excitedly reported the event, but none (that I could see) added any common sense to the issue.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the Lord Chief Justice, is quoted as saying the judges’ behaviour is “inexcusable”, but no clarification is provided to explain why he thinks this: then again, Lord Thomas is a huge fan of stoking up Porn Panic, having stated his belief a few weeks ago that pornography causes rape and murder… all available evidence, as we know, points in the opposite direction – that porn use is linked with a widespread and long-term reduction in violence. Surely, the truly inexcusable thing is for such a senior judge to make such an inflammatory statement. But when it comes to porn, panic tends to triumph over fact.

It was made clear that none of the viewed material was illegal in the UK. No child abuse imagery, no heavy BDSM, not even a bit of harmless (but banned) squirting. It seems unlikely that the sackings would have occurred if the judges had been watching Breaking Bad rather than smut.

So the sackings appear to have been made purely on the standard British measure of morality: that sex is worse than violence, horror, or pretty much anything else.

Comment from normally sensible sources was equally silly – after all, the British press couldn’t possibly treat us like grown-ups when it comes to pornography. And so Zoe Williams in the Guardian, rather than question why consenting sex between adults is still treated as a taboo, provides a confused analysis: apparently, the judges are “backward” because they don’t understand how to browse in privacy mode, and this is somehow linked to the lack of ethnic diversity in the legal profession… or something. Is Williams suggesting that black judges would be less likely to enjoy pornography, or that an enjoyment of porn is somehow racist? Are the judges “backward” for looking at porn, or is Williams backward for being unable to say out loud that sex – and depictions of sex – are not harmful?

Why were these men fired, and why does nobody in the media seem to be asking this question?

From our perspective, the sackings (and their press coverage) are simply an indication that the British middle-classes are still deeply uncomfortable talking about sex. They like it to be under cover, secretive. Nobody needs to know, do they…? Let’s make it our little secret.

The ongoing revelations about the scale of establishment child abuse in the 1980s and earlier decades suggest that secrecy is harmful, not porn. We shouldn’t trust an establishment that is trying to turn back the clock to those dark times. We live in healthier and safer times. It is heartening to learn that judges are just like the rest of us, and sad to find that the heads of the judiciary, and the mass media, are still terrified to accept that sex between consenting adults is OK.

Trans-Denying Feminists (aka “TERFs”) – Transphobic or Just Plain Wrong?

I had generally avoided the “debate” over trans rights and transphobia, which is characterised by plenty of heat and little light, until I debated against Julie Bindel last year on pornography at the University of Essex. There had been calls to cancel the debate, based on Bindel’s alleged transphobia (despite the debate having nothing to do with the issue), and we were inevitably met by a shouty little group of students accusing Bindel of being a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist).

Bindel has been “No Platformed” by  a number of student unions (or rather, the elitist little clique that controls many student unions and decides what the rest of the student body should or should not hear on campus). Ludicrously, such people claim that refusing to allow a person to speak on campus isn’t censorship. “It’s not censorship to deny someone a platform…”. It’s worrying that some of these authoritarian bullies will form the next generation of politicians, and will inevitably try to extend No Platform beyond universities: “It’s not censorship. We’re simply denying bloggers a platform by throwing them in jail”.

The new left, obsessed with identity politics, and lacking the intelligent analysis of earlier generations of progressives, has trouble formulating intelligent positions, and instead resorts to labelling people bigots and trying to silence them. Are Bindel, Germaine Greer and other feminists really hate-filled “transphobes”? To me, this avoids the more important question: are they right? And undoubtedly, the answer is No. They are wrong: but their mistake is a fundamental one that is broadly shared across the new left, not just TERFs.

