4. What are your thoughts on controlling access to porn and other adult programming, gaming, gambling, etc?
Ms Boomer: Like Amsterdam, left alone the market will saturate, people will become desensitised and it will loose hype and popularity or at least reduce to ‘normal’ proportions. Drive it underground through prohibition and you will see an even bigger revival that we are seeing right now. Porn is legal in our societies and if David Cameron manages to get it banned, it will see its greatest revival yet. It is a massive industry and always will be. Let those who want to use it, use it and teach your children the difference between ‘real’ and ‘fantasy’.
Ms Liberation: I believe it’s a totally unrealistic objective! Something amazing happened back in 2003, when adult wap sites first started appearing in the UK. The industry got together and found a way to control access by joining the forces of the Mobile Network Operators, independent regulators and the adult industry before this budding new entertainment channel became too big to manage.
Therefore, on mobile, there have already been access controls for many years and because they’ve always been there, consumers know they must identify themselves in order to access content. Because of this, the system works, the industry makes it’s money, minors are protected, MNO’s benefit commercially from adult entertainment whilst ticking all the boxes related to positive brand association and responsibility for their customers and everyone is happy.
Trying to achieve this same result in something so vast and open as the Internet is logistically impossible and will only result in serious economic consequences for the UK as well as on-going problems with non-adult sites getting banned! It just doesn’t work on any level.
Which takes us back to the only sensible route. Educating parents and those who care for and educate children and giving them the tools they need to control access themselves!
Ms Digital: It should definitely be controlled. Consenting adults will always be able to access it but their kids will be protected, and so will be the industry for that matter! Which is why there are multiple non-profit organisations with mostly adult companies as their members who focus on protecting minors and responsible, ethical production of adult entertainment. Some people need to finally understand such industries don’t get richer by exposing the under aged to their products and have as much interest as the government in restricting access for minors!
Miss Teen Queen: It is always a good idea to have some level of access control and I believe certain controls should be in place where they make sense to do so and when implemented in a sensible way. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to the parents taking responsibility to protect their children and the access that they have.
3. Are regulatory measures (UK example) enough to protect minors from viewing +18 content?
Ms Boomer: Our youngsters can and will access what they want, like I did all those years ago in Amsterdam, if they have a bit of initiative and no matter how much their parents put child locks on their lives. There seems to be such an unnecessary emphasis and hype on porn right now through Fifty Shades of Grey and its legacy.
Ms Liberation: First of all – recent media attention around this issue in the UK has been conveniently skewed to muddle the message, which only makes matters much worse! I get so mad, when the media deliberately joins and confuses child access to porn and child pornography in the same headline or news item. This is nothing but detrimental to the overall objective!
Second of all, I believe that:
- There is only a limited amount that regulations, industries and governments can do to control access to +18 materials (which, lets not forget, includes violent movies and gambling) and;
- Easy to access adult materials that are extreme, in excess or deviant, can indeed skew the perceptions of what ‘real sex’ is for those who have never had ‘real sex’ and therefore, access should be controlled as much as possible
- At the same time, consenting adults in a free world, should be able to make a decision for themselves, be able to explore their sexuality and easily identify that they WANT to and can access this type of content
That said, I believe that the key to the best outcome for ALL points above, without a doubt, is far better education for parents!
Generations Y & Z are classified as ‘natives’ of digital technology, they were born with it and grew up with it, whereas Ms Boomer and myself are considered ‘immigrants’, we have had to learn or be taught. At the end of the day, without proper training of what is even possible in a digital environment, how can we possibly make informed decisions and actions in order to protect those we love, who have lived and socialised within a digital environment all of their lives?
Ms Digital: No, work most definitely must be done at home. I’ll never forget how my mum used to say to me “some things deform rather than inform”, meaning I should have access to things according to my age so I could understand them and not be damaged by them.
She did indeed control what I was exposed to until I was old enough to fully understand the context and decide for myself. I’m incredibly grateful for that, not only did she protect me when necessary but she also shaped a sensible adult. So from my point of view it’s more of a family job than a government one. Of course, regulations must be in place, so everyone has a ‘rule book’ to follow, but it is the parents who need to do the legwork for best results.
Miss Teen Queen: No not at all, all teenagers have access to the internet at home and on their mobiles and in a lot of cases, the parents don’t really know about parental controls or restrictions, so essentially, the more tech savvy kids can pretty much do what they like.
