emanix: (emanix)
[personal profile] emanix
I have seen a couple of articles recently with a very similar theme: Porn is bad because well... it's bad, mm'kay. And also kids might see it.

I'm not going to address the question of whether porn is 'good' or 'bad' for adults (I think the answer, as with so many things, is somewhere in the region of 'it depends'), but I made a couple of comments on facebook in discussion about these articles specifically regarding children's access to pornography that I wanted to retain for later use, so I'm going to publish them here to refer back to.

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[Comment one]
Critiquing the existence of porn by objecting that children might see it is like criticising the existence of cutlery because toddlers might hurt themselves on it*, or of horror films because underage children might see those too. Yes, it happens, and sensible folks should take precautions against it happening, but kids are not the target market for porn in the same way that toddlers are not the intended market for knives, or for horror movies.

On the whole the folks who make porn are also in agreement that it's not intended for children, and take steps to avoid it. The people who make porn easily accessible for children are the people who steal it/share it/pirate it, and not the people who make it. Nobody is making porn with the *intention* of kids seeing it, so I think that 'what about the kids who see this?' is not a terribly useful criticism of its content, or of the industry itself, only how it's distributed - and again, that's usually more down to folks other than the makers and publishers of said porn. I think most folks would quite rightly be annoyed at someone leaving knives around where kids can get at them, without blaming the person who made the knife, or trying to ban the manufacture of knives outright. We can accept that there is an appropriate place for knives, and for horror films. Why is the same standard not applied to porn?

On the other hand, I'd far rather kids were watching people having a nice time with each other than, for example, people being beheaded - which is apparently perfectly acceptable in mainstream TV, even before the watershed, while images of naked people enjoying themselves are not."

*By comparing porn with knives, I am not saying that I think porn is 'dangerous', just that neither is a tool intended for children (and it was the first analogy that sprang to mind)


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[Comment two]
Coming back to this after pondering for a few more hours, it follows that tightening up on copyright infringement would probably have a far more pronounced effect on reducing children's access to pornography than any newly created obscenity laws, but to do so in a way overtly linked to porn would probably be political suicide as the government would be accused of protecting the pornographers' interests. Bah. Politics is rubbish.

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So is that the answer to kids accessing material not intended for them? Tightening up on copyright infringement? It's already 'wrong', but currently it's a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one. What would be the impact of making copyright infringement a criminal offence, and would it be effective without international cooperation? Would a public organisation chasing down incidents of copyright infringement help or hinder artists? Would it cost more or less than hunting down 'obscene' materials? Who would get caught up in the collateral damage?

What other ways exist or could exist that might be more effective in preventing children from accessing material not intended for them?

I don't have the answers, only lots more questions, but I think these are more important and relevant questions to be asking than simply 'Why don't we ban EVERYONE from watching porn in case children also see it'. Or you know... while we're at it, we could ban kitchen knives, alcohol, all prescription drugs ever, heavy metal music, horror films and the manufacture of cars, too. After all, everyone knows that children shouldn't have access to those...

Date: 2015-04-05 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] weegoddess.livejournal.com
::waves and hugs::

I'm glad that you shared this, even if it does seem like Common Sense. Sadly, common sense may not be so common after all.

I had extensive access to porn from age 10

Date: 2015-04-05 06:21 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What terrible effect did this have on me, a 10 year old boy, and my relationships with women?

Well, in a nutshell, nothing as bad as the porn-shaming of anti-porn feminists did.

I ended up in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful woman early in my university days. We have been married for 16 years.

For the first several years of our relationship, I felt I could not reveal my interest in porn because the rhetoric of the day focused on how awful and degrading porn is. Instead of allowing me to have a healthy relationship with my wife and with this part of my sexuality, I felt trapped in a closet.

Gradually, as sex-positive views of porn became more commonplace, my wife and I worked through a lot of issues. Now we both enjoy various kinds of porn, separately and together.

Kids are curious, and they are not stupid. They need adults to help them understand the difference between fantasy and reality, between healthy relationships and unhealthy ones.

They need help understanding consent.

They do not need people hiding sex from them. Hiding sex from kids is harmful. It sends the message that sharing physical pleasure with another person is wrong, and even shameful. The instinct to keep porn from children at all costs is worse than the supposed damaging effects of porn could ever be.

--J

Date: 2015-04-08 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syllopsium.livejournal.com
The number of times I have seen porn when either not specifically looking for it , or not in a place where it could be reasonably expected that people might post porn for supposed shock value, is vanishingly small.

Google's safe search is on by default and is extremely effective. I don't accept children are frequently exposed to porn by accident without proof.

Date: 2015-04-09 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emanix.livejournal.com
I don't think the objection in these articles is that porn is being viewed accidentally, per se (although given that one of those articles seems to frame fashion pictures as 'porn' that might be debatable), more that it is very *easy* for children to get hold of - and that I certainly can't argue with. In my own childhood years one had to rummage under parents beds, hunt through the more permissive sorts of second hand book shops and con newsagents into parting with 'naughty' material. All a kid has to do these days is figure out how to turn safe search off.

It is the following argument '...and therefore it should be banned entirely' that I think is ridiculous. Hence the comparison with other things that aren't child-appropriate.

