England, it is said, is a nation of dog lovers.
Imagine, then, the furore that greeted publication of an image which – well, I’ll try and describe it as I don’t have access to it.
A dog is tied to a post in a cage, but not by its neck. Its front paws have been pulled up backwards behind its head, tied together and then tied to the post so it has to stand on its back paws.
Bad enough, eh?
But there’s more.
The dog’s mouth has been taped shut. It can’t bark, can only breathe through its nose. And around that cage, a load of people stand, laughing and taking pictures as it writhes around.
Shameful, isn’t it?
And I imagine it would create a furore if it were published. But as far as I know it doesn’t exist.
The real image features a young, attractive woman, in a very short skirt, legs akimbo, buttocks resting on – divided by – the ‘post’ which is actually a pole.
If someone had described this image to me I would have assumed it was taken from a soft porn magazine, a lap dancing club, or similar.
If/when you get to the end of this post you’ll see it. It’s a Getty Images/Evan Agostini photograph, taken in Amsterdam at a trade exhibition. As in, a place where ‘things’ are ‘exhibited’ in order to make sales.
It was an ‘adult’ trade exhibition and thus aimed mostly (and please don’t do that ‘not all men’ or ‘but some women’ to this post, you can take that as read) at a male audience.
For a while now I’ve been reading, watching – deploring – what’s going on in the world women inhabit and it’s way too complicated for a short post, but it’s time to start getting it out of my head.
I’d like to talk about gender fluidity, too, because it’s become a serious concern, not just for women, but for anyone who cares about freedom of speech. But that will have to wait.
First, I need to talk about porn.
So, to you all, women and men, I address these questions:
1 Do you have:
- nephews, nieces, cousins, younger siblings?
2 Do you:
- teach young people
- coach them
- hope for a better world for them?
If so – and if you haven’t yet noticed, or have avoided noticing, the pernicious influence of online pornography, please, read on.
I’m of the generation which saw bunny girls in Playboy as porn.
I have vivid memories of seeing the magazine for the first time. I was off school, revising in my dad’s study. Being nosy – a lifelong trait – I opened a cupboard door, started poking around.
I was shocked. And fascinated. Semi-naked women with big boobs in provocative poses.
If that kind of thing, but more explicit, with a bit more exposure, is still your image of porn – you’re in for a shock.
I reached the point of ‘this must stop, something must be done,’ when I saw – and nearly ignored – yet another online petition.
It was protesting a deal whereby ‘Ann Summers,’ a chain of ‘adult’ shops supposedly aimed at women and which I assume sells merchandise like vibrators and crotchless knickers – linked up with Pornhub.
You may have seen it. Your husband, father, brother, uncle may have seen it.
Your teenage son/nephew/cousin/brother/grandson, or someone male you know, is very likely to have seen it.
Because in 2016 there were 23 BILLION visits to Pornhub.
Read the introduction to this petition and you’ll see why this deal – in many people’s opinion – is a very bad idea (warning, it tells it bluntly):
On Pornhub, ‘5246 centuries worth of footage was viewed. In just one year,’ according to Tom Farr, who wrote this piece for the Medium.* Worth reading if you care about the young in today’s world.
[*NB: There’s a video embedded in the article which I haven’t watched. My system warns me the site owner doesn’t comply with my blanket request for commercial sites not to track me.]
The article may shock you – it shocked me. I’m linking to it because I don’t want to cover the details myself for fear of attracting hate mail, or weirdo bots recording my online whereabouts and thinking I’m into violent, painful, degrading porn.
If you veered away from that one, perhaps you might read what Jo Bartosch, in mainstream (if lefty) news magazine New Statesman, has to say.
The content of these articles should concern us all.
What is porn doing to the behaviour of youngsters?
In particular to girls who feel they MUST do things they don’t want to do, but who don’t know any better. Things which may hurt them, or injure them for life?
What is it doing to young men who feel obliged to prove their virility by force, pushing unwilling girls to submit to sexual acts in the belief it’s what men do?
A powerful global force, unpoliced to a large extent simply because it’s online and international, is adversely affecting lives.
It demeans and exploits women and girls.
It affects men, whether young or older. It can damage families, spoil relationships and affect people’s working lives as men become ‘addicted’ to its extreme stimulations.
“As porn consumers become desensitized from repeated overloads of dopamine, they often find they can’t feel normal without a dopamine high. … They experience strong cravings and often find themselves giving more of their time and attention to porn, sometimes to the detriment of relationships, school, or work…”
Fight the New Drug (link below)
So far so calm.
Now it’s time to get angry!
When some people in this world get turned on by watching men forcibly damaging unwilling female orifices, or watching a father molest his daughter – and this criminal filth is overtly available online – isn’t something seriously WRONG!?
Think of the abused participants: exploited, trafficked girls. Drug addicts. The vulnerable, poor, dependent on aid.
Whatever your politics, think about the people you care about who may already be, or may become exposed to this degrading, inhumane stuff.
We must protest, speak out about this in whatever ways we can. Write to the people who represent us in governments, if nothing else.
I mean, if you wouldn’t treat a dog this way …
I make no claims for these sites, they are just ones I have come across when trying to find anti-porn research or campaigning organisations. There are, it seems, many groups – and Twitter is a good place to find campaigners.
UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children advice to parents – PDF with some useful links:
Actively campaigning against the selling of sex including porn:
Scottish-based women’s organisation with a useful website:
American site ‘Fight the New Drug’ which claims to be research based:
Mumsnet always good for an honest opinion: