Category Archives: sex laws

John Grisham thinks viewing child porn is fine – as long as it’s not boys…

John Grisham, the best-selling author of legal thrillers The Firm and The Pelican Brief, took on the American judicial system in a recent interview. Grisham argues that American prisons are full of people who shouldn’t be there, such as black teenagers on minor drug offences, white collar fraudsters like Martha Stewart and “sixty year old white men” who look at child porn.

His views seems to be largely based on the conviction of an old friend who was jailed for looking at child porn.

“His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled ‘sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that’. And it said ’16-year-old girls’. So he went there… He shouldn’t ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.”

First off, you are extremely unlikely to accidentally stumble upon child pornography. Porn producers are very, very careful about the age of performers; hosting services and search engines automatically scour the web looking for anything dodgy and most child porn is hidden in the deep web.*

Secondly, why are sixteen year old girls seen as less problematic than ten year old boys? They may be teenagers, on the brink of adulthood, and legally allowed to have sex with other teenagers (in most American states as well as here) but they are still very young girls who cannot legally consent to perform in porn. Therefore it is impossible to know under what conditions the images or films were produced, or if coercion or force were part of the equation.

Finally, Grisham seems to think that child porn is a victimless crime, since the person viewing it did not touch anyone. He overlooks the fact that the child in the image was hurt, and anyone who views child porn creates the market for more and more of it to be produced – which means more and more children are harmed.

Grisham argues that people who look at child porn are not pedophiles. That may be true in the sense that anyone viewing child porn may never have touched a child, nor have any intention of doing so. But it is hard to square that with the fact that when most people search for porn, we search for the scenarios, images and people that we find sexually exciting, not the ones that leave us cold. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t leave a child alone in the company of someone whose porn preferences were for children.

You could certainly make a case that the US government is far too fond of locking up its citizens, particularly young African American men – and since Grisham is a lawyer as well as an author, he would have been in an ideal place to open up the conversation since he is on the road promoting his new book Gray Mountain. Unfortunately, his bizarre views on child porn are sure to make any nuanced discussion impossible as well as dodge his new novel. What a pity.

*It is possible some images of underage people were part of the “Snappening” – an unauthorised release of stored Snapchat photos.

Consent? There’s an app for that…

I am a big fan of sex, and a big fan of technology, but there are times when the two don’t mix. A case in point is Good2Go, an app designed with the idea of curbing sexual assaults on American college campuses. Lee Ann Allman, who created the app, was apparently inspired by a discussion with her college-aged children.

You may be aware that California recently introduced a “Yes Means Yes” consent law on college campuses. This is partly in response to a number of high profile reports on the extent of sexual assault at American universities. College authorities have been ignoring the problem for years. It seems an institution’s “brand” is more important than their students. While any measure to reduce sexual assaults is a good thing, I am at a loss as to how Good2Go could help. If anything, it puts users in a more precarious position than before.

First off, consent can be withdrawn at any time – even if you are naked and in bed, you are allowed to change your mind and your partner has got to respect that decision. If he or she doesn’t, it is sexual assault. If you’ve answered Yes with Good2Go there is a greater chance you may feel pressured into continuing; or your partner may think he or she will be able to force you without any consequences since they have a record of your initial consent. This means that victims would be less likely to speak up for fear that they would not be believed.

Secondly, who the hell would this appeal to, other than rapists? I can see the point in the Good2Go app if sexual assault is your thing. You could steal a victim’s phone before the assault and answer Yes; or you could force them to download the app and “consent” at knifepoint. Good2Go might not be legally binding, but the courts will take any evidence of consent into considerations, and this may be enough to convince a jury that a rapist is innocent.

The only people this app could reasonably protect is students afraid of being falsely accused of rape. While there is a lot of discussion about this online, the chances of actually being falsely accused are slim. Various studies suggest 1 or 2 percent of all reported rapes are false, but these very, very unlikely to make it to court due to lack of evidence and the accuser recanting.

