What do we mean by porn?

Ok. It may seem like a bit of an obvious question – however, you may be surprised to realise that in the UK we don’t actually have an agreed legal definition of what pornography is.

The trouble is people in the media talk about porn like it is all one thing… that it all fits neatly into one box.

However, porn is a diverse as any other sort of entertainment – there are computer games that are violent and graphic, there are some that will help you keep fit, improve your maths or teach you skills such as problem solving.

Porn is the same – especially these days, yes there is porn that is violent and misogynistic or simply ridiculously unrealistic – but there is also ethical porn that is female friendly, not to mention the huge rise in amateur, home-made porn (which in itself raises a whole host of other issues too!).  So unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as some people would like to think.

In the UK it is illegal to publish or distribute material which may ‘deprave and corrupt’ vulnerable groups of people, under the Obscene Publications Acts of 1958 & 1964. This was extended in 1977 to include film.

This means that, at the end of the day it comes down to the general public’s opinion. Each publication is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and judged whether any explicit material is of artistic merit or is merely smut.

Do you know what the most famous porn trial in the UK was and who produced material so obscene and damaging to the general public that they were tried in court?… Penguin Books! Yes they were in trouble for publishing a novel by DH Lawrence called ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’… a book we now study in English Literature courses…!

It may sound silly, but you can actually pop in to your local supermarket and by a novel from the best sellers list that is just as rude and sexually graphic as any porn film… think about the impact of novels like ‘50 Shades of Grey’… how is that any different? Why are we so scared of the internet and films?

© Going off the Rails 2014. Adapted from ‘Playing Downstairs’ by Jonny Hunt

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