“It’s an experience we’ve all had. You’re among a group of friends or acquaintances when suddenly someone says something that shocks you: an aside or a flippant comment made in poor taste.” Owen Jones, CHAVS, 2011
“Who knows, maybe an otherwise tense judge seeking a quick bit of relief will concentrate better.” Owen Jones, The Guardian, 2015
Dear Owen Jones,
This is not about whether or not Simon Danczuk has watched porn. You are right. Lots of men do. Doubtless lots of MPs do. This is about the way a multi billion pound industry has commodified our sexuality and sold it back to us with strong links to misogyny, sexual objectification and often serves as an actual record of harm and exploitation.
Let us not forget the real human beings in the pornography itself as well as the consumers. Not the industry’s carefully chosen spokespeople. Object would like to talk to you about the porn industry and its links to global sexual exploitation, racism, trafficking and prostitution and not about whether some judge is or is not jerking off.
But on the subject of judges we do think it is reasonable that judges should not be using work IT to access personal stuff in general. Plus, I have personally had to investigate two disciplinary cases where men used public sector IT to access extreme, violent pornography. Both cases had a devastating effect on the women and men who were colleagues of the perpetrator. The lives of the women in the photos both men were accessing do not bear thinking about. You and I pay taxes. I think it is reasonable to expect public servants, especially the highest paid, to work when they are being paid to do so and not to disregard their professional codes of conduct.
The media tend to want us to personalise the debate, slagging off some woman or other for wearing a frilly bra or the personal coping mechanisms of a revenge porn survivor or an individual man who has been caught using porn. When we try to switch the subject to concrete examples of the specifics of the industry, including evidence of extreme sexual and racist materials, journalists frequently close down the discussion. To take on pornographers is a career-limiting decision, given their control of much of our media.
Today there is another report in the Guardian, of the London taxi driver jailed for 10 years for sexually assaulting female passengers. Did you know that last year’s most successful UK porn site, Fake Taxi, is dedicated to glamourising taxi drivers who coerce their passengers into having sex? One of the films, viewed by thousands, involves a young, mentally-ill woman from the nuthouse in Finchley self harming after being tricked about the fare, then having to have sex with the driver as she does not have enough cash.
Last year in the Hilton Hotel the porn industry convention participants included the owner of a site about Exploited African Immigrants whose front page includes a picture of a black woman’s vagina penetrated by a large sharp knife.
We believe the first is a celebration of sexual assault of a mentally ill young woman and we know that mentally ill women are disproportionately likely to experience sexual abuse. We believe that the second is an actual record of sexual and racial abuse and it is a travesty that such abusers should be allowed to pass as ‘digital entrepreneurs’.
Media sexism does not exist in a vacuum. Pornographers have diversified their portfolios, like good businessmen, spreading the risk. Richard Desmond and David Sullivan are two of the obvious Sunday Times Rich List who own national newspapers and wield significant political power.
If you agree with us that sexual inequality is socially constructed and not biologically determined we would like to talk to you about the part that pornography plays in the social construction of such inequality. We would like to discuss male conditioning and masculinity and the damage this does to both women and men.
Because you are right. There are debates to be had about porn, starting with hidden in plain sight evidence rather than the spin from within the media bubble.
Let us have the debate.
Roz Hardie, Object