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Can Iceland lead the way towards a ban on violent online pornography?

NorthReport
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NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Let's hope so.

Can Iceland lead the way towards a ban on violent online pornography?

The country prides itself on its progressive attitudes, but anti-censorship campaigners say move is a backward step

Small, volcanic, with a proud Viking heritage and run by an openly gay prime minister, Iceland is now considering becoming the first democracy in the western world to try to ban online pornography.

A nationwide consultation has found wide support for the move from police and lawyers working in the field of sexual violence, along with health and education professionals, according to Halla Gunnarsdóttir, adviser to the interior minister Ögmundur Jónasson. Ministers are now looking at the results.

"We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech," she said. "Research shows that the average age of children who see online porn is 11 in Iceland and we are concerned about that and about the increasingly violent nature of what they are exposed to. This is concern coming to us from professionals since mainstream porn has become very brutal.

"A strong consensus has been building, with people agreeing that something has to be done. The internet is a part of our society, not separate from it, and should be treated as such. No one is talking about closing down exchange of information. We have a thriving democracy here in our small country and what is under discussion is the welfare of our children and their rights to grow and develop in a non-violent environment.

"There are some who say it can't be done technically – but we want to explore all possibilities and take a political decision on what can be done and how."

Gender equality is highly valued in Iceland and by its prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. In the Global Gender Gap Report 2012, Iceland holds the top spot, closely followed by Finland, Norway and Sweden.

An online ban would complement Iceland's existing law against printing and distributing porn, and follow on from 2010 legislation that closed strip clubs and 2009 prostitution laws that criminalised the customer rather than the sex worker.

Web filters, blocked addresses and making it a crime to use Icelandic credit cards to access pay-per-view pornography, are among the plans being devised by internet and legal experts.

Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir, a gender specialist at Iceland University, said: "This initiative is about narrowing the definition of porn so it does not include all sexually explicit material but rather material that can be described as portraying sexual activity in a violent or hateful way.

"The issue of censorship is indeed a concern and it is important to tread carefully when it comes to possible ways of restricting such material. For example, we have a new political party, the Pirate party, that is very concerned about all forms of restrictions on the internet. It is very important not to rush into anything but rather have constructive dialogues and try to find the best solutions. I see the initiative of the interior ministry on this issue as a part of that process. Otherwise we leave it to the porn industry to define our sexuality and why would we want to do that?"

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/16/iceland-online-pornography


voice of the damned
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Joined: Sep 23 2004

I thank North Report for posting the whole article, since I am unable to access the Guardian. Because you see, Korean net nannies, which seem to be installed at all internet cafes now, block the Guardian(along with the Globe And Mail and a few other mainstream newspapers), for reasons that I can't begin to fathom. Though I'm sure the "professionals", just like the ones in Iceland, know what they're doing.  


kropotkin1951
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What is a Korean net nanny?  I think I know what a Net Nanny is but not so much a Korean one.

And NR only posted an excerpt not the whole article.  Excellent article.


jas
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Joined: Jun 6 2005

Very interesting proposal. I had no idea that Iceland was such a progressive utopia - and I don't mean that sarcastically. 

Since they're not planning on banning pornography in general, but just the violent and disturbing content (and if you think about it for a moment, why would anyone, who's not already disturbed, need that kind of content?) it seems like a reasonable move. And Iceland is of a size and geographical isolation that it could prove to be an interesting experiment. 


Bec.De.Corbin
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Joined: Mar 17 2010



Who would set the bar for "violent and disturbing content"? I realize some of it (porn) is easy to point out but who would set the boundaries as to what s in and what’s banned?

If they ask religious types I'm sure they'd find any type of pornography "disturbing".

I also wonder how Anonymous is going to take this.



 

 


jas
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Joined: Jun 6 2005

That's true, I guess, for content like BDSM. Some of it can be perfectly tame, while much of it regularly crosses the line into sexual violence. 


