Currently a bill is being passed through parliament, and it wants to control your sex life. The Digital Economy bill, widely touted as a means to limit children's access to online pornography, faces its third reading on Monday, 28th November - the final stop before it becomes law. On the surface, a bill that protects children from violent and abusive sexual imagery is clearly important. But has this bill missed it's target? And, in reality, is it actually going to do far more damage, than good, to our sexual culture?
The last thing this country needs, in the face of increasing issues surrounding sexual consent and coercion, is a restriction of sexual knowledge. There is no such thing as 'conventional' sex. Sex should never, and must never, be standardised. But that is exactly what this bill seeks to do. It wants to stop you from being able to access any form of sex that the government regards as 'non-conventional'. Whipping, spanking, female ejaculation, menstruation, images of all of these things will be banned or blocked if the bill becomes law. David Cameron had already succeed in banning acts like this, along with certain depictions of oral sex performed on women, from being filming by the UK porn industry, since 2014. Now, the government wants to place the same regulations on the internet, by limiting your access to sexual knowledge.
The Digital Economy bill is an incredibly dangerous form of sexual censorship, because it sets a precedent that the government has a right to interfere and control your personal sexual identity. Let's be clear, many of the images the government is attempting to ban form part of consenting and healthy sexual relationships between adults. So what does conventional (supposedly 'normal') sex actually mean? I am unsurprised that yet again the Conservative government's sexual legislation targets the BDSM community - typically a culture that actively promotes consent first, and the sex act second. In the past, BDSM and fetish, alongside trans bodies, disabled bodies, and queer bodies, have been depicted as 'non-conventional'. Yet, rather than pornography, it is the government definition of 'conventional' sex which has always caused the most harm to our society. 100 years ago, a belief in 'conventional' or normal sex meant that simply being gay made you a criminal. Only twenty-five years ago 'conventional' sexual attitudes meant it was legal to rape your wife. Currently, we don't teach consent in Sex Education, but if this bill becomes law, then we'll happily criminalise sexual cultures, like BDSM, that promote consent as good sexual practice, ironically only aiding a growing lack of sexual awareness and absence of sexual knowledge in our society.
Currently, we have heavily sexualised images in adverts, films, television and pornography that are presented with little context or dialogue. Our culture also struggles with an inability to discuss sex without idiotic binary arguments, such as men having higher sex drives than women, that women are not sexually adventurous, this sex is good, that sex is bad etc. None of these definitions give an accurate depiction of sex, and in a culture of censorship there will only ever be a limitation of Sexual Awareness. Pornography is not the problem, instead it's our lack of sex education and sexual communication that needs to be challenged. And unless we defy convention, our sexual culture is never going to get better.