Religious people more likely to claim porn addiction

A new study has revealed Religious people are less likely than non-religious people to report using pornography, but tellingly those who do use it are more likely to claim they are addicted to it.

This may not be an especially new idea but it is the first study I have come across, specifically in recent years where there has been consistent and what seems to be increasingly anti-porn pressure coming from religion-based groups or individuals.

Porn addiction is, and has always been, notoriously poorly defined, and has no official diagnosis. Even porn itself is hard to define, with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart saying “I’ll know it when I see it” during the 1964 trial – Jacobellis v. Ohio. As reported here last year, the very existence of porn addiction is viewed with skepticism by psychologists.

“There are a lot of people out there [who] identify themselves as porn addicts,” Joshua Grubbs, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Grubbs and his colleagues performed two studies to investigate whether being religious is related to perceptions of porn addiction.

The first study involved young college students from three different U.S. universities, and the second study involved older adults. The researchers asked participants whether they watched porn and, if they did, whether they considered themselves to be addicted to it.

They also measured how religious the participants were, the extent to which they could control their use of porn, to what lengths they would go to access pornography and whether they disapprove of porn morally.

In both studies, they found that religious individuals were less likely than nonreligious individuals to report using porn. Religious people who do use porn, however, are exposed to about the same amount as nonreligious people are, the researchers said.

Religious people were more likely than nonreligious people to disapprove of porn on moral grounds, and were also more likely to perceive their use as an addiction.

“Despite the fact that religious people feel more addicted to porn, they’re not using it more,” Grubbs said. They probably just feel more addicted because they disapprove of it, he said.

In fact they may be using it far less than non-religious people but because those instances where they turn to porn are at such odds with years and years of religious and moral teachings about a specific view of what is acceptable they may well feel an overwhelming sense of shame or guilt.

Religious people could be using the term addiction as a get out of jail for free card and an excuse that helps shield them from judgment in their community.

Criminalised For Receiving “Extreme Porn” Via WhatsApp

Two UK men in their twenties have been convicted of possessing extreme pornography in a case involving the distribution of images featuring beastiality.

Despite the judge accepting that that the two men had not solicited the images Gary Ticehurst, 28, of Canvey Island, Essex, and Mark Kelly, 25, of Romford were both given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 costs.

Both pleaded guilty to possessing the images on their smartphones. Kelly pleaded guilty to one count of “possessing an extreme pornographic image likely to cause injury”, and three counts of possessing pornographic images involving animals. Ticehurst admitted one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image as well as two counts of possessing pornographic images involving animals.

The images were found after Police had stopped the two men for unrelated matters and a routine inspection of their phones was carried out.

Both men defended themselves in court. Kelly said he had deleted the received videos from his WhatsApp, adding that he was unaware that images were saved to his camera roll. “I didn’t even watch the full content of the video. It was very sick and disturbing,” he told the court.

Judge Paul Worsley told the court that his was imposing a “lenient” sentence, accepting that neither man had solicited the content nor had attempted to share it with others.

“You have pleaded guilty to possessing truly disgusting images,” Judge Worsley said adding “It makes a big difference if someone goes out of their way to seek it, or if they’re sent it by some mischievous colleague.”

Even after the judge’s leniency and appearing to have accepted the indirect means the duo were sent the offending images he still imposed a significant punishment.

These kind of cases are always frustrating for me to listen to or read about. Yes I find beastilaity disgusting, yes it’s currently a crime HOWEVER i’ve had random WhatsApp messages from people i’ve met once or twice, or on occasion never, there is no telling what content is in them.

It is literally like trying to convict someone of possessing an e-mail selling illegal viagra. There will be lots of truly innocent individuals caught up in these kind of charges.

My mind is pondering the demo sex and censorship held outside the UK launch of Stop Porn Culture. It would have been so easy for the Police to have stopped and searched any one of us on the basis that we were demonstrating and who knows how many of us the could have detained on these ambiguous, spurious and damn right silly charges.

That is the kind of abuse these laws, coupled with heavy handed powers can fuel.

Beware The Department of Dirty!

The UK government’s efforts to protect citizens from the terrible dangers that lie only a mouse click away sometimes seem completely ludicrous. And that’s because they are. Indeed, the British public has given its verdict on the “porn filters” by switching them off en-masse.