Bacchus
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If its consensual BDSM, who are we to censor it?

 


jas
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The appeal of BDSM is the taking away of control and self determination for one party, and depictions of it often include the apparent taking away of consensuality.

 


Bacchus
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Yes but if the participants are actually acting consesually, then who are we to decry it?


kropotkin1951
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Bacchus wrote:

If its consensual BDSM, who are we to censor it?

Pornography is not the same as two adults having sex. Canada already bans certain types of pornography as does Iceland. Society has the right to say that we do not want these images of sexual violence polluting our space.  It is not free speech because it is potentially harmful. The same reason yelling fire in a crowded space is not free speech. There is no guarantee anyone will get trampled but the odds are high enough to say it is not allowed.


Bacchus
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A little bit hypocritical? Especially since BDSM porn is usually consensual, often run by women and normal 'vanilla' porn is usually exploitative and coersive


jas
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It would help to know whether increased acccess to porn (such as we've seen with new media) is attended by increased or decreased incidence of sexual violence in society. I believe the increase in general violent content such as we see in video games, on TV and in movies does correlate with increased violence in society, but I don't know whether it works the same way with sexuality.

Child porn bans so far seem to be working, in terms of reducing its visibility on the internet, and nobody is complaining about lack of access to child porn.

 


howeird beale
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jas wrote:

 I believe the increase in general violent content such as we see in video games, on TV and in movies does correlate with increased violence in society,

 

Based on what? Canada has its lowest murder rate in decades.


jas
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Yeah, you're right. I was probably thinking of the number of mass shootings that have occurred in the last ten years. I believe those incidents are on the rise, and they do very much resemble violent video game content.


kropotkin1951
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Bacchus wrote:

A little bit hypocritical? Especially since BDSM porn is usually consensual, often run by women and normal 'vanilla' porn is usually exploitative and coersive

Could you please cite the studies to back up this claim? 


ryanw
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Joined: May 24 2012

maybe disproportionately represented is a better phrase


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Why does Madison Avenue exist?

And why is so much money spent on advertising?

Because it works.

The more exposed you are to something the more it is going to rub off on you - that's a given and Madison Avenue has proved that beyond a ahadow of a doubt.

And I also wonder what the correlation is between those who don't want violent pornography banned and the people who don't want guns banned.


jas
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Pornography and Sexual Violence

Quote:
We understand that pornography alone doesn't make men do it, but that pornography is part of a world in which men do it, and therefore the production, content, and use of pornography are important to understand in the quest to eliminate sexual violence.

. . .

As pornography has become more acceptable, both legally and culturally, the level of brutality toward, and degradation of, women has intensified (Jensen, 2004). As one pornography director put it, ""People just want it harder, harder, and harder ... what are you gonna do next?"" ( Adult Video News , 2003, p. 60).

. . . 

It is especially important to include the experiences of women, the main targets of violence, who have crucial insights (Bergen & Bogle, 2000). What we learn from the testimony of women and men whose lives have been affected by pornography is how the material is implicated in violence against women and how it can perpetuate, reinforce, and be part of a wider system of woman hating. Rather than asking whether pornography causes rape, we can ask how pornography helps make rape inviting.

 


Bacchus
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kropotkin1951 wrote:

Bacchus wrote:

A little bit hypocritical? Especially since BDSM porn is usually consensual, often run by women and normal 'vanilla' porn is usually exploitative and coersive

Could you please cite the studies to back up this claim? 

 

Dont really need to. I know most of the companies producing it and they are way open and above board.

 

The producers of the vanilla stuff are a lot more secretive and need a steady influx of women, coerced by financial need or otherwise, ala Traci Lords


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Thank you.

I appreciate you alerting us to your conflict of interest in the debate and confirming that there are no studies.


Bacchus
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Oh I have no conflict of interest. Just because I know them doesnt mean Im involved in them. And as far as I know there are studies tho Im not intimately familiar with them. Mostly studies on sex trafficking I believe.

