I’m wavering at the moment when it comes to my choice of morning newspaper. Over the years, I’ve swapped between the Independent (which I read loyally from its launch), Guardian and Times. The last of these has somewhat edged it in recent years, with a depth that the others lack; the Indie is creeping back into contention at present (now slightly less shrill than it was a little while back); the Guardian suffers in comparison to its marvellous Sunday sister, The Observer.
My move away from the Times will be hastened if their journalists keep writing op-ed pieces that infuriate me in the way that Libby Purves did last week. It started interestingly enough, with the comment that:
Convicts could be birched till 1962; schoolchildren caned quite recently.
And then it moved onto online porn, and she quoted her tweet on the subject:
Fascinated by the pro-porn ‘freedom’ lobby. Affronted underpant-clutchers emerging on left, right and feminist wings. Bizarre.
That attracted “the inevitable insults from those who cherish the liberty to watch strangers having rough and improbable sex, without admitting the test to their womenfolk.”
“Underpant-clutchers”? “Their womenfolk”? Because only men like rough porn?
“Improbable sex”? Because no-one would actually enjoy that sort of play as a regular and healthy part of their sex life?
“Admitting”? Because porn is something shameful, watched furtively?
It’s disappointing if people insulted the author on Twitter. There’s no excuse for that. But it does annoy me to see writers portraying unsubstantiated stereotypes amidst the not unimportant debate about ‘rape porn’. It worries me that the government is proposing to criminalise images of a sort of sexual play that I have often enjoyed, and that many of my (consenting, responsible, well-informed) friends do too.
If they brought forward legislation to deal with anyone causing another person to be coerced into making this sort of porn, or forced to do things against their consent during the shoot, then I’d be the first to support them – even though current laws probably already provide sufficient coverage for those issues. Simply banning it is insulting to those who want to make it, who enjoy doing so – and those (male and female) who like to watch it because it happens to appeal to their tastes.