Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Venus Reprieved?




Thanks to whoever pointed out that Google have, apparently, reversed their decision to ban sexual images and graphic nudity (whatever that is) from Blogger.

They have stated:

Hello everyone, 

This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn. Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an “adult content” warning page. Bloggers whose content is consistent with this and other policies do not need to make any changes to their blogs. Thank you for your continued feedback. 

 The Blogger Team

Well, while this seems, initially, good news for our Venus blogs, being an old cynic we will see how it pans out in reality.  We can't help thinking that there is a team at Blogger HQ working out how they can restrict things more than in the past and that this is just an interim climb-down.  Also we will need to see how the anti-erotica (how can anyone be anti-erotica?) brigade counter-attacks ,having been crowing with delight earlier in the week (yes, The Guardian newspaper we mean you). It seems, however, that now their primary targets are those blogs which post excerpts from videos and picture sets which link to commercial sites.  Triple P doesn't have any problems with this.  Their rules have always been that making money from adult content on Blogger wasn't allowed anyway.

A lot of what Blogger responded to was those who used "sexually explicit content to express their identities" meaning, we suppose people who have "alternative" sexual lives or interests.  Yes, Blogger, not everyone has sex in a family unit in order to, primarily, procreate.  Also, one commentator said on the Guardian website "why does anyone need porn?".  Well, erotica is designed to induce feelings of arousal.  This, we believe, is a good thing in itself.  Why do so many people look at porn?  Because they want to be aroused.  It's a nice feeling.  It does not, as the Daily Mail seems to think, then make you want to go out and rape people.  There is still this strange bracketing of "sex" and "violence" and anti-porn campaigners try and persuade people that porn and violence against women are synonymous.

There is another key issue and that is that many people do not have a sexual partner.  Not everyone is in a relationship.  Triple P knows several intelligent, well-off people who haven't had sex for decades or, even, at all.  There really is nothing wrong with them.  They don't look like trolls, they aren't weird they are just, in some cases, painfully shy and lack confidence in themselves sexually. For many people their only form of sexual arousal is, therefore, provided by erotica.  Now part of the demonisation of these people, of course, is caused by the peculiar attitudes to masturbation that exist, certainly, in the UK which are caused, in turn,  by the old-fashioned legacy of pronouncements by the church.  The message has, slightly changed from "this is wrong and will cause you physical harm" to a sort of "this is a bit tragic why haven't you got a partner like everyone else because you are encouraging the porn industry?"

Anyway. what concerns Triple P, still, is that even Blogger are calling this a change to their "porn policy" which makes no allowance for the many artistic nudes that are part of Venus Observations ambit.  While some of the images we use were originally produced as pornography we thing that much of what we feature was not.  Where, for example, would they classify sexually explicit drawings and paintings made by the likes of Jean-Adrien Mercier, Paul-Émile Bécat or the Japanese Shunga pictures we have featured in the past?  What about photographs of nudes by the likes of Sam Haskins?

Part of the issue, of course, is that, increasingly, all erotically stimulating material (and a lot that really isn't) is labelled "porn".  Which today basically means "something I don't like" or "something that demeans women" or "something that threatens our children's innocence".  So you have a a whole raft of pressure groups working together, whose views on many things do not mesh at all but who know what they don't like.

The purpose of these blogs (which we never imagined would be viewed by more than a few close friends) was always to celebrate sexuality and the beauty of the naked form.  We still don't think either of these things are rude, destructive or evil.  What we do think, increasingly, is that those who do want to enjoy these aspects of life are under increasing attack by those who espouse some of the views mentioned above.

We have recently been watching the fourth season of the excellent TV series Game of Thrones.  There were several pieces in the British press about lovely actress Nathalie Emmanuel because she appeared naked in a bathing scene.  Absolutely nothing about the appalling physical violence in the show ever seems to appear.  No, its all about sex and nudity, as that is much worse!

Oh, well.  One thing about this incident is that we have been very touched by the messages of support from our readers and the number of people who signed up to be members of the blogs if they went private.  Thank you all! Hopefully, we will now be able to continue as we were!

17 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised they got backlash. Your words are very wise! Keep on keepin' on!

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    1. Thank you! Your support, as ever, is particularly appreciated!

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  2. I am very glad to hear this! Demonising porn is dangerously close to demonising female sexuality and when female sexuality is demonised misogyny is not far behind.

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  3. Dear Agent Triple P,

    I'm hosting a conference at Cambridge, and I was wondering whether you would like to honour us with a conference talk. Given your eloquent ekphrasis, I am sure that you have a lot to say about the topic. The conference is on June 29 and 30, you'll find a brief description here: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/25657

    Most looking forward to your reply,

    Johannes

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  4. Johannes,

    You can contact me at agenttriplep AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk to establish an discussion.

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  5. This was certainly a weird episode, even arousing the tech press with headlines today from ZDNet, such as, "Google: Chronically Dabbling or Disjointed?". There have been some theories, conspiratorial in nature, of course, but interesting. One has been that religious and old-school feminist groups were silently lobbying Google (the lack of transparency is frightening) with a lot of the strange rhetoric that got posted in comment sections right after the initial pronouncement, such as the quote you mentioned. Then, there was an enormous outpouring of commentary supporting Google's decision, but it didn't appear to be truly spontaneous. Rather it appeared as though it was planned & coordinated. A number of US-based tech blogs, whose initial attitude was of comedic detachment ("Well, Blogger's going of business"), was inundated with comments from people who were clearly not normal readers, with items such as, "A victory for freedom." (What?!) and "There are more of us than there are of you." The emotion of the same commenters after Google's retreat, finding that there are actually way more of us than there are of them, were of exasperation.

    Google found that the lobbying talk of a "silent majority" didn't pan out, and that they bungled into a civil rights & freedom of expression issue. While it seemed easy to demonize "perverts sitting in their parents' basement", Google found out that they were dealing with people of all sorts of alternative sexualities, and they were mad, and that they were planning to vote with their feet. Especially given the Reddit cave in against revenge porn & photo hackers the day after, Google's PR debacle had to have been surprising to them.

    I still believe that Google cannot be trusted...bloggers who are able to move their blogs to one of the alternate platforms that I discussed in comments to a previous post, should definitely do so. Bloggers need to be ready for the next time Google is tempted to cave in to this vocal minority.

    Ultimately, there is always going to be a hatred of erotic expression among religious types; the idea of sexuality outside of the traditional family unit is threatening to building a base of religious people who fearful of their authority. There is also a group of strange bedfellows among old-line feminists. They state publicly that porn is demeaning to women, which, while totally false, is an appealing argument to the unintelligent and simple-minded.

    My personal, long-held belief, regarding these feminists however, is that erotica allows heterosexual men, as well as gay & effeminate men, lesbians, and others, the opportunity to ascribe to an alternative lifestyle, that leaves a lot of heterosexual women out of the dating & marriage pool. The fact that many would rather follow this lifestyle, than kowtow to the most unattractive, unappealing women in our society, in terms of not only looks, but in terms of personality & intelligence, is infuriating to these "feminists". This is unfortunate, because it would be so much better for them, and society in general, if they focused on self-improvement, rather than bitching at Google.

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    1. An interesting and welcome comment. My fear is that we seem to be heading to a situation where enjoying visual erotica is being bracketed with being racist or homophobic. That it will be a strict liability offence where any counter argument results in opprobrium.

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    2. The situation does seem worse in Britain right now. Fortunately, in the US, we don't have to request that a default filter be turned off by our ISP. Better yet, there seems to be a general acceptance of erotica & porn, especially among younger people. Speakers, such as Violet Blue and others, have been quite shrewd in recent years, especially with the term "sex positivity".

      If someone says "I like sex, but not porn", their response has been, "Well, why don't you let other people like sex in the way they like it? Why do you not wish to allow others to explore their sexuality by the viewing of porn?" This rhetoric has been effective, at least in more liberal sectors of US society, in creating a binary choice, either you're "sex positive", meaning that you allow others to enjoy sex as they please, or you get the "sex negative" label.

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    3. That's interesting ,as the general view in the UK is that the US (porn industry apart) is more sexually conservative than the UK and that Americans are much happier with violence than sex and nudity.
      What we do have in the UK is a national print press that is out of step with the way much of the population feel about openness as regards sex. Britain, especially since it joined the European Union, does have more relaxed views on nudity (especially in film and TV - you can get full frontal nudity, if it is non-sexual, in a 12 certificate film, for example). However, despite the presence of a major chain of sex shops (aimed at women) on nearly every UK high street and a much smaller proportion of the population who admit to being religious (something like 37% compared with the US's 80% I think the UN figures were) there is still a large component of the press who see sex as "naughty".
      Also, the UK seems more driven by "protecting" people than having them exercise their liberty. Even when Penthouse was launched in the UK in 1965 one of the main issues raised by Parliament was as regards the effect the magazine would have on the "women who posed for it". They needed protecting. The recent strictures introduced limiting the depiction of certain acts in UK produced porn (spanking, for example) is about "protecting" the performers.
      Britain does not have the strong thread of defence of liberties running through it like the US. It has always been about control by an elite, explained away as "protection". We have more closed circuit TV coverage of our towns and cities than any nation on earth except Monaco, for example. Recently I was explaining to the Mayor of a major Canadian City how our London traffic congestion charge and transit card systems work. He said it would be unacceptable in Canada to have a system based on taking photographs of citizens licence plates, as ours does. I also explained that the top requirement of our transit card system was that the government should be able to track everyone using it at any time, which he also said would be unacceptable.

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    4. Very interesting thread here, especially the civil liberties insight. Historically in the US, emerging groups of people looking for civil rights have had to fight, very hard, to get a foothold in the culture. check the Civil Rights battles for African-Americans in the 1960's for prime example number one. But once that foothold is gained, the conversation changes. Once a group has been recognized by a majority of Americans as having the status of having civil liberties, any violation can create a backlash. The group is empowered to cry foul, protest, and seek redress. Fortunately, they often win. The LGBT community, and alternative sexual groups in general, are currently, albeit slowly, gaining rights in this country. This is why I said that Google bungled into a civil rights issue, as well as why the "sex positive" rhetoric has been effective.

      Britain, as you pointed out, simply doesn't have this tradition. On the one hand, it's easy to say that the US is sexually "backward". There no nudity on over-the-air TV, sure, but that's an historic anomaly borne out of that vocal religious minority complaining about TV content, from the very first day TV came on the air. But, the US is leading in terms of sexuality on TV, when it comes to pay services, which in theory, can be shielded from the eyes of the precious children. And you probably won't hear about the new "Adam & Eve Texas" chain of sex shops for women...in Texas for crying out loud!!! I can tell you that, while most Americans stay at home with their families, and that's fine, there's an enormous, not that far underground, world of people exploring their sexuality. And the younger generation has embraced it quite encouragingly.

      One other interesting point about US culture is that, while there is still a lingering large group that says they're religious, they are not interested in organized religion, in ever increasing numbers. That's an important distinction, because people who claim to be religious cannot be lead around by the nose for political gain anymore. Also, this group can be sexual, but still have faith, especially if there isn't an establishment telling you that it's wrong.

      Clearly though, this "protectionist" British culture is supported by the press, emphasizing the culture clash between the remaining loud evangelicals and the rest of US society, and suppressing coverage of the successes of people fighting for their rights in this country. Hence the celebratory coverage of the initial Google decision, and the deafening silence regarding the policy retraction (cue the crickets). It's easy for the British press, given America's strange belligerence overseas, which still has broad-based support here, to equate that "cowboy" foreign policy with sexual repressiveness, even if that's not based in fact.

      I guess you can't believe everything you read in the British papers, even the vaunted Guardian.

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  6. Yes, UK newspapers constantly parade the "successes" of American mothers; lobby groups. This insight is very interesting indeed.

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  7. All your points are well taken, and I agree with. However, you are a relatively small site, even with the many page views, and to anti-porn crusaders you're invisible. If they saw your page most of them would probably hem and haw and agree that you're doing something worthwhile here, but they'll never see it because they huge, easily accessible porn websites push you far into the background. Those big websites feature a lot of stuff—speculums, insertions of various objects, bukkake—that looks violent and demeaning to not just to them, but to the majority of people. Of course, when I say "most" take it advisedly. Those sites ARE successful, but for a variety of reasons that have to do with more than just content. Long comment short, I think anti-porn crusaders responded to something they thought was disturbing and sites your yours almost got caught in the net. The net will return because big commercial porn is getting more extreme all the time.

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    1. This is my concern - that genuinely extreme and umpleasant material poisons the well for the normal, healthy, enjoyment of visual erotica.

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    2. Yes, "Big Porn" is getting more extreme all of the time, however, as they say, "There's nothing new under the sun." The material that you cited has been around F O R E V E R. I still have a Playboy video called "The Story of X", a history of porn made during the beginning of the late-90's Jenna Jameson-fueled porn boom. In the video, there's a clip from a "water sports" stag film, believed to be from sometime between 1914 and 1918! The only thing that's different now is that the circus & incest material is the only thing that gets people to open their wallets, so that's the only stuff that gets made, other than what a few big sites shoot to fill the traditional and "couples" markets.

      Of course, the whole industry is under great stress, for a number of reasons. As posters on other forums have said, "There exists more porn than one could masturbate to in one lifetime, so why are they making more?" Good question, indeed. So, despite the size of this site, it seems more important than ever to document that, for a seemingly brief, fleeting moment, good erotica was being made in the Anglophonic world. In addition, as I stated in my previous comments, it's important to acknowledge that people of differing sexualities have a right to enjoy porn, despite what Google or their lawyers may think.

      So, why don't these protesters go directly after the makers of circus porn? Or why don't they shame the viewers of specific genres? In my opinion, they are using this stuff as a smokescreen to go after all porn, because they think it's all bad, VO's erotica included. It's easy to point at the "worst offenders" to shock the ignorant.

      This seems to be Triple P's argument as well, and it's important to speak out and differentiate this material whenever possible. Fortunately, pointing at material like the erotica reviewed at VO has actually been counterproductive in recent years. People say, "well, this isn't that bad", which is why porn was able to weather previous "moral outrages", even going back to the 1970's & 80's.

      Ultimately what bothers these busybodies is the fact that others in society are following certain lifestyles, facilitated by porn or erotica, that conflict with either one of the following:

      1. the maintenance of their authoritarian society of fear and intimidation (do not be persuaded with talk of "religious belief"; those are just the code words of their leaders), or

      2. a large group of heterosexual, entitled women, who are being left out of the dating & marriage pool, and who are not willing to make any changes to themselves, or to their lifestyle, to make themselves a more appropriate fit into society (I leave the identification of these women as an exercise for the reader, or just go to any bar that sells fried food).

      To summarize, "circus porn" "has got nothing to do with it", and it's important to continue to say, as a blogger and his readers, that "we're not Big Porn" and "we have a right to our sexual lifestyle of choice". The differentiation that Google will supposedly continue to use, prohibiting "commercial porn" will hopefully allow this, and other sexuality-oriented blogs, to continue to exist.

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  8. I think this is the only post here where the (very interesting comments) are longer than the original post. It is tricky, however to work out which anonymous poster is which!

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  9. does this mean you are no longer accepting 'private memberships' or should we still send along those requests?

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