This was a piece of writing I submitted to a feminist group in anger and disgust after reading that they won an legislative victory that banned anything remotely beyond the moralistic missionary position. I highly advise that you do not read this post if you are dispossessed of an open mind. It is a perfectly logical and researched piece of writing against the media hysteria of child pornography and art – specifically the Bill Hensen episode.
Summary of the Bill Henson case from Wikipedia:
On 22 May 2008, the opening night of Bill Henson’s 2007-2008 exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Paddington, Sydney, was cancelled after eight individual complaints were made to Police voicing concerns about an email invitation from the Gallery to a “Private View” that depicted photographs of a nude 13-year old girl. Hetty Johnston, achild protection advocate (Bravehearts), also lodged a complaint with the New South Wales police.. On the same day, Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Miranda Devine, had also written a scathing article in response to viewing the email invitation, which precipitated heated talk-back and media discussion throughout the day. In the process of removing the images from the Gallery, Police found more photographs of naked children on exhibition among various large format photographs of nonfigurative subjects, which they later sought to examine for the purposes of determining their legal status under the NSW Crimes Act and child protection legislation. Following discussions with the Gallery and a decision by Henson, the Gallery cancelled the opening and postponed the show. The situation provoked a national debate on censorship. In a televised interview, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stated that he found the images “absolutely revolting” and that they had “no artistic merit”. These views swiftly drew censure from members of the ‘creative stream’ who attended the recent 2020 Summit convened by Rudd, led by actor Cate Blanchett.
Failing utterly to persecute or bring a legally viable case against Henson, the case continue to destroy an innocent man’s career and completely crushed any hopes of his continuing to display the exhibition. Finally, after failing to find anything wrong with the supposed child pornography –
On 6 June 2008 it was reported in The Age that police would not prosecute Bill Henson over his photographs of naked teenagers, after they were declared “mild and justified” and given a PG rating by the Australian Classification Board, suggesting viewing by children under the age of 16 is suitable with parental guidance.
So how the hell did a PG – 13 rating work of art get mistaken as Child Pornography, and in the process destroys the life of one of the most acclaimed and prolific photo exhibition artists in Australia – whom had been doing the same thing for about two decades to great critical acclaim. How can eight common beholders with no accreditations (figure of speech) just condemn a man to a Salem Witch Trial without so much as being held accountable to bringing mass moral panic and hysteria?
Limitations of Art
I have no doubt that many of you will agree with me that art is a highly subjective form. Alas, I am confident that none of you will deny me that some moral crusader asshole will find objection in any art anywhere if they look hard enough. No medium is more malleable to interpretation and discursive derision than the graphic form. This can be seen in the recent fracas involving moral crusaders such as the Bill Henson Row.
One is the story of an accomplished photographer who performed unmolested for decades, his works shown around the world, viewed by hundreds of thousands, receiving praise, acclaim, and showered with awards. Then suddenly some duchebag cries witch and the same artist becomes a paedophile, the worst label possible in modern western culture. Here I think it is obvious that the beholder doesn’t give a tit bout the artistic merit of these works but rather their own infatuation with an ambiguous concept they worship like sycophants to an altar. Disgusting – To say that modern art is a festering ground of child pornography is the same as saying that turbans are worn by terrorists, that Jews are accounts, that all Chinese are socialists, or to take a recent example, a black man in an upper middle class suburb must be a crook.
Now onto the ambiguity of graphical representations – I mentioned earlier that an asshole would always find shit where it sits. So who can say at what level does an image start to cross the line into the dreaded realm of child pornography? Such ambiguity lead to witch trials. Drafting laws and bans, as the Equality Now feminists demand is impossible. This is because drawing such a line is in itself impossible and while the ends of each spectrum are vivid in colour, the middle ground is a sterile grey. The human mind itself is a gumbo of emotions, subjectivity and bias. You cannot ban what you cannot define. The moment you ban something akin to the Bill Henson scandal, you automatically move the ban meter a tier up towards less sensitive topics. As such, the escalator of censorship is one that leads to purgatory, and it is an endless spiral that will end in totalitarian moral buggery. Art is merely how the mind perceives images, as such anything as simple as symbols and chaotic formations (ala Pollock) can mean a variety of things to a variety of people. Someone somewhere will find something somehow so long as they set their mind to it. In case you haven’t made the connection yet, this is my point.
It isn’t the enthusiasts who are finding the child porn; it’s the moralists whose seeing it in every shadow. Maybe if they realised that, they would see the whole crusade is a façade.
Attack on Anime – Out of the Left Field like a Bad Manga Plot
So the other day I open my news and this is what I see – “Tokyo bans sexualized manga and anime“ – What the hell? I thought to myself. I read on, and I am outraged. The argument seems to be that anime apparently has violence against women. Namely fiction, non existent women who are assaulted by a variety of narrative motifs. I grew up watching Pokemon, Dragon Ball, Robotech, and assorted anime so I knew exactly what they were talking about – but banning it? Serious? I continue to read, and my mind is blown away – apparently a group of feminists from outside Japan has been petitioning the UN, calling Japan a nation of perverts and pedophiles because apparently they discovered this thing called Manga and Anime where almost 99% of the setting is some kind of school (high, junior) and all popular characters are typically young women. The yellow-bellied Japanese government then folds under “international pressure” (wow, seriously Japan, grow some Balls, where is your Bushido spirit) and bans stuff that has been around for about three decades. Furthermore I read on, and discover that the petitions come from America, Sweden, and a host of nations where the sexual assault statistic on children is absolutely off the charts (like an ICBM – America 1 in 6 women can expect to be sexually assaulted, while in Japan its 1 in 7000…) while Japan has one of the lowest in the world. I sit back… thinking about the irony of this… and began to compose. (Check out Danny Choo’s w website for Japanese Visual Culture – yes, his father is Jimmy Choo).
Modern Feminism as we know it is a mixed bag of lollies. On one hand it’s the natural progression in a world that is at first glance increasingly free, democratic, and open. Certainly the fight against racism has started its push into Berlin, as the label of ‘racist’ is quite the derogatory these days. However the dark side of feminism makes easy bed with a platoon of unrelenting SS panzer-women. For these ladies, the fight is not about getting the power for those without, but rather taking power from the patriarchal bastards that seek to oppress them. So unable to assail anything worth a salt, it’s only natural that they should hit up some minority group incapable of defending itself. When Mary Wollstonecraft penned her ode to feminism, she probably did not imagine that it would become the monstrosity it is today.
I did some research, this is what I found from their website:
“Extreme pornography in the form of cartoons known as hentai, produced in various media such as comic books, animation, computer games and online entertainment, is easily accessible in Japan and its use is widely accepted. Common themes of hentai include rape, gang rape, incest and the sexual abuse of schoolgirls. This latter form ofhentai, known as Loli-Con, often portrays girls being sexually abused by adults in familiar positions of power such as teachers. A number of computer games involving rape, sexual harassment and stalking of women and girls are produced in Japan.”
This being their idea of free speech when applied to someone other than them selves:
“We need a government-mandated uniform standard applicable to all hentai production companies that will make it illegal to produce games that promote violence against women and girls.””
Burn books and you burn people one day. Yet there’s more!
“Many of these messages have referred to statistics of rape in Japan that are reportedly far lower than in the U.S. Equality Now does not believe it serves any purpose to excuse crimes in one country by pointing out that there are more in another.”
Meaning “we don’t care about numbers, or the fact that we’re throwing stones from our glass house.” They are saying that they do not need to protect women and children in their own countries when they can harrass someone else’s. When confronted by the people they accused of been rapists and pedophiles. Their response was this.
“Equality Now has also received an unprecedented amount of hate mail, including death and bomb threats. This is violence!”
The only violence here is the group’s continued efforts to label someone with a life destroying slander. Opposed to receiving strong language on E-paper. Thus their argument is…
“Banning extreme computer simulator games that promote sexual violence and harassment would be a step in this direction.”
Okay, fine, so the world is not an equal place, we gotta do what we can to make it equal right? Well the bad men are out there, as numerous as grains of sand, and yet the good gals are as few as the American bald eagle. So don’t you think that perhaps a bit of prioritisation is in order? I mean, there are rape gangs prowling the Ivory Coast terrorising communities. There are girls as young as eight or nine been married off to old men as child brides in every Muslim country of the world. When I walked through the streets of Cambodia I was sick to my goddamn core at the sight of child prostitution. Why in the world is a bunch of Feminist fools protecting imaginary women drawn on paper?
Are these feminists so deluded as to their own importance as to be fishing for imaginary WMDs in their imaginary Iraq? There is so much academic data that negatively correlates availability of porn and actual crime rate, so take a few minutes off trying to corrupt free speech and human rights and consult an academic, a male one. In fact, here’s one for you right now:
A Digest of the Correlation of Sexually Explicit Materials in Japan with Rate of Sex Crime
D. J. Wu (2009)
There exists the notion in every community that pornography breeds sin, that the availability of sexually explicit content breeds sexual violence, abuse, and pedophilia. I tell you now, with statistical evidence and methodological research; that this is hype, it is falsehood, it is media frenzy, it is hysteria – it is a political agenda for the family vote.
Sex crimes with a causal link to pornography that drove young men to rape or pedophilia was cemented by a series of studies commissioned in the US in the 80s. The control and methods of these experiences were highly criticized for duping their subjects into producing results sought after by the researchers. These studies have been seriously critiqued (Brannigan, 1987; Brannigan & Goldenberg, 1986, 1991; Christensen, 1990; Becker & Stein, 1991) for being methodologically flawed and politically motivated to seek ends justified by the state commission.
A series of research carried out by developed nations over thirty years revealed that there is no correlation that can be demonstrated the availability of pornography to sex crime. (Kutchinsky, 1991) In fact meta-analysis showed that as the amount of pornography increasingly became available, the rate of rapes in these countries either decreased or remained relatively level. (Kutchinsky, 1991)* Generically, the evidence against the positive link between availability of porn and sexual crime waves are either politically motivated or has no empirical scientific basis, or that no sufficient amount of research has been conducted to reach a conclusion. (McKay and Dolff 1984)
(*ironically, this was an exception in the USA while it was under the rule of Regan, it was later found to be true)
In Japan, a nation with a flourish history of abuse of women, patriarchal dominance, and subservience of women not to mention 13 years of legalised prostitution and rape such as the WWII comfort women fiasco. One would think there be a significant culture of sex crimes; instead it has some of the lowest in the world.
This article aims to synthesises various papers that show the correlation between the availability of pornographic material in Japan to the question of its relationship with sex crimes. SEM (sexually explicit material) will be our lexicon for the purpose of this segment in lieu of anime, hentai, fetish, and other pornographic product markets.
Since the 90s there has already been a crusade against Manga and Anime directed at children that contained explicit sexual content. (Mainichi-shinbun, 1990) Those living or has been to Japan will acknowledge the readily availability of explicit books, videos, DVDs, shows, and services that cater to any exotic form of erotic interests and fetishes. A small niche of these products are the topic of our discussion – that of anime and hentai. Despite this, Japanese culture remains one of the most conservative in the world, seemingly an ironic dichotomy of free expressionism and moralistic censorship. Juxtaposed in that no pornographic material in Japan can show genitalia, but depictions of the rape of a minor is perfectly legal. The 20th and 21st century has seen the relaxation of legality regarding SEM in Japan from scrutiny to suspicion to one best described as unregulated and relaxed.
The world pornography industry hit an estimated $97 billion USD in 2006
In 2004, the anime market was estimated to be worth 20 billion yen according to the Nomura Research Institute – Within Japan. Around 21 million, of which only a scant minority (Less than 5%) is considered SEM. A popular SEM title will ship less than 100, 000 copies. A common SEM title less than 10,000. In comparison a popular series episode disk will often sell 250,000 copies or more.
One of the greatest concerns of the industry lies in that with the advent of Internet, as well as niche market stores and homogenised local industries (commercial districts, as it were) where SEMs readily available to persons of any age despite limitations. (Diamond & Uchiyama 1999)
The times are changing in Japan. In the eighties all pornography, particularly foreign ones that showed public hair were classified as contraband and destroyed by customs. (Abramson & Hayashi, 1984) Now such materials are locally produced and readily available in Japanese shops. They often contain actors or actresses that are still legal minors or are depicted as minors. (Diamond & Uchiyama 1999)
Since 1990, all forms of sexual services became legal and prevalent in Japan so long as they we
re registered with local Police authorities. Sexual commerce such as phone services, call girls, sex shops, massage parlours, soap land, love hotels and prostitution contracts are staple. Today these industries are restricted to specialized districts in Japan but can be considered pandemic. However the general attitude of the public towards SEM can be summed up with the decline of arrests despite the rise of SEM availability with registered outlets increasing 1000% in the period of 1972 to 1995. (Roposensho, 1995)
The correlation of crime with this increase in SEM however can be seen in the decreasing trend of sex crime over the same period of 1972 to 1995. To quote the report by Diamond and Uchiyama 1999: “The incidence of rape has progressively declined from 4677 reported cases with 5464 offenders in 1972 to the 1995 incidence of 1500 cases with 1,160 offenders; a dramatic reduction in incidence of some two-thirds. The character of the rape also changed markedly. Early in our period of observation many of the rapes were gang (more than a single attacker) rapes thus accounting for the number of offenders exceeding the number of rapes reported. This has now become increasingly rare. The number of rapes committed by juveniles has also markedly decreased. Juveniles committed 33% of the rapes in 1972 but only 18% of the rapes committed in 1995.”
Note also that in this period, the Japanese population increased by 25 million (20%), SEM services (recorded) increased by over 1000%. Furthermore the conviction for rape increased from 90% to 95% of all cases between 1991 and 1995. The statistical association is clear enough that availability of SEM not only does not incite sexual violence, it reduces the frequency. (Diamond & Uchiyama 1999)
For convictions the legal age of these assaults begins at age 5 and expands to 49 for women, with mean petering out around the 20 – 24 brackets. It would stand to reason that if SEM readily available and joyed by juveniles and young adults were positively correlated with sex crime, one would see a spike on the statistical occurrence of young offenders and victims. However statistics show that the number of juvenile offenders dramatically dropped every period reviewed from 1,803 perpetrators in 1972 to a low of 264 in 1995; a drop of some 85%. The number of victims also decreased particularly among the females younger than 13. In 1972, 8.3% of the victims were younger than 13. In 1995 the percentage of victims younger than 13 years of age dropped to 4.0%. (Diamond & Uchiyama 1999)
It is clear as blue sky that over the years the debauchery and availability of SEM such as Hentai, Doujin and other anime fetishes has become almost commonplace. The finding that there is no correlation between SEM and Sex crime is reflected in similar studies carried out in the UK, Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany. In the US the trend showed that as more censorship became prominent, so did crime rates – not surprising as the same amount of porn is circulated but now it’s an offence. In all countries examined non-violent sex crimes decreased as laws became more lax regarding SEM and attitudes changed toward pornographic material over three decades. (US Statistics Bureau 1977) In fact one researcher suggested that SEM that are instructional such as textbooks and the relax attitude regarding the myth of sex is a factor in the significantly higher rate of reporting of sex crimes in Japan. (Unknown Reference)
It is acceptable that there may be bi-literal influences at play such as increased literacy, public morals, better education of sex and sex crimes, as well as support by media services. However it is nevertheless cold hard truth that SEM, even explicit ones catering for niche markets does not correlate towards increase trends in sex crimes. Furthermore it is important to note that the SEM produced in Japan caters to every taste and fetish and is typically much more aggressive and violent. That sadomasochistic material, fetish material, and material depicting minors are staples that exceed those found in the US. (Winick 1985) Yet, as statistics show, this does not account for increase but instead decrease in crime correlated with these genres. (Christensen 1990)
Studies from 1960 to 1997 of sex offenders in the US has shown that a majority of offenders actually had less exposure to SEM in their background than others and the offenders generally were individuals usually deeply religious and socially and politically conservative. In fact offenders were typically deprived of any contact with SEM and saw sex as sinful and antagonistic. (Goldstein & Kant, 1973, Propper, 1972) Wilson (1978) goes as far as to suggest that “offenders develop patterns of sexual deviance have suffered relative deprivation of SEM experiences in adolescence and early adulthood.”
It was found after further study that negative ideas of pornography, foreign to Japanese culture, were accepted and particularly applied to visual depictions since they were the ones most likely recognized and thereby criticized by Westerners. Little attention was given to written SEM since foreigners would be unlikely to read Japanese and thus would not notice and criticize these. (Abramson & Hayashi, 1984) As such it can be seen that western feminists ostracize manga and hentai precisely because they are a form of SEM alien to the West but at the same time readily idenfiable. It is a reflexive action of the Western sensibility in ‘that’ which does not conform to Euro-Christian standards must be anathema. Coupled with the colonialist mentality of right wing political hardliners and rising feminist movements against anything slightly offensive, the storm in a teacup is a perfect one indeed.
Abramson, P. R., & Hayashi, H. (1984). “Pornography in Japan: Cross cultural and theoretical considerations”. In M. N. Malamuth & E. Donnerstein (Eds.), Pornography and Sexual Aggression (pp. 173-183). New York: Academic Press. Christensen, F. M. (1990). Pornography: The Other Side. New York: Praeger.
Giglio, D. (1985). “Pornography: A public policy for the United States?” Comparative Social Research, 8, 281-300.
Kutchinsky, B. (1973a). “The effect of easy availability of pornography on the incidence of sex crimes.”. Journal of Social Issues, 29, 163-181.
Kutchinsky, B. (1973b). “Eroticism without censorship”. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1, 217-225.
Kutchinsky, B. (1992). “The Politics of Pornography Research”. Law & Society Review, 26, 447-455
MacKinnon, C. A. (1993). Only Words. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.
Roposensho, (Japanese National Police Agency) (1989). Japanese Penal Code. Tokyo: Japanese National Police Agency
Uchida, T. (1979). “Dairy of Lawyer in Charge”. Hogaku-Seminar, (December), 16-31
Uchiyama, A. (1996). “A study on the attitude of girls toward the commercialization of sex”. Reports of the National Research Institute of Police Science. Research on Prevention of Crime and Delinquency, 37(2 / December), 1-13
Winick, C. & Evans, J. T. (1986) “The relationship between enforcement of state pornography laws and rates of sex crime arrests”. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 25: 439-453.
Diamond. M., Uchiyama. A.,
Pornography, Rape, and Sex Crimes in Japan University of Hawaii Press 1999 Tokyo, Japan
Burns. C., Sexual Statistics in Japan: Confronting the Japanese Justice System Routledge Press. 2002
Hopper. J., Child Abuse Statistical Research and Resource www.jimhopper.com Visited 3/10/09
Sankaku Complex Original Posthttp://www.sankakucomplex.com/2009/10/01/equality-nows-lies-exposed/ Visited 01/10/2009
A very long article I wrote in anger – looking back, its quite well written > <