Redefining the Argument

I’m going to be very good and not rant about what’s actually pissing me off at the moment and instead expound on a more sinister and worthwhile target, the new ATVOD regulations.

I’ve had the following conversation, with slight variations, numerous times:

“Charlie, you’re a feminist right?” a person says.


“What do you think of porn?” they ask.

“I think it’s bloody marvelous,” I say.

“But isn’t it horribly objectifying and degrading to women?” they ask.

“Well, yes, some of it is, but that’s not really the stuff I watch. I’m far more interested in the people doing interesting things rather than the mainstream stuff which is by and large garbage.”

“Well, ok, but the majority of it is pretty bad though, isn’t it?”

“Well, yes, but what’s your point?”

The conversation usually splits into two camps, the “it’s all awful and demeaning and should be banned,” camp and the “well surely the emphasis should be on encouraging fringe productions and educating children on what porn really is and how it differs from sex,” camp.

Yes if you read the above sentence quickly there’s ‘Band Camp’ and ‘Sex Camp’ in there.

My standpoint has always been that by calling for bans on pornography you’re decrying a medium. This makes no sense, it’s like taking umbrage at “Snog Marry Avoid” or “Skyline” and suggesting that we should ban television or cinema. It’s just a medium and, like so many others, yes there is a lot of shit on it. But the issue should be about regulating the shit. And when I say regulating I’m talking about things like ensuring performers  are properly treated, paid and have recourse against malpractice. Not lecturing people on how many knuckles they can insert into another consenting person. You see the medium is defensible because it offers the freedom of expression that sees all sorts of weird and wonderful things being made, many of which revel in female sexuality as more than being a submissive and passive receptacle for men.

But the new regulations are a step towards changing that. As has been noted by so many others, the new restrictions disproportionately affect the role of women in porn most notably banning face-sitting and female ejaculation. In addition the restrictions on BDSM activities and fisting aim a savage swipe at other non-mainstream porn productions. In effect what these regulations are doing is enshrining in law the unpleasant, aggressive, violent and abusive depictions favoured by mainstream porn as being ‘RIGHT’ and other things as being ‘WRONG’.

At which point the entire argument I’ve had so many times starts to unravel. If these laws are allowed to stand and are accepted as the norm, then it’s a much simpler argument to head for more severe restrictions on all pornography.

Fringe pornography is a lynchpin and, in my view, a cornerstone of sexual self-expression, these new regulations, therefore, represent nothing but an all-out assault on the right of people to have their own sexual identity.