Comment, Politics

Cameron’s ‘Um-ing and Ah-ing’ Porn Guidelines Show a Party Unwilling to Commit to Important Issues

Cameron’s endearing attempt to curve the unruly eyes of the nation seems to have gone tits up. After this week announcing his intentions to get those blasted gosh damn ruddy images away from our eyes, his decision has been met with a backlash of skepticism.

Too afraid to take a clear moral stance on porn, Cameron’s tokenistic legislature advice is shaky at the best of times. Not to mention, that it has come conveniently at a time when Tory Strategist Lynton Crosby has been facing the heat on a variety of impressive failures (encouraging private health care companies to take advantage of ‘failings’ in the NHS and advising the party to drop the blank packaging for cigarettes on behalf of Tabacco Company, Philip Morris International – to name a few). Whilst Toeing the party line, Cameron’s bumbling inability to talk about porn, let alone define where he and his party stand on porn, trivializes his vague attempts to make any change. He oozes ambiguity when addressing such issues; his approach underlies this wider party policy making devoid of clear moral foundations.

Even superficially his guidelines don’t really work, and the ISPs know this. The idea of computers having built in porn filters is flawed for a variety of reasons. The World Wide Web is a glorious retreat because you can do whatever the hell you want to, without having to have an awkward phone conversation with someone from BT about your sexual preferences. Limiting the nation’s ability to watch ‘Busty Blonde Takes it in Various Orifices’ seems counter-productive for an industry marketed on that freedom. Furthermore, making porn an opt-in package will fail to hoax a 7 year-old; in an age where most children can use a Mac before they can read, they’re certainly going to be able to circumvent a ticked box. And, even if they can’t work out how to hop over this fence unaided, Google’s always there with its wealth of knowledge. Displacing the responsibility from the government to internet service providers makes for an unstable policy, one that won’t protect anyone except the Tories themselves.

Yet the essential problem with Cameron’s guidelines is that they’re floating in an abyss of ideology. Apart from the overused assortment of pejoratives he employs to describe porn, it‘s unclear where the Prime Minister himself actually stands on the issue. True, it is a ‘tricky area’ – is porn bad because of the way it depicts women? Or is porn bad because it’s too explicit for children? By taking the soft route, Cameron implicitly avoids making any genuinely persuasive arguments about porn. A glorious moment occurred on Radio Four’s ‘Women’s Hour’ when Cameron was faced with the question ‘How do I watch porn without my wife knowing?’. It was an opportune moment to define his ideas, yet all he managed was to blusteringly avoid the question, exemplifying this lack of commitment to any important beliefs.

The problem is that porn is not innately ‘evil’, and understanding what sex is from a young age is not necessarily damaging. Amateur porn is probably better than Hollywood style vagina-like-a-Barbie porn. Exploring your sexuality, especially for those from the LGBT community, is far from problematic. Sex is always going to be a fundamental part of society, and writing off porn because it’s ‘vulgar’ or uncomfortable is a painfully naïve approach to the subject. The real issue, for many people currently, is that porn homogenises the power dynamics in a relationship. Porn is oppressive. Porn is degrading. Condemning porn for being too sexually graphic for children – being anti-sex rather than anti-sexism – skirts around the real issues in the debate.

Even though Cameron took extra care to show us how much of his ‘personal time’ (wink wink, nudge nudge) has been put into these guidelines, they are frustratingly emblematic of a political system filled with people unable to consistently make decisions founded on clear morals. The Prime Minister is representative of, and even typifies, this dangerous trend. This was demonstrated brilliantly when Jane Garvey pulled out a copy of The Sun on air and turned to page three with ol’ Davey Cameron sitting next to her, and all he could offer was a barely mumbled argument about ‘choice’. Good job, mate.

Feminism for the Conservative Party (or indeed any party bar Green) needs to become an overarching issue if they want to be on the path of freedom from the restrictions of a coalition. Cameron’s reservations to commit to any true feminist legislation show a party too tied up in its loyalties to the backbenchers. The ‘war on porn’ needs to stop being a vague mess of semantic changes and British awkwardness, and become a real commitment to controlling something that, at the moment, is violent and pernicious for men and women alike.