Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Should access to pornography be restricted?

In carrying out research for this blog, I was forced to type the words “David Cameron porn” into Google. That’s something I hoped I would never have to do! Fortunately, the results it drudged up related to the latest government ruling on pornography that will force internet users to opt in if they wish to view X-rated material.

The law, which will take effect in 18 months’ time has met with some controversy, with many criticising the ‘nanny state’ mentality at play. Others feel that the lawmakers are naïve and that the ruling won’t prevent those who want to access adult-only sites from doing so. I guess my feeling is that any step towards restricting access to porn is a good one, but that more can certainly be done.

Google search figures show that more people in the UK visit adult-only sites than Facebook and Twitter put together. The data shows that 8.5% of searches were for online pornography, while just 7.3% sought access to social networking websites. Perhaps most worryingly, the study did not include hits from mobile phones or searches for child pornography, which tend to occur on secret networks that are often referred to as the ‘dark internet’.

Meanwhile, another campaign is underway to criminalise porn that appears to simulate rape. While some argue that consumers of pornography are discerning enough to recognise the difference between entertainment and real-life crime, others (like me) feel that rape does not make for suitable entertainment content in any shape or form.

Fiona Elvines, operations co-ordinator at Rape Crisis South London, says: “We see the harm of rape pornography in the ways the material assists in normalising offending for perpetrators, helping them legitimise and strategise their crimes, as well as overcome internal resistance. 

“Evidence shows rapists use rape pornography as part of their deliberate pre-offence preparation. The amended law will make this in itself a crime; a significant step towards primary rape prevention through giving legal grounds for intervening before a sexual offence is committed.”

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone who watches this kind of material is about to go out and re-enact what they have seen, but why watch it at all? I think it’s sad that this legislation is necessary, but it certainly is necessary.

On a lighter note, some good news came in this week on the lads’ mag front with The Co-operative forcing publishers to cover up indecent images using modesty covers. Introduced in response to customer feedback, it hopes the screens will prevent children from being confronted by pictures of scantily clad women during the weekly shop. We hope other stores will follow suit.

Child Eyes, a project that aims to restrict children’s exposure to sexual and violent images, welcomes this decision. However, it recognises that “there is still a lot of work to be done”. A statement from the organisation says: “We need to keep the pressure up to rid the streets of sexual imagery. There is no automatic filter in shops and supermarkets! We are still working hard to make Britain more family-friendly and we need you.”

You can click here to sign a petition making it illegal to display pornography around children, and follow @ChildEyesUK on Twitter for regular updates.

Finally, you can support Sorted magazine. Designed to reach out to men without using sexual imagery, we are thrilled that anti-pornography measures are hitting the headlines and that the general public is eager for protective measures to be introduced.

We know that pornography isn’t going to go away, but we believe that children should be shielded from it. We also believe women should be respected and cherished rather than gawked at and objectified. Finally, we believe men should be offered a better alternative; a magazine that is entertaining but that deals with the real issues of life in an engaging and practical way, for example.

We printed a whopping 40,000 copies of our July-August issue and were able to give away a large proportion of these to many who might not have picked it up otherwise. It would be great if you could support us by buying a one-off copy for a friend, subscribing to the magazine yourself, advertising your business within its pages or by making a donation.

Our September-October edition is about to go to print and are excited about the impact it is going to have! Thanks for all your support.

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