Edinburgh Women Against Pornography campaign on the streets.
Rape and child abuse are subjects all too frequently in the headlines. Laura Noble examines the controversial link between sexual crime and pornography. A panel of four eminent social scientists w lio have conducted research into pornography are set to give proponents of an ‘innocuous‘ sex industry a case to answer. ‘I am hoping that all the bits of evidence w ill come together. says chairman Mike Baxter of Aberdeen l'niversity. ‘to indicate whether there is or is not a link between pornography and sexual violence.‘
We pornography debate has rumbled on for several decades in a similar vein. It raises the issue of censorship versus civil liberty and freedom of information. and forces Us to take a close look at society‘s attitudes to sexuality. Serious questions must be answered does pornography encourage men to commit acts of sexual violence against women and children'.’ Scientists across the world have been looking at the effects that exposure to pornography has on men‘s expectations in sexual relationships. 'l‘heir results hay e been and will continue to be disputed.
the panel of experts at the l’estival comprises two men and two women. all of whom have looked at the
attitudes and behaviour of use”
the panel member closest to a pro—ptirriography stance is Dr
l lans-Bernd Brosius. who believes that some pornography treats men and women equally and that this is connected to female emancipation. 'l‘he other three speakers. Prof James Weaver. Dr l.i/ Kelly and [)r (‘atherine ltzin. all look at links between abuse and pornography. Mike Baxter. while emphasising his impartiality. hopes that this meeting will air frequently ignored evidence of the associations between sexual crime and pornography. l'ltimately he feels that victims should be protected and legislative action taken.
‘It is very important that we don't wait until every piece of the scientific jigsaw is in place.’ Baxter argues. ‘I feel that the victims should be given the benefit of the doubt by imposing controls that are not particularly oppressive on liberties.’ In contrast l)r Kelly asserts that she is ‘not interested in laws which say you can show this or you can‘t show that. I would however support legislation which made it possible for women and children to take legal action where they had been harmed.‘
Apart from the more obvious effects of contact with the material. another cause for concern is the possibility of abuse during production. Although Page Three girls regularly assert ‘comfort‘ as part of their role. can this be said of the woman pictured as the subject of a sexually violent act'.’ I)r Kelly is clear on this point. ‘We have statements from people recruited into the business.‘ she says. ‘who speak of either coercement to enter. orof coercement into certain acts.’
'l'he Festival debate has already met with accusations of bias. 'I’he authors of a recent Home Office commissioned report which denies links between pornography and
A J (ARI [at
sexual crime have refused to take part in the seminar. claiming it is a platform for pressure group politics instead ofscience. Whatever the merits of these claims. the speakers will be presenting a wealth of information on how pornography has been studied by social scientists and the resulting evidence.
Devious means oftesting are sometimes used on unsuspecting students. including over-exposure to
hard—porn videos followed by a judgement oftheir attitudes to sexual violence during a dummy rape trial scenario. Men exposed to the films give a lower sentence for the offence and are more likely to minimise the harm caused to the victims.
Iividence linking pornography to crime comes itself from interviews with victims and offenders. In ten per cent ofcases. a direct use of pornography is mentioned. As Dr Kelly explains it often also provides the justification for the crime. Pornography shows women enjoying subjugation and exploitation and ‘allowsoffenders toconvince themselves that what they are doing isn’t wrong or harming anyone. Without the porn they would not be able to use it to convince kids that what they are doing is right.‘
So what are the possibilities for change'.’ Mike Baxter points out that the multi-million pound industry under discussion does not fund arty scientific research to investigate its social influences. He goes on to say that this is indicative oftheir feeling ofsecurity'. ‘()rganisations only fund scientific work to justify their case when they feel under threat.‘ Perhaps the threat of censorship would stimulate funding. 'I'lu'sentrriur on Pornography and l'io/em'e. Harry 4 Apr. 1.30pm.
.S'y'n.po.v'rimz Hull. Royal ( 'o/lr'ge of surgeons. Hill Square.
'l‘he smoke cloudsthat hang over the skies ofthc Middle last act like a big. black question mark over the future ofthc world‘s oil supplies. But as long as the governments of the world contmuc to rely heavily on fossil fuels. the
cortsequences on the environment will be serious.
Renewable energy sources. on the other hand. are clean and waste-tree in operation. the sun itself contains vast resources of natural energy. which in turn creates winds. which create waves. It has been calculated that about l.\‘ per cent of Britain's electricity requirements could be met by
renew able sources by as early as lllfvll.
'l'his will. however. be a costly process. 'llte technology required to generate electricity from solar panels or tobtiild tidal barrages is expensiv e. but. once in operation. scientists believe they will be able to provide corripetitiv e power for many yearsto
It is easy to get carried away with environmental
advantages and forget the commercial pressures of a cost—effective world. Much research must be done before renew ablc energy will oecome an acceptable alternativ c and that is dependent on a
gov ernment that in
WV .s’h’ spent £15. Im on renewable research and development. and £172m on nuclear alone. (Patricia \Vilsoii)
I)r Nico/ii l’curvu/l looks a! Solar [:fr’r Irlr'lly', lit-(1.? Apr. 2pm. l'ric'mls .lle’emre Home. 7' l'icrorru lt'fl'th't'. Dr Ian [fruit/i (tr/ks on Renewable
l2/ir'rey l'rom l'lir'Seu, wart .-t/ir, .i’,.i’/lprri. ltifrri/iurg/i .-ti‘i1i1<'nr_v. Henderson Row,
Box Oliioe Bookings: Frin e Ottice 180 .t hStreet Eoin ur h 031226 138
The Box Ollice is open until 14 April Mon-Sat mam-spin. Sun me-Gpm
tickets will he sold at the venue 30 minutes hetore the event starts.
Further inlorrnation is available during the Festival at:
Friends Meeting House. Victoria Ter.
he Fruitmarket Gallery. Market Street
The Scandic Crown Hotel. High Street l
'l‘he List 22 March ! 4 April 199171