Pornblocking – why it would have killed me

by on Dec.21, 2010, under Activism, Trans

Photo of Claire Perry

Claire Perry, MP

UPDATE: This got cross-posted to Liberal Conspiracy. Awesomes!

The Conservative MP Claire Perry, representing the good constituency of Devizes, Wiltshire, has suggested the introduction of a Great Porn Filter. This stalwart piece of software would patrol the borders of our great nation, letting in only the most virtuous, the most pure, the most clean of web traffic. With the filter in place Britain might rid itself of the terrible addicition to pornography that has brought it to its knees (so to speak) and which has led to all the problems that we now face: student debt, benefit cuts and snow over our noble runways. Without internet porn Britain would once again be a place that Mary Whitehouse could smile down upon from her heavenly doilie-enhanced throne. It would become, once again, a green and pleasant land.


I’m not going to go into why the “research” supporting Claire Perry’s little crusade is rubbish, as Foxsoup did a far better job than I could. But do check out the original Parliamentary discussion. However, I am going to tell you what the result would be.

The filter is an attempt to censor pornographic imagery from young sexual adults. These dirty, naughty images would enter the country at will, but it would be the task of your ISP to clamp their electronic fists around your home phone line and prevent your household from accessing them. If you did want access to Asian Hot Ass or Mighty Cocks of the Midwest then you would have to phone up your ISP and ask them to remove it.

You would have to beg for porn.

“Hello there, this is Denise, how can I help you?”

“Erm, hello. I’d, er.. like some [mumble] please.”

“Some what, sir?”

“Some [mumble] ass.”

“Could you say that just a bit louder, sir?” [puts call on speakerphone for entire call centre to hear]


“Just adding that to your account, sir”

Honestly, I feel sorry for Claire Perry’s husband. How much porn must he get through in a day that she has thought about bringing in a national ban on porn as the only way to stop him?

But there’s a very deadly side to this, as there is to all right-wing authoritarian plans. Because, who defines porn? There is no National Porn Agency. There is no Inspectorate for Sexual Materials. As far as I can tell, the nearest authority we have for defining porn is The Daily Mail. That self-righteous rag is the only place drawing the line in the sand and saying “this is filth”, often alongside a full-page reproduction of said filth.

For those of us who do not have the taste to read the right-wing press we have to rely on personal discretion. For me, porn is heavily literal. I get off on stories and poems – yes, that is pretentious – I need imagine an erotic sitatuion to get off on it. From what I can tell of fixing the computers of my friends their erotic tastes cover a range of tastes quite different to mine: from comics to pictures to films to, in one case, ‘Allo ‘Allo slash fiction.

There are even, y’know, some people who, ha ha ha, get off on pictures of the same sex. Heh heh…

Oh. Shit.

I remember being a 15 year old boy (we’ll come to that later). I remember how confusing sexuality was. I remember how fucking difficult it was in those pre-web days to get access to porn. We don’t appreciate it now, but once it was hard to get porn. It wasn’t just a case of sitting down with a laptop and opening your browser bookmarks. Oh no. In those days you had to go into a newsagent. And browse the top shelf. And pick up a magazine. And walk up to the counter. And turn bright red. And experience the leer of the owner as he put it in a discreet paper bag. And walk out, shamed.

Now imagine that if you’re a gay teenager.

It isn’t easy being gay in a straight world. As much as we like to think that we’re all groovy with gays, that we’ve got some gay friends, it’s still not easy to be an out non-straight adult. It’s positively dangerous to be a queer  teenager. Can you imagine how utterly terrifying it must be to access gay porn in meatspace when you’re discovering that you’re not normal, that what you are can get you beaten to death? If you’re non-straight, you know how that feels. If you’re straight then have a good fucking ponder about it.

But the availability of the internet in the late 90s changed this. Suddenly the world of same-sex genital tittilation was available from the comfort of your own teenage bedroom. You don’t have to risk being mocked, or a beating. Or death. Now you could explore your sexuality, discover your tastes, all from the comfort of your masturbation throne.

