EU Porn Ban: Women Watch Porn Too

On Tuesday, members of the European Parliament will vote on a proposal that hopes to "eliminate gender stereotypes in the EU." The report, prepared by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, includes a number of initiatives to improve equality among the sexes. Wonderful! I personally champion equality among all sexes, races, etc. However, Article 17 of the proposal goes a bit too far.

Article 17 vaguely calls for a ban of "all forms of pornography in media." Of course, those in favor of the proposal argue that pornography demeans women, which is often but not always true; however, the vague proposal fails to define two critical terms: one, "pornography," and two, "media." What constitutes pornography? Videos found online? Dirty photographs exchanged between lovers? Sex scenes in Hollywood films? Furthermore, does this piece of legislation only apply to film media found online or does it also apply to print?

To put it simply, banning porn is a slippery slope towards zealous censorship online, in movies, and in print. (Remember, print porn is on the rise. Fifty Shades of Gray anyone?)

Second, as a woman, I resent the portrayal of women as innocent bystanders to sexual material of all sorts. Believe it or not, women are sexual beings. In other words, WOMEN WATCH PORN TOO. Statistics show that one out of every three viewers of porn is, in fact, a woman. An alternative to an overarching ban on porn may be the promotion of female-friendly porn. In fact, many of the most adamant opponents of this legislation are women active in the feminist porn industry. Feminist porn is not only an industry, but also a movement that encourages equality in the porn workplace.

Lastly, we must remember that porn is an industry that provides employment for thousands of individuals and pumps money into the economy. In 2006, the United Kingdom alone received $1.97 billion in porn revenue.

As I read news coverage of this new proposal, I found myself, for the first time in my life, contemplating gay porn. Sexual relations between two men certainly does not demean women. Women aren't present. If passed, will gay porn be included in the ban? Clearly, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality needs to spend a little more time drafting concrete legislation that isn't open to a wide array of interpretations.