Britain bans violent porn.

In response to the violent murder of a woman by a man that was obsessed with violent internet porn, the British government ruled that violent internet porn is now illegal. Now, I am glad that the government took a stance on the issue and responded to the outcry, but I don’t know how much the banning of internet porn is going to actually stop violent behavior. Violent imagery may incite violence, but is far from the cause of it. What about a culture that normalizes violence for men? What are they going to do to stop that?

It is already a crime to make or publish such images but proposed legislation will outlaw possession of images such as “material featuring violence that is, or appears to be, life-threatening or is likely to result in serious and disabling injury”.
Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker MP said: “Such material has no place in our society but the advent of the internet has meant that this material is more easily available and means existing controls are being by-passed – we must move to tackle this.”
The move by the government would close a legal loophole.
“It is great news that the Government has not only listened but has responded to calls to outlaw access to sickening internet images, which can so easily send vulnerable people over the edge.”

I agree that this stuff is nasty, but banning it may seem viable in the short term. But I think the ban ignores the circumstances under which it is made and the greater cultural factors that contribute to it’s production. What is producing such images and what is creating a situation where they would be distributed and consumed?
That is all I am asking.
via BBC.

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18 Comments

  1. Posted August 31, 2006 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I’m not convinced. I think that it’s more of a case that douche-bags who are going to violently murder women because it’s easier than murdering a man are also going to watch violent porn, not vice versa. It’s like blaming video games and movies–instead of the much larger, societal issues–for things like columbine. As with drugs and weapons, time and time again we’ve seen that there’s no point in fighting the supply side of crime so long as there’s a demand.

  2. shmana
    Posted August 31, 2006 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Another concern I saw addressed at the link was S&M porn, and how are law enforcers going to tell if it’s staged and consenting, or the illegal kind? It doesn’t seem very empowering to use the law to censor harmless, consenting sexuality.

  3. shrieking lizzy
    Posted August 31, 2006 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    How, for that matter, are they going to distinguish what is harmful porn and what is just good natured eroticism? Are they going to start banning (and enforcing said ban) films such as ‘Scar Face,’ ‘Boxing Helene’, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy (or was that enema?), and DePalma’s latest bit of ‘dead girl’ fantasy ‘Black Dahlia’? How does one define and enforce the ‘crime of looking’….

  4. Posted August 31, 2006 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Well, Samhita, what exactly do you expect these lawmakers to do to fix the greater cultural problems that contribute to the demand for this kind of thing? I get what you’re saying, but it’s not like laws can solve every problem.

  5. Posted August 31, 2006 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    I think Yellownumber5 is on to something. Laws are about drawing lines, and that’s a sketchy business: once you start, you’re never quite sure where to stop, and the next thing you know, there’s California-style litigation & OJ Simpson type prosecution all over the place.
    It’s the typical rock and hard place dilemma that all good guys face. We just have take things as they come, roll with the punches, and live & let live. It’s like Ghandi said, we have to be the change we want to effect.

  6. Posted August 31, 2006 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I think Yellownumber5 is on to something. Laws are about drawing lines, and that’s a sketchy business: once you start, you’re never quite sure where to stop, and the next thing you know, there’s California-style litigation & OJ Simpson type prosecution all over the place.
    It’s the typical rock and hard place dilemma that all good guys face. We just have take things as they come, roll with the punches, and live & let live. It’s like Ghandi said, we have to be the change we want to effect.

  7. nonwhiteperson
    Posted August 31, 2006 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    That’s exactly what Samhita asked. Laws aren’t necessarily the answer, changing the culture is.
    “What about a culture that normalizes violence for men? What are they going to do to stop that? I agree that this stuff is nasty, but banning it may seem viable in the short term. But I think the ban ignores the circumstances under which it is made and the greater cultural factors that contribute to it’s production. What is producing such images and what is creating a situation where they would be distributed and consumed? That is all I am asking.”