A mobile device never leaves the hand of a teenager. We live our whole lives on mobile, so parents would really need to be on the ball to set up the necessary blocks. I believe most parents, don’t really know much about how to do this. Sky appears to have good parental controls, but again, they are useless unless the parents understand them and have set them up. Even if all these measures have been taken in your own home, chances are you can go round to a friends’ house to watch +18 content as their parents may be more easy going about what their kids watch.
2. Does Adult Entertainment have the potential to affect the lives of teens and their perception of ‘real sex’?
Ms Boomer: Youngsters are extremely clever and when they are ready, they will find what they are looking for on the net or on their phones, no matter how hard you try and ‘protect’ them. Claims are made about young boys becoming addicted to porn on line. Yeah… No more than they do to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, they manage to get their hands on those too. You can’t differentiate between any of them, but I firmly believe that tobacco, alcohol etc. are what we should concern ourselves with. The Dutch’ openness about the facts of life has resulted in a dramatic drop in teen pregnancies.
Having been born and raised in Amsterdam I was subjected at a young age to porn coming out of the closet,, the red light district and the birth of sex shops. I have never been affected nor threatened by any of it and have always realized that porn is what it is supposed to be – a fantasy. Like Tom and Jerry. That kind of violence is no more real than porn. Now we can all tell the difference between fantasy and fact, can’t we?
Ms Liberation: I’ve been following the recent UK debate with close interest and can obviously see the argument on both sides. The issue that is increasingly blurred in all the media hype is actually who should be ultimately responsibility for protecting our kids. It seems to me the government is forced to step in to plug the gap of more and more parents who are unable or just don’t want to take responsibility for their children’s actions. In reality, is this really the most effective route for actually getting a successful result?
Like all young teens, my group of friends occasionally got hold of an adult magazine. Did that skew my view on sex? No! Why? – Because I was lucky enough to have realistic references at home as my main influences. Therefore, seeing this kind of material was immediately filed away in the ‘unreal’ or ‘fantasy’ box of my brain.
Is the current day situation actually a social consequence? In most cases, both parents have to work now and in many cases parents divorce when kids are still young. This has caused a decline in ‘real’ reference and guidance being readily available at home.
So in reality, is it adult entertainment that is the issue here or the changes in our society leaving our youngsters without the guidance and reference points my generation had?
Ms Digital: Of course it does! But only in the same way that ‘Some Like It Hot’ could affect them. For sure, too many Marilyn Monroe films could damage a teen’s image of male/female roles just as likely as too much porn could damage their idea of what sex is like in ‘real’, grownup, mediocre life. The solution therefore, is not to ban all ‘dumb blonde’ films but to educate our youth properly, making them understand the differences between life and fiction. It seems to me, we often forget we are talking about fiction at the end of the day!
Miss Teen Queen: Yes it does have the potential to affect perceptions of ‘real sex’ amongst my generation. I know my friends, who are boys, have watched adult videos and have done so for many years already. In my opinion, this could lead them to have certain expectations of sex that we girls probably can’t live up to.
As girls my age don’t really watch it, our expectations are in a totally different place to the boys, especially as OUR perceptions are based more on what our friends talk about or on Hollywood movies. This makes the difference between both gender’s expectations (or aspirations) enormous.
I guess girls’ expectations aren’t anymore realistic when you think about it. We think it’s will be like the movies – boy meets girl, boy has great body, boy pisses girl off, grovels his way back and they fall into each others arms, snog and all live happily ever after. Is that any more realistic than boys thinking that girls want to have sex like porn stars? At the end of the day, deep down, both genders KNOW that neither scenario is really true in real life.
That said, from my experience, I would say girls base their perception of sex and relationships more on experience, whereas boys base it more on expectation.
What Women Want:
One of the very first discussions I had about this book was with a mobile exec, responsible for running one of the most successful on-deck adult channels in the UK and he highlighted a point that has stuck with me as this tale of social contradictions unfolded – women secretly long to be dominated and bossed around by men, especially in the bedroom!
I can hear those TV advertised ‘Air Bras’ getting ripped off and the lighters being ignited as we speak!
As a female owner of a business that sits between two male-dominated industries – Mobile and Adult – it made me wonder how and why this book is highlighting larger social topics for the world’s female population.
