PANIC!

Jameela Jamil’s Porn Panic

On Thursday evening, BBC3 showed a whole hour of porn panic, hosted by Radio One presenter Jameela Jamil. The programme’s title, Porn What’s The Harm, suggested an open-minded enquiry into the question of whether porn is harmful to teenagers who view it. But this was never going to be an unbiased look at the issue. Jamil has long made clear her dislike of pornography. And the programme was as full of misinformation and panic as we expected.

Jamil’s opening words set the scene: “Porn is everywhere!” Um… is it? Of course it isn’t – this is a standard porn panic statement. And it wasn’t alone. Barely a minute passed without Jamil making clear her shock, horror and disgust: “UNBELIEVABLY explicit sex acts”, “In the homes, in the minds, in the lives of our children”, “This is unbelievable!”, “Ordinary families have to deal with this every day”, “Countless children have already been exposed to shocking images”, “I’m horrified!”, “Bombarded with these pornographic images”, and on and on and on…

According to the Internet, Jamil is 28. Yet I wondered at times if she is perhaps in her 50s. Although Internet porn has been freely available for a full generation, Jamil seems to believe she grew up in an innocent, porn-free age, and that young people today are growing up in a different world to the one she did. The web has been widely available for about 20 years, and porn has always featured very heavily, and has been easy to access. And porn on video has been widely available since the 1980s. Anybody under 30 has had easy access to Internet pornography since their early teens, and most people under 50 will have had some exposure to porn as a teenager.

There was a genuine laugh out loud moment for me, when Jamil describes seeing porn at 15, a scene involving a woman and a cucumber, and says: it “…made me not eat a salad for 12 years!” So now we know: porn is responsible for Britain’s unhealthy diets as well as every other bad thing that’s ever happened.

When talking about teens “sexting” images to each other, she again appears to be far older than she actually is. “I’m so glad that every boyfriend I’ve had until now was before picture messaging”, she says. And since picture messaging has been around for a decade or so, poor Jameela has clearly been single since she was 18!

The programme conducts a survey of teens and finds the average age of first accessing porn is 14 – so no great surprise. It then goes on to look at the effects of porn on teens. Rather than speak to experts, the teenagers themselves are asked how they are affected. Such self-report evidence is of little value. How can teens compare themselves to the person they would be if they hadn’t watched porn? How can teens today compare themselves to the teenagers of the 1970s who didn’t have easy access to pornography?

Predictably, although she claimed to be interested in the effects of porn on teens, Jamil didn’t interview any psychologists. If she had, she’d have discovered there is little evidence that pornography is harmful. Instead, there was a brief appearance by two “experts in sexualisation”. And as has already been covered here, sexualisation is simply another keyword designed to invoke moral panic.

Undaunted by the lack of evidence of harm, Jamil goes into full-blown moral panic mode. She raises the case of an 11 year old boy who raped his 8 year old sister after – we are told – looking at porn. And she interviews a rape victim who is “convinced pornography played a part in the attack”.

Of course, if porn really was causing people to commit sexual violence, there would have been a steep rise in sexual crime in the past 30 years, as porn consumption has increased – and as is now well known, the reverse has happened. There is a reverse correlation between porn consumption and sexual violence.

In linking porn to rape, Jamil is playing a trick that has been employed by morality campaigners since at least the 1980s. And like those campaigners, she is guilty of switching the blame for rape away from the rapist, and giving rapists an excuse for their behaviour: “the porn made me do it”.

And then, like all good purveyors of panic, Jamil casually adds child abuse imagery to the equation, helping blur the line between consenting adult sex and the rape of children.

She throws in several other tried-and-tested panic tools for good measure, such as blaming porn for women who have cosmetic surgery on their labia. According to this idea, all vulva in pornography are neat and small, and this makes women seek surgery to copy the pornstars. In fact, porn has taught people that vaginas are not all the same, and some scenes (link NSFW!) positively worship generously-proportioned female genitalia. Her evidence that this is happening? “I often see reports in the media linking porn to labiaplasties”. You mean the same media that allows dishonest, moralistic documentaries like yours to be broadcast on TV, Jameela?

It is disappointing that such propaganda is still broadcast by the BBC in the place of informed, panic-free comment. And of course, there’s an agenda. While pretending to be naive of all things porn, Jamil throws in some very current political soundbites. When browsing porn, she expresses shock that she has not been asked to verify her age, thus fitting in surprisingly neatly with ATVOD’s recent campaign aimed at giving ATVOD statutory powers to censor the Internet. If she had tried to access the same sites from a PC on which child protection software was installed, she wouldn’t have been able to access the images that so shocked her.