Date: 2015-04-10 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syllopsium.livejournal.com
Not the state's problem. The child is deliberately and wilfully looking for porn so at that point it becomes parental responsibility, possibly helped by third party software or Internet service providers.

This is very much the thin end of the wedge, as there are many things out there arguably inappropriate not just to children. Where is the line drawn?

If parents, for once, got told to Shut Up And Deal With It the world would be a better place. Course, that won't happen, as there is a wider agenda than supposedly protecting children.

Date: 2015-04-09 03:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redheadlass.livejournal.com
I also don't think porn is bad, but certainly having stronger copyright laws is not going to help that. What a waste of time.

Okay then...

Date: 2015-04-09 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emanix.livejournal.com
Well, I posed it as a question, and I also asked what other ways folks could come up with. Do you have a better answer?

Re: Okay then...

Date: 2015-04-09 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redheadlass.livejournal.com
Oh jeez, sorry. I thought you said they were already doing that. That's what I get for reading at work.

Re: Okay then...

Date: 2015-04-10 10:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emanix.livejournal.com
Ahhhh, I get it now. Thought it sounded a bit unlike you! No worries. :)

Re: Okay then...

Date: 2015-04-10 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redheadlass.livejournal.com
That is to say, I'm sorry that I worded it that way and apologize for the harshness.

Date: 2015-04-10 08:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syllopsium.livejournal.com
We may be largely agreeing, to be honest, but there are two main points : porn *is* restricted in the same way as knives. Children can neither buy a new knife or porn.

The amount of effort to open a drawer and find a knife is little different from typing 'porny preference of my choice' into google - both require deliberate action.

The copyright angle is clearly specious and driven by the porn producers, because prosecution for obtaining copyrighted porn without paying for it is very difficult. It's specious because much of the free porn is produced by the porn providers themselves - the fact that it's thirty seconds long instead of five minutes, and possibly lower quality does not stop it being porn.

Date: 2015-04-10 10:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emanix.livejournal.com
That sales of both *are* restricted actually was my point! So yes, I think we definitely are agreeing on most of this! :)

Knife sales are indeed currently restricted to a particular age group. It is agreed that they are not appropriate for children, but nobody is arguing that in order to prevent children from getting hold of knives we should stop making them entirely.

Sale of Porn is also restricted to a particular age group. The folks who make it agree that they don't want kids to get hold of it. Yet the answer being proposed by a fairly significant part of society (including the authors of both articles I linked to) is 'Therefore, don't make any porn at all, ever' - or to restrict its content to only what is deemed appropriately 'educational'. That's like only being allowed to manufacture or own butter knives!

The copyright angle was my own suggestion, and I wondered whether anyone had any better ideas. So far, despite a few folks telling me that one is bad, I've got nuthin'! You make a very fair point about parental responsibility though, too.

Knowing a number of folks who actually make porn I'm going to have to disagree with you on the 'specious' bit, though. Full length edits turn up on file sharing sites all of the time, as well as free samples that are not behind a 'proof of age wall' and it's a bane of their existence. And sites like xhamster, motherless and heavyr, (just to run a few off the top of my head) intended for 'user-created' videos require no login, no credit card, and usually not even an 'I am of legal age' click-through to view [almost always copyright infringing] material that has occasionally managed to shock even me.

Date: 2015-04-10 03:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] syllopsium.livejournal.com
No argument on the torrents and file sharing sites, although that's *way* outside the arena of protecting children given the number of highly deliberate steps required to obtain it.

To the other point - really? I'll grant that some videos on xhamster, whatevertube etc are illegally uploaded by users, however the number of sites that host short clips/photos that link through to porn sites that do then have a paywall is non trivial. It may be that these are the less responsible sites, but frankly I don't think I trust the porn industry enough to believe them, or that all clips on xhamster etc are genuinely from independent users.

The answer is to create a voluntary software or service that either blacklists porn, or more probably, whitelist sites that are acceptable for children to see. This would be far more effective than any regulation you care to mention or pursuing copyrights.

The problem is with people, not technology. Children would whinge because their favoured sites weren't on whitelists, parents because this required actual effort to add sites to the whitelist and then there will be bones of contention.

No argument about blocking porn, but filters often also block biology and sex education. Some of this is crap filtering, but it's often also poor or religion led parenting.

This is all known because it is already a solved problem. The services exist, the software exists, it's just that people don't want to pay for it, take any responsibility or have any inconvenience - so they try to ruin everyone else's day. Well, they can FRO.

Date: 2015-06-28 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adam-0oo.livejournal.com
When I first started looking for and finding porn (well, not VERY first, that was a torn up playboy in a thorn thicket) it was before napster and torrents. There was a lot of free porn available that wasn't being pirated. And there still is, via story sites and picture and video sites that give out samples, but samples in the form of dozens of pictures and videos from each shoot.

As for how to restrict access...how about all devices coming with some form of safe search already switched on, and then it is up to an adult to switch it off? There are a host of problems that come with it and even in the implimenting it, but it is a way to use software that is already available, and most new computers/phones I buy is already full of bloatware that I have to opt out of, so why not something like that but aimed more squarely at porn?

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