Claire Perry doesn’t want that. In her world, young people don’t have a sexuality, or erotic tastes. They’re good girls and boys, appropriately attracted to the opposite sex, waiting to marry before they can get any of that nasty, sticky behaviour over with. And certainly not one of those dirty fucking queers. I feel sorry for her children.

And it gets worse. Because, it’s the start of the slippery slope. If we start blocking erotic materials “for the children” then what else gets caught up in that censoring dragnet? A lot of things, for certain – sexual health advice. Images of healthy bodies that a worried teen might need to look at (“is my penis meant to look like that?”, “Are my breasts meant to be different sizes?”). Sexual health sites fall under the auspices of “porn” for a lot of current parental control software. This is because netnanny software is fundamentally stupid. It doesn’t know WHY you or your child are trying to access a site, only that the Scunthorpe council homepage is pornographic (based on SUPER ADVANCE KEYWORD SEARCHING).

Oh, what about abortion advice? Why would nice children ever want to access that information? Better block it! It’s not like teenagers are going to get pregnant!

And then there is another group. I give this one special mention, despite its rarity, because I belonged to that group. A group of kids who hated themselves, who were positively terrified of their own bodies, who are desperate to find out why their own flesh has betrayed them. Transgender teens.

Yes, they exist. I hated what I was for nearly all my teenage years, wanting to rip the skin from my body, sobbing myself to sleep at night because I couldn’t understand what I was. But then came along the internet. Oh, the internet. It fucking saved me. It gave 18 year old me a view of the world that made me realise that I wasn’t alone, that I could do something about the pain that made me want to die.

Claire Perry, and her evil piece of legislation, would take that lifeline away. Oh, maybe not conciously. I doubt she even knows that trans people exist, let alone that there are trans teenagers out there who rely on the internet for vital support. She wouldn’t notice as the sites they use to gain crucial advice from are blocked, due to having never-quite-defined “adult materials”, as support channels are closed down for “endangering youth”. She wouldn’t notice as sites all over the net are blocked for containing mention of sex, genitals, puberty and sexuality, when what they are doing is educating a badly unrepresented and unsupported section of society.

She wouldn’t notice as another young person slits their wrists in utter desperation.

So fuck you, Claire Perry. Fuck you and your plan to block life-saving “pornography”. Fuck you and your plan to block REAL pronography.

Just fucking fuck you.

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13 Comments for this entry

  • maymay

    BRA-FUCKING-VO! This post was utterly, utterly heart-wrenchingly, fantastically spot-fucking-on.

    I’m not a transperson, but when I was a boy, the uncensored Internet literally saved my life, too. I spoke at a conference about that, too.

    Thanks for being vocal.

  • Pandora

    Thankyou for this heartfelt and at times hilarious post. I find it deeply ironic – and tragic – that “damage to mental health” is being cited as a consequence of kids having access to porn, when for anyone who is not straight, cisgendered, monogamously inclined or vanilla the opposite is in fact true. The potential impact of this sort of policy on LGBT teens is horrific to contemplate. And I’m absolutely with you regarding “am I normal” sites – or fantastic projects like http://www.beautifulcervix.com/

    Did you see these Danish studies published this year, in which a scholar who had previously argued for the ill effects of viewing pornography was convinced that it had a positive effect on people?


  • Jenny

    Spot on.

    Even “good” flitering software can be monumentally stupid at times.
    I attened a job course, or some such a few years ago, where we where each put on a computer and told to search through certain sites for jobs to apply for.

    I was searching for a job in the north west, via the jobcenter plus website, and found some promissing openings that I wanted to apply for, click click.
    “porn filter!!”

    The URL had the letters LEZ in it, and this has triggered the porn filter, even though it was part of the job center plus website.

    Stupid filters will catch things that they shouldn’t, before even being brought in to catch other things.

