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Posts Tagged ‘pornography’

judeJude Roberts has recently completed a PhD at the University of Nottingham on the Culture novels of Iain M Banks. Jude teaches at Birkbeck College and tweets at @tangendentalism.

Jude recently appeared on Newsnight as part of a panel discussing pornography. A full clip of the show is featured at the end of this post. She writes here on pornography, sex and being labelled Jude Roberts – porn user.

 

I’m happy to be labelled a ‘porn user’. I am a user of porn. Although the connotations of the word ‘user’ are somewhat unnecessary. I use porn in the same way I use other forms of culture – for stimulation and entertainment. These, after all, are what culture is for. And make no mistake, porn is a form of culture, just like any other. Just like TV, films, books, computer games, theatre and the visual arts, porn reflects and reflects on the ideas, concerns and attitudes of the culture in which it’s produced.

So why do we treat it so differently? Porn is held to a far higher standard in its representation of women in particular than any other form of cultural expression. Much of the representation of women in porn is incredibly poor, misogynist and cliché and in no way whatsoever do I defend it from those who say that that is unacceptable and must change. Similarly, much mainstream porn is utterly, unbearably racist and this too is intolerable and must change. But these criticisms, so often directed at porn, could so easily be directed at other forms of culture too. The representation of women in so-called ‘torture porn’ films like Hostel and Saw involves precisely the same objectification of the suffering female body and rather than ending with the objectifying ‘money shot’ end with women’s bodies literally cut up into pieces.

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Last week, the End Violence Against Women Coalition sent the following open letter to the Prime Minister. It has been reproduced here with permission and thanks:

 

 

 

 

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister

Urgent action needed to prevent abuse of women and girls

86% of people want compulsory Sex and Relationships education to address abuse in the wake of the multiple prosecutions of groups of men for raping and sexually exploiting girls, the murders of Tia Sharp and April Jones, the ongoing child sexual abuse allegations, as well as weekly accounts of domestic violence murders of women and children, we are writing to ask you to put in place a Programme of Work to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls. In particular, we are asking you to ensure that all schools tackle harmful attitudes and behaviours amongst young people and to ensure that survivors are supported. This will build on good work that your government is already carrying out and ensure that the pledge to prevent violence in the Home Office-led Call to end violence against women and girls becomes more than just a promise on paper.

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ComputerHolly Dustin is Director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Fiona Elvines is the Operations Coordinator of Rape Crisis South London.

The following slides were presented by Holly and Fiona at the ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On‘ seminar in Durham University on the 8th May 2013. For further information about the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s campaign to prevent violence against women and girls, read their report ‘Deeds or Words?’ released yesterday, and their letter to the Prime Minister urging him to take action.

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ComputerHildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir is a human rights and gender expert at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, University of Iceland.

Iceland has recently proposed changing its laws on pornography. The Committee on Criminal Legislation at the Ministry of the Interior in Iceland is preparing a Bill with the aim of narrowing the legal definition of pornography; and an additional committee is charged with exploring how the law can be implemented, especially in relation to on-line material.

Before the 90s, pornography in Iceland had been in the form of a few imported magazines, like Hustler and Playboy, as well as behind-the-counter videotapes in specific video rental stores. Although prostitution existed, there has never been a tradition of street-prostitution in Iceland or specific neighbourhoods where prostitution was available. In addition, strip-clubs did not exist in Iceland prior to the mid-90s. Pornography was, and is, illegal – Act 210 in the Penal Code stipulates that it is illegal to publish, import, sell, hand out, or distribute pornographic material, or to hold a public lecture or play which is similarly “immoral”. Prostitution, as a main occupation, was illegal according to the Penal Code, and it was illegal to make money off prostitution as a third party (pimping). There was, however, no specific legislation addressing the running of strip-clubs.

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Computer

Alex Dymock is a PhD candidate at the University of Reading. Her thesis is entitled: ‘Abject Intimacies: Disgust, Sexuality and UK Law’. Alex tweets at @lexingtondymock

Five years since the extreme pornography provisions were passed as law, Durham Law School invited me to give a position paper on the provisions, assessing their effectiveness and suggesting ways in which I would like to see the law reformed.  The following weekend, the new CPS guidelines on the application of the law – formerly taken down in the aftermath of Simon Walsh’s acquittal – were released, which give the appearance of attempting to take a number of concerns about its previous interpretation into account.  While these new guidelines do seem to tighten up definitions of ‘likelihood of risk of harm’, so as to exclude depictions of consensual sadomasochism as far as possible, my own position on the current law is that it should be entirely abolished.  I defended this position on two grounds.

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ComputerErika Rackley and Clare McGlynn (Durham University) have written widely on extreme pornography. You can read more about their research here and here.

In May 2008, following a 3 year period of extensive consultation and against a backdrop of significant and predominantly critical public debate, a new offence criminalising the possession of extreme pornography received its Royal Assent. The Government’s purpose in introducing the new law was to address an ‘increasing public concern’ about the availability of extreme pornography particularly that produced outside the UK and distributed via the internet which lay beyond the reach of the Obscene Publications Act 1959. It did so by shifting the focus from the producers to consumers – targeting the users of pornographic material by enabling prosecutions to be brought, for the first time, against anyone downloading, and therefore generating the demand for, such material.

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ComputerWelcome to Inherently Human’s Blog Carnival, ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On’.

This Blog Carnival follows from the ‘Criminalising Extreme Pornography: Five Years On’ seminar which took place on 8th May 2013 at Durham University, marking five years since the passage of legislation criminalising the possession of extreme pornography. The seminar brought together academics, activists, policy-makers and other regulatory authorities to evaluate the success or failure of the legislation and to ask what, if any, reforms are necessary to secure progress toward this objective. Delegates were encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #EP5 (more…)

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