Pornography and Politics

There have been a couple of stories in the news lately in regards to ‘pornographic images’. Those of you following the news will be aware of the controversies in Australia over nude photographs of children and the highly charged debate about whether it is art or whether it is perverse.

There is also a debate quietly brewing in the UK about the proposed Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill which will criminalize images defined as ‘extreme pornography’.

The proposed legislation targets material depicting (i) bestiality, (ii) necrophilia, and (iii) serious violence. Images will count as illegal if they are pornographic and real or realistic (if staged). In general what is seen as contentious and the lack of consideration for if participants are consenting and willing (or even real) or if they are abused and non-consenting. The main argument for this lack of distinction being that it would be difficult or impossible to prove when a situation was abusive or non-consensual (or sometimes even real) versus when it was, so the government has taken the decision to make illegal all instances. Because it will difficult if not impossible to police, the proposed law creates a human rights issue, criminalizing a large number of people who pose no threat to society.

The Government claims that “mainstream” films that feature violent scenes will not be affected by the legislation because violent material will only count as illegal only if it is pornographic – i.e. “material that has been solely or primarily produced for the purpose of sexual arousal.” And herein lays the issue for why I choose to write about this particular legislation. Where does one draw the line between art and pornography, especially in the context of erotic art? What the UK government proposing is the promotion of ‘thought crimes’. Although the bdsm, fetish, and Goth communities do not represent a majority of the population, does that inherently make their consensual interests harmful to the public? As long as they do not actually break the law as it stands currently, and cause no abuse to others, then where exactly is the problem?

Personally, I am appalled by this proposed legislation as it seems like a large step backwards in terms of social awareness and tolerance. While I wholeheartedly agree that abusers should be punished, how can consensual activities between adults in their own bedrooms warrant being placed on a Sex Offenders Register if prosecuted? There are those who will say that of course the law is not being proposed to go after those every day bdsm practitioners, fetishists, or Goths, but that decision is going to be left to the personal interpretation and discretion of judges and politicians.

Below I’ve put together a selection of images from our previous galleries which could be considered ‘illegal’ under the proposed legislation (to my understanding of the very vague bill). You don’t have to like the images, but do you think that looking at them makes you a criminal? Be informed, be aware, and never be afraid to speak out.

Article by Kayla

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