 

Just knowing something about a subject doesnt necessarily make one biased.   I know some jehovah witnesses, doesnt mean Im biased toward or against them. Or towards the catholic church because i know people buggered by priests

 

Actually that does make me a biased against them


jas
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Joined: Jun 6 2005

Actually, Bacchus' claims wouldn't surprise me at all. Because of the risk inherent in BDSM practices, consensuality would, I imagine, be of utmost importance. The fantasies are often about non-consensuality, but the real live role play available as porn would have to be consensual, otherwise you are watching videos of actual sexual assault.

ETA: removing rest of comment since I don't want to advertise it even negatively.


kropotkin1951
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Non consensual fantasies are rape fantasies and have no redeeming value no matter who makes them.  Images convey messages and whether there was coercion in the making of the images is not the point because the images are the product and the product is misogynistic violence.

As a society we ban toxic products all the time and this is a toxic product that needs to be expunged from our society.


Bacchus
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Joined: Dec 8 2003

Thanls Jas. Its not something Im in favour of personally but Im really uncomfortable with censorship


kropotkin1951
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IMO it is not really censorship, it is merely the regulation of a hazardous product.  Do you think that other hazardous products should be unregulated?


Bacchus
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You mean like thoughts? Art? Music?

 

No


kropotkin1951
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Great you've now trying to convince me that violent pornography must be allowed for the greater good.  Have a nice day and don't worry about the effect that this material's toxicity might have on our society.  Freedom of expression is a limited right in Canada and rightly so.  We have criminalized certain types of expression when they cross the line into things like child pornography because of the harm that it causes.  Violent pornography on the internet serves no socially useful purpose and is known to have the potential to cause harm so it deserves no protection as artistic expression. 


jas
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Joined: Jun 6 2005

I agree with Krop that it's not censorship as much as regulation, and if it was even remotely easy to do, which it won't be, I support Iceland's proposal. It's a tough one, though. I think pornography (as opposed to erotica) is a symptom of unhealthy relationship to or understanding of sex. (And I too view porn at times.) However, I do wonder if there is value in it as a collective means of expressing these issues and working them out, individually or collectively. Not indulging them over and over, but in trying to understand them. So I think there is value in freedom of expression and consumption this way. But unfortunately, so much of porn (and not even BDSM porn) is so kick-in-the-gut nauseating to me in its depiction of relationships that I have little sympathy for those who would defend it, even as freedom of expression.

I resent, in fact,  that I can't enjoy porn online the same way men apparently do, without being constantly assaulted by offensive, nauseating imagery. I just don't see that anybody needs that in their lives, freedom of expression or no.


Bacchus
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Im saying consensual BDSM which is not quite the same as violent porn which I dislike. In fact I took part in studies in that at York University in the late 80s and was interviewed by ray bonisteel for the CBC and shown on 60 minutes about the study. 

Jas is right about the imagery and thats why I think Iceland will ultimately fail. First because there is always work arounds and two because who judges whats good porn or bad porn?  Consensual BDSM bad, Choking a woman on your dick ok? Or vanilla porn where the person was economically or otherwise forced to do it but it looks vanilla so its ok?

 

If any country could it would be a small isolated place like Iceland but I dont think even they can.

And Jas, look up Candida Royale, shes a ex-porn actress who now makes erotica specifically for women (and men who like the way she does it)

 


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001

Iceland isn't really all that isolated.  They have a huge and thriving tourism industry, constant influx of visitors, and their population tends to be decently off, even after the meltdown, so it's not like they never leave the country.  Immigration is even opening up a bit.  So I doubt that isolation would be a factor at all in whether this succeeds or fails.

It's an interesting idea, and I think that the conversation it will generate around pornography will be beneficial for the people engaging in it there, no matter what they decide to actually do at the end of the conversation.


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