Life is full of irony. Just ask Alanis Morissette – though make sure you’re sitting down comfortably for the answer. Take David Cameron (please, someone take David Cameron… and put him back in the box of pale, waxy candlesticks from whence he most assuredly emerged); at the time of writing Mr. Cameron has announced his plan to ensure that by the end of 2013, all new broadband accounts in the United Kingdom will be obliged to have adult content filters activated by default (filters which can anyway be deactivated by the account-holder if so desired – thereby making the whole thing pointless anyway), while existing public Wi-Fi providers must also make it known whether or not they themselves use filters, lest our innocent fingertips become accidentally sullied by inadvertently making a nipple appear.
Well, not nipples… nipples are all right because, and here’s where some of that irony creeps in, although the PM feels the need to protect us all from the seamier side of the Internet, he does not feel it in any way necessary to ban the Page 3 models that even now let half of it all hang out on the pages of a tabloid ‘news’ paper that, one cannot doubt, sits happily on the coffee tables of millions of family homes, easily and tantalizingly within the unwitting grasp of – SHOCK! HORROR! GASP! – impressionable children.
Oh the humanity! However, the fact that people choose to buy the Sun (an incomprehensible act at the best of times), a paper that purports to be a paragon of moral correctness while reveling in lies, corrupt practices, and not least the opportunity to print pictures of breasts – anybody’s breasts – whenever possible, which fact says Cameron represents a consumer choice. Well, it might do so to the man who usually buys the Sun, but not to anyone else in his family unlucky enough to be exposed to it, which is surely the same argument for adult content on the Net. Yes, it’s there, but let’s be honest, you have to go look for it. You only have to open the Sun to find a pair of hooters staring you in the face.
Not so with the Internet; it’s not like you log on to Google only to find that the ‘OO’ has been replaced by a pair of fleshy mammary glands and that all your search hits are scrolling down from a massive splayed vagina. You have to look for porn, which suggests choice. I won’t say consumer choice as, admittedly, much of the adult content available is seemingly free… but finding it still takes more than flicking a page and, usually, most responsible parents will put those filters into place anyway.
Cameron’s position is not a moral one. He is certainly pretending that it is – but his failure to censure his friends at the Sun proves that it isn’t. What it is, in fact, is more of the same old right-wing authoritarianism. Not just that, but it is the same old contradictory authoritarianism… the good-for-the-goose-but-not-for-the-gander variety of authoritarianism that sometimes states that the poor must not be allowed to enjoy the same indulgences, sexual or otherwise, as the rich (and thus, heaven forbid, make them think that, really, when it comes down to it, we’re all the same) and other times is simply saying one thing but meaning another thing entirely – ‘lying’ as we usually call it… or posturing. And Cameron is posturing. Censorship achieves nothing… and he knows it. It won’t make adult content disappear… just like lung cancer isn’t making cigarettes disappear (or persuading Cameron to ignore the moneyed lobbyists ordering – I mean advising – him to not allow plain packaging).
There is certainly an argument to be had about the pure sexualization of one-half of humanity, but it is not an argument solely embedded in the existence of pornography. Look at a billboard, open any magazine, turn on the TV… watch any music video featuring a female vocalist or three singing about female empowerment while dancing in their underwear, feeling themselves up and down, pouting and stimulating cock-riding and tell me that the problem is easy access to porn on the Internet. To be honest, considering the rest of it, it’s amazing porn exists at all in the face of all that competition, all that constant exposure to the gyrating, undressed female form. Somehow, just because we don’t see the nipple or a flash of pubic hair (pubic hair, some of you might need to know, is the hair that ladies used to have between their legs), it’s perfectly fine to let your children see sex being used to sell stuff… EVERYWHERE. If we are talking about exploitation – and waxy Dave isn’t – this is the same thing.
In the meantime, while Cameron’s cloud-curtain crusade continues, his government’s economic austerity measures continue to target women and whittle away at their rights; it allows the continued existence of men-only clubs to ensure the glass ceiling grows ever thicker; and it continues to make sure women are woefully underrepresented in the corridors of power. Not that there aren’t women in Westminster, you understand; they are there… you just have to look for them.
If you ask me, the whole thing… it’s like rain on your wedding day or… or… I don’t know, a free ride when you’ve already paid. It’s like… ah, you get the picture (at least while the filter’s down).