For quite a few years now, we’ve been shouting about ‘having it all’. Generation X women (this is where I sit, without wanting to give you an exact age) were the first generation not expected to stay and home and raise a family like our baby boomer mothers before us.
Does the Gen X female aspiration of ‘having it all’ simply mean ‘doing it all’?
Most of the world’s top female executives are married, have children and continue to ‘manage’ the household. When I say ‘manage’ I mean in terms of organising what needs to be done, who needs to do it and ensuring it’s completed to keep things moving along as they should.
I have seen too many examples via friends and family where ‘having it all’ simply means ‘doing it all’. We are still ultimately responsible for all the same areas within our relationships we were 50 years ago (a clean house, clean family, planning meals, shopping, kids, homework, doctor’s visits, social engagements, arranging holidays, etc.) and we invariably are the ones organizing them, even if hubby does chip in via a request and normally, a good bit of nagging until it’s done. However, we are now doing all this in addition to invariably holding down a full time and in many cases, a high-pressure job!
Every minute of a woman’s day is about having things under control, ‘on the list’, delegated or done. Our entire lives are about project management – whether personal or professional, big or small. It’s a part of our genetic make-up.
So I find it quite easy to appreciate any women’s subconscious desire to have a man take (total) control once in a while, and the bedroom is a safe environment where they can finally let down their ‘in control’ façade and just lie back and be told what to do without having to think about it or organise it. It’s like a little holiday from all the remembering, actioning or delegating!
Talking with various ‘mobile mates’, I get the feeling that although it’s probably not the main factor for its success, 50SoG delivers something for this subconscious desire within the context of total fantasy.
Is it a simple form of escapism from the slightly off-target results achieved in our quest for ‘equal rights’? Did the book maybe tune into a current feeling of overkill in the equality battle for females around the world?
A quick history of the book’s short and rapid journey to ‘phenomenon status’!
- The trilogy was written by first-time author and English mother-of-two, Erica Mitchell, 49, using the pen name E L James.
- She initially posted the stories on the internet as a series of episodes set in the ‘Twilight’ world under the title ‘Master of the Universe’.
- She modified the episodes and re-arranged them into three parts. The first, 50 Shades of Grey was released as an e-book and ‘print-on-demand’ paperback in May 2011.
- The original publisher of the books was an Australian self-publishing service called The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House.
- Part 2 of the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker, was released in September 2011.
- The final part, Fifty Shades Freed, followed in January 2012.
- Due to the immense initial interest in the e-books, Vintage Books acquired the exclusive license and the trilogy arrived in bookstores in April 2012
- 50SoG first topped the New York Times best-selling e-book fiction list in March 2012.
- by June, the New York Times reported that Contra Costa Library system in California had 30 copies of the novel in circulation, all of which were checked out, and they had a waiting list of 723.
- Ottawa Public Library in Canada said its waiting list was a whopping 1,330 people for its 96 copies.
- Despite some libraries in America removing the book from its shelves due to its x-rated content, all have had to relent and replace them due to public demand.
- By this time, the three books were now occupying all top three slots in the Sunday Times best-selling paperback fiction charts.
- Canadian sex-toy retailer, Pink Cherry (nope, nothing to do with Cherry Media) reported a 15% month-on-month increase in sales of sex toys featured in the novel.
- Fifty shades of Grey has become the fastest selling book of all time, smashing the previous records set by The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter and the Millennium trilogy.
- The book is now being sold in nearly 40 countries around the world and has been reprinted on a weekly basis since the first publication.
- The trilogy is reported to account for 25% of sales within the adult fiction market.
- Publishers are scrambling to fill bookshelves with an array of similar (previously released) erotic titles, including Rebecca Chance’s ‘Naughty Bits’, which contain scenes from earlier novels that were previously ‘too hot to print’, an erotic trilogy, called Eighty Days and an erotic rewrite of Charlotte Bronte’s classic, re-titled ‘Jane Eyre Laid Bare’.
- Universal Pictures have secured the rights to 50SoG for an estimated $5 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
- At the time of this article, global sales of the trilogy are reported to be over 40 million, with the UK accounting for 12 million and the US accounting for 20 million of those sales.
- By comparison, Stieg Larsson’s best-selling “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy took more than three years to reach the 20-million sales mark in the U.S.
- UK publisher, Random House said the book is now more popular than The Highway Code, but it still has a way to go to catch up with JK Rowlings Harry Potter series which has sold a total of 450 million copies.