Questions raised - pornography & censorship

While it is generally agreed that most of the pornography available
are catered for the heterosexual male audience, and are denigrating and
humiliating to women, should we advocate for censorship of the Internet
as a solution? Some problems with this are:

  • Internet provides a form of ‘safe’ space for expressions of
    diverse sexualities. This is particularly important for
    marginalised sections of society that can face great danger to
    personal safety should they articulate or express this in physical
    spaces. Also, the Internet because of its relative cheapness and
    ease of use for self-publication, has become an important space
    for women to produce erotica for women by women that enables a
    discourse of active female sexual agency. If censorship is
    advocated, would this not also affect the capacity for this?

  • Sometimes, governments appropriate the language of VAW and women’s
    rights to narrow down spaces for freedom of expression. For
    example, recently in Malaysia, the government has announced that
    it will propose software that blocks pornographic sites despite
    the fact there is protective legislation against censorship of the
    Internet. This is also in response to the fact that many
    alternative forms of media have sprung up through the Internet to
    circumvent very restrictive laws on publishing, especially of
    newspaper and magazines. How do we as women’s rights advocates
    respond to this? What are the possible consequences of supporting
    censorship in this matter in the long run towards our own
    struggles for transformation?

  • Although several research has been conducted, a direct and
    conclusive causal link between sexual violence and pornography is
    still to be made. In most studies, it is found that the impact of
    denigrating images of women towards sexual violence is greater
    than sexual explicitness in itself. So is it a case of controlling
    the content of pornography produced, rather than an outright
    censorship? What are the costs?

  • Filtering softwares that have been used to block pornography sites
    have actually blocked out feminists sites and sites that talks
    about sexuality, sexual health and diverse sexualities. How can we
    as women’s rights activists respond to this as a mechanism for
    control? Who produces these software? In other words, whose
    perspectives and values are being promoted through their use? Who
    is benefitting from it?

  • If not censorship, how can we deal with the very real and harmful
    messages of gendered sexuality that is being disseminated and
    expounded greatly by the Internet? Who are the producers of these
    pornographic services? Oftentimes, they are ‘legitimate’
    multi-national companies that also engages in other types of
    businesses like media institution, telecommuncations or maybe even
    car productions. How can we find out who they are, and hold them
    accountable? How do we make it an unacceptable practice to produce
    pornography that is humiliating, denigrating and violent towards