The success of liberal values in the 1960s established equality as an essential for any enlightened society. Women, racial minorities and homosexuals all took great strides forward in their legal statuses (although the inevitable cultural battles continued). But post-modern left thinkers, especially feminists, took things further, deciding that nature itself must be declared equal. Thus, biological differences were increasingly denied: it was deemed that every child was equally capable of everything, and that individual differences in intelligence, in ability and in gender behaviours were therefore cultural, rather than rooted in biology.

So as religious objections to evolution have faded, the post-modernists have become the new creationists, denying the increasing weight of science that demonstrates how important genes are to all of our core instincts and behaviours.

The 1970s feminist movement declared gender identity to be a cultural, not a biological attribute, with hilarious consequences, which I remember well, as my mother and her friends were Women’s Libbers. It was widely predicted for example that women, now liberated, would come to equal men in sporting achievements (to be fair, there was an uptick in female world records, but this turned out to be down to the widespread use of drugs by Eastern bloc countries). It was also believed that the tendency for women to obsess over their appearances far more than men was due to “patriarchal oppression”, and so women’s lib would mean an end to mini-skirts, make-up and high heels: in fact, greater female economic independence has led to exactly the opposite scenario, with sales of cosmetics, beauty products and female clothes booming. On race, the success of West Africans in power sports, and East Africans in endurance events, was put down to “racial oppression”, rather than biological advantages.

Most fundamentally, it was deemed that children’s gender identities could be crafted by giving them different toys to play with. Thus, boys of my generation were given dolls to play with as well as trains, and toy weaponry was frowned upon. Generation after generation of feminist mothers have tried, and failed, to override their children’s innate sense of gender identity. (Some time ago I saw a very good blog by a feminist mother on how giving birth to two boys destroyed her belief that gender behaviours were merely cultural – if anyone knows of the link, please let me know and I’ll add it here).

By the 1990s, the science was well advanced, and increasingly showed that gender and sexual behaviours were in large part genetic. Twin studies allowed the effects of genes and environment to be isolated and measured, and once the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, we gained the ability to directly “read” which genes were linked with each of our behaviours. Evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and genetics all developed rapidly and gradually demolished the foundations of post-modern thinking. The 1999 book Why Men Don’t Iron was one of many that explained the emerging understanding about gender behaviours, and was made into a TV programme. Similarly, the book Why Is Sex Fun included a chapter titled “Why Do Men Hunt?” By 2013, neuroscience had advanced to the point where it unveiled, in detail, the different wiring of male and female brains.

But like all true religious believers, the post-modernists became increasingly shrill, as the rug of scientific evidence was yanked from beneath them. They attacked biology covertly, dismissing solid, mainstream science as “biological determinism”. In terms of science denial, they are greater offenders than even climate-change sceptics: the science they deny is far older and more solid than climate science.

Bizarrely, the post-modernists allow for one loophole: in response to claims from the religious right that homosexuality is cultural and therefore curable, they are prepared to accept the biological roots of homosexuality. But on gender, they take the same position as the religious right do over homosexuality: it is cultural, and therefore must be curable.

As with sexuality, a minority of individuals are born possessing gender identities that depart from the mainstream. As with all other people, trans people deserve equality, and their human rights to be upheld. They deserve to live a life free from stigma and bullying, and for their chosen identities to be honoured by the world. The battle for trans rights is belatedly being fought, having been largely overlooked by earlier generations. In a sign that this debate has now fully entered the mainstream, new-left darling Owen Jones, never an early entrant to any issue, has recently contributed one of his typically worthy-but-unenlightening perspectives.

And so inevitably, trans activists have clashed with some among the older generation of feminists, still wed to the discredited idea of nurture over nature. Bindel and co are probably not bigoted; they are simply wrong; they cannot shake off the progressive ideas of their youths that have turned out to be discredited by science.

But the TERFs are not the only people still clinging on to this rejection of science. A leading female sex blogger responded to a science article I tweeted by tweeting back at me: “Biological determinism is fucking bollocks!” – illustrating the low quality of debate around these subjects. The ongoing arguments over “gendered” toys continue, based on the silly assumption that Barbie dolls and pink Lego bricks are somehow responsible for the lack of female CEOs and nuclear physicists. Despite 50 years of post-modern parenting, gender differences are as strong as ever.