So this fun little one-minute video from the Open Rights Group (aka Department of Dirty) is a great response. If you don’t laugh, you might cry.

mindbrowse

Calling Anti-Porn Feminists!

On July 22nd, the female-run site Sssh.com will host a live debate titled “Women in porn: shattering the myths”.

Or at least, they would like to. The problem being that they can’t find anybody to put the anti-porn case. It’s not as if there’s any lack of anti-porn women. There are plenty of campaigners prepared to write endless column inches or countless books about the evils of pornography; numerous (lucrative) speaking tours take place to spread the word that porn is a serious threat to women and children.

But debates, it seems, are a different matter. So here is a shout out to anti-porn feminists. Hey Object! Yo UK Feminista! Ahem Gail Dines! Please mail Mindbrowse if you would like to take part.

The debate (or cordial discussion) will take place at MindBrowse.com on 22nd July at 3pm EST (8pm UK time), and will be live-tweeted using the hashtag #WomenInPorn. It will feature Cindy Gallop, Kelly Holland and Ashley Fires.

News Site “UK Column” Removes All Videos After Brush with ATVOD

Few people in the UK are yet aware that for the past few years, the huge media regulator (and censor) Ofcom has had the power to regulate online video services. The EU’s Audio Visual Media Services Directive (AVMS) was intended to extend broadcast regulation to online TV catch-up services. In this country, Ofcom was tasked with implementing the directive, and promptly outsourced the job to a private organisation, ATVOD.

The regulations were originally expected to apply only to services such as 4oD and the BBC’s iPlayer; but ATVOD had different ideas, taking a far broader view of what constituted a “TV-like” service. ATVOD’s first move was to effectively wipe out the UK porn industry overnight by insisting British porn sites verify the age of all visitors before allowing them to see any naughty bits: a requirement so onerous that no site could possibly hope to implement it and stay in business (ATVOD claims the support of the “responsible” adult industry, but this in fact consists of TV and DVD companies who are delighted to see their online competitors closed down).

In the interest of full disclosure, mine was one of many businesses affected, and I closed my company in 2012. Playboy moved its core operations from London to Canada (losing UK jobs and tax revenues), and many smaller sites were simply forced to shut down. But the new regulation poses a threat far beyond the right to operate a porn site. All websites deemed TV-like by ATVOD are forced to pay the regulator a fee, and then become liable for implementing rules designed for large broadcast corporations. Breaching these complex rules can mean the site’s operator receives a penalty of up to £250,000.

Suddenly, individuals running video websites, or even YouTube channels, must conform to the same rules as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky. The corrosive effect on free speech is potentially catastrophic. And this week, the threat proved to be more than theoretical.

The campaigning website UK Column, which reports on corruption within the British establishment, decided to remove all of its video content after being deemed an “on-demand programme service” by ATVOD. The site’s co-editor Brian Gerrish said: “This represents an immediate and dangerous attack on free speech on the internet and should be of massive concern to all Youtube users, as the government seems to be moving to censor individuals directly, putting them on the same regulatory footing as global corporations like the BBC and CNN. As a government agency, ATVOD’s clearly flawed working practices and their alignment to the corporate media pose a direct threat to our personal liberty and freedoms.”

For 20 years, the Internet has threatened the power of the state and corporations to set the message. Ordinary citizens have become publishers of blogs, podcasts and videos. In Britain, this era of unprecedented free speech has now come to an abrupt end. The British state has signalled its intolerance for citizen broadcasters.

Pornography is the canary in the coalmine: it is the playing field upon which censors can hone their methods before turning their gaze elsewhere. The British press, from the Guardian to the Mail, and the political class from Labour to Conservative, has almost universally allowed the Porn Panic to proceed without question. And yet censorship powers developed for one reason can easily be reused elsewhere. This week’s events are a wake-up call to those who had not yet noticed that British democracy is in an increasingly weakened state. Free speech is in undeniable decline. This is no longer about the right to watch pornography: it is about whether Britain is losing the freedoms that are so fundamental a part of this country’s history.

Beauty or objectification?

