Sexploitation overload: porn and public places

Article challenges porn in service stations, porn users retaliate with personal attacks

A few weeks ago, Brisbane times blogger Heidi Davoren wrote an article Sexploitation Overload: porn and public places. We promoted the article to members of Collective Shout and asked them to leave supportive comments, which many did.

ladsmag.jpgHowever the piece was also inundated with comments from aggressive porn users. They were clearly outraged at the thought of having to drive another block to access pornography from an adult shop if campaigns such as ours were successful.

Many of our members who went to comment on the article were put off from doing so, by the hostility shown in these comments. We asked Heidi how she felt about the reaction.

This is what she had to say:

Last week's blog post resulted in an overwhelming response both in the number of hits to the site and also the number of comments received. Clearly, people have very strong opinions when it comes to porn and its availability. As a journalist I believe very strongly in freedom of speech and I therefore published comments to my blog that were both for and against my point of view. However, in doing so I found it quite alarming that many of those who disagreed with me chose to do so by attacking me personally rather than engaging in a rational discussion on the topic.

Here's an example:

"Oh dear another article from a bleeding heart normally bringing attention to herself as she struggles to reign in a two year old throwing another huge tanty at the supermarket."

And this:
"What else are you refusing to discuss with your children due to your own discomfort? This article is more about your lack of will parenting than the ills of society."

And my favourite:
"Shame on you for being so hateful of males."

It is commonplace that whenever men's entitlement to exploitation material is challenged, porn users will come out in full force, resorting to over the top assertions and personal attacks.  I asked academic Helen Pringle at the University of New South Wales what she made of the reaction to this article. Here is what she told us:

Many of the comments to Heidi’s piece about the open display of porn magazines in service stations are way out of proportion to her mild expression of concern. If I had read those comments before reading Heidi’s piece, I would have thought that Heidi posed a huge risk to the very existence of freedom in western civilization. These over the top comments of course tell us more about those who wrote them than about Heidi’s piece.

Heidi gives two examples of what she is concerned about: Finally legal – don’t tell my dad and Bangkok over this hot Asian. It seems to me that it is reasonable to have concerns about celebrating pedophilia and incest in the first instance, and about celebrating a mixture of racist and sexist abuse in the latter instance. I can’t understand how the display of these headlines in a service station upholds the principles of freedom of speech or of opinion. And I can’t understand how the removal of them from public display would infringe those same principles.  The hostile comments to Heidi are simply a defence of the practice of subordination and degradation, nothing more fancy than that.

I also don’t understand how Heidi’s expression of concern about these examples of pornography in the service station can be twisted around to suggest that she is against sex or against men. There is not a shard of evidence in this piece (or in her other writings) that Heidi has a problem with nudity or sex. It seems to me, again, that it’s not the sex that is at issue here. What the argument is really about is the very simple question: is the subordination of women defensible or not? I think not.

Community supports removal of pornography

Despite the vocal opposition to the article from porn users, there was an overwhelming positive response from the community.

So here is Heidi's article. We invite those of you who were put off commenting on the Brisbane times blog, to leave your supportive comments below. Thank you again Heidi for writing the article which illustrates what organisations like Collective Shout, Kids free 2B Kidsover 30 child experts and advocates and members of the community have been campaigning to change.

Sexploitation overload: porn and public places

Heidi-Davoren.jpgWhen your child spies a trashy porn mag in a servo and asks out loud: “Mummy why is that lady not wearing a shirt?”, should you give her the honest answer? Say, “Well sweetie, men take those magazines home and masturbate over them”?

Hmmmm. No, maybe honesty is not the best policy in this scenario.

Should you lie to her? “Well, darling it must have been a very hot day that day.”  No, not really cutting it.

Should you divert her attention to a giant chocolate bar instead? Oh, no wait, they’re right next to the 50  other porn mags sitting in the magazine stand and now she is confronted with a dozen more pictures of half-naked women, a couple of spread-eagled vaginas and some oiled-up backsides.

Better still, if your daughter can read she’ll be privy to headlines like Finally legal – don’t tell my dad and Bangkok over this hot Asian.

So you pay your bill quickly, trying to block her view, and head back to the car hoping an upbeat version of Cold Spaghetti might erase her short-term memory.

On the way back to your vehicle you pass a P-plater’s car with a “Porn Star” bumper sticker and a ute full of boys who yell “show us your tits” to the young female driver.

Where is a mother to turn in these days of sex, sex and longer lasting sex, not to mention sex tapes, sex dolls and sex shops?

Oh that’s right, it’s a free world and people can access porn if they want to so long as it’s not hurting anyone.

So is it hurting anyone?

If viewing pornography leads to an increased likelihood of sexual assault, pedophilia and marital breakdown then the answer is simple: yes. 

But that’s just what the research tells us - maybe we should hear from some people in the sex industry themselves.

There’s this from some ex-prostitutes, or this from ex-lap dancers, or this from ex-porn stars, and let’s not forget the female staff who work in our servos, some of whom are under 18, who are forced to handle porn that is legally only suitable for people over 18.

Despite this contradictory legislation, or thousands of first-hand accounts from beaten, abused, fragile women, it seems nothing is going to stop the juggernaut that is the porn industry - there’s far too much money to be made.

So in this free world that I and my children also live in, if I don't want to access porn, how can I avoid it?

It’s impossible to close my eyes and blindfold my child while I pay my fuel bill or pick up a newspaper from the newsagent.

I want to raise my two daughters to believe they are worth more than what is between their legs, but as children they will be confronted with this and this, as teenagers this, and as women the bombardment continues.

This month the UN created the “UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women”, in a bid to “promote gender equality” according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Let’s help the Secretary-General out and get this trash out of our servos and off the shelves of our convenience stores and into adult shops where it belongs away from the eyes of our children.

You can join the growing movement to protect our kids from porn and other psychologically-damaging images here.

Now bring on the femi-Nazi labels and the pot shots at my sex life and call me a prude as much as you like. Given 100 per cent of men view pornography by the time they’re 15, I’m not expecting the male population to applaud such a move.

Any men care to prove me wrong?

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