A recent study identified some links between genes and sexual orientation. While this is both expected and interesting, it upsets some political sensibilities. My latest article in Quillette (There is NO ‘Gay Gene’, but Sexuality is Affected by Many Genes of Small Effect) explores the issues and sensitivities around the idea that genetics affect human behaviours.
Items from Australia’s first National Museum of Erotica have been listed for sale through Lawson’s auction house. The online auction, entitled ‘Body Politics’, is owned by Victorian MLC Fiona Patten and her partner Robbie Swan. The two have been collecting erotic art and ephemera since the early 1990s.
Ms Patten said that she would be sad to see the collection go as it had been part of their relationship and been collected from all parts of the globe but from the mid 2000s the Museum had taken second place to politics. “Sadly sex has lost out to politics and my increasing work load has made it impossible to continue to house and maintain this collection”. The 160 items up for sale are a mix of erotic fine art, memorabilia and sex industry collectibles – much of it with political themes or messages. Bret Whitely, Lesbia Thorpe, Sidney Nolan, Maree Azzopardi, Richard Larter, John Blackman, Martin Sharpe and many other well-known artists are represented.
Ms Patten said that many of the pieces formed part of the couple’s anti-censorship campaigns when they ran Australia’s national sex industry association.
She encouraged MPs from across the spectrum to buy a piece from the Museum’s collection. “There is a large and colourful oil painting by one of Australia’s foremost religious painters, Salvatore Zoffrea, that has the Prime Minister’s name all over it”, she said. “On the other side there is an untitled forest landscape said to have brightened the walls of former Treasurer Jim Cairns’ office before making its way into the Treasury building in Canberra in the early 1970s”.
A satirical portrait of Amanda Vanstone by Talking Pictures chief, Mike Bowers, and a knitted impression of Obama’s penis complete with Michelle’s hand, represent widely differing styles. One of Australia’s most complete early brothel collections and a rare 1800s Japanese erotic shunga scroll are also being offered.
Mr Swan said that Lawsons knocked back only one piece – a rare digital print of one of the first pieces of photoshopped political satire to appear on the internet in 1996 which featured Pauline Hanson, John Howard and Kim Beasley. It was titled ‘Distributing Preferences’ and was created by the notorious online satirist, Dr Irresponsible. “It’s still for sale if anyone is interested”, he said
The items can be viewed on Lawson’ site.
In my latest article, published by Areo Magazine, I argue that the rise in gang-related knife crime in London is in part the result of a state apparatus reluctant to address problems within minority communities. This leads to a bizarre outcome in which “cultural sensitivity” leads directly to the deaths of young black men.
“Before arriving in London, most West Indian and West African migrants had never encountered the levels of violence and criminality—which had come to the UK, in large part, from Kingston—and were appalled to be living (and raising their children) in the midst of it, and even more horrified when many British people, especially those on the racist right, attempted to link it to black people in general. But, with the rise of politically correct thinking in the nineties, the new left now made the same mistake, assuming that race was at the root of the problems, and (anxious to deflect blame from the black community, a broadly imaginary construct), instead tried to suggest that the problems had been created by British racism. Both the right-wing and left-wing versions of this narrative made the same fundamental error—confusing a correlation between race and crime with causation. The same mistake would never have been made about white people: for example, high crime rates linked with some Romanian migrants would never have been blamed on the white community, because that would obviously be ludicrous.”
The late Andrea Dworkin pioneered a conservative, anti-sex, pro-censorship strand of feminism. In doing so, she changed the feminist movement, and the political left, forever. A new collection of her writing, Last Days at Hot Slit, was published this year. My review of the book is now online at Quillette.
On Wednesday, I celebrated my return to Facebook after a one week ban. If you haven’t been banned from posting to Facebook yet, you should try, at least once, to get the feel for what it may be like to live in a techno-totalitarian state. While I could still see what was going on, I could not post – either to my personal page or to pages I manage, such as the Sex & Censorship page. Furthermore, I could not reply to messages in Facebook messenger, reply to comments on posts, or even Like them.
The ban was my third, and all three were done on the basis that I had posted “hate speech”. While I was banned, I noticed that two other Facebook friends posted that they were also returning from being banned. Here are the details of my three bans.
