Blocking porn won’t end sexualisation

I am anti-porn.  I think it exploits vulnerable workers, and promotes attitudes to women that are deeply damaging to society. I think it is really worrying that young people can access violent and inappropriate images at such a young age, so very easily. But David Cameron’s suggestion of an opt in to block internet porn is not something I agree with.

Sianushka has written a great post “Blocking porn is not the answer – ending patriarchy is” explaining how this measure fails to address any of the problems caused by and feeding pornography.  Porn is developed from prevailing attitudes, and all Cameron’s suggestion will do is brush this under the carpet.  It won’t improve education in schools to teach young people about negotiated consent, and that sex isn’t something that girls do to make those horrible boys happy.  It won’t improve the attitudes towards women either in pornography or in our society.

But further, it could seriously curtail women’s right to discuss the issues they face in the world.  About eighteen months ago, there was a little twitter-gizmo doing the rounds to find out who was the filthiest tweeter you knew (sorry, don’t want to google for a link to that, hate to think what might pop up.  But if anyone has it, do let me know).  Just a bit of fun, but built using the same principles that a spam block would use.  And I had a significantly higher score than average.  Now, without claiming to be whiter-than-white, I don’t tweet about sex much.  Except, I tweet a lot about rape, violence against women and female genital mutilation.  I tweet about the sexualisation of young girls and the effect this has on society.  I’m tweeting stories that I think should be read widely, and if circulated in a high-profile enough way, might actually go some way towards changing attitudes towards women.   And yet these stories that flag me as a filthy tweeter, would be blocked by controls preventing porn.

News sites would also struggle to work around this, and so would start using euphemisms for sexual assaults to ensure their readership stays high.  Sexual violence against women would disappear from the mainstream media and be brushed under the carpet along with porn.

The internet, and twitter especially, has given a loud and proud voice to women, who can argue their case for a better world.  We can share stories and raise awareness of issues that we feel passionate about.

You have it wrong Mr Cameron.  Your proposal won’t help end the sexualisation of women.  It will brush it under the carpet perhaps, but it will also make it worse.

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