So come on BBC: this discussion is welcome, but let’s have some honest, evidence based programming, rather than endless panic aimed at building public support for Internet censorship.

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Wired Tears Down ATVOD’s Most Recent Report

In an article published over at Wired.co.uk, ATVOD’s latest statistics are torn to shreds as Liat Clark takes a look at ‘why we’re afraid of Internet porn‘.

Clark reminds us all that hardcore pornography is banned on TV and surmises that its no surprise we turn to the internet for our hardcore fix.

the figure that is meant to surprise you: “At least 44,000 primary school children accessed an adult website in one month alone,” screamed Atvod

Clark explains that the 44,000 figure is being used by ATVOD as a means to justify charging content providers a fee, forcing them into compliance or banning their service from operating entirely.

What Atvod didn’t tell you is that the survey it based this argument on classed Ann Summers as “adult content” and came with this caveat from Nielsen, the marketing agency behind it: “The sample size for 6-11 year-olds on the panel is very low. Figures for this age range are still reported, but they are always issued with a ‘health warning’ as being potentially too unstable to accurately project audience size.”

Clark hits on an important point that has been played down significantly in the recent mainstream news coverage by all the major news outlets.

ATVOD was able to achieve headline exposure over the last couple of weeks due to the distortion their press release created. Sure ATVOD’s report carries caveats in relation to the data but their press releases and subsequent news appearances did not.

To my mind this is blatant misrepresentation of their facts. Naturally I don’t dispute that children access online pornography and I don’t dispute that in some cases it’s easily accessed by them.

However I fundamentally believe we are heading in the wrong direction, Government regulation is not the answer.  How can the Government or ATVOD for that matter regulate an industry and technology they don’t understand? Instead of legislating against us they should be talking to us and seeking to learn from us on how better to ensure children or vulnerable people are not exposed to adult content online.

why, when we can watch Rihanna simulate sex with the floor wearing a thong and nipple tassels (it’s a skill), and visceral amputations in game trailers, do we consider real sex to be the most harmful thing on the internet today that is not illegal.

The Wired article continues to ask similar questions to those that I put to the ATVOD CEO, Pete Johnson, in June 2013.

Good Cop s1 Cast 002

I asked Johnson why does he consider sexual imagery more likely to morally deprave a child than the violence shown on TV (The Good Cop was my example at the time which featured the graphic beating of a Police Officer) and video games such as GTA.

His response was simply that he believes there is “something inherently damaging to a child in sexual material.” Needless to say he didn’t share my view and it was clear that regardless of whether ATVOD’s remit is to drive porn out of the UK or not, their CEO is firmly against it. It makes me believe that any kind of communication with ATVOD is likely to only be one way.

You may recall that literally the following day after episode one of the Good Cop aired with the graphic murder of a Police Officer, In Manchester two Police Women were called out to a house, it became clear they were being lured into a trip where the were shot and killed in a grenade attack.

There was not a single shot of sex in the entire series just an episode after episode of bloody violence. The Good Cop aired at 9PM on terrestrial TV.

Clark points out that Johnson himself says evidence for harm will always be inconclusive given the ethical and moral obstacles to collecting it – ie having to expose minors to prolonged periods of adult content for research purposes. Which rightly is a route completely closed off.

“reasonable people must make reasonable judgements based on the balance of probabilities and cannot rely on conclusive proof”

My point would be, given my meetings and e-mail communication with ATVOD they are not able to be reasonable. Johnson is against the availability of pornography which I, and others, consider is an unreasonable starting point.

The recent clampdown seems to be triggered by recent murders, abductions and rapes that have been heavily reported in the media with further pressure being applied to the Government from the Parents of victims such as Paul Jones, April Jones’s father, who has taken to campaigning for what seems to be the complete eradication of adult entertainment.

Mark Bridger, one of the men convicted of the abduction and murder of April Jones, a five-year-old girl, was also found to have been in possession of images of child abuse. The media seem to associate images of child abuse as adult content and pornography – they are not, they are illegal images depicting child abuse and have no place in the adult entertainment industry.

Such images also very clearly appeal to a different and much smaller audience so it is a mus-representation to present them as anything but images depicting child abuse. If anything calling it child porn only serves to soften what they actually are.

It seems to be that finding sexual images of children or in fact any kind of adult content – legal or otherwise –  on an individual’s computer, even during a search for a minor offense (on your phone for example) is enough for the person in possession to be deemed a monster in the eyes of the media and then society but also, much more worryingly, such a discovery can be allowed to be accepted as an indictment of an entire industry.