Like all religious-type movements, biology-denying feminism will crash and burn, but it will become increasingly shrill on the way down. Discussions over sex, sexuality and gender in the absence of scientific understanding invariably produce laughable nonsense. Equal rights are a legal and ethical idea: they don’t require underlying conformity. We are all different, we are all equal.

Morality-Based Employment Discrimination

My employment with a UK-based, mainstream fashion brand was recently terminated on account of my adult work and business conflicting with the interests of the company.

When I accepted the job of Multimedia Designer and Developer with Missguided it did not occur to me that my experience in the online adult industry might work against me.

I lasted five days in what seemed a perfectly suited role for my skills, experience and enthusiasm before the company terminated my contract under the probationary terms of employment. The only explanation they gave shortly before marching me out of the building was ‘for reasons we can’t elaborate on at this time.’

Of course, I was certain of the reasoning behind it and I was aware that they took a view that, in my opinion, was narrow-minded and shallow of the adult work I have produced but instead of allowing me the courtesy of responding to their concerns they chose to cut ties.

An ‘official‘ reason eventually came through the recruiting agency that had placed me in the role; I was told that Missguided felt my adult business ‘conflicted’ with the interests and values of their brand.

I have still yet to receive any official, written confirmation of my contact’s termination.

Additional frustration was caused due to the fact that I had been upfront and honest from the very start with Pervlens Media proudly placed on my CV (which both interviewers had with them during my interview), we discussed areas of work I had been engaged in in the past and they had over three weeks to do their due diligence before my start date.

It was especially surprising to me as Missguided paints itself as an edgy, modern, progressive and fresh brand and I thought if anyone would be able to look past the adult content, even embrace it as something that makes my experience that little more unique, they would.

I have held jobs previously in roles with companies like Urban Vision, a partnership with Salford City Council, that had me, on a regular basis, coming into contact and dealing with council officers, Councillors, elected officials and members of the public.

It is probably a well-known fact, perhaps even to be expected, that a past in adult films will close off mainstream opportunities and employment .

Renee Richards, a well-known UK adult ex-performer, has experienced such discrimination too, and lost at least two jobs due to her past life, commenting;

“I worked in the adult (porn) industry for four and a half years, and performed in over 200 films. In that time I did not feel degraded nor did I find working in the industry demeaning. However, since leaving the industry I have been treated in a demeaning and degrading way by people who are not in the adult industry, who have either found out of their own volition that I used to work in the adult industry, or by me telling them.”

I wanted to share my experience as this kind of discrimination is often allowed under current employment law and is rarely spoken about and contrary to what people may think affects those behind the camera too such as back office and support staff of adult companies just as much as it can affect the performers and ‘stars’ of adult entertainment.

Legal advice that I sought shortly after the termination confirmed that the law is not only extremely employer-sided in the first two years of employment, especially so during the probationary period, but employers are not even legally obliged to elaborate or give written confirmation of the reasons for dismissal.

It has left me pondering – when did the UK become a place where we allow judgements on an individual with work history in a perfectly legal industry who was upfront and honest about it influence the ability or skill to do a job?

[Note: Missguided have been contacted for comment. At the time of publication, no reply has been received.]

Where Does The Green Party Stand on Sexual Freedom?

As the May election approaches, we should all be considering our individual priorities, and selecting an appropriate party and candidate to vote for. So for me (as you might expect) the erosion of civil liberties is far and away the biggest issue we face at this election, and especially those issues around sexual freedom and free expression.

Which parties are the strongest in these areas? Well to begin with, we can ignore the two largest: both Labour and the Tories have appalling records in these areas, climbing over each other to censor online expression and then insisting that the other side isn’t being tough enough on terrorists/protecting children/[insert your favourite threat to humanity].

