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September 4, 2006

Violent porn miscelleny

by Feòrag

United Kingdom: About the only good thing about the British government's proposal to ban violent pornography is that it has provoked quite a bit of discussion.

Val Dobson felt the need to rant at an article in the Grauniad, in which old urban myths about snuff films were repeated as if such a movie had ever been found:

Nothing happened because the film was a fake - as were all the other snuff movies that followed. In three decades of police porn seizures world-wide, no genuine snuff movie has ever come to light; the panic over women being brutally slain for the cameras was a typical urban legend.

It would be interesting to know just who were the film experts who verified that the film used no special effects. (As it happens, I used to have a copy of the Radical Feminist Network newsletter that carried a report of the film viewing that Bindel refers to. Having chucked out most of my magazine archives in a house move since, I no longer have the newsletter, but I clearly remember there was no mention of film experts then - only a reported claim by an unnamed police surgeon that the dismemberment scenes were real.)

OK, so Bindel is an ignorant person - does it matter? Yes it does. She presents herself not as an ordinary person with no special knowledge, but as a feminist campaigner, expert in anything concerning pornography and violence against women. That was why the Guardian asked her for a contribution to the debate - and snuff movies certainly fall within the remit of ‘pornography and violence against women’. Yet she has clearly never done any research at all into the subject.

Of course, if such a film did exist, it would be evidence for the prosecution in the ensuing murder case. The fact that murder, and being an accessory to murder, is already illegal, and punished much more seriously than possessing violent porn will be seems lost on Bindel. If the films existed, despite the possibility of life imprisonment, then the lesser penalty wouldn't exactly be a deterrent to the producers, would it?

What annoyed me about the article was that only one viewpoint, porn is evil, is presented as being feminist. Val, may I introduce you to Avedon Carol (there's no point trying to link to any individual post at her blog The Sideshow) and Feminists Against Censorship? FAC links to a petition against the proposed legislation[1].

Backlash is a campaign set up to oppose the proposed legislation. They have produced a pretty comprehensive website.

Frank Fisher at the Guardian argues against the law, and censorship in general, urging the government to stay out of the bedroom - and the dungeon.

News that the UK government is set to legislate against the possession of violent pornography, with simple possession punishable by a three year jail term, indicates that not only are we in the dying hours of the Silly Season, but also that we're in the dying hours of reason in this increasingly irrational nation.

Of all the arrogant, idiotic, kneejerk, populist measures this ignorant and increasingly inept government has proposed, this has to be the worst. Ill-conceived, illiberal, impractical and totally unenforceable - so why propose it?

And Avedon is there again, observing that the proposals will actually endanger women:

Only it won't do anything for women and in fact will probably end up endangering more of us because the less information you can get about BDSM, the more likely you are to have accidents that result in injury or death.

Charlie Stross notes that This government has created an average of one new criminal offense for every day it has spent in power — and it's been in power for nearly a decade. I am getting more than a little sick of these control freaks ...

Violent PornTurn Left at the Bridge, 2nd September 2006; British government decides to encourage rapeCharlie's Diary, 31st August 2006.

Note: Naturally, being a contrary old sod, I have an issue with the words We ... have no objection to laws which make ... dangerous acts illegal. After all, if people choose to do stupid dangerous things then, as long as they don't involve any unwilling parties, I say let Father Darwin sort them out!

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Posted in Church and State at 12:00. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:43.
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1: Posted by: Avedon | September 4, 2006 4:00 PM

I was also unhappy with the "We ... have no objection to laws which make ... dangerous acts illegal" wording, although for a different reason, since pretty much any act is potentially dangerous.

I'm also sick of people who feel the need to produce these caveats about how we are, of course, really really mainstream in our other beliefs. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to pornography, the only thing that matters is whether real acts are consensual, no matter what is merely being depicted. Was it a real rape or just acting? Is it real child abuse or just Photoshop? If it was real sexual violence, then prosecute people for violence, not for their imaginations.

We can argue about what "consent" means - and I suppose I am out of the mainstream in saying that legal definitions based on age are not really meaningful - but when even the prosecutors agree that the participants were consenting, it's disgusting to pretend they were "the victims of violence". The government has no moral right to take our agency away. People like Julie Bindell have a big problem with acknowledging that women are perfectly capable of making thoughtful decisions that she just doesn't happen to think are wise or groovy or whatever.

I'm just so grossed-out with being infantalized this way.

Wax lyrical

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