Giving porn its own domain

// 14 July 2010

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.xxx?Stuart Lawley, Internet entrepreneur, has won the right to start selling registrations to a new domain devoted to pornographic content, .xxx. Currently, there are 7 million adult domains and as Lawley continues to sell another half a million, revenues of $30m a year are expected.

About pornography, Lawley himself claims to be “neutral” and he refuses to comment on the suggestion that exploitation of vulnerable women in the industry is endemic. However, mounting fears about the creation of an Internet ‘red-light district’ may further exploit vulnerable women in the industry. Campaigner and academic, Gail Dines think .xxx is a disaster because “the only thing that can happen is that pornography will increase.”

Critics of the idea argue that because there is no requirement for providers of explicit content to use the ‘top level domain’, sexually explicit material will still be commonplace in other domains, making it ineffectual at restricting access.

There is also concern that the existence of .xxx will lead to legislation making its use mandatory for sexually explicit material, leading to legal conflicts over the definition of “sexually explicit”, free speech rights, and jurisdiction.

According to figures released earlier this year by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, FHM saw its circulation fall by 15.2% year-on-year to a monthly average of 231,235. Sales of lads’ mags Zoo, Loaded and Nuts all dropped by margins of between 20 and 30% from early 2009 to later in the year. But at the same time, magazines such as Maxim are becoming solely internet publications.

According to a global Internet content-filtering company N2H2, the number of adult-related Internet pages increased from 14 million in 1998 to roughly 260 million in 2003, the Times of India reports.

The Home Office commissioned a report in February stating that lads’ magazines such as Zoo and Nuts should be made top shelf and have age restrictions on sale in order to stop the “drip, drip” media landscape that is sexualising boys and girls at an increasingly early age. However the 130-page report points to the fact that it is easily accessible pornography which is influencing the behaviour of children. Statistics published in the report showed that a quarter of all search-engine requests are porn-related, and 1.5% of all the websites in existence are pornographic.

It is also unlikely that the .xxx domain can compel all other ‘adult’ businesses from transferring to the premium .xxx service, due to the expensive costs. Meanwhle, .com porn sites will continue to propagate unwanted spam; children viewing the content will be unavoidable. It will take years for a complete conversion; so in the meantime expect the porn industry to boom.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 15 July 2010 at 12:16 pm

The porn industry is solely about profit not claims of ‘sexual freedom etc.’ This is why porn entrepreneur Stuart Lawley has created this website because he is perhaps hoping to make porn a two tier system. One wherein so-called ‘mundane porn’ is widely available to male consumers and more selective (sic) porn only made available to paying customers (of which majority continue to be male).

We consistently read that girls and boys are being sexualised however this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts because it is girl children NOT boy children who are being misrepresented as ‘dehumanised sexual service stations.’ There is no symmetry between popular culture’s portrayal of boy children and girl children. I do not see boys misrepresented as ‘sexualised commodities’ and in fact the Home Office Commissioned report on sexualisation of children (sic) was deliberately misleading because the evidence produced proved 100% it is girl children being turned into male’s sexual disposable commodities.

It is overwhelmingly pre-pubescent and teenage boys who are accessing porn and internalising the misogynistic and women-hating messages. It is boys who are growing up believing and accepting as ‘fact’ that females are not human but just exist solely to serve male needs and male sexual interests. Such is the outcome of mainstreaming pornography because it is all supposedly ‘fantasy’ not actual male sexual violence against women or real acts of male sexual dominance over women and girls.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 15 July 2010 at 12:20 pm

well… on the brightside, i like that the home office recognise the problem with nuts and zoo. at least if people are searching for porn they understand it is porn (albeit not what that really entails without really looking into it) whereas lads mags give of the impression of being harmless fun, which all men are into, and doesnt draw a real line between its porn, glamour modelling, pin ups, female interviewees, and the regular women on the street. the only difference seems to be that REAL women nag and bitch and whine. their body parts are up for comparison. i think seeing this common place like the news agents when just picking up a drink is more damaging to the viewers, however i would imagine internet porn has more potential to be damaging towards its participants.

Hannah // Posted 15 July 2010 at 4:00 pm

I was waiting for a post about the .xxx domain on here in the hope that it might clarify my opinions – not that I toe the F word line on everything, just that I didn’t really know what to make of this. I’m not sure how much more I feel I know about it now.

If Lawley has picked up on this as an entrepreneur it doesn’t mean that it’s going to automatically lead to loans more porn, it just means he’s picked up on it as a way to direct more traffic to his sites. Surely we should be pleased about some of the potential outcomes of this – it seems obvious that anti-porn campaigners would want debate over what sorts of material are sexually explicit, and the dream consequence would be for Nuts and Zoo to be forced to go under this domain name. Or it might all come to nothing, like so many news stories about how the internet will change our lives.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 15 July 2010 at 4:16 pm

@ Jennifer Drew- I disagree. Boys are sexualised by these messages; it’s just in a different way. They are taught that it is ‘normal’ to be highly-sexed, to desire certain types of bodies, to view women in particular ways, to see their desire as uncontrollable. They are pressured into thinking they need to participate in certain sex cultures to be ‘normal men’. This is just as dehumanising for men as women as they are not allowed to make emotional connections between their desire and sex; they are to be driven by desire (which should be faked if it can’t be manifested) rather than thought or need. They are not allowed choice in their desire or in their sex lives without endangering their masculinity. They are not allowed to be vulnerable or emotionally open; they are not allowed to be repulsed by certain types of hetero sex (which surely must be allowed to be fully human, even as tolerance of other people’s desires is desirable). They are made one-dimensional by this form of masculine desire, just as women are.

This is not to say that this sexualisation of children doesn’t result in differential experiences or oppressions for women and men.

Holly Combe // Posted 19 July 2010 at 5:57 pm

There is also concern that the existence of .xxx will lead to legislation making its use mandatory for sexually explicit material, leading to legal conflicts over the definition of “sexually explicit”, free speech rights, and jurisdiction. (para 4 in post)

Indeed and a problem I would have with enforcing such a rule would be that traditionalists would be only too happy to find some way to include alternative porn or sexually explicit educational material with a progressive slant in that in order to marginalise it further. I know a lot of people would say the majority of stuff affected by such a ruling wouldn’t come into that category (so “who cares”?) but, to me, it does seem like a threat to any possibility we might have for challenging the status quo.

@Hannah. I’m only going to mention this in passing, as I don’t want to shift the focus from Suswati’s topic itself, but I’d like to stress there isn’t an F-word “line” on this issue. As with a variety of other other subjects, we don’t all hold exactly the same view!

Jack Leland // Posted 19 July 2010 at 8:40 pm

I do not see boys misrepresented as ‘sexualised commodities’ and in fact the Home Office Commissioned report on sexualisation of children (sic) was deliberately misleading because the evidence produced proved 100% it is girl children being turned into male’s sexual disposable commodities.

There is plenty of femdom porn that does just that, and it is increasingly popular.

angercanbepower // Posted 20 July 2010 at 3:00 pm

Jack – I think anyone who has watched femdom porn would realise it’s produced almost solely for the consumption of straight males. Not to say that women can’t or don’t like it, but the women in it are almost always sexually objectified and meant to be sexually attractive (often catering to certain fetishes e.g. amazon, BBW etc.) whereas the sexual attractiveness of the men is very rarely in issue in the porn’s marketing. Quite frankly most of the time the men in femdom porn would not be considered attractive by most people attracted to men.

I also find your assertion that femdom porn is increasingly popular quite interesting. How do you know?

I think if you’re looking for an example where men are turned into sexual commodities, really you’ve got to go with gay male porn.

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