In January 2009 it became an offence in England and Wales to possess images which depict in an explicit or realistic way acts which threaten a person’s life or acts likely to result in serious injury to anus, genitals or breast. This past week a case was tried testing that legislation. The prosecutor said:
This defendant accepts he viewed and downloaded and saved those images. We know the images were fake, we know it isn’t a knife in someone’s breast. The question is whether it is realistic or portrayed in that way. You have to be satisfied the people in those images are real. Plainly they are. The intentions of the persons within those images, the actors and actresses, are irrelevant. It is what is depicted in those images which is material.
So here is another nearly impossible standard to prove in sex law. And the government lost, thanks in part to testimony from two friends, Clarissa Smith and Feona Attwood (the three of us did a panel in Budapest last year at an event called Good Sex, Bad Sex). On the realism point, the experts compared the downloaded images to Hammer horror films and actresses ‘playing dead’. What larks.
Milton Diamond, International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 32 (2009) 304-314.
Abstract: A vocal segment of the population has serious concerns about the effect of pornography in society and challenges its public use and acceptance. This manuscript reviews the major issues associated with the availability of sexually explicit material. It has been found everywhere scientifically investigated that as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased. It is further been found that sexual erotica has not only wide spread personal acceptance and use but general tolerance for its availability to adults. This attitude is seen by both men and women and not only in urban communities but also in reputed conservative ones as well. Further this finding holds nationally in the United States and in widely different countries around the world. Indeed, no country where this matter has been scientifically studied has yet been found to think pornography ought be restricted from adults. The only consistent finding is that adults prefer to have the material restricted from children’s production or use.
Brutish Male Sexuality, by the Sexacademic
The tired trope of aggressive male sexuality is a pervasive one. The story goes like this: because men are full of testosterone and sperm as well as unhindered by the consequence of pregnancy, their sexuality is naturally brutish and promiscuous. Testosterone fuels aggression, billions of sperm want hundreds of outlets and nature failed to offset these desires with physical dangers associated with reproduction. The compliment to this heterocentric sex story is that women, with their limited eggs, lack of testosterone and pregnancy burden are naturally chaste and self protective. Any sexual adventurousness or licentiousness is only done to please men and keep them around so they will help with the child rearing. A simple and neatly packaged explanation of human sexuality. But it’s wrong. Let’s do some debunking.