Porn, Parents and the responsibility argument.

So like Laura I’ve been watching the Channel 4 Sex Education Show. Whilst I found Tuesday nights installment troubling due to a) the overwhelming and unbearable heteronormative aspect of it, and b) the ridiculous giggling and immaturity of the presenter, not to mention her poking fun at a 13 year old boy whose voice hadn’t broken,the most troubling aspect for me was the attitude of the show towards whose responsibility it was to protect children from pornography.

I have an attitude towards porn that I know many feminists have an issue with. I’m not quite pro porn….. but I’m definitely not anti it and I think that there is an important distinction to be made between porn made and viewed by adults who are consenting, non- coerced individuals exercising their autonomy fully and choosing to engage in sexual acts on film as a method of sexual expression, and those who are coerced, non- consenting or exploited. I don’t necessarily believe that all porn is exploitative. I do however appreciate that there are a lot of feminists who would quite strongly disagree with me, and I can see the validity of their arguments. I will also agree that the majority of porn is exploitative, as is the mainstream porn industry as a whole.

A lot of noise is being made these days about ‘hardcore internet porn’ and indeed, any quick google will bring you back gazillions of porn sites to cater to any desire you may have. However, and here is my very big thing- to find this porn you must actively LOOK for it. It isn’t as if turning on your computer will immediately result in porn of every description flooding your screen. Unlike magazines such as Zoo and Nuts, which are available just about anywhere, and do not offer anyone a chance to choose whether or not to be greeted with unrealistic, misogynistic images of half naked women, internet porn must be actively sought and viewed.

I do agree that watching porn has a very detrimental affect on the minds of teenagers. I do think that porn should be an exclusively adult arena. What I don’t agree with, is that it is the sole responsibility of the government and Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) to initially sort out the accessibility of pornography.

I consider that to be the responsibility of PARENTS. It isn’t that hard to set up parental controls on your computers and internet- I have parental controls on our family pc, parental controls on our satellite television and when they reach an age when they are old enough to need/want laptops for studying my children will have parental controls on those too. I was angered by the shows denial of parental responsibility when it comes to protecting children from the more harmful aspects of porn. Yes, pornography should be regulated, and yes the government do need to work to create a society where children receive adequate sex education which focuses on sexual relationships being about mutual respect and understanding both in and out of emotional relationships. It is also the responsibility of the government ( and everyone else) to create a society where this is no such thing as coerced, non consenting porn.

To argue however, that it is solely the responsibility of the Government and ISP’s to deny access to porn, is to deny parents the responsibility of looking after their children. It also, I think, doesn’t address the need for parents to talk to their children about sex and pornography and issues surrounding the way porn portrays sexual relationships, and about the differences between real sex and porn sex.

I can and do appreciate that not all parents are responsible (or aware of the danger), and I am aware and do acknowledge that not all children have parents/ familial guardians who are available to talk to them about sex, porn and using the net safely. I do think the government should perhaps sort something out so computers which are brought/sold in Britain come with parental controls automatically set up. The onus is then on adult users of the computer to disable the parental settings, which handily avoids anyone not knowing how to set up parental controls.

In the same way it is the responsibility fo parents to regulate their childrens’ televisions viewing, and indeed we trust parents to do this, it is parents responsibility to regulate childrens internet usage, because it is a parents role to regulate materials seen by their children within the home. Obviously a parent can do nothing about what is viewed by children outside of the home, BUT they can be warned of the dangers of internet porn and regulate their childrens access to adult websites in the same way they would regulate them viewing it on television.

To bring the state into it, is I feel, the beginning of a slippery slope towards state parenting, and a further expansion of a nanny state and surveillance society.