1) Responding to the “racist vans”
In 2013, the Home Office (headed by that charming lady, Theresa May), signalled a rising state intolerance towards migration by sending out “racist vans” which carried the charming slogan “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest”. I was on the way on the way to celebrate Jamaican Independence Day in Brixton, and I had an idea for a satirical, anti-racist post. Which went something like… ‘Happy Jamaican Independence Day! Or “fuck off w*gs day”, as it’s known in the Home Office.” I was quite proud of this, which gives you an indication of my sense of humour.
Note: firstly, I didn’t censor the w- word in my original post. It being 2013, I naively assumed that Facebook would understand the difference between a potentially racist word used in a racist context, and the same word used in a satirical, anti-racist context. I was wrong. The reason I censor the word in this article is that Facebook-style censorship will soon be applied to the entire web. There is every chance that blogs using such words will soon be blocked by a state-managed censorship system (the one being introduced in April under the pretext of blocking bad porn sites). Secondly, Facebook doesn’t seem to provide me a record of my banned posts. So I have to repost from memory.
I was banned for “hate speech” (from memory) for five days. This was the shape of things to come: not only is racism seen as problematic, but discussion of racism has also become problematic.
2) Sharing a white supremacist flyer
A (black) Facebook friend shared a flyer advertising a white supremacist rally in Wales a few days later. Her point in sharing it, obviously, wasn’t to promote the white supremacist cause, but to alert anti-racists of the event. I shared it, with a comment along the lines of “Calling Welsh anti-racists!”
I was banned again for “hate speech”. My black friend also had her post removed, but was not banned.
3) Appalling misogyny
In the latest episode, a female friend posted to Facebook “Women are psychos”. I’m not sure why she posted this, and I never saw the original post anyway. The post was removed, but she posted a screenshot of the conversation with Facebook support, which included the original post. I felt this was worthy of discussion, so I shared the image to the Sex & Censorship Facebook page. Not only was the post banned, but I received a seven-day ban from Facebook, again for “hate speech”.
There are various lessons that arise here, but the worrying aspect is that discussion about censorship is also censored. When a person is arrested for hate speech, the media coverage tends not to mention what the speech was – because, of course, the article itself might then be reported as hate speech. So the public gets no opportunity to discuss whether the punishment fits the crime, or even to know what the crime was.
Note that a murder can be described in vivid detail by the press, but “hate speech” cannot. Since justice must be “seen to be done”, it seems that justice is not possible in the case of hate speech.
I recently contributed to Poliquads, an interesting new political publication with a unique approach. Each edition focuses on one subject, and includes articles, as well as responses, from commentators on various points of the political spectrum. I contributed as a “left-libertarian” (though in practise I don’t see political labels as very useful any more).
You can read my thoughts on Antifa at Poliquads – and you can expect more in future editions.
Yesterday, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that they would be loosening their obscenity guidelines to formally allow – for the first time – strong fetish material, so long as it features consenting adults. This news was greeted with joy by fetishists and campaigners. But it was also an inevitable step towards stronger censorship of the Internet by the UK government.
Four years ago, the sex worker activist Charlotte Rose organised perhaps the most entertaining protest ever seen in the UK: the face-sitting protest, outside Parliament. I was one of the speakers at the event, which was called in response to a sly act of government censorship. Without even calling a parliamentary vote, the government had extended DVD pornography rules so they were now applied to Internet video.
Among the acts now banned were “dangerous” acts (hence face-sitting, which could in theory suffocate someone – I kid you not), watersports, female ejaculation, and fetish material including most spanking, sado-masochism and bondage. At a stroke, thousands of porn sites (including all of the free “tube” sites) became technically illegal. You probably didn’t notice, as nothing actually happened. The tubes, and many other sites, continued to stream face-sitting, spanking and squirting material into the UK, and British consumers continued to watch it.
The law change was a failed attempt by the media regulator ATVOD to gain the power to close down overseas websites. Their cunning plan was to approach banks, point out that they were clearing payments for content that was illegal in the UK, and ask them to withdraw their services from the offending sites. The banks, however, didn’t see much of a problem. The material was legal in the US, and the new law, having been sneaked in by the back door, didn’t have much standing. The regulator had failed, and porn had won.
ATVOD was later scrapped, and Ofcom, the mighty media regulator (and censor) took over the online remit. This time, there would be no half-measures. In 2017, the Digital Economy Act was passed. For the first time, a British state censor would have the right to order websites to be blocked if they didn’t conform to UK regulations. The Act allowed porn sites to be blocked on two grounds:
- If they didn’t verify the ages of visitors, or
- If they contained extreme material.
