So, it’s been a while since I wrote an article for Yuppee magazine, therefore you would be correct in guessing that it’s a pretty important issue that has forced me out of one of the most unfufilling and, ironically, work-filled retirements since Cher’s fifteenth “Farewell” tour. You would be right, indeed, because this article is in fact going to be about – P*rn. With a capital asterisk. In case you had trouble guessing, the asterisk is in fact hiding a rather bashful “O”. That’s right. Readers with a sensitive disposition may want to look away now.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you will have noticed a major furore surface surrounding “the Big P”, as we cool kids like to call it, and particularly the damaging effects that naked mens and ladies could be inflicting on this nation’s youth. Furthermore, several concerned individuals, and groups of individuals, are rising up from the masses to make known their moral outrage at the idea of youngsters having access to p*rnography, due mainly to the ever increasing availability of both softcore and hardcore p*rn on the internet.
I’m getting tired of censoring the word p*rn, so from now on I shall be replacing the word “p*rn” with “japes”. On board? Cool.
I myself first became aware of this ever-more popular anti-jape attitude when I came across (no pun intended) an article on the matter in an issue of Take a Break magazine earlier this year. A number of parents were petitioning David Cameron to ban online pornography, as they were concerned about their children watching it and subsequently their views about love, sex, and particularly women in sex, becoming warped. It was a valid enough concern. They even featured some stories from readers whose kids had been caught watching some online japes, and the effect that these japes inevitably had on their mental health. After all, some of these children were very young – I seem to remember one child being 11, and another only 9. It’s certainly a problem.
Then, of course, David Cameron revealed that he would be implementing some nationwide filters, restricting everybody’s access to internet japes. Of course, he did also make it clear that one could remove these filters, which would otherwise be on by default, by “opting-out”. I’m a little fuzzy on how you would “opt-out” of the anti-japes filter, to be quite honest I found it hard to concentrate on
the news story itself after seeing “David Cameron” and “p*rn” in the same sentence. I had to sit down and do some deep breathing to stave off a panic attack. For a minute I thought that the news story was about something very different indeed.
Anyway, you would be able to contact some service or other to opt-out of the anti-japes filter. This may seem reasonable on the surface, but when you think that to do this, you would basically be calling somebody on the phone and saying “Please sir may I have some p*rn please”, it’s a little bit dehumanising. You may feel i’m hyperbolising at first when I say that I believe this to be a breach of human rights, but hear me out.
In my opinion, fully grown, functioning adults, should not have to feel ashamed for wanting access to pornography. Before I get all kinds of horrible feedback on this, I must make myself clear in that I do not mean that people should be able to create or view any kind of pornography, such as child pornography, or images depicting rape, but these materials are already illegal. I’m sure most of us agree that these kinds of materials are unacceptable in any form, and those found possessing them should be punished to within the full extent of the law. However, this is not what I am referring to. I’m talking about regular, common-or-garden sexual acts, that most people over the age of 18 get up to anyway. Not all of these people choose to put it up online for the world to see, but that’s neither here nor there.
The cry that you will hear most often from anti-jape enthusiasts is, “But, Celia (Not always addressing me directly, but sometimes)! Think of the children!”. Here’s the thing about children. If they are monitored while using the internet, they will not be able to watch online japes. I didn’t see one scrap of jape for the duration of my entire childhood, and do you know why? Partly because I never looked about in any wooded areas, which is where most ’90’s kids I know seemed to find their first offline japes (why is this?), but also because in my family home, we had one device that was connected to the internet. That device was the family computer, and it was in the living room. There were no mobile phones with internet connections, no personal computers, or laptops, and even though iPads etc weren’t around back when I was a kid, you can be damn sure that if they were my parents wouldn’t have let me have one. Not because they were particularly scared that as soon as I got online by myself I would be looking up some sexy times, but because it was important for them to know what their children were doing online. Always.
It seems to me that the main problem here is not the proficiency of online japes, but the ongoing lack of personal responsibility parents are willing to take for their own children. I am not a parent; Maybe I have no right to criticise, but I know that my parents always knew what I was doing, where I was, who I was with, and what I was watching at all times – And yes, before you ask, they both worked.
Furthermore, I think that it is dehumanising in the extreme to limit access to certain corners of the internet, or to force people to ask for a filter to be turned off for them so they can view things that they are perfectly within their human rights to view. Don’t let your child sit for hours on end on the internet without anyone having a clue what they are looking at. Can’t monitor their internet usage because they have a portable device that lets them access the web? If you don’t trust them, take it away. Give them a phone that can only call and text until they’re old enough for you to believe that their brains are fully developed and they can handle the internet in all it’s full, horrifying glory. If they throw a tantrum, tell them to go and run around in the park until they reassess their priorities.
Plus, even if p*rn on the internet is banned, your kids are probably gonna find it offline anyway. I mean, come on.