The latest chapter of Prime Minister David Cameron’s ongoing plan to enact a ban on porn is set to happen on Monday when he announces that anyone who possesses a porn depicting rape (simulated or not) can face up to three years in jail — the same amount of prison time as the average sentence for actual sexual assault in the United States.
Yes, that’s sort of embarrassing when it comes to sexual assault sentencing in U.S., but many feel like the U.K. change is too strict when it comes to what’s become a common fantasy.
The new anti rape-porn law will broaden the definition of possession to viewing the criminal porn on a browser, The Mirror reports, and Metro UK explains that this will go into effect in 2014:
The changes to the law, which will be introduced in January, will bring England and Wales in line with Scotland, where the offence carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail.
Mr Cameron is targeting websites which show videos and images of rape – whether they claim they are ‘simulated’ or not.
Cameron said this summer that these measures and his anti-porn push were about helping women and children. Cameron explained that he wanted to eliminate child pornography and change how women are depicted in these films — he hopes that cutting down on rape pornography it may change sexual violence in the country. No one really has any qualms with Cameron’s goal to punish and clamp down on predators who are producing and procuring child porn.
But his rape ordinance isn’t going over as smoothly.
Yes, in the darkest corners of the Internet, there are disgusting videos of actual rape out there. But there are also plenty of films which now straddle the line and touch upon rape/dominance fantasies. And these films aren’t just for men. According to a 2009 study from North Texas University, 62 percent of women said they had a fantasy when they were having sex against their will. Psychology Today reports that history has shown similar statistics:
From 1973 through 2008, nine surveys of women’s rape fantasies have been published. They show that about four in 10 women admit having them (31 to 57 percent) with a median frequency of about once a month. Actual prevalence of rape fantasies is probably higher because women may not feel comfortable admitting them.
Having a fantasy and reality are, of course, very different things. People playing paintball probably wouldn’t want to actually get shot by real a gun and real bullets, and people watching slasher movies don’t want to actually kill a bunch of good-looking white people. In that same vein, the majority of women and men who fantasize about a domination/non-consensual fantasy aren’t actually looking to get real-life raped or do real-life raping (not to mention, there are plenty of men, gay and straight, who fantasize about being dominated too).
That North Texas study found that there’s a sharp drop off when it comes to the wording — when “rape” is used, only 32 percent of women admit to the fantasy, when “overpowered by a man” is used, that number jumps to 52 percent of women. And men aren’t necessarily comfortable actout rape fantasies their partners ask for, either.
Further, the connection between actual real-life violence and porn is blurry at best — India, which bans all forms of porn, has been in the news thanks to a rash of brutal rapes. Meanwhile, in the United States the incidence of rape declined 85 percent over a period of 25 years while access to pornography has increased, The New York Times reported.
Figuring out how to send the right message and what constitutes bad and good and the depiction of women is no doubt tough. But the idea of criminalizing and punishing a common fantasy and not addressing or recognizing that fantasy is not reality, isn’t exactly helping.