East London Strippers Fight Back

Attacked by feminists on one side, and victims of poor employment practices on the other, strippers have had little support in their battles. We welcome new blogger Stacey Clare, who is a stripper and a founder member of the East London Strippers Collective.

It is said that when written down the Chinese word for “crisis” forms two characters. When translated into English these characters are understood literally to mean “danger” and “opportunity”. Right now it could be said there is a crisis within the adult entertainment industry, as legislation that seeks to censor the “threat” of open, honest and public expressions of sexual desire is gaining increasingly stronger footholds in Parliament. UK strip clubs are rapidly becoming a bastion in the battleground between freedom of self-expression and prohibitionist politics.

2014 is a time of crisis. Economic disparity and ecological disaster, mass unemployment and social unrest combine to create a climate of uncertainty. The future is unforeseeable, and no one is accountable – the perfect circumstances within which exploitation can thrive. Exploitation of labour in a capitalist framework is one thing; exploitation of sex-workers happens outside of a UK judicial system, which supposedly protects its citizens… Those that operate within the legal framework that is. Those who don’t probably deserve what’s coming to them right?

At this point in history, cases of employee discrimination that can be proven result in employment tribunals, yet strip club bosses and managers get away scot-free with discriminatory working practises of eye-watering magnitude. Strippers are regularly classified and discriminated against on account of breast-size, body-shape or skin colour, sacked without notice for any reason, fined for having chipped nails, bullied and intimidated by their superiors and customers alike. Why? Because strippers are denied employment status, leaving them with no legal protection whatsoever, despite in almost all cases being treated as employees, regardless of their right to independence. Employment rights of strippers simply do not exist, and there is no forum to speak out. However, let’s not forget that out of crisis comes opportunity.

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the arrival of the East London Strippers Collective. In April 2014, the ELSC held their first official meeting at a private location in Bethnal Green. There was a surprisingly good turn out of dancers, nearly all familiar with each other through the existing dancer community, and each bringing with them a wealth of experience working in the strip clubs of London. The power of this shared experience was tangibly felt in the room. A collaborative effort was made to organise a communal meal, followed by an open discussion around the dinner table that can only be described as… empowering.

What strippers have in common is simply, precisely that they have all been there. They’ve all tackled the same adversity, they’ve all been up against the same walls. They all share the embodied knowledge and experience of that feeling being onstage, nailing a strip routine and showcasing their strength and talent to an appreciative and supportive audience. They all know how demeaning it feels to hustle for tips, to fight amongst each other like cats for scraps.

There is a small but powerful group of these women who are bored of complaining about it and are now quietly discussing a better set-up. Using their working knowledge and combined wisdom, they are slowly and carefully creating a new movement; a manifesto is taking shape, underpinned by the principle of respect and the combined desire to create value and beauty. Among them are a wealth of resources and talents, as artists, designers, fitness instructors, nutritionists, writers, photographers, costumiers, and businesswomen all make up the core group. There is a buzzing almost electric potential that if they can consolidate their talents, as well as their sexual prowess, they could be an unstoppable tour de force.

There are droves of dancers who refuse to identify themselves as sex-workers, preferring instead the more evasive labels like dancer, performer, strip-tease artists or adult entertainers. The ELSC are strippers. The clue is in the name. While the ELSC openly and honestly stands in solidarity with other sex workers, it identifies a clear problem; organisations such as the International Union of Sex Workers and the Sex Workers Open University fail to represent the specific and very different agenda for strippers’ rights. Their advocacy for sex workers is invaluable and important, not in any way to be undermined or degraded – clearly however there is a significant gap where a union for strippers ought to be. By beginning to self-organise and collaborate, the ELSC is planning a series of events, from private parties to public talks, with the aim of creating a new audience who would rather be entertained by a group of radical, educated and self-reliant women, sharing their skills as well as the profits.

And undoubtedly, advocacy for strippers is needed. Already this year Diane Johnson, Labour MP for Kingston-Upon-Hull, North, has put forth the first reading of a private members bill, to ensure local authorities have greater powers to crack down on strip clubs, whether they want to or not. Existing laws give councils the option to enforce a nil policy and tighter controls on premises with a Sex Entertainment Venue license. Quite how these options can be written into statute and enforced is another thing altogether, which seems to beg the question; how well thought out is this private members bill? Sure it’s not just a stunt to curry favour with a particular pressure group and their associated electorate?

