Tuesday, June 27, 2006

'Lad Mags' belong on top shelf...?

MP Claire Curtis-Thomas presented a bill today in the House of Commons to regulate the sale and display of sexually explicit material. She is concerned about mags such as Zoo and Nuts and also the Daily Sport.

Curtis-Thomas argues: "It is now vital for an independent body to regulate these types of publications. My bill proposed the establishment of a new independent, non-partisan regulator for the sale and display of sexually explicit material, with binding codes and transparent well publicised guidelines: a regulator motivated not by profit but by social responsibility"....

This is pretty much similar to the position that Object takes where they argue for "mechanisms to allow the appropriate regulation of the media".

In other words curtailing freedom of speech and state censorship. I don't like the 'Lads Mags' or the Daily Sport either. They indeed objectify and degrade women but censoring them or just removing them to the top shelf helps nobody. The emphasis made by Curtis-Thomas is on the potential damage these mags can have on children. Surely it is more a case of teenage lads?

Suppressing a point of view you don't like only exposes your own political cowardice. Why don't we just argue and criticise instead of resorting to censorship. Defeating ideas through argument is a much more preferablele way. Shoving the 'Lads Mags' on the top shelf could arguably harden their images because they will probably see they have nothing to lose. Wow! They can "rub shoulders" with Penthouse and Playboy now.

Will increasing state censorship and regulating porn actually help in reducing violence against women? I don't think it will.

There are many things I find objectionable and dislike such as the Daily Mail and The Sun with their screaming racist headlines about "bogus" asylum seekers and/or "criminal" asylum seekers yet what impact do those headlines and articles have on people? I don't see any campaign to force them onto the top shelf.

What I find scary is quotes like, "freedom of expression does not come without responsibility and should always be limited by its potential for harm". (Jennifer Drew - Object)

"free speech sanctifies their rights to do so, while we pay the price" (Rachel Bell on sexual violence)

I believe we do need to challenge these sexist assumptions and perceptions of women but through debate and not by censorship. The "gut reaction" politics of seeing images and ideas we don't like blinds us into pushing for the very thing which is potentially harmful and dangerous and that is censorship. I am sick of the way women are objectified in this society but suppression will only lead to festering and women will not benefit from this. Censorship is not liberating nor is it emancipating. Argument is.