UKIP’s libertarian noises have been a clever tactic to attract those who are sick of the politically-correct authoritarianism of the puritan left. But there can be nothing pro-liberty about UKIP in practise: their support comes overwhelmingly from older, socially conservative voters, who would be outraged by a loosening of policy on sex or drugs. UKIP has no mandate for expanding civil liberties, but their anti-immigration policies would require a large investment in the security state. More police with more powers? No thanks.

Putting aside the tiny parties (the Pirates have already featured here), there are two choices remaining: the Greens or the Lib Dems. Many of my sex-positive friends are enthusiastic supporters of the Greens, who are projected as a pro-liberty, left-wing alternative. I have doubts whether the Greens are either especially libertine or left (that discussion can continue elsewhere!) But where do they stand on sex? I was sent a link today to a statement of policy which has left me just as uncertain as before.

On Sexual Freedom

The Green Party believes that the law should not seek to regulate consensual sexual activities between adults where these do not affect others…

– This is a bland statement, rendered of little value by the “where these do not affect others” part, which is a get-out-of-jail-free card. Do the existence of strip clubs “affect others”? Anti-sex campaigners think so, and have long made (discredited) arguments that strip clubs cause an increase in sexual violence. Do lads’ mags or Page 3 affect others? Pro-censorship campaigners say these “objectify women” and make supermarkets and newsagents uncomfortable places for some women to visit. Anti-gay rights campaigners have long considered that the rights of gay people have wider, detrimental (but hard-to-quantify) effects on society. Basically, any sex act that doesn’t happen between two people in private might be said to “affect others”.

4/10

On Censorship

The statement continues:

... restrictions and censorship of sexually explicit material should be ended, except for those aimed at protecting children. The following are direct quotes from our official policy.

RR550 … Adults should be free to do as they wish with their own bodies, and to practice whatever form of sexual activity they wish by themselves or with each other by mutual consent. This includes the freedom not only to engage in such sexual acts, but also to be photographed or filmed doing so, to make such images available to other adults with their consent, and to be able to view such images. That someone might receive payment for any of these activities should not affect this freedom.

http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/rr.html#RR550

– This is a much stronger statement, but heavily undermined by the caveat “except for those aimed at protecting children” (my highlight above). Most UK censorship of sexual expression exists under the “protecting children” caveat. This includes the total ban on hardcore porn on TV – even at 3am, even PIN-protected – because (according to Ofcom) children might know the PIN and have access to a TV at 3am. The filters on home broadband, public WiFi and mobile Internet connections exist to “protect children”, but in practise block a lot of valuable content to both children and adults. ATVOD’s harassment of UK-based adult websites is done under the seemingly false pretext of child protection.

5/10

Sex Work

The statement continues:

RR554 Therefore, all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults should be decriminalised. Restrictions and censorship of sexually explicit material should be ended, except for those which are aimed at protecting children. Workers in the sex industry should enjoy the same rights as other workers such as the right to join unions (SeeWR410), the right to choose whether to work co-operatively with others etc. Decriminalisation would also help facilitate the collection of taxes due from those involved in sex work. Legal discrimination against sex workers should be ended (for example, in child custody cases, where evidence of sex work is often taken to mean that a person is an unfit parent).http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/rr.html#RR555

This is a strong, positive statement. It continues…

At the time that the 2008 bill was passed we did not have a Green MP in Parliament so did not have a vote. However our policy towards all forms of sex work is a liberal one advocating decriminalisation with protections against exploitation, abuse and trafficking.

And here’s the BIG problem with the Greens. They have a great sex work policy, and they now have one MP, Caroline Lucas. But Lucas is a vociferous opponent of Green policy on sex work, as well as a leading supporter of the censorious No More Page 3 campaign. Which way would she vote on these issues? We have no idea.

