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Iceland Ban Online Pornography

OK, hands up who wants to move to Iceland?


Not only do they have wicked glaciers, hot springs, volcanos and an openly gay prime minister in Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir, now they want to ban online porn. It sure seems like Iceland is going for the ‘best place in the whole world ever’ award, doesn’t it?

Of course, not everyone is happy with this pornography ban. Lots of people think its censorship, and that people should be allowed to look at whatever they want to look at online; a fair point, you might say. However, the Icelandic government say they are not trying to put this ban in place to censor people, but rather to protect their children.

About children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech

“We are a progressive, liberal society when it comes to nudity, to sexual relations, so our approach is not anti-sex but anti-violence. This is about children and gender equality, not about limiting free speech,” says Halla Gunnarsdóttir.
“Research shows that the average age of children who see online porn is 11 in Iceland and we are concerned about that and about the increasingly violent nature of what they are exposed to. This is concern coming to us from professionals since mainstream porn has become very brutal.”

In most pornography, sex is a thing that HAPPENS to a woman, not a thing she is an equal partner in

I couldn’t agree more. While I have absolutely no issue with sex being a subject that everyone is open about [there’s a fair few articles on this site that would prove that’, I am constantly saddened by the sexual images we see in mainstream pornography every day. And it’s everywhere. The idea of sex that children [and be in no doubt, most children have seen porn] are getting is very unhealthy; in most pornography, sex is a thing that HAPPENS to a woman, not a thing she is an equal partner in. This is not a message we should be accidentally sending to a generation.

“”This initiative is about narrowing the definition of porn so it does not include all sexually explicit material but rather material that can be described as portraying sexual activity in a violent or hateful way”

according to Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir, a Gender Specialist at Icelandic University,

“The issue of censorship is indeed a concern and it is important to tread carefully when it comes to possible ways of restricting such material. For example, we have a new political party, the Pirate party that is very concerned about all forms of restrictions on the internet. It is very important not to rush into anything but rather have constructive dialogues and try to find the best solutions. I see the initiative of the interior ministry on this issue as a part of that process. Otherwise we leave it to the porn industry to define our sexuality and why would we want to do that?”

What a healthy and rad country Iceland is. Let’s all move there.

Banning something has historically only increased demand for it.

HOWEVER, even though in theory this is the best idea ever, I’m pretty sure it is doomed to failure. Banning something has historically only increased demand for it. Look at how successful prohibition was. As long as children have access to the internet, they will have access to porn on it. That’s why I think something even more drastic needs to happen- I think we should stop giving laptops to kids.
Bear with me for a second- I don’t mean not letting them go online, I just mean that there is no earthly reason for a child to have their own access to the internet without parental supervision. I mean, you wouldn’t leave a child on their own in a shopping centre, would you? Then why on earth would you allow them access to literally billions of people without even thinking about it. It’s incredibly dangerous.
An idea that won’t make the people who already find this move to be a form of censorship very happy, granted, but I think unless every aspect of the problem of children viewing pornography is addressed, then we’ll always be stuck at square one.

What do you think? Is banning porn the answer?

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  • Wow, this article left me feeling super conflicted. As a feminist and woman in general, I am already conflicted about pornography. I avoid mainstream pornography at all costs. I do not appreciate how women are depicted or how unrealistic it is in general. I will admit, however, that I can enjoy facets of some pornography, mainly the variety done for women by women. So, I can sympathize with both sides to an extent.

    I agree that it should be the parent’s responsibility to supervise their children’s access to the internet. I really do not agree with government censorship. I do not like the implications of having politicians dictate what is or is not appropriate for the general population. I think this is dangerous territory and can easily lead to oppression regardless of the motivations behind the initial action.

    Finally, I do not think banning something is the best way to solve a social issue. Not talking about a problem does not make it go away. It seems like having more mainstream discussions about why pornography and certain behaviours can be problematic would be a more effective solution. Women’s studies for all! :)

    Ashley said:
  • As a mom, I completely agree that children should not have unsupervised, uncontrolled access to the internet. I can and do control my son’s computer use. (But damn those little fingers are fast and grabby with the mouse. We’ve had some close calls watching the likes of Sesame Street on Youtube. It’s unreal some of the suggested videos that pop up.) The problem is that I have no way of controlling what happens when my child is old enough to go play at a friend’s house without me. What if the friend’s parents aren’t as aware? What if there’s a teenage brother around with unlimited internet access? To a degree, that’s always been a problem. I saw a Playboy magazine before I was 10 because I was playing with kids who knew were their dad hid his. But that seems so comparatively innocent to what my child could be exposed to online today. Never mind online, I’m worried about when he learns to read and asks me about the raunchy slogans on t-shirts he might see someone wearing at the grocery store.

    It’s not that I feel he should be completely sheltered from the world or that I’m especially uncomfortable talking to him about sex. But it breaks my heart that I should probably talk to him about sexual violence while he is still in primary school because it is pretty much impossible to avoid in today’s society. Sexual violence is such a popular commodity that I will have to spell out that hurting and degrading people is not entertainment while all around him as he grows up and becomes a teenager other voices will be egging him on to snicker at women being demeaned, laugh at rape jokes, etc.

    Maybe we should move to Iceland…

    zemama said:
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