As far as I can see, the only people who need be worried about a “false” rape accusation are rapists – not jump-out-at-you-with-a-knife rapists, but those who target victims who are too drunk to consent, or who pressure an unwilling partner into sex. These rapists may kid themselves that what they do is fine because they don’t use force, but it is sexual assault. Giving them any tool, such as an app where they can protect themselves is madness.

In the US, sexually assaults on campus are generally investigated by the university instead of the police. This is supposed to protect students because the university doesn’t have as high a bar for evidence as the courts, but even when a student is found guilty, the university generally won’t expel the rapist, withhold transcripts or enact any real punishment anyway. The sad fact is that in a closed community like a campus, a rape victim is more likely to become the target of malicious gossip than a rapist.

And finally, if you find discussing sexual consent so icky that you have to do it via an app, you are not Good2Go because you are in no way emotionally mature enough to have sex. End of.

Bad Sex Awards

FRENCH TO OUTLAW SEX WORK?

France’s ruling Socialist Party has tabled new legislation aimed at criminalising paying for sex. If the legislation goes through, anyone found guilty could face a fine of €1,500 and be required to attend an “awareness” course on prostitution. The magazine Causeur has started a protest campaign called “Touche pas a ma Pute!” (Hands off my Tart/Bitch!), led by writer Frederic Beigbeder. Beigbeder condemned the government for trying to “decree norms for desire and pleasure” and the campaign has claimed that the proposed law seeks to control women, not liberate them. The Socialist Party has hit back, claiming the campaign’s real aim is the preservation of “male domination and female submission”.

Many who work with prostitutes also oppose the bill; they fear that the law will drive the sex trade further underground making workers more vulnerable to exploitation. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of France’s 20,000 prostitutes are foreign nationals and one of the aims of the new legislation is to ‘tackle sex trafficking’ – for which many will read ‘oppose immigration’ – and forced prostitution.

SURVEY SAYS BISEXUALITY NOT REAL

This one will anger many and rightly so. A study by the University Of Pittsburgh found that heterosexual men and women have serious doubts about the legitimacy of bisexuality as a sexual orientation. Researchers administered a 33-question survey to an online sample of 1,500 adults and found that heterosexual men were the most likely to cast doubt on the existence of bisexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation – but straight women, gay men and lesbians had similar negative feelings. According to the authors, the study confirms the “prejudice, stigma and discrimination” faced by the bisexual community.

ASHLEY MADISON SUED

Ashley Madison, the website specialising in promoting extramarital affairs, is being sued by a former employee for work related injuries. Doriana Silva has claimed that typing up hundreds of fake female profiles for the site has left her with permanent damage to her wrists. She is seeking a whopping $20 million claiming that the company unjustly enriched themselves at her expense and another $1 million in punitive and general damages. Ashley Madison charges men to access the site but women join for free (can this be legal??) The fact that the company uses fake profiles to separate men from their money is not at all surprising.

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY BAD SEX AWARDS

The shortlist for the Literary Review’s 22nd Annual Bad Sex In Fiction has been announced and there are indeed some (cringe)-worthy entrants this year. Past winners have included famed writers including Sebastian Faulk, Norman Mailer and AA Gill. The purpose of the prize is “to draw attention to the crude, badly written, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it” – but it doesn’t seem to be working.

There is some terrible literary sex going on. This extract from Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet is the cheesiest (ho ho) sex scene you’re ever likely to read: “In my mouth her nipple turned from strawberry to deep raspberry but the taste I wanted was missing. I had sweat and what had to be soap from washing her dress or herself. Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it.”

Here is the full shortlist:

House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

Motherland by William Nicholson

The City of Devi by Manil Suri

Secrecy by Rupert Thomson

The World Was All Before Them by Matthew

Reynolds

My Education by Susan Choi

The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

All about Virginity

LIGHTS OUT!

