At first blush, the success of the No More Page 3 campaign does not look like a victory for free speech. After all, a thing that was being published, is no longer being published. The prudish censors have prevailed, right? Look again... Is the absence of naked breasts from Page 3 a victory for feminism, though? I worry that it is not.
There seems to be a tired, frustrating belief in British culture that sex is something that needs to be kept indoors and not talked about, especially if you're a politician or public figure. Supposedly looking at naked, sexual pictures of people is something that we are all supposed to be up in arms about...
It's true, several types of porn have actually been banned in Britain. We're not talking life-endangering porn - unless female ejaculation is classed as dangerous, I suppose if you squirted in someone's eye, they could go blind, but as women might know, getting certain bodily fluids in your eye might be painful, but it soon wears off.
Our sexuality is naturally (and I do mean naturally) a part of what we are. So fiction has to deal with it in one way or another (and I do mean one way or another). The spinsterly Jane Austen hints of 'intimate attachments'. Charlotte Brontë permits Jane Eyre more freedom of expression with her 'bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh' allusion to intercourse with Mr Rochester.
Frequent brain activation caused by pornography exposure could lead to structural 'wearing' and reduced activity of the underlying brain regions. This in turn results in a higher need for external stimulation of this reward system. This then produces a tendency to search for novel and more extreme sexual material.
The easier you can make it for people the better, if they can do it by just watching the content and your content is good then the battle is already won. In the past few weeks two online campaigns have executed this perfectly by utilizing two of the most popular things on the Internet: puppies & pornography.
I've been listening to current debates about pornography - most recently about young children watching it - and it got me thinking. For feminists, pornography is one of those particularly contentious issues, along with prostitution and the other sexual industries. Really, anything with a sexual element is quite a contested terrain.