We never hear the reports of how many million of people who regularly consume pornography yet somehow don’t turn into this raging, foaming at the mouth, sex crazed monster like something out of a sexploitation film in the 80’s.

The wired article is worth checking out, there is a lot of info in there including ‘a history of fear’ and a summary of our ‘cultural relationship’ with pornography.

UK Censors Approve Unrealistic Rape Porn

David Austin, assistant director of the British Board of Film Classification and one Britain’s most senior censors, has suggested that scenes of sexual imagery that bear no relation to reality will not be blocked under Clause 16 of the new Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is currently passing through parliament.

Austin told a Parliamentary Bill Committee: “There are examples of sexually violent material that are not caught by the Bill. There are a number of areas of violent and abusive pornography that are not caught.

“Clause 16 clearly talks in terms of realistic and explicit depiction of rape in pornography. We deal with quite a large number of pornographic works every year and have done for many years. Some of these feature clearly fictional depictions of rape and other sexual violence in which participants are clearly actors, acting to a script.

“These works may include scenes of relentless aggressive abuse, threats of physical violence with weapons and forced acts of sex.”

However Austin did reveal that the Government may amend some of the explanatory notes defining their view on what realism’ is in the context of Clause 16.

cameron-in-parliament

If the bill is enacted, Clause 16 will amend the extreme pornography offence currently contained within the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act of 2008, to cover the possession of scenes of “non-consensual sexual penetration”.

Meaning a prison sentence of up to three years and/or a fine for anyone caught with such images or video in their possession.

Sainsburys Forced To Notify with ATVOD as a Service Provider!

Sainsbury’s, the UK supermarket chain, has been forced into compliance with ATVOD rules and regulations in relation to Video On Demand content.

In a determination notice (PDF) published on ATVOD’s web site, ATVOD claim that Sainsbury’s entertainment pages satisfies the criteria by which ATVOD define an on demand provider service or ODPS.

Having applied the statutory criteria to the Service, we wrote to the Service Provider on 10thDecember 2013 stating that we had come to a preliminary view that the Service was an ODPS in respect of which a notification has not been given and in respect of which a fee has not been paid, and that our preliminary view was that the Service Provider was in contravention of sections 368BA (Requirement to notify an ODPS) and 368D(3)(za) (Requirement to pay a fee) of the Act. Video capture evidence of the service at the time of ATVOD’s initial investigation is set out in ANNEX 1.

Sainsbury’s initially appealed ATVOD’s preliminary view.

As discussed our view is still that we are not a “TV-like” service and therefore we do not need an ATVOD licence. We are a retailer that operates a transactional a la carte service that allows customers to browse for and then either buy or rent a
digital copy of a movie.

However eventually, Sainsbury’s were forced to concede, pay up and notify.

ATVOD acknowledges that the Service has been notified to ATVOD following the issue of ATVOD’s Preliminary View on 10 December 2013 and that this brought the service into compliance with Rule 1 on 13 January 2014. However, the action taken by the Service Provider following receipt of ATVOD’s preliminary view does not alter the facts relating to the Service as it existed on 2 December 2013.

Put Porn on the School Syllabus, New Report Says

According to report drawn up by two children’s charities and a group representing teachers, Children should be taught that pornography doesn’t provide a realistic representation of sex.

Sinom Balke of Brook, a charity that helped draw up the new report said

Young people have been telling us for years that SRE (sex and relationships education) is not relevant to their lives and they want better.

The report follows an Ofsted report that said sex education was taught badly in a third to half of schools.

Source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/put-porn-school-syllabus-says-uk-sex-education-report-1438498

ATVOD Propose Changes to Law to License Adult Sites

ATVOD Chief Executive, Pete Johnson, explained to the BBC that his agency plan to prose a system of licensing for adult sites in a bid to restrict underage access.

Under the proposal, any operator who was not a notified provider with ATVOD would not be able to obtain credit or debit card processing services and therefore be severely hindered.

Of course, this proposal, along with many other Government backed ideas on stopping children watching porn, simply fails before it begins. Tube sites and forums don’t require payment or age verification and present streaming hardcore almost immediately.

Johnson said the licensing proposal was such an important one that it is crucial the legislation is enacted during the current parliament and before the next general election.

Clearly ATVOD are already busy marketing their proposal as the magical solution, they commissioned market research of 45,000 internet users which found that six percent of children aged 15 years or younger had accessed an adult website.