How is this even possible? A study has found that one in six women don’t let their husbands see them naked. Of these, forty-five percent explained that lack of body confidence was the issue; around a third said lack of sexual desire was the problem – since they didn’t want sex there was no need for their partners to seem them without clothes. The study was limited, so I do hope the numbers have been skewed because of it. Lack of body confidence is a growing issue amongst men and women, and it is very difficult to have a satisfactory sex life if you are overly concerned about spare tyres or cellulite.

 

SEX BOX SUCCESS

Channel 4’s Sex Box may not have been a resounding success, but Zurich’s sex boxes may well be. The drive-in sex boxes opened two months ago as a way of combating public prostitution. The boxes are fitted with alarms, security guards and reminders of the importance of safe sex. Michael Herzig, director of social services for Zurich’s sex workers, has said that there have been no problems with violence or pimps. On average, fourteen sex workers use the boxes each day. They pay a small yearly fee to use the facility, as well as a daily fee. Prostitution is legal in Switzerland, but sex workers must be registered with authorities and have health insurance. Despite this, there have been claims that authorities will be closing parlours where many legal sex workers are based, which could see them forced into illegal prostitution.

 

BUT IS IT ART?

A student at Central Saint Martins in London has decided to lose his virginity as an art project. Clayton Pettet’s performance piece is entitled, ‘Art School Took My Virginity’, and he claims that the idea is to desensitize the concept of virginity as a hetero-normative term used to value a person’s worth. Pettet has not revealed any details of his prospective partner, only that he is a fellow art student and someone is he “physically and emotionally attracted to.” Pettet and his partner will cover their bodies in paint and have sex on a blank piece of canvas, thus leaving a physical artefact of the act and performance.

 

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY

ALL ABOUT VIRGINITY

Talking about virginity, did you know that it is actually pretty difficult to define? There is no medical or biological definition for it and instead we have to make do with a cultural definition – the state of never having had sexual intercourse.

The problem with this is that the state of virginity almost refers exclusively to penetrative sex. That’s fine if you are straight, but if you are not heterosexual, penetration may not be something you do anyway. Using this definition, if you’ve had several lovers but only had oral sex, or used fingers, or even a dildo, you’d technically still be a virgin. Which, of course, is nonsense.

There are a number of cultural myths about the hymen, but it is not a reliable marker of whether or not a woman is a virgin. Women who’ve had sex may still have one, while other women can have lost it early on, without any sex having taken place. This means there is no way of knowing for sure whether or not a woman has had sex.

Virginity doesn’t mean a woman will have a tighter vagina. Nerves around first time sex may cause a woman to clench, but having sex does not magically make your vaginal canal bigger. This is a pathway of muscles, and like other muscles, the vagina can stretch and retract.

There is a similar myth that having sex will give you a bigger penis. Sorry, it won’t.

Teenagers who are part of the abstinence movement often think the magical blessed state of virginity is preserved if they have anal sex, or if the man doesn’t ejaculate, or if neither partner has an orgasm. Nope, all of these activities count as sex.

The abstinence movement also claims that virgins are somehow “better” than sexually experienced people – this is the biggest myth of all. Sex does not change who you are as a person, or devalue your worth. Instead a happy sex life is psychologically, emotionally and even physiologically good for you.

Womens Top Five Sexual Fantasies

CALIFORNIA TO OUTLAW REVENGE PORN

The Californian state assembly is considering making it illegal to post “revenge porn”. If passed, the law will make it a crime to post a video or photo of someone who is partially or fully undressed without their permission. A law already exists to protect those who were secretly filmed and the new law would apply to images where the subject had originally given consent to being photographed or filmed. Revenge porn has become increasingly prevalent in the last few years, as more and more people share naked images with partners – and it is possible to save or recover images that are supposed to self-destruct using apps like Snapchat.

 

SWISS SEX CHALETS

This may not be the most architecturally exciting update of the classic Swiss chalet, but authorities in Zurich have unveiled drive-in sex chalets to improve security for sex workers and their clients. The chalets are located on a former industrial estate (sexy!) and are equipped with panic alarms and reminders to practise safe sex. The scheme has the support of residents and similar initiatives have been launched in Germany. Next stop, Limerick!

