This is our truth, tell us yours
In a galaxy far far away I used to hang out in a BDSM chat room. It was quite formal in nature, by which I mean that subs used lower caps, Doms upper, many subs addressed all strangers as Sir or Ma’am and all the variations of slashy speak that Y/you may,or may not, have heard of. I even wandered once into a Gorean chatroom where it turned out that this one made a huge faux pas by addressing one of the Mistresses by name. This one is unsure how herself is meant to communicate with people if this one is forbidden from actually speaking to them, but this one never claimed to understand how a bad sci fi series got turned into bad sex. This one is not cut out to be a karija.
Now my brain hurts.
There is a point to this beyond mangling the English language though. I learnt some really important do’s and don’ts when looking for someone to grab me by the hair and be the Captain Caveman to my Penelope Pitstop. I made lifelong friends , the tricks we played with language actually served some useful purposes. Slashy speak was first developed to make finding out who was who in chatrooms easier. Its a bit of a waste of time flirting for hours with someone and finding out you are both Dom unless you plan reenacting the fireside scene in Sons and Lovers. It also created a sense of community, and dare I say commitment. Most of all though it was fun, harmless, sexy, fun. Gor may have not made my loins burn but it clearly pushes the buttons of some people.
Which brings us to pornography. There is a mood in the new puritanism of the UK that says that old fashioned virtue of not banning something that does no harm is no longer an acceptable standard. Instead the whole debate from Loose the Ladmags to the Rape porn debate is characterized by “I don’t like this, it must be stopped”. I will probably be accused of oversimplification, but that really is all the debate is.
The original UK feministe/Object campaign based itself around the hypothetical distress of a Tesco shop worker having to unpack copies of Loaded or Nuts. Perhaps I am getting old and cynical, but really, distress at seeing a woman in a swimming costume is a reason for a high-profile campaign now, for censorship and modesty covers? Words like objectification are thrown around, but as discussed here, its the campaigners who are doing the objectification, presenting only one view of acceptable femininity. Why can the response to a naked or semi naked woman on the front of a magazine simply not be an acceptance that we are all, under our clothes, naked.
The same goes for Page 3, I have written before of the fact page 3 is the least objectionable thing about The Sun, a festering boil on the arse of British journalism. So many of those supporting the campaign say it makes them uncomfortable, and even worse their children see it, and god forbid might ask questions. We are seriously in an age when sex education is not funded but parents bringing their children up to be ashamed of and embarrassed by the human body is not only OK, but seen as good parenting.
Yet again, with rape porn, wild claims are made about it, that its proliferation is somehow responsible for every rape and sexual assault out there. This is not only rape apologism but is simply not bourne out by the facts, Surely we would have seen a massive increase in reported rapes (with the normal caveat that these are only ever the tip of the iceberg) since the invention of the internet is rape porn caused rape. The fact is it doesn’t, and those campaigning know it doesn’t. they just oppose all porn, based on their feelings around it, and rape porn is a soft target.
Even the current calls for a twitter report button are based on the emotional responses of people whose natural urge is to censor anything they don’t like rather than considered thoughts about harm reduction. I spoke to the petitons founder, she had set it up after seeing some of the abusive tweets. She confessed to doing it on impulse, and when I explained the concerns of many oppressed people at how it would be misused she was not even aware the current report spam button is used to silence people. Unsurprisingly she is a fan of terfs, swerf, and every pro censorship feminist group on the net.
When I went into that Gorean chatroom I could have told them all that basing your sex life on a series of execrable books with flying dragons was several hundred sandwiches short of a picnic. Or I could have politely left, knowing it was not for me, but the fact other people did it, did me no harm. We need to return to an attitude that looks first at the harm done, and places emotional responses where they belong, in blogs, not knee jerk laws.