Note also the inclusion of the T-word… “trafficking” here. The blurring of lines between sex work and trafficking is based on the largely mythical idea of “sex trafficking”, which is used to attack the legitimacy of sex work. Not good.

7/10

We will try to carry more party-based coverage in the run-up to the election. If party supporters and representatives would like to provide us information on their policies related to these subjects, or write a post for this blog, please contact us.

B&Q Embraces Kinksters as 50 Shades is Released

Once upon a time, the fetish world was a dark, seedy place for the hardcore enthusiast only. Thanks to the Internet, kink has increasingly entered the mainstream, but we can thank 50 Shades of Grey for really bringing BDSM to suburbia.

50 Shades has outraged pro-censorship activists and the Daily Mail more than any porn ever could, because it has penetrated the reading lists and the bedrooms of respectable British housewives. Morality campaigners, horrified at the success of the books, have tried to link them to domestic violence, and have even called for book burnings. With the movie about to be released, the anti-50 Shades campaigners have launched a boycott, calling on people to donate to sexual abuse charities instead of watching it at the cinema.

None of this outrage has made a dent in public enthusiasm for 50 Shades, or the resulting interest in BDSM.

Indeed, BDSM is now so mainstream that the DIY chain store B&Q has jumped in on the act. In a “leaked memo to staff“, B&Q have warned employees to expect a surge of interest in BDSM-related products when the 50 Shades movie premières, including ropes, cable ties and tape.

It may be a surprise to B&Q staff that there are alternative uses for these apparently boring products, but the kink community is way ahead of them. London-based dominatrix Ms Tytania enthusiastically endorses B&Q’s products:

Every kinkster knows that their local DIY store is a treasure trove of pervertables: a term used to describe every happy find in its seemingly mundane aisles. This knowledge passes from kinkster to kinkster, and it’s a good thing, because along with the instructions, come the safety rules and common sense. Ever since I discovered the kink scene in London, I’ve been told of marvellous contraptions and materials that can be bought cheaply at B&Q, how to use them, and what to do with them, safely. If you know where to look, B&Q could be your favourite sex shop.

One of my favourite activities is japanese rope bondage: the art of tying people up, securely, inescapably and aesthetically. B&Q sell my favourite rope: 6mm, red polypropylene, in their rope & chains aisle. Well, I hope they still sell it, because it’s proven to be so hard-wearing and durable, that even though I use it to suspend 15 stone blokes from my ceiling suspension (made with concrete screws from yes, you guessed it, B&Q), it still looks as good as new after more than 8 years . It’s a beautiful, solid coral red and machine washable. Soft to the touch against the skin and cut in lengths of 4, 6 or 10 metres (anything longer would be too tangly), easily the best rope I’ve ever used for Shibari.

While enthusiasts embrace the convergence of BDSM and DIY, some strike a note of caution to inexperienced enthusiasts trying out kink for the first time. Sexpert Emily Dubberley says:

If B&Q staff are going to be given a memo on use of equipment, it is important they are aware of safety guidelines so they don’t put any customers at risk. There are many great books and websites out there exploring how to practice BDSM safely: 50 Shades wasn’t written as a sex manual, but a fantasy. As such, while it may inspire you, it’s not a good idea to assume you can use it as a ‘how to’ guide: as I’m sure even EL James would agree. BDSM is as safe as any sex, as long as conducted with informed consent and knowledge: while I applaud B&Q’s approach towards diverse sexuality, and celebration of customer satisfaction, they also need to consider customer safety.

Ms Tytania agrees. Noting that B&Q’s memo had mentioned cable ties, she provides the following advice:

Never use bungee or elastic rope, cable ties or binds. Gaffer tape is OK, but it can stick to hair or beards and result on the wrong type of pain. You only want the good kind of pain during play, the type that helps you space out and drift away into submission, not the one that snaps you out of it in agony. If you are planning to give rope a try, use 3 metre long lengths that are simple to unknot and tie up the limbs only, always above or below joints. Never put rope on the joints themselves. To ensure that the tightness is right, I slip a finger between the rope and the limb: if it fits, it’s neither too tight nor too loose. And have a pair of medical scissors at hand, the ones used to cut through bandages, in case you need to cut (in this case, Boots is your friend).