The ELSC has come together out of a shared sense of outrage and disgust among dancers, who have watched the decline in their industry and felt powerless to prevent it worsening. They have looked on, heartbroken, as their art form has been consistently dragged into the gutter; ideologically by the modern feminist movement who would seek to destroy their world, and literally by the grotesque working conditions imposed by industry operators motivated purely by profit. They seek to challenge current standards and set precedents within the industry itself, create our own set of working conditions in line with their agreed principles, and send out the message to wider society that, despite what the world thinks, they love what they do. If only they would get the chance to do it properly.

Sexual Freedom Under Increasing Assault

First the the government banned ‘rape’ porn without properly defining it, meaning that people who are engaged in consensual acts can now be prosecuted, now there are concerted attacks by councils on sex clubs.

Fantasy Video, a cinema showing pornographic films to its clientele was closed down by Islington last year. A new business, Mr B’s, a private members film club that also shows adult films, opened in the same premises and is now on Islington’s hit list. Also in their sights are Oscar’s, a cinema catering to the gay community, and Abcat, a cinema in King’s Cross.

A central complaint appears to be that whilst on a visit to assess how compliant the Abcat cinema was with its licensing conditions, a pass was made at the inspector. Gosh, how awful! If this is a reason to close a sex cinema, then we must surely also close all of restaurants, pubs and bars in the borough – after all, people have passes made at them every night in these.

It’s worth noting here that Islington first granted licences to sex cinemas after eleven men died in a fire at an adult cinema in 1994, when the council’s original policy of not granting licences drove premises to operate underground. A disgruntled man who was not allowed in set fire to the premises. Because there was no licence, and no method of obtaining one, no one had enforced clear exits or other fire prevention measures.

Whatever one’s views on adult films, we should ask ourselves whether it is right for a council to try and enforce some sort of moral code even if it means that they will knowingly revert to a policy that the council itself has acknowledged played a part in people’s deaths.

It is also interesting to note that the attack on these establishments is being led by Labour councillor, Paul Converey, who also opposed the renewal of a licence for the Flying Scotsman pub in King’s Cross because, amongst other things, he ‘regularly spotted exotic dancers outside on the street smoking with very slight clothing barely covered by overcoats or other coverings’. This of course could be rephrased as, some strippers wearing overcoats and other clothes were outside having a smoke. That doesn’t sound as salacious. Let’s consider the further implications of this statement. He wants to close down a strip club because in part he thinks that the women – when not stripping – are not wearing enough clothes. Again, perhaps he should visit one of the pubs in Islington this summer. I am sure he will find much ammunition to have them all closed down on that premise. In any case, his comments are not far off those of the Canadian police officer who prompted the slut walks a few years back. Why should a councillor be able to proscribe how a woman dresses?

Councillor Converey claims that closing the sex cinemas down is common sense. Put another way, endangering the lives of people who are causing no harm is common sense. Perhaps we should do away with Health and Safety all together? Would that be common sense?

His other claims are:

  • Strip clubs have an ‘adverse effect on community safety’. Really? How so? He cites no evidence. Perhaps that is because there really isn’t any?

  • It is unacceptable to have such clubs near schools? This is, of course, a nonsense. For a start most do not operate during school hours, then there is the fact that people under 18 years of age are not allowed in, and finally there is no evidence to suggest that having a strip club or an adult cinema near a school or church has any impact on the lives of local schoolchildren. This is nothing but a rather pathetic attempt to conflate sexual freedom with paedophilia. This sort of false association seeks to polarise moderate people who, rightly, abhor anything that may corrupt those who are under the age of consent. It is not akin to paedophilia, however, and to suggest that it is is itself morally bankrupt.

  • That he is taking the actions he is taking in support of Christian and Islamic voters in his area – to me that is appalling, as it either implies that those who do not subscribe to an Abrahamic religion have fewer morals and fewer rights or that subscribers to Abrahamic religions are a significant vote and should, therefore, be pandered to (much the same thing, really).

