By Ellen Meyerson, Franklin & Marshall College.
Porn. We’ve all seen it, regardless of whether or not we’ve wanted to. In the digital age, it’s almost impossible to avoid adult content. This is known to practically anyone who has used the internet for more than five minutes.
A new bill proposed in the United Kingdom would seek to amend this, by blocking all “non-conventional” pornography through an IP address registry in the country. Although it wouldn’t prohibit all adult content, it would actively attempt to block any material containing sexual acts that are considered “improper” or unacceptable by the bill’s progenitor, UK culture secretary Karen Bradley. These acts range from anything involving menstrual blood, to a certain number of digits inserted into an orifice, and beyond.
In short, it would drastically limit the average UK citizen’s access to “alternative” pornographic content.
There are two problems with this ban. The first is a technical one- although it would be easy enough to block “unacceptable” content on sites specifically designed to host it, porn sites are not the only sites with porn on them. Popular social media sites, niche sites hidden under the guise of something less interesting, and piracy websites (which the UK doesn’t have the ability to ban) would all still provide access to unconventional pornographic content. Unless the bill’s creators are willing to allocate the resources and money to go through all content on the internet with a fine-tooth comb, there is almost no way to completely get rid of it.
However, even if it were possible, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong.
This is not a ban on harmful content. This is not imposing regulations on the adult industry to improve conditions, hygiene, or make pornography safer to produce. This is not preventing harm to people exploited by the porn industry- it isn’t even stopping “unacceptable” porn from being produced. All it does is prevent access to this content, and further stigmatize those in the industry who choose willingly to create it. It is censorship. It is the policing of sexuality. It is a puritan backlash against those whose tastes deviate from the norm. It is nothing less than an extension of the wave of conservatism currently sweeping the western world.
Although claiming to represent a moral majority, the bill would do nothing moral for our world. It would punish people who committed no crime, without benefit for any involved parties.