Where the UK’s porn ban falls short

In December 2014 amendments were made to the 2003 Communications Act effectively censoring Pornography within the UK. It banned a list of sex acts by demanding paid-for video-on-demand (VoD) online porn is regulated by the same guidelines set out by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) that DVD pornography (R18 films) must adhere to. 

To be specific strangulation, facesitting and fisting were deemed life threatening. Other acts banned included full bondage and restraint involving all limbs being restrained and the mouth gagged, aggressive spanking full bondage and restraint (in conjunction with a gag and all four limbs restrained) and finally the one that caused the most outrage bizarrely female ejaculation. Why is it ok for men to ejaculate but not women was cried from all ends of the UK?

Did these bans help educate? Did they stop people viewing these types of pornography? Did it stop the mental health damage and detrimental effect porn has on the UK’s teenagers? No….So how exactly is the government’s new porn legislation, due to have come into effect in April but now delayed until 15th July, and designed to stop children and teenagers from accessing porn, expected to be any different? Particularly given that this legislation only seems to have been launched off the back of an NSPCC poll claiming that more than half of children and teenagers that looked at porn “stumbled across” it. 

Yes, if you google porn of course it will appear but the fact is more children and teenagers are more exposed to porn via social media channels. Twitter for example is ripe with explicit uncensored videos, this legislation will have no effect on accessing porn via social media channels.

Education trumps legislation

On launching this new legislation, Minister for Digital Margot James said “Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.” In my opinion, “they won’t Margot they really really won’t!”

The government is simply putting a plaster on a deep cut that will not be cured by simply applying a plaster. The cut will inevitably get deeper and infection will kick in.  I am not, in any way anti porn. I am however anti the lack of education surrounding porn, specifically within schools.

Teenage boys get to see unrealistic sexual acts and assume that is how girls behave, what girls want and therefore expect it from their female peers, all whilst teenage girls think that this is how they should behave, how they should let boys treat them and that sex is all about the male pleasure. 

Dr Vanessa Moulton of The Mindflex Group said “children are so curious, especially when they reach teenage years and puberty. With potential access to porn online, it can become their focal point of sex education and can impact their developing brains. Because of neuroplasticity and the developmental stage of the brain between teenage years, their brains can become wired in relation to their attitudes and interpretations of what sex means to them. It can also result in unrealistic expectations when they encounter sexual experiences.”

Until the dialogue and education is changed regarding porn, until the dialogue stops putting the responsibility onto girls thus excusing boys behaviour and actually begins to teach boys about consent, boundaries and how porn is not the real world, then no amount of legislation will help or change the narrative of reality. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Image credit: Shutterstock

(Image: © Shutterstock)

Workarounds will be found

There are simply millions and millions of porn sites and if the UK is the only country with these new blocks on then anyone with VPN, which makes it look like you are in another country, can simply get around it. As with anything illegal it will just push teenagers into the darker web to find porn thus exposing them to disturbing and extreme content and ironically making the whole porn effect even more damaging.

This is before you take into consideration the massive privacy and GDPR headache involved with the new legislation requiring everyone viewing porn to be age verified submitting personal information details and the rest.  Who is handling all this personal information?   Where exactly is all that information being stored? The invasion of privacy is huge and surely that has hackers written all over it? Any tech savvy teenager can illegally stream unlimited porn, get around age restriction logins whilst sticking two fingers up to the law on their YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram stories, these laws will not prevent children from viewing porn. Frankly, where there is a will there is always a way

It is a NO from me. 

Emma Sayle, Founder and CEO of Killing Kittens, Safedate and Sistr

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