 

JOE FRANCIS JAILED

Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis has been sentenced to 270 days in jail and three years’ probation for assaulting a woman in his Los Angeles home in 2011. Francis was found guilty of choking his victim and repeatedly slamming her head to the ground. Francis has also been ordered to complete an anger management course and attend therapy. Francis is maintaining his innocence and will remain free until the outcome of his appeal. After receiving his sentence Francis complained to the press that the members of the jury were “retarded” and said that, “they should all be lined up and shot.” He later apologized for these remarks.

 

SEXTON’S MISCELLANY CHRISTIAN SWINGERS

You love the Lord and your partner – but, hell, the sexual boredom has set in. No bother – log on to ChristianSwingers.com and get your freak on with other God-fearing horny people or as the site puts it “devout Christian couples who still want to have an active love life and share it with another, in good faith!” I thought this site was an elaborate hoax, but it seems to be genuine – my mind is officially blown.

 

WOMEN’S TOP FIVE  SEXUAL FANTASIES

What are women’s favourite sexual fantasies? Emily Dubberley investigated our contemporary fantasies and her book Garden of Desires explores them. Here is the top five:

1. Submissive fantasies: these cover a wide range of fantasies, from BDSM sex play to giving up control or being emotionally or sexually obedient.

2. Dominant fantasies: as the name suggests here, the fantasy is one of being in control and being sexually assertive.

3. Exhibitionist and voyeuristic fantasies: fantasies involving watching or being watched in the act of having sex.

4. Group sex fantasies: these may have dominant, submissive or exhibitionist streaks to them but the main feature of these fantasies is the idea of multiple partners.

5. Partner fantasies: sex with a particular person, which could be a lover, a friend, a famous person or the local petrol-pump attendant.

No Jail For Sweedish Johns

There has been a huge amount of discussion in Ireland, and around the world, about the “Swedish model” – the law that criminalises the purchasing, but not sale, of sex. The law has been touted as the answer to protecting vulnerable women and girls, but despite being in force for 15 years, a new report has shown that not a single person who has been convicted of buying sex has received any jail time. In July 2012, the law was updated, allowing courts to send offenders to jail for up to a year, rather than the six months, but judges appear unwilling to impose custodial sentences. Those who support the law, such as Social Democrat MEP Anna Hedh, have argued that filling jails with one-time offenders would be inappropriate. “But if you are a repeat offender, you should of course end up in jail,” Hedh said, and added that tackling demand was the only way forward.

Sex ED for kids

Chicago is set to introduce a new sex education programme for all schools, including pre-schools. The policy from the Chicago Board of Education makes it mandatory that sex education be given in all grades. The youngest children will learn about anatomy, reproduction, healthy relationships and personal safety. For the first time in Chicago, sex education will also cover sexual orientation and gender identity. It is hoped this will increase awareness, promote tolerance and prevent bullying, said the school board.

Stone the Jezebel!

Oh good Lord, what is this – the third century?
A woman in San Diego is suing her former
employers claiming she was fired for engaging
in premarital sex and becoming pregnant.
Teri James accuses her employer, San Diego
Christian College, of “discrimination on account
of gender, pregnancy and marital status.” Continue reading

Iceland to ban porn ?

Iceland’s government is considering introducing internet filters, It would be the first Western country to ban online pornography. It is illegal to print and distribute pornography in Iceland but the
law has not been updated to cover online material. Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland’s interior minister is drafting legislation to ban access to adult material, which it is argued is harmful to women and children.

Jesus says: Bully gay kids

The sheer lack of Christianity in America’s Christian right never fails to make my blood boil. Christian lobby groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America are opposing anti-bullying legislation. Why? Because they reckon it shouldn’t be illegal to bully young people who are gay. Focus on the Family claim the legislation to be ‘pro-gay’ and others have argued that bullying should be acceptable if it is based on “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” Given that the bullying of gay teens has led to a number of suicides in the USA in recent years, the extreme position taken by these conservative groups is nothing short of disgusting.