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This post looks at the implications of Michael Peacock’s acquittal, the continuing rise of ‘health and safety’ panics around sexuality, and offers Peter Tatchell’s vision of a world evolved beyond sexual orientation.
THE END OF OBSCENITY?
Last week, Michael Peacock appeared in court charged under the Obscene Publications Act with distributing ‘obscene’ pornography. In a unanimous verdict, the jury declared that his DVD collection did not have the power to “deprave and corrupt any person likely to read, see or hear” it, and Peacock was acquitted.
Myles Jackman, of Peacock’s defence team (Hodge, Jones and Allen) said, “the jury’s verdict shows that normal people view consensual adult pornography as a part of everyday life and are no longer shocked, depraved or corrupted by it”.
Mediawatch-UK agreed that, ”As a society we are moving to a place where porn is considered as kind of fun between consenting adults”, but asserted “porn is damaging” and obscenity laws must be strengthened to correct public opinion on the issue.
Brooke Magnanti described the verdict as ‘rather wonderful’, declaring it a triumph for sanity. Chris Ashford and Jane Fae were equally celebratory, but predicted there would now be a thorough review of the current legal guidelines, which, in the current climate, is unlikely to have a progressive conclusion.
The International Union of Sex Workers was “delighted” by the verdict, stating “It’s time to decriminalise sex between consenting adults”. Myles Jackman urged legislators to “reconsider the law surrounding consent to sexual assault”.
And Nichi Hodgson said that, “for everyone of us that believes in social and sexual liberty, it’s a day to make a five-digit victory sign”.
THE RISE OF SEX PANIC!
There is a book that will be written until the end of the time. The premise is basically this: There is a pressing, current, near-apocalyptic cultural crisis [fill in the blank] that threatens innocent girlhood. (Kate Roiphe, Slate)
While the Peacock verdict suggests society is becoming more averse to overt moralising about sex, fears around sexual health and safety continue to grow.
Journalists have been taking advantage of the release of Michael Fassbender’s new film, Shame, to fret about ‘sex addiction’. The BBC and The Guardian are just two of the publications to have run stories by recovering addicts — while David Ley, author of The Myth of Sex Addiction, created controversy by arguing that the affliction is simply a weakness and not an illness at all.
Nadine Dorries’ Sex Education (Required Content) Bill will have its second reading on Friday 20 January. The bill seeks to make teaching of the “benefits of abstinence” a compulsory element of sex education given to 13-16 year old girls, which Dorries claims would empower girls to protect themselves from abuse.
A coalition of feminist groups filed a submission to the Leveson Inquiry arguing that sexism in the tabloid press should be investigated and regulated against. They claim sensationalist reporting of sexual violence, presented alongside Page Three girls and sex work ads, sends powerful messages that ”normalise and eroticise” violence against women.
Gaby Hinsliff wrote in The Guardian about the rise of “free market feminism” among female Tory MPs, noting that “sex is where traditional rightwing thinking – with its emphasis on public decency – and radical feminism overlap”.
And the latest MoronWatch podcast episode, ‘Strippers Are People Too’, features interviews with two London strippers involved in activism to defend their jobs against anti sex work feminism:
THE FUTURE: BEYOND SEXUAL ORIENTATION
And looking to the future, Peter Tatchell speculated that since “gay and lesbian identities are largely the product of homophobic prejudice and repression” and merely “a self-defence mechanism against homophobia”,
As we evolve into a sexually enlightened and accepting society, homosexuality and heterosexuality will begin to fade as separate, exclusive orientations and identities.
The vast majority of people will be open to the possibility of both opposite-sex and same-sex desires, regardless of whether they act upon them. They won’t feel the need to label themselves (or others) as gay or straight because, in a future non-homophobic civilisation, no one will care who loves who. Love will transcend sexual orientation.