Not long after I posted about the Australian Sex Party’s press release that the Classification Board were now banning depictions of women with too-small breasts, my friend Michael Meloni wrote something similar on his blog Somebody Think of the Children.
Both Michael’s blog and the Sex Party’s site went down under the strain of so much traffic.
Michael’s post was far less ranty than mine. He also contacted the Board and received this response. They stated that they’re only following “the guidelines” and that said guidelines don’t specifically target small boobs or female ejaculation. They did not, however, say that female ejaculation was NOT urination and have yet to respond to a direct question on that topic.
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Their reply pretty much confirms that the Board are able to arbitrarily ban films and magazines based upon their own interpretation of the almighty “guidelines” and that interpretation is not necessarily based on science or evidence.
The viral response to the idea that “Australia bans small boobs” has been rather fascinating. Almost everyone has responded with horror at the idea. Even feminists who are anti-porn think that banning female ejaculation is sexist and stupid.
Crikey has criticised the whole thing as being a case of Chinese Whispers. But even if the headline was over the top I think it’s done a great job at getting the problem of Australian censorship out into consciousness of the wider world. The plethora of comments I’ve read today suggests that plenty of people understand the issues at stake here and they’re not happy about it. Questions are being asked about why our censorship system is making these kinds of judgement calls about body types and sex acts. I think people are wondering about the accountability of the Classification Board and their ability to be so secretive about their decisions.
The pro-censorship groups who lobbied for stricter applications of the guidelines have weighed in to the debate, arguing that banning depictions of models who “appear to be under 18” is basically about banning certain magazines that allegedly appeal to pedophiles.
While I can understand their concern, I remain an advocate of free speech. If a model is over 18, she is legal. The magazine in question may be offensive in what it depicts but it’s not child porn. Unless someone can show evidence that reading that kind of magazine leads directly to criminal activity, we are legislating against thought crime.
Interestingly, today’s Sydney Morning Herald featured a related story saying that Australian artists are now afraid to depict children in their work for fear of prosecution or censorship. They’ve even released a book for artists called The Art Censorship Guide, detailing what to do when confronted with police. The spectre of thought crime is having a chilling effect on our artists, it seems. I discussed the issue of thought crime and art a couple of years ago during the Bill Henson saga.
To be honest, I feel like the “small boobs” thing is not as important as the female ejaculation ban. This is a real clear-cut issue that feminists can stand and fight for. We need to be vocal and tell the government that banning certain depictions of the female orgasm is sexist and wrong. We need to tell them to stop trying to regulate sexuality and to let adults be adults. We need to say that the personal is the political, that freedom of speech includes sexual speech, that declaring female ejaculation to be “abhorrent” is an act of oppression against women.
Time to draw up the slogans, girls?
Get your laws out of my drawers!
I squirt and I vote!
Female ejaculation is not a phallusy!
Every orgasm a gushing orgasm!
Australian women need the Classification Board like a fish needs a bicyle. (Ok, this one isn’t going to fit well on a sign)
Update: The Sex Party have posted further comments about the last 24 hours here including a story of a female ejaculation scene being classified RC.
Update 31st Jan: The comments section on the Crikey article has made for interesting reading. In it I’ve elaborated on a few points.