So there you have it, folks: go out there and enjoy yourselves. But be careful out there.

Through the Looking Glass with No More Page 3

If you want to attract mass support for a dodgy cause, the trick is to sound eminently reasonable. Extremists tend to alienate most people, including those that are inclined to agree with them. If you have extreme objectives, the important thing is to deny them vociferously, however implausible the denial. Remember that most of your supporters don’t pay close attention to the detail: it’s the presentation that counts.

The far-right know this. The British National Party abruptly switched from an anti-Asian message to an anti-Muslim one within days of 9/11. Their target (working class Pakistani communities) hadn’t changed, but the presentation had. Similarly the English Defence League, eager to avert accusations of fascism, tried to show how pro-Jewish they were by carrying Israeli flags on their protests. “You see,” they were saying, “how can we be Nazis when we love Israel so much?” (although their supporters didn’t always get the message).

The anti-sex movement has had similar presentational problems. The powerful campaigner Mary Whitehouse had become widely mocked by the younger generation by the end of the 20th century. The new generation could no longer be convinced that enjoying and flaunting their sexuality was a bad thing. It seemed that the fear of sex had become a thing of a more prudish past.

The Whitehouse style of moral outrage gave way to a new presentation, re-wrapped in feminist terms. The new anti-sex movement talked in terms of objectification rather than decency or permissiveness, and tried to demonstrate that sexual expression was harmful to women, and thus censorship could be justified in the name of feminism. But beyond the realm of student unions and Guardian comment pages, anti-sex feminists suffered from the same problems that had afflicted Whitehouse: they were seen as prudish, humourless and ideological.

The biggest problem with building a popular anti-sex movement is that most people like sex. Trying to ban all visible displays of sexuality is unlikely to attract mass support, especially when the reasoning (“OMG Objectification, Sexualisation and RAPE CULTURE!!!”) is so easy to pick apart, given the chance for debate.

The problem is one of presentation. Just as the far right was forced to adopt a “we’re not racist, but…” approach, so the anti-sex movement had to learn to to be more subtle than repeating “porn is rape”. A soft target for censorship had to be found – one that attracted little sympathy. Enter No More Page 3.

The success of the No More Page 3 campaign has been based on two decisions: first, to pick the widely-hated Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper as the target for censorship; and second, to deny that their blatantly anti-sex, pro-censorship campaign was either anti-sex or pro-censorship. The first move was smart; the second took sheer brass nerve, reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf (aka Comical Ali), who famously claimed Iraq was winning the war, against a backdrop of invading American troops.

As well as nerve, denying the obvious with a straight face takes a good deal of PR expertise and media training, and NMP3 clearly has no shortage of such resources. In politics, most people follow the voice they like, not the one with reasoned argument, and the nice ladies of NMP3 have fashioned themselves an image as the Women’s Institute of the anti-sex movement (though of course, they’re NOT anti-sex). They have successfully formed a broad church ranging from middle-English Christians and girl guides to various strands of feminism and the puritan left.

Last week, my long-held ambition to meet NMP3 came to fruition, when I was invited to debate the issue against a NMP3 representative at Loughborough University. The NMP3 “argument” is almost identical to the anti-porn one that I’ve found so easy to overturn in numerous debates; the big difference is that NMP3 caveat everything they say with “But we’re not anti-sex, we only care about Page 3″.

Thus: Naked models “objectify women” BUT ONLY WHEN THEY’RE ON PAGE 3! WE LOVE PORN!; Bare female breasts contribute to a culture of misogyny and sexism BUT ONLY WHEN THEY’RE ON PAGE 3! WE LOVE BOOBS! And so on…

It’s all so silly, one should laugh; except that 250,000 people have signed a petition on the back of this nonsense, and various public figures, including MPs, have supported the campaign.

