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Porn damages everyone — not just children

18 June 2013

1:03 PM

18 June 2013

1:03 PM

Porn, porn, porn. One way or another, we all like talking about it. But today’s debate about children and ‘sexually explicit material’ on the internet might be more demeaning than the smut itself. For a start, it’s government manufactured: the coalition knows that nobody ever lost votes by saying they cared about kids. The media love tackling porn, too, because the subject enables them to be prurient and morally serious at the same time. Stories about online porn and the young are, inevitably, accompanied by lots of images of naked women in provocative poses. Newsnight last night used this strange blue filter to soften their broadcasting of quite a lot dirty pics to the nation – after the watershed, of course. (And oh look above — we’ve done it too. LOL!)

The current row seems to be over whether internet service providers should block hardcore pornographic sites, or whether we should continue to expect parents to control what level of filth they want their children to see. There’s said to be a strong free speech argument against stopping porn sites at source, but I can’t see how that competes with the argument that we don’t want ten-year-olds learning about sex from videos called ‘ASIAN BABE GETS GANGBANGED’ and the like. The point is, if somebody went around delivering free hardcore porn to schools — which is effectively what internet providers are doing through mobile phones — he or she would be locked up. And rightly so.

Nobody wants to grapple with a more fundamental problem, though, which is that porn — for all its merits — is wrong for adults, too. It is meant to be fun, I know, but it is actually degrading — to the men and women who make it and to the men and women who ‘consume’ it. We spend so much time worrying about the sexualisation of children, but we find it harder to admit that we are excessively sexualised too — which is why the press can’t talk about pornography without getting a bit pervy. What damages children harms us, too. But few people want to say that for fear of being a 21st-century Mary Whitehouse. Much better these days to be a pervert than a prude.


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