  • mauvedeity

    I was thinking along these lines too, partly for some of the kids I know. You’ve said it much better than I would have. Thank you for putting this out there.

  • Tom Adams

    This was exactly my reaction when I saw the news. Thankfully when I got to the point during puberty at which I had questions about sexuality that I didn’t feel confident asking other people about, I already had Internet access.

    I believe that free access to information is exactly as important as the title of your post suggests. Maybe even more.

    > Because, it’s the start of the slippery slope.

    Actually, the start of the slippery slope was the Internet Watch Foundation. The IWF is a charity funded by ISPs with a remit to compile a blocklist of “child sexual abuse images”, and their encrypted blocklist is utilised by the majority of consumer ISPs in the UK.

    We already have widespread Internet filtering in the UK. Worse, the IWF is an NGO so there can be no public oversight of its activities. We’re already half way down the slippery slope.

  • Natephoenix

    Thank you.
    That’s all I’m gonna say.

  • Ryan E

    I couldn’t agree more with you. The net let me find all sorts of things about myself. Not just sexual preferences either. This is, in my humble opinion, as bad as not letting kids doing things like paintball incase it makes them violent.

    Here’s to you for speaking out ^^


  • Netazen

    Claire Perry like many likeminded do gooder MP’s have no understanding of the issues associated with simply (as she suggests) – Blocking content. In fact even if you explained it she would likely not listen as she isn’t interested in the issues so long as she is applauded for being the woman who saved our children from accessing dodgy content. Moral Crusader working on ignorance is a dangerous thing for somebody in her political position to be.

    She is one of a number of likeminded individuals who some of us voted for. I’ll certainly be re-thinking that in the next elections.

    Your blog is spot on as it raises awareness to the issues this nonsensical suggestion would bring.

    The solution is for Government to fund and provide resource, education and advice for schools, youth services and last but most importantly parents and carers. Sensible education on the content contained on the net is key. Kids are not as stupid as we’d like to believe and blocking content is a serious threat to their educational development as much as it is peoples civil liberties and right to decide for ourselves.

  • Sea Spaniel

    Typical uninformed rubbish.

    Age verification is usually done on an automatic system.

    These filters are applying the law. If you disagree with the law, speak to your MP to get the law changed instead of whinging about it. Clare Perry despite her personal views would have to represent your view in parliament

    Instead of guessing what Clare Perry thinks, or putting words in her mouth, ask her, you might be surprised that the image you paint of her might be a long way from the truth.

    Anyone in a call centre who did what you claim would be instantly sacked. Your view is not not a reflection of reality

    The scunthorpe issue is old hat. Get up to date. The internet filtering classification software has millions of sites to look at. where there are mistakes they are corrected once highlighted. problem is people are unwilling to ask for sites to be reviewed. Indeed I am going to ask this site to be reviewed by a particular supplier as it is currently classified by them as pornography.

    At the moment as the various filtering systems are all different there is no requirement for change. If they were all consistent and it would have a significant impact on people and the sort of changes you are asking for might get implemented. Ironically Clare Perry’s approach is more likely to get what you want than whinging from the sidelines.

    And by the way, I want the choices of having a consistent set of internet filters that I decide to use or not use as I believe it is my responsibility to bring up my children and decide when to introduce them to adult issues (not all of which are porn)

  • Jesse

    “Honestly, I feel sorry for Claire Perry’s husband. How much porn must he get through in a day that she has thought about bringing in a national ban on porn as the only way to stop him?”

    Agree with the article, but was there any need for this part? It’s a bit sexist.

  • Rob

    I’d like to see Claire Perry porn. She’s hot.

  • Harry

    Thankyou for saying it far better than I could possibly have done.

  • Edgar

    Maybe she should go fuck herself (or get fucked) in the fundamental sense of the word. She might also need a hug.
    More importantly, our society needs a better way of determining and defining intelligence so as to ensure that stupid people like Claire Perry don’t get to be in a position where their fundamentally flawed ideas can affect the lives of millions of people…
    Good post :)

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