Now, porn businesses based in America or elsewhere would surely have to pay attention. And they did. Mindgeek (the giant owner of Pornhub and other leading tube sites) began to play ball, and announced it would be conforming to the new UK law. This gave them two massive headaches:
- How to verify the ages of millions of UK visitors, and
- What to do about all the material that was US-legal but UK-illegal.
The first problem has occupied the industry for some time (and set champagne corks popping in the boardrooms of age verification companies). But not much attention has been paid to the second problem.
The problem now was that big porn companies have accepted (albeit reluctantly) that they will enforce age verification for UK customers (hint – you can use a VPN to mask your location). But why would Mindgeek and others bother to enforce the age verification rule if their content is illegal in the UK anyway?
If the new British censor – the BBFC – was unable to bring the porn industry on-board with its new regime, it would lose all credibility. Unless Mindgeek signed up, the new censorship law (due to go live this coming April) would fail. So, just for once, the interests of the porn industry and the British government coincided with those of the fetish community. In a nutshell, the change to the law transformed an unworkable system of censorship into a viable one.
So the timing of yesterday’s announcement is little surprise: unless UK obscenity laws were brought into line with American ones before April, the new censorship system would be a flop. It is of course wonderful (and long overdue) news that UK porn users will no longer be criminalised for enjoying a bit of face-sitting porn in the privacy of their own homes. But like much good news from the British authorities, it came with a catch.
Tuesday was one of those days that pop up a few times a year for me: a phone call from a media outlet (in this case talkRadio) alerts me to the fact that porn is in the news again. Would I be interested in joining a discussion about porn being a “public health crisis” at five past 11?
Of course, I would: defending the indefensible is my niche. So I dutifully appeared on talkRadio, followed by BBC Radio Leeds and (later that evening) Newsnight.
Porn is a “public health crisis”?
The claim that porn has created a “public health crisis” is not an evidence-based one, but in fact emerged from America’s religious right a couple of years ago, and has been used by right-wing state legislatures to pass anti-porn legislation. This is simply the latest salvo in a war on pornography being fought by Republicans and anti-porn feminists for the past four decades.
Now, worryingly, the claim had been regurgitated by the parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee, and has appeared in a report they published this week, that has deeply worrying implications for civil liberties.
The report is one of the worst examples of “porn panic” I’ve ever seen, and I (literally) wrote the book on this subject. It makes ungrounded, hysterical claims based on anecdotal evidence:
“sexual harassment in public places … is a routine and sometimes relentless experience for women and girls”
This claim isn’t supported by empirical evidence, and there certainly isn’t evidence it’s been getting worse, but the porn panic (most recently in the form of the #MeToo movement) has established that it is bad, and is getting worse, and that if you question the witch-hunt, you must be a witch.
Having established that women and “and even girls in school uniform” are being harassed and assaulted literally all the time in oh so many ways, the report then quickly gets to the something must be done moment: “Sexual harassment is never acceptable, and women and girls should not be expected to endure it.” Anyone questioning the report hereafter is clearly implying that harassment is acceptable and that womenandgirls should have to endure it.
What’s to blame?
What’s to blame for this virtual holocaust of harassment? Porn, of course!
“There is significant research suggesting that there is a relationship between the consumption of pornography and sexist attitudes and sexually aggressive behaviours, including violence”
Readers of this blog, and my book, will know that this simply isn’t true. In fact, one of the widest-reaching meta-studies on porn-and-harm ever commissioned was carried out by Ofcom on behalf of the British government, which concluded:
“There seems to be no relationship between the availability of pornography and an increase in sex crimes in other countries; in comparison there is more evidence for the opposite effect.”
In plain English, porn isn’t harmful but it does appear to reduce sexual violence.
This important conclusion appears somewhere in the middle of a 146-page report which the government published in 2011, and then went on to completely ignore as it continued blaming porn for every (often imaginary) problem in society.
What must be done?
So, having established the falsehoods that 1) unspeakable horror is occurring and 2) it’s porn’s fault, the report then goes on to make an incredibly broad set of scattergun recommendations which are unsupported even by the preceding nonsense.
