Kowtowing to moral piety

2010-03-15 09:25

MULTICHOICE’S capitulation to a campaign to

stop it from launching a porn channel is testament to the power of the ­moral

majority. And its a meaningless “victory” in the struggle against sexual


Pornography that hurts, violates, mutilates