I have no faith in statistics, Politicians have seen to that over the years, but for me rather than taking the percentage as a definitive illustration I ask questions – if only more would.

Questions like what actually constitutes an adult site in the context of the survey? We have to remember that this Government and most ISP’s for that matter consider the lingerie pages of high street retailers such as H&M, Marks and Spencer’s and La Senza as ‘adult content’ that should be restricted.

Their own research also tells us that PornHub is by far the most popular among an underage demographic – we already knew this, I was telling ATVOD this three years ago yet they have made little progress on levelling the playing field between regulated providers and free content that continues to trade in the Global adult industry.

We already know how useless the ISP filter has been in this regard and I can’t help but feel that ATVOD deserves to be disbanded for their stupidity and utter lack of understanding in regards to the Internet and the online industries.

Johnson admits to the BBC that a multi-layered approach is best and one where the Parents take the lead is best however ATVOD, as an industry funded body, have yet to take any of the funds generated from the industry it regulates and sponsor, fund or contribute to Parental and minor outreach in relation to Internet access or Internet safety.

Surely before any other ham-fisted policies or legislation is introduced ATVOD she be made to explore a different approach. I think they’ll find it is a lot more complex than ‘we need more power to do our job’ and actually access and consumption of pornography is more indicative of social, cultural and personal problems that can not simply be fixed by a limp-firewall or law.

ATVOD have demonstrated that they are a small group punching above their weight in a Worldwide industry where more than half don’t even know who they are. It is an organisation that looks more and more like it was set up as a way to generate an income for an industry that was still making money during the recession and where the entire top-tier of management not only exceed the number of actual employees but their combined salary is one similar to a bankers annual income, minus the bonus of course.

The Bad Taste Police Censor the Internet

When the government rolled out the Great Firewall of Cameron – the nickname given to the porn filters now provided as default by most residential broadband providers in the UK – they asked us to think of the children. Think of the shattered lives we can save by blocking child pornography, they said. And who would argue against that intention? Not the ISPs, certainly.

But like all major changes which forego public scrutiny, the filters are now stepping beyond their original remit, seeping into parts of the internet that shouldn’t be of governmental concern. According to comments made recently by James Brokenshire, the minister for immigration and security (a somewhat inflammatory departmental conflation), the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) have been spending much of their time flagging “unsavoury” content on sites such as YouTube, in an effort to avert the “radicalisation of individuals.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I will point out that CTIRU has been performing this public service – the flagging of what Brokenshire refers to as “unsavoury” material – since at least 2010, and has in fact flagged 29,000 videos since February of that year. However, with the new filters for explicit material already set as default for most UK households thanks to pressure on private companies, and Brokenshire calling for further government interference in restricting online content, it seems only sensible to have concerns over the future of these restrictive practices.

By one branch of government, we’ve been told it’s for child safety; by another, we’re told it’s a counter-terrorism effort. The fact is, if the government is so keen on the idea of persistent online censorship it’s willing to wrap the package twice, we should be worried.

Let’s be clear about something else here: we’re not talking about illegal content, or even arguing about what legal restraints should or should not be placed on online content. Brokenshire’s proposal for extended restrictions, in his own words, would be applied to content “that may not be illegal but certainly is unsavoury and may not be the sort of material that people would want to see or receive.”

And I’m sure the British population is just thrilled that the minister has deemed himself fit to make that decision on their behalf.

As Danny O’Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation says aptly, “politicians have proved to be terrible arbiters of taste. If you don’t think much of their suits and haircuts, you’re not going to think much of what they think acceptable or unsavoury for public consumption.”

This is another unfortunate mask censorship often wears: that of the bumbling do-gooder trying to sanitise the world and make it seem like a much nicer place. Unfortunately, whilst this tactic might work fantastically for your eight-year-old – keeping the magic of childhood alive – when applied to a population of adults, all it does it attempt to curb rogue behaviour, or (arguably the most disturbing word Brokenshire has used), “radicalism.”

Being politically radical is not the same as being violent; Hitler might have been a radical, but so was Ghandi. Radicalism in politics can mean many things. It can mean chaining yourself to railings to get votes for women, or taking a machete to a soldier in the street. It can be the biggest push for change, whether towards a progressive vision of the future or a draconian era of surveillance and the curtailing of civil liberties. What it isn’t, however, is intrinsically threatening, which is why there is no just cause to censor politically radical content on the internet – especially when the mainstream is supporting censorship.