The government’s position to date has been that porn is fine, so long as it isn’t “extreme” or “obscene”, and is only seen by people over 18. The UK already has some of the tightest pornography restrictions of any democratic country. However, this report challenges that position, complaining that the government:
“…has no plans to address adult men’s use of mainstream online pornography”.
This throwaway line is a huge shift in the anti-porn movement, away from “child protection” to “all porn is dangerous”.
Some of the report is vague but ominous:
“set out a comprehensive programme of work to make all public places safe for all women and girls”
And some of it just ominous:
“The Government should take an evidence-based approach to addressing the harms of pornography, similar to the huge investment there has been over many years in tackling road safety, or preventing public health problems caused by lawful behaviour such as smoking.”
(2017 road deaths: 1,710; tobacco deaths: 80,000; porn deaths: nil).
The recommendations stop trying to pretend that porn causes harassment, and just assume that porn and harassment are basically the same thing:
“Bus regulations should be amended to prohibit sexual harassment and viewing pornography on buses.”
Thus, in future, a person viewing porn on a bus will count against the sexual harassment statistics, which will push up arrests for harassment and “prove” the problem is getting worse.
There’s random stuff like:
“Universities should have a legal obligation to have policies outlawing sexual harassment…”
Of course, universities do already have policies in this area. This sounds like America’s Title IX which set loose a wave of “rape on campus” hysteria out of all proportion with reality, and a situation where two students could be deemed to have harassed each other.
There’s also a weird dig at strip clubs, which picks up on (false) claims by feminists that strip clubs were causing rape:
“Local authorities must consult local women’s groups and sexual violence specialists when deciding their policies on licensing strip clubs and lap-dancing clubs.”
Can you rape someone via WhatsApp?
But the most worrying recommendation is as follows:
“A new law should be brought forward on image-based sexual abuse to criminalise all non-consensual creation and distribution of intimate sexual images, on the basis of the victim’s lack of consent rather than perpetrator motivation.”
This appears to mean that anyone sending a sexual image to another person could be criminalised if the recipient denies consenting. I’m on a couple of WhatsApp groups where short porn clips are sometimes shared: now, just by receiving one of these clips (which are always unsolicited), I could claim to have been the victim of sexual violence. Likewise, this would open up anyone involved in sexting to a claim of sexual harassment (and for many teens, sexting is a normal part of relationships today).
We are at the point where any sexual contact, even digital, may fall into the same category of offence as rape. Sex, in virtually any context, is now considered problematic. While these ideas were once the preserve of an extremist clique of feminists, they are now actively discussed in the British parliament.
Areo is a fairly new publication, and becoming known as an intelligent read. So I’m delighted that they recently published my long-read article on the science and politics of monogamy: Will Declining Monogamy Lead to an Increase in Violence? Enjoy!
This is a repost of an article I first published 4 years ago today.
When I were a lad (yes, even Londoners had northern accents back then), and a left-wing activist, we were greatly concerned about oppression; and in the 1980s, there was no shortage of examples. The South African police had shot dead schoolchildren in Soweto in 1976, and continued to gun down innocents on a regular basis. In Latin America, US-backed dictatorships kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands of activists. In Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, US-backed terrorists attacked civilians on a wide scale, with a special love of atrocity. In Africa, civilians were slaughtered in proxy wars between the US and USSR. Asia saw brutality on an unimaginable scale.
The left stood for the rights of oppressed peoples, but understood clearly that oppression is primarily a function of economic means, not of race, sex or sexuality. While we also opposed prejudice on these grounds, and supported women’s rights, gay rights and anti-racism causes, we knew that ultimately, oppression and poverty were inextricably linked.
But the left slowly died as the Cold War came to an end, and capitalism (coupled with social democracy) proved itself more resilient than Marx had predicted. The death of the progressive British left can probably be best located to a particular date: 3rd March 1985, when the miners walked sadly back to work after being defeated in their long strike. For me, and many of my friends, this marked the point when our intense activism ended and we drifted away to live our lives.
But the organs of the left remained, and were rapidly taken over by a new breed: overwhelmingly middle-class and rooted in academia rather than trade unionism. This new left failed to understand the economics of poverty and oppression (never having witnessed these things themselves), so set about writing themselves a new ideology. So we found ourselves thrust into the era of identity politics.
