Posted by: mydarkestplaces | April 30, 2013

So I’m a prude

I’ll admit it. I don’t like public displays of affection, I am discomfited when there’s an abundance of sex talk. In my opinion, sex, sex acts, foreplay, whatever, these are all things to be done in the privacy of your own home. I understand not everyone feels that way. Heck, I understand that some people get off on exhibitionism, voyeurism, many different permutations thereof. Whatever. That’s not my issue. My issue is that I don’t want to see it.

This is a long lede in.

In a recent bout of insomnia, one of my favorite authors sent out a tweet about David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, wanting to block access to porn via wifi in public areas. In my mind he’s shouting, “But think of the children!”

Here’s my problem with this whole scenario – kids have been finding ways to look at “illicit” content for millennia.

Where they can’t find images, they always have their imagination which, as a former child, I’m willing to bet is quite vivid and active. Fodder for sexual fantasies has never been in short supply.

To be clear, I don’t want kids OR adults looking at porn in public spaces. A) Awwwwkward. B) I’ve already established I’m a prude, I don’t want my coffee with a side of raunchy sex scenes. C) Ew.

My biggest hold up is that it’s a slippery slope when the state – or even the internet service providers – determine what is acceptable to access or not. It quickly goes from porn sites to left- or right-wing blogs being banned. Maybe the powers that be say it’s illegal to look at natural birthing sites or websites devoted to gun sales, or – cod forbid – you need to do research on terror attacks in the last decade. Now the government thinks you’re some hippy terrorist looking to exceed any attack that’s happen before. It doesn’t matter that maybe you’re just writing a research paper on mass shootings in the United States and you happen to be pregnant at the same time.

To be clear – I have no issue with individual places limiting the sites their patrons can go to. Schools do it all the time (have you ever tried visiting Facebook from a school’s wifi?). I’ve been blocked from visiting tumblr when on a public wifi network (due to potentially explicit material). I am fine with these things. The person who is providing the service is saying, “These are the rules.” When the State and corporations get into it saying what’s okay and what’s not, that leaves a horrendously bad taste in my mouth.

I wish the need to limit what sites people can access wasn’t a thing that needed to be addressed. I wish that everybody had the common sense and decency to realize that maybe, just maybe, looking at explicit porn when in a public space isn’t the best thing. But, in the absence of common sense, and with the assumption that people will inevitably do stupid things I think it’s fine for BUSINESSES to limit what sites their customers have access to. In fact, I encourage it.

But the state needs to keep their fingers out of it. It’s a short jump from “protecting the children” to Big Brother. I’d prefer that the state work on locking up pedophiles and rapists for longer than two years instead of dictating what website I can go to strictly because I “might” look at porn in a public space. (This isn’t even broaching the topic of what is and isn’t porn.)

I long for a world where common sense rules the day. A day when we don’t need to be reminded that kids are around the corner. A day when the state no longer feels the need to control what information we access or when and where. A day where we can self-monitor ourselves about what’s acceptable and what’s not in public spaces. Maybe if we all work on it, this dream will come to fruition.



  1. I definitely agree with you that businesses can decide what will be shown on their Internet connections. I think part of the issue is that this is all rooted in “ownership”; he who owns the territory makes the rules. But who “owns” the Internet? No one, really. Anyone is free to say what they like and share what they like. So how do you determine who “owns” a part of the Internet they can restrict? I think if you own the Internet connection, you have every right to make the rules.

    Ultimately, though, the root of the problem is that people are uncomfortable taking responsibility and saying “no” to their customers. In a world where anyone can say anything about your business and watch it spread rapidly, you want to please the customer. The other problem is that no one will really say that porn is “wrong” or “bad” inherently, because we also live in a world that accepts destructive habits as personal preferences. So how do you, as a business, have a right to say what’s “wrong”?

    Anyways, just some incoherent thoughts. Ultimately I’m with you, though – and I’m getting tired of people who don’t understand technology trying to use it as a weapon.

    • As I reacquaint myself – again – with The West Wing this quote comes to mind, “Mr. President, if our children can buy pornography on any street corner for five dollars, isn’t that too high a price to pay for free speech?” “No. On the other hand I do think five bucks is too high a price to pay for pornography.”

      • Very nice quote! And yes, I totally agree with you. Personal responsibility and accountability is greatly lacking in our day and age.

  2. It’s not just being uncomfortable with saying, “no”. I think it’s being uncomfortable taking personal responsibility. If I make a mistake, or have a wrong assumption or come to a wrong conclusion, I like to think that I own it. I will inevitably say, “I messed up,” or, “I was mistaken”. There’s not nearly enough of that nowadays. No one wants to admit that they’ve done either of these things.

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