Why I Danced in Spearmint Rhino

Last week, we heard that Camden Council in London may withdraw licensing from the strip venue, Spearmint Rhino. This was greeted with joy by anti-sex feminists. But what about the women who will lose well-paid jobs? A former Spearmint Rhino dancer explains what stripping there meant for her.

Like many people of my generation, once I graduated I felt lost. Applying for jobs was a job in itself and waiting for the rejection letters became a cause for not bothering to get out of bed in the morning. Watching my dole money dwindle and my chances of earning a living minimise, I remembered a friend telling me that on her gap year in Japan she began stripping to find her travels.  The thought played with me as I summed up the courage to ask my boyfriend to lend me groceries. Fuck it, I thought. If other women are doing it, then I can.

Before I could change my mind I took myself around the city that night. I went into four different strip clubs, each time telling the guy on the door why I was there and if it would be alright if I had a look around and spoke to the girls about what it was like to work there.  Spearmint Rhino seemed the safest, the most discreet, with the best security and the highest payout. That was on the Tuesday. By Friday it was my first shift. By Monday I could afford my rent again.

Stripping wasn’t the easiest job I’ve ever done, but it was certainly the most enjoyable. Even now when I look back on my days there I remember the good before the bad. I compare it to the other jobs I worked before I since and though it wasn’t perfect, what job is? The long nights and sore feet were necessary for the money I brought home. The competition between other girls helped me drive my determination, strengthen my sales pitch and hone in on my unique selling points. The difficult customers taught me interpersonal skills, patience and negotiation tactics.

Being self employed is not easy, but since working there I know that working in such a high pressure, intense workspace means that every job since has reaped the benefits. And what about exploitation? Power is an interesting dynamic. It is not held solely by the customer, nor by me as the dancer. It’s an exchange of money, interest, attention and services. To feel exploited as a stripper must imply that anyone selling services with their body should also feel under the thumb of capital; that they do, but why should only sex workers be punished for it?

Working at Spearmint Rhino pulled me out of poverty in a way that no other job allowed me to do. Because no other job would hire me. Working there not only paid me in money, but also confidence that I had something worth selling. Not just my body, but also my mind to the customers who laughed at my jokes, entertained me with conversation and spent time with me. Attractive waitresses, nurses, teachers and care assistants aren’t punished by having their jobs taken away from them; only those women who dare to mix sexuality with autonomy and smack a price tag on it. If I hadn’t worked my way out of debt by stripping, I dread to think what my options would have been.

Belle Knox Defends Kink in New Column for XOJane

We as performers have rights to express ourselves and as long as everything is consensual and legal, then more power to everyone involved.

Part of the criticism Belle Knox, the Duke University Pornstar and Student, has attracted as focused on the fact that her first adult film she shot was for an infamously rough adult web site – Facial Abuse.

The overwhelming criticism I have received for my participation in this rough blowjob scene is incredibly revealing to me about the condemnation-happy state of “gotcha feminism.”

Although Knox has said she ultimately regretted shooting for the rough sex site in New York – it would be “the one choice” she’d take back if she could – she does not regret or condemn the impulses that led her to shoot the scene in the first place but more importantly she defends her choice as a Woman to be able to shoot such a scene.

In her XOJane column Knox writes:

We play around with roles and identities while we are working out issues that are long buried in our subconscious. I’m an ambitious young woman. I’m a student at Duke. I’m a slut who needs to be punished.

Can you guess which one of those is a role?

She goes on to identify a moment in her childhood where she believes the idea of submissiveness first presented itself whilst playing ‘house’ with a friend and unknowingly at the time being aroused “mentally and physically” by that experience.

image

I can’t explain why rough sex and pain arouses me; it just does.

“So getting spit on and degraded is feminism now?” – a quote from a post that Knox chooses to highlight in her column to which she responds:

Sure. Whatever choice a woman is making and she is the one deciding to do — reclaiming the agency behind the decision to do, even if it is a degrading sexual act — is absolutely feminism. To me, feminism is about women not being shamed but rather being empowered.

It’s clear from the lengthy column that Knox’s view on sex is simple, its not overly complex yet for mainstream Society the ideas behind Knox’s arguments are still too difficult for them to try and understand.

Yes, a Google search reveals pictures of me in hard-core sexual experiences. No, that Google search is not me.

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I would recommend reading Knox’s latest column over at XOJane.com, its a true insight into that path that led Knox in to the hardcore adult entertainment industry without all the noise about tuition fees and expensive education. It delves deeper than that into her sexual and personal development.