The new left lacked the intellect of the old, and found itself making the most fundamental of all mistakes: confusing correlation with causation. So the left now sought out new groups that appeared to oppressed. Because white people held the most economic power, the identity-left reasoned that skin colour was a cause of oppression, and labelled all non-whites as victims. And since laws had in the past been rigged against women, the left decided that mere possession of a vagina was equivalent to oppression.
While paying lip service to the oppression of the poor, the overwhelmingly white, academia-based, middle-class left no longer had any links with the working class, and so they focused on rescuing the oppressed groups they knew best: themselves. Largely, this meant that the individuals with the most “oppressions” (yes, I’ve really seen it used in the plural) were fast-tracked to the top. Those who screamed their self-pity the loudest became the most powerful, fast-tracked into political power.
But the rise of gay and black (often both) individuals was orchestrated by the white people who kept a firm hand on the reins. Black people would only be allowed into the hierarchy if they accepted that they were oppressed. Gay and non-white people who didn’t see themselves as oppressed by their colour or sexuality were labelled self-haters, and side-tracked. Non-white activists like Linda Bellos, Lee Jasper and Diane Abbott were only acceptable because they echoed the view of the white, middle-class establishment that they were oppressed.
In the intervening years, the self-pitying rhetoric of “oppression” and “privilege” has only gained further ground, to the extent that the meaning of these two words has been twisted almost beyond recognition. Almost comically, white, middle-class women appear to have decided that they are the most oppressed of all. Now, oppression isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something that you are. Now, oppression isn’t having your children shot dead, or a daily struggle to feed one’s family. No, oppression is a white middle-class woman, with a good job, having to endure the fact that men like looking at pictures of breasts. The following is a genuine tweet from just such an oppressed woman:
On tube sat next to a man reading The Sun and thus I start my day feeling a continuing sense of oppression
One wonders if Prozac might be the solution to this sort of oppression… or perhaps just a nice spliff. But I digress.
The old left tried to overturn oppression, but to the new left, this is pointless. Rather than fix inequalities, the left has decided to cement inequality into place permanently. Now, anybody labelled Oppressed must be given special privileges as compensation. In a deeply Orwellian twist, the more oppressed one is deemed to be, the more privilege they must be given in return.
Thus, the woman who finds Page 3 imagery objectionable need not merely boycott the Sun (as I’ve done my whole life). Now she has the right to demand that Page 3 is removed from the Sun. As an oppressed woman, she has won the privilege of censorship. Don’t Page 3 models also have a right to work? Apparently not – the rights of the oppressed middle-class woman are far greater than those of the working class one.
The “black community” (an almost meaningless phrase) is also deemed to be oppressed. Those black individuals who accept their oppression (and scream loudly about it) are welcomed by the left. Black individuals who doubt their own oppression, or who see the dangers in teaching black children that they’re automatically oppressed, are screamed down as self-haters.
This was most clearly shown by the recent London art exhibition, Exhibit B, which was forced to close after the “black community” (or rather, a mob of 200 people) blockaded it. Thus, black people are SO oppressed that they too are granted the right of censorship of anything that offends them. Never mind that the exhibition had been critically acclaimed in multiple cities before reaching London, or that black people were far from united in hating it, or that those who protested against it had never seen it.
The irony of Exhibit B is that the mob was enabled by the white elite. Their oppression (and thus, their privilege) was granted to them by white people. Their language of “oppression” and “privilege” was forged by the white middle-classes in universities around the country. Far from being “conscious” or liberated, this black minority is determined to follow a white agenda to the bitter end. The left is determined to tell black people that they are doomed to fail; and give them a handy excuse for failure – their skin colour.
So now, the left doesn’t expect black people to conform to the rules affecting whites. And so, politics has turned full circle. In accepting that black people, women, and other groups, are oppressed, the left has attempted to destroy the very thing it used to fight for: equality. Now, groups deemed oppressed by the white elite are granted special allowances. And the fight for equality takes a huge step backwards.
So is it any surprise that groups have sprung up on the right to declare men and white people oppressed? Sure, these people are laughable – but no more laughable than the claims of oppression by the left. Self-pity is the new black.
If you’re born into a middle-class existence in the UK, you aren’t oppressed. This is true regardless of your skin colour, who you choose to fuck, or the shape of your genitals. It’s genuinely sickening to watch the pity-fest that has replaced left-wing politics in the 21st century. Get over yourselves.