  8. Sam
    Posted August 31, 2006 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    As with child pornography, it is very possible to make sexually-titillating violent pornography illegal while asking questions about why pornographers are increasingly making and pornsturbators are increasingly consuming such hate-filled images. You can’t get to the making legislation to address the harms part without copious amounts of questioning and examinining.
    Some questions are easier to answer than others.
    “What is producing such images and what is creating a situation where they would be distributed and consumed?”
    Pornographers are producing the images because pornsturbating men are willing to dish out big money to see women strangled, cut, burned, raped and snuffed.
    The Internet has created the situation where extremely sadistic pornography can be distributed and consumed more readily than porn stores used to allow. Now every home computer is a hardcore rape pornography outlet center easily accessed anonymously with a few clicks.

  9. Posted August 31, 2006 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    In related news, it appears as if porn is more of a substitute for violence than a cause. It’s not rock solid, but it undercuts the idea that the solution to violence is censorship.
    Shmana, in Britain S&M is already illegal, regardless of whether it’s consensual.

  10. Thomas
    Posted September 1, 2006 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Alon, the law in Britain is more nuanced than you say. R. v Brown held that consent was not a defense to “actual bodily harm,” but did not speak to acts where any harm was “transient or trifling.” It is my understanding that the law on where the line is remains entirely unsettled, with branding and cutting perhaps at one end of the spectrum, and bondage, light to moderate spankings and flogging probably at the other.
    If the standard they they have adopted is, as the post says, “is, or appears to be, life-threatening or is likely to result in serious and disabling injury”, then I am pretty happy with that. I was concerned that the act would seek (as some feminist-backed ordinances in the US have) to eliminate all BDSM erotic images. That’s not what appears to have happened, and I am not overly concerned that material made by the BDSM community for the BDSM community is being targeted here. Of course, enforcement falls into the hands of tools of the patriarchy so the act may be enforced in a way that I don’t support. But I see a whole huge difference between banning the eroticization of women being killed, mutilated and disabled (which this appears to do) and the banning of all images of people engaging in dominance and submission or pain play (which this does not appear to do). Further, and I know not all feminists agree on this point, I believe that there is a world of difference between people engaging in sex play within an artificially constructed set of power dynamics (which in my view do not inherently reflect or support the patriarchal power dynamics of the larger culture) and killing, mutilating and disabling women (which always replicates the patriarchal subordination of women).

  11. Posted September 1, 2006 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Killing and mutilating people is already illegal; why do you need any additional law against it?

  12. Thomas
    Posted September 1, 2006 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Alon, if that was an attempt to be sarcastic, I missed it. I said that this bill bans the eroticization (through porn) of mutilating and killing women. The laws against mutilating and killing women have, alas, not actually stopped it.

  13. Posted September 1, 2006 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Is it even clear that it was murder? The BBC article doesn’t say, and Avedon Carol says it may well have been a consensual play that went south.
    Besides, even if it was, banning porn makes about as much sense as banning the Bible because once in a while some lunatic kills people on account of it. A few years ago there was even someone in Israel who killed two people, saying he was inspired by Crime and Punishment.

  14. A Guy
    Posted September 3, 2006 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    “Pornographers are producing the images because pornsturbating men are willing to dish out big money to see women strangled, cut, burned, raped and snuffed.”
    Oh, stop. 45% of the porn consumed online is consumed by women. That’s a lot a porn and a lot of women and it includes the nasty hardcore stuff that most men refuse to go near.

  15. Jessica
    Posted September 3, 2006 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    45% of the porn consumed online is consumed by women.
    Where are you getting that number from? I’m not saying that don’t watch porn…but this seems a little off to me.

  16. bear
    Posted September 3, 2006 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    “That’s a lot a porn and a lot of women and it includes the nasty hardcore stuff that most men refuse to go near.”
    There is porn that men refuse to go near?

  17. Posted September 3, 2006 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Well, porn featuring nude males, I presume.

  18. Posted September 3, 2006 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    Don’t presume too quickly. My brother (who is straight) couldn’t watch porn if there were no guys involved. Same with at least 3 of my guy friends that I know.
    *All* nude males, yeah, I’m assuming they avoided. That and many of them wouldn’t go near beastiality.

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