The debate itself felt like some combination of Alice Through the Looking Glass and Orwell’s 1984. Bianca, the NMP3 representative, seemed to be treating the occasion as though she were a government minister, sent to appear on Newsnight to defend a policy she didn’t really agree with. So, for example, when I questioned whether she really didn’t have a problem with sexual imagery in general (for example, lads’ mags), she simply refused to answer, saying that her own views were irrelevant, and she had come to represent the official position of NMP3. When I pushed the issue, she embarked on a long, skilled and off-topic ramble of the type that Jeremy Paxman is so often forced to deal with.

Again, asked why NMP3 appears to have strong links with anti-sex organisations and individuals, the response was one of faux outrage: To label NMP3 anti-sex was totally unjustified! (Although I hadn’t actually done that). Yet she refused to provide any clarity as to why NMP3 mingles with anti-sex campaigners when it is a pro-sex organisation. Questioned as to why NMP3 attended the extremist Stop Porn Culture conference in London, she simply denied that they were anti-porn, but didn’t clarify why they had attended. Surely if an “anti-racist” had attended a BNP conference, they would at least have a case to answer.

I was genuinely impressed, and somewhat thrown, by the skilled use of doublespeak. When I pointed out the the lack of any research evidence linking Page 3 with harm against women, Bianca announced that NMP3 have never claimed Page 3 was harmful! And as I tried to stop myself falling off my chair, she then embarked on a speech listing instances of harm caused by Page 3: body image problems, a culture of sexism, and so on. So no evidence of harm, but lots of harm. Who needs evidence when you just know, deep in your heart, that it’s wrong? Again, doublespeak was much in evidence when dealing with the issue of censorship: NMP3 is definitely NOT in favour of banning anything, explained Bianca, before proudly stating that 33 student unions, with the support of NMP3, had voted not to allow sales of the Sun on campus. But – I questioned – isn’t that a ban? No, she replied, because NMP3 don’t call for legislation. The Sun isn’t banned from those 33 campuses. It’s simply not sold because the student unions voted to – er …. No, not ban it! Simply prevent it from being sold. There’s a word for that kind of thing… it’s on the tip of my tongue.

Similar wordplay is in evidence whenever NMP3 talk about their goals. They don’t want to censor anything! They simply want the Sun to remove Page 3 so people can’t see it any more. I was ultimately reduced to suggesting the attendees should look up the words “ban” and “censor” in a dictionary, as well as read 1984, to get an understanding for how skilled NMP3’s abuse of the English language was. Dictionary.com provides this definition of censor: “any person who supervises the manners or morality of others”… and what could better describe a mob of non-Sun readers trying to dictate what Sun readers can look at?

The debate ended with a stereotypical, and comical, student-leftie discussion about “capitalism”: It’s outrageous, claimed a speaker, that Rupert Murdoch is profiting from women! Ignoring the fact that “profit from women” happens anywhere that women choose to work, from banking to sport to journalism to… well, everything. The only solution to this horrible exploitation would be to ban all women from working! And although that may sound snarky, it reveals a truth about much that is said in the name of feminism these days: many self-declared feminists are working to reverse, not defend, the gains of the Women’s Lib movement.

No More Page 3 is establishing a dangerous pro-censorship precedent: that there are cases (or one case, anyway) where imagery of women must be suppressed for the wider good of all decent women and girls. It’s an old, moralistic viewpoint with a new twist. That precedent being established, where would the anti-sex, anti-woman witch-hunt end?

%d bloggers like this:

The UK is sleepwalking into censorship

  • Thousands of websites blocked by filters
  • Porn is just the starting point
  • Free expression is under threat!

Keep track of events by joining our mailing list