Lest anyone be in any doubt about Islington’s policy, he states it clearly in his letter: ‘It is the policy of LB Islington to reduce to zero the number of establishments licensed for sex.’ Note, he does not identify a single type of venue. As we have seen, the targets are sex cinemas and strip clubs so far, but that is just the beginning. We can expect swingers clubs and fetish venues to be next on the list.

Mr Convery further claims that ‘The simple fact is that, over the last few years, Kings Cross has changed considerably – and for the

better. Scores of new businesses and hundreds of new jobs have arrived in the area.’ This, he cites as a reason to close down legitimate businesses that already operate in the area, but those new businesses that he cites have not been deterred from moving in to the area in spite of there being sex cinemas, strip clubs, and other sex entertainment venues there. That in itself rather puts the lie to his claim.

So far this article has concentrated on Islington, but there is more. Spelthorne Borough Council has ordered the closure of Kestral Hydro, a nudist club in Stanwell Moor, near Heathrow, saying that a nudist club is not appropriate use of green belt land as it urbanises it. Does this mean that people can only strip in the city? Oh, no, Islington have decided that’s not allowed. Not all Spethorne councillors agree with the main policy. Stanwell North councillor Spencer Taylor has said: ‘There have been no objections from residents and green belt can also be used for recreational purposes.’ Given this, it seems odd that the council should try to close a club that is not harming any one and about which there have been no complaints in the ten years it has been operating.

So, what can you do?

  • On 2 June 2014, an appeal will be heard at the Highbury Magistrates Court for Oscar’s cinema. Simply showing up and sitting on the side in support of the plaintiff (the cinema owner, Goerge Papworth) will, if nothing else, send a message to Islington and the court that closing down all sex based establishments is not supported by all.

  • Write to councillor Convery at paul@convery.org.uk and tell him that you do not support his actions.

  • Sign the petition to save the naturist resort Kestral Hydro near Heathrow. The petition can be found here.

Note, the author of this post is aware of other moves to shut down swinger’s clubs, fetish clubs, gay bars, and sex cinemas. Can it be long before hard won freedoms are also under threats, such as the right for men and women to enjoy anal sex and the right for same-sex couples to be treated as equals?

It’s hard to stand up and be counted because – even in this day-and-age – you can lose your job for being open about your sexuality, but if people do feel that they can be object then please do take one of the above actions.

Blurred Lines

Discussion: Censorship of “Sexualised” Music Videos

The BBFC, with its DVD classification business in long-term decline, has lobbied for itself some nice new business, classifying music videos.

The new move was preceded by a neatly-packaged moral panic in 2013 over “sexualised” music videos, with Miley Cyrus singled out for a particularly strong witch-hunt; Cyrus had committed the  sin of transforming, in recent years, from an innocent little girl into a grown, sexual woman, and then proceeded to appear naked  - something that is seen as unpardonable among sexual morality campaigners.

This month, a conference session was held as part of The Great Escape music industry event, to discuss the issues around sexual music videos and censorship; I took part on behalf of Sex & Censorship. You can read a write-up and listen to a recording of the discussion here.

Pull The Pin

Guest blogger Sephy Hallow, Deputy Leader of the Pirate Party UK, says sex is one of the fundamental underpinnings of our political system.

When trying to argue the point that sex is a fundamental part of our political system and an inherent feature of democracy, I tend to get the same reaction: you’re kidding, right? Sex, and more especially the sex trade, is seen as pure hedonism, an indulgence of an animal instinct that is as far removed from the civilising nature of politics as anything can be, and not particularly deserving of serious consideration or public debate.

Sex is for late-night channels, top-shelf magazines, and strip clubs – not the House of Commons.

In fact, the way that sex is annexed – shoved into these specific, hard-to-reach places that require deliberate, conscious intention to find – says a lot about the way we view sex: that it needs to be kept at the end of the channel list, or the top of a shelf, within society’s peripheral vision, but never centre stage in the greater public sphere. It’s also indicative in the way the ISP filtering debate has been set up; the great porn block might be up for debate, but most anti-censorship campaigns point to other, more serious losses. Factors such as restriction to information on sexual health or abuse helplines are frequently referred to in order to bring political clout and legitimacy to a debate which could otherwise be framed as Perverts versus Parents.

Sexual expression and freedom of access to stimulation is not seen as a right, but a hedonistic indulgence, and is therefore given as much credence as a demand for chocolate as a matter of public welfare.

But here’s the truth: sex is actually the linchpin of our democracy, not only linking together core political concepts – such as civil rights and social responsibility – but also acting as a pressure point which has been used time and again to shame people into silence.

It is also, thanks to our own embarrassment, a smoking gun pointed straight at our democracy.

Sex Bomb

As part of its mass surveillance, the NSA has been “gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites”, in order to use the information to shame “radicals” into silence. Of course, this isn’t the first time shame has been used as a censorship tactic, but with mass surveillance now looming over us all, the threat has spread from outspoken political activists to ordinary members of society with fringe political views. So what can we, the public, do about the use of slut shaming as an anti-democratic tool? The most simple, logical and productive answer has to be: remove the threat by removing the shame of sex.

I am aware that, in a certain sense, I’m asking humanity to turn its back on thousands of years of ingrained social pressure and sexual stigma, and embrace its carnal side – and that’s simply not going to happen, certainly not overnight. But I’m not asking society to change; I’m asking individuals to assess their embarrassment, and, if they can find no logical reason to feel shame for their preferences, to embrace the idea that they are not the bad guys. When a government threatens to remove your privacy and dignity, it is the threat that is perverse, not the porn you watch, and certainly not the content of your character. Exposing the sexual habits of a person without their consent is nothing short of a violation; so why is it that we shame the victims that are abused by the powerful?

If as individuals we can accept our sexual nature, we can disarm character assassinations that threaten our democracy and freedom of speech. By pulling the pin out of the hand grenade, you call your attacker’s bluff; either you’ll both blow up in a fiery explosion of sexual shame, or you’ll find the threat to have been a hollow one all along.

I’m not advocating for you to go and tell the world all about your personal kinks, and I’m not saying privacy isn’t important – quite the opposite. What I am saying is now that mass surveillance has made social embarrassment over sex a threat for all of us, we need to start considering what it really means to have a sexuality. By admitting that sex is part of our daily political reality, and encouraging a defence of your right to sexual privacy, we can confront the threat of censorship, simply through honesty, acceptance, and pride in the reality that humans are both rational and sexual creatures.

ASACP Rejects ATVOD Approach to Child Protection

The US-based child protection organisation, the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) today issued a statement to clarify its position on the UK video-on-demand regulator ATVOD‘s approach to child protection.

ATVOD insists that UK-based porn sites must verify the ages of all visitors before displaying any hardcore imagery (even still images that can be freely found on Google Images or Twitter). In practise, this has made operating a British porn website financially non-viable, and the effect has been to close down – or drive offshore – much of Britain’s online adult industry. The only remaining UK-based adult websites are those run by more traditional TV, DVD and magazine companies, which make the bulk of their revenues offline.

This approach to regulation has puzzled observers, since ATVOD has no remit over any website outside the UK. Furthermore, there are already mature and effective parental control systems available. However, the regulator has been lobbying (using dodgy press releases that claim children are routinely watching porn) for the UK government to introduce legislation that would strengthen its powers. Recently, the government has indicated that such legislation will be introduced. Although the nature of the legislation is unclear, it would undoubtedly involve the official commencement of widespread Internet censorship – to be overseen by ATVOD, naturally.

There had been some earlier confusion over ASACP’s position, which had appeared at times to be supportive of ATVOD. However, in today’s release, the organisation stated it believes that:

…the proposed age verification measures are overbroad, and do not address the most important factor in this equation — the role of the parent.

ASACP also warned that censorship is subject to mission-creep:

Just as the recent UK parental filters turned out to block content ranging from non-erotic nudity to sex education, so this new bill can be expected to be overly broad in its definition of adult entertainment content.

To dispel any misunderstanding over ASACP’s position on ATVOD, the statement concluded:

With this in mind, ASACP cannot support ATVOD’s call for mandatory age verification, but continues to work with all stakeholders to develop a workable solution that protects the needs and interests of children, their parents and guardians as well as adult consumers and publishers of legal erotica, alike.

The UK is sleepwalking into censorship

  • The most censored country in the EU
  • Internet 'porn filtering' blocks far more than porn!

Keep track of events by joining our mailing list

%d bloggers like this: