The Campaign to Ban Rape Porn is Far Too Broadly Drawn


I have been campaigning, and will continue to do so, for the Sentencing Council and the law to reflect the severity of possessing and distributing child rape images.

Women must also demand far tougher sentencing guidelines on rape and trafficking into rape.

As a reminder, to own large numbers of images of children being sadistically tortured or forced into bestiality, the starting point is one year.

For many women gang-raped daily in brothels in the most serious case, the traffickers got eight years. Out in four.

That’s the landscape on which British law operates, and which we must rise against.

However, over the last week or so campaigners I normally support and whose natural ally I am have launched a petition which makes me nervous and which I could not, in conscience, sign.

They want to ban all depictions of rape in acted pornography.

There is already a requirement in law that such depictions be obviously staged with “production values”. If that sounds comical, it isn’t – it’s designed to catch youtube videos of women being actually raped and assaulted.

Campaigners say they want to prevent or ban the following things; “extreme” rape scenarios featuring torture, pretend incest scenarios, scenarios where actresses who are eighteen are dressed or digitally altered to look far younger.

I think there is a case for banning at least the latter two categories. The law in Britain already makes it illegal to own digitised or altered or traced or drawn images of child rape/abuse (distinguishing itself from the US). This is because of the harm that could arise to children by feeding such fantasies. On the same basis, actresses pretending to be far younger or in incest scenarios are feeding the precisely same harm as traced or altered images of child rape or abuse. So far, an important addition to the law.

But to ban all images of rape itself goes far too far.

Campaigners already say that art or fantasy depictions in movies, books etc would be exempt. Consider many scenes from “Rome” for example. If classified by the BBFC they are not porn.

However, campaigners against rape – which I hope we all are – MUST be aware of free speech and where the line of incitement is truly drawn.

Not too long ago, a most dignified man, the barrister Simon Walsh, 50, was put through a disgraceful obscenity trial for owning pictures of violent pornography consenually taken, including “fisting”. He was cleared, but not before public humiliation at having his private life and sexuality exposed.

This is not a scenario feminists should campaign for as it affects other men and women. Pornography of rape that is clearly dramatized, and consensually made and shot, and does not involve imagery of children or incest, is not necessarily an incitement to actual rape. This campaign would criminalise all those indulging in consensual BDSM pornography. Yes this is embarassing to blog and talk about, but it is a lot better than having somebody like Mr. Hughes go through the dreadful national humiliation of his pornography trial.

Rape fantasy is an incredibly common female fantasy. It is VITAL that we distinguish this fantasy from rape apology, rape excuse, or anything to do with real rape. Psychologists have various explanations for the prevalence of rape fantasy in women, from its being a way for strong women to surrender control to the simpler variant of the woman who wishes to think of herself as a quote-unquote good girl, a virtuous woman, and in her dreams is simply overpowered so that sexual activity is not “her fault” and her “virtue” remains intact. In these fantasies the rapist looks like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones and the woman finds it an enjoyable experience – it could not be more different from supporting or wishing for an actual rape in real life. Women are not stupid, and they can draw a perfectly clear distinction between fantasy and reality. The women who purchased 50 Shades of Grey – and no, I am not one of them – did not really want to be hurt by an aging billionaire.

It is important that in protecting women and children we are quite clear about what actual rape is and what incitement to hurt children is. Legislation to criminalise a community of fetishists is not right. I may not share their fetish nor am I in the same boat as Mr. Hughes, but adding ordinary, filmed, and consensually dramatised rape scenes – even involving, as in his case, some consensually undertaken depictions of pain – the government should NOT ban it, and as a feminist and one who will be concentrating on rape sentencing and the judges and quangoes who minimise it, I cannot support the campaign as it is written. It is illiberal and wrong and tramples on sexual rights.

photo by Rocketeer

My Top Ten Rock Memories: (Rock Icon Saturday June 1, Sky Arts, 8pm)

brian car

So tomorrow night on Sky Arts, 8pm, I’m coming out of the closet as a fully-fledged metal head.

This shot is of me getting into a race car with Brian – one he’d reassuringly told me was called “The Widowmaker” right before I got inside. I’m trying not to hyperventilate.

You haven’t lived til you’ve been fighting the G-forces on a Florida racetrack with your life in the hands of Newcastle’s biggest megastar.

So to celebrate, my top ten memories in rock (that I’m prepared to print, anyway)….. click post to read!

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“Feminism, plastic surgery” – Rock Icon and the Times “exclusive” (Sky Arts, 8pm, this Sat)

last week I gave an interview to the Times set up by Sky Arts to talk about Rock Icon, our show with Brian Johnson of AC/DC out this Saturday at 8pm. I remember telling the PR that I wasn’t sure it was a great choice. The show explores heavy metal, our passion for it, why critics sneer at it and fans love it. Are heavy metal heads great readers of the Times? It’s not that known for a love of the dark stuff. More popular papers like the Sun, Mail, Express etc might be better. Plus, they’re behind a paywall.

But she was adamant and she’d agreed to an exclusive, saying they would concentrate on the show and touch on other stuff. So I went along with it.

We talked about the show – not as much as I would have wished – and moved on to questions about me. When this got a bit much I tried to steer it back to heavy metal and got something of an eye-roll. He asked about the plastic surgery row and I answered.

Today, the Times 2 tweeted this:

“Louise Mensch on feminism, plastic surgery and why she really moved to New York. Exclusive interview in tomorrow’s T2.”

You will note the glaring absence of the words “heavy” and “metal” there. Or of Brian Johnson, or of AC/DC.

The British press loves to accuse me of being publicity-seeking. This a prime example of the hypocrisy; I agree to an interview about a topic (metal) and another person (Brian Johnson) and the wonderful documentary we shot and it is printed as another navel-gazing pile of bollocks concentrating on my beauty treatments. Not by my wish.

There’s a basic trust that interview terms will be agreed to, especially if somebody (not me) has arranged and agreed an exclusive. They clearly ripped that up. So, social media allows me to at the very least print every single thing I told that journalist that could be of interest and to do it this afternoon/tonight.

And in case anyone thinks I’m being harsh, I had him on the phone just now “fact-checking” something and he confirmed the breaking of the interview terms – “I was told to profile you. We mention the documentary.”

Janice Turner of the Times (who has had many well-publicised run-ins with me) tweeted that I was being “spiteful” in writing this blog post. Really?

Well, I’ll tell you one thing; it makes a pleasant change for me to hear the press crying that they’ve been treated unfairly.

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What Men Want – Dress

So what do men want from how you dress?

Of course this article comes with all the normal caveats; some men are different, some want tattoos and biker leathers, that’s all true. But what do most men want?

I think the answer is simple enough.

1. they like their women feminine. Consider wearing dresses if you usually stick to trousers. A dress these days is rare enough that a woman in one always looks elegant. It says “I bothered”.

2. They like you and want to see you. This means fitted clothes that flatter your shape, including plus size. No hiding away. Men are more visually stimulated than women and are attracted to the female form, so display it by form-fitting clothes.

Make sure whatever you wear shows your waist. Waist to hip ratio is a scientifically proven quotient of attractiveness to men throughout the ages, no matter what your size. Many plus size pieces are cut to show that waist.

3. They operate a double standard and don’t want to see you in anything too revealing. We can debate all day long as to why this should not be so, but the fact remains for most men it is, in fact, so. Don’t go too short, too low-cut, or too clingy or see-through.

4. They want to see you look pretty, elegant and groomed. As well as appreciating you, men are territorial. There is a big part of them that wants to be proud of the woman they are with. Rightly or wrongly, they feel she reflects on them. The unlovely term and concept “trophy wife” comes from this basic idea; a man wants to be proud of the woman he’s with.

5. This means, good fabrics and cuts, blow-dried hair, simple make-up that looks like a more polished version of you.

And that’s it. The basic, elegant, feminine look most men want. They envy another man whose wife or girlfriend looks like that. Yes, I believe women should dress for the man they love. This fundamental idea of caring about, and acting on, what your partner wants is attacked by many as unfeminist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for women. It is not about seeing men as an enemy; it is nor about denying the urge women have to please the men they cherish.

And of course, it is not a one way street either. You expect your man in a suit at your sister’s wedding. I like men who lift weights. In a love partnership, each does not consider themselves alone, but what the other likes and desires. Women are less visually stimulated than men, so you may not have an opinion on Hugo Boss for him, but he will be obliged to do things for you purely and solely because you are into it.

What Men Want: Relationships

wmw auroBOOK REVIEW:

Self-help books are one of my great pleasures. I read all kinds; success manuals, time management tomes, style bibles, stress reducers, exercise and weight-lifting guides. Much of it is total guff (self help people LOVE lists – the Seven Rules to Time Management, the Twenty Laws of Manifesting Wealth etc etc) but you occasionally get a nugget of insight you can use. Like “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy on procrastination (do the most important thing first in your day).

Besides, you get more of what you focus on, I believe, so constantly looking at various ideas to help you do more, be more and achieve higher will help you get there, by osmosis, even if the individual bits of advice don’t work.

So here in the What Men Want series (that perennially annoys those self-identified feminists who, in the face of all basic logic, believe it is unfeminist for a woman to wish to please a man) – a book review.

His Needs, Her Needs has sold 3 million copies and is an unusual relationship book.

Instead of telling you the normal relationship stuff like “active listening” etc, it has an interesting thesis: that men and women have a “hierarchy of needs” that they are looking to have met. If you meet your partner’s needs in these five areas you will have a great relationship.

There are caveats, so don’t all jump on him if the 5 needs aren’t your personal top five needs; the author advocates finding out your own top five from a basic list and ensuring you get them met. But, like all relationship books, it necessarily generalises on MOST men and MOST women.

Women’s Top Five Needs are:

1. Affection
2. Conversation
3. Trust/Honesty
4. Financial support/a provider
5. Good father/ family commitment.

Men’s top 5 needs are

1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship/ playmate (non Playboy sense) – doing activities together
3. An attractive or well groomed spouse
4. Peace and quiet /domestic support/ tranquil home
5. Admiration.

Clearly, this is not a politically correct list, but I believe there is an awful lot to this. The chapters under each heading go into details – how women talk more than men and men express affection through doing stuff together – he wants you to ski with him, go to movies with him, walk the dogs together etc – that in “financial support” he is not saying women marry men for their money, but reflecting the reality that most childcare still devolves on women, working women tend to earn less than men, most women are at maximum stress levels and need support – and in “attractive or well groomed spouse” he is reflecting a reality of male thoughts on a partner bothering to look well for him, reflecting on him etc..

It may seem very controversial to put “Sexual fulfillment” at the top of masculine needs, Clearly both men and women need to feel loved first. You note that “loved” is not listed here. The author’s thesis is that these are different ways in which the sexes receive the feeling of being loved.

A man who is sexually rejected or deprived will feel rejected *as a man* and *as a person* and not merely sexually. There is no division. Before you all start screaming, of course, if the woman is disabled, depressed or traumatised there are exceptions, but without these serious reasons, men want to be desired and not merely to desire others themselves.

It might be a bit uncomfortable, but I think there is an awful lot to be said for this list. The top 5 needs for women aren’t my own personally, but I think I’m somewhat different from most.

It never really struck me until it was pointed out what a massive male need it is to have a woman as an active companion. He wants a permanent friend and whereas women will “grab a coffee” together, men pretty much never do that. They meet for tennis/bowling/a play/ a movie. Just imagine three men sitting in a cafe over tea and cakes chatting. It’s an amusing image, no? Yet women do it all the time.

With his life partner a man wants a woman who will throw herself into it. Skiing (which I hate) I do because Peter likes it. Walking the dogs late nights not a favourite either, but he likes the companionship. Plays, listen, I am a homebody who likes reading and posting and other solitary pursuits but I go to them and enjoy them because he wants me to. And reciprocally, he does masses of stuff he isn’t particularly into for my sake.

Each of the needs has a chapter exploring it in depth and it is honest, not the normal psychobabble. A man does judge himself against other men and does feel proud when his wife is elegant. A woman has a deep need to feel her man is not playing her, that she can totally trust him. A man needs admiration – not necessarily Nancy Reagan type adoring looks all the time, but yes, he wants to be proud of you and you to be proud of him. He doesn’t receive the daily compliments women get “You look great”, “Nice dress”, “I love you hair”. Often his wife is his primary or sole source of expressed admiration. We all need a fan. And as the book points out, this isn’t a tip to massage his ego “oh sweetie aren’t you clever” – it’s advice to go for a man you actually, genuinely admire. Men can tell the difference; it’s on their sexual radar.

In sum, I think this is one of the most useful relationship books I’ve ever read, because it doesn’t lie about what men need as opposed to what modern society would like them to need.

And as for myself, I am a fairly meat and potatoes sort of girl. I like strong men, alpha males, and would not be happy with any man I didn’t both desire and admire. I need to look up to him and long for him. In essence I don’t believe in settling, I think you should marry your fantasy. Settling leads to a mundane and miserable life, with that aching thought that there is always more out there.

Give it a read – challenge your preconceptions. I hate the trope that we are all just looking for a “best friend”. I have two best friends (one male, one female) and I wouldn’t want to marry either of them. A spouse is a lot more than that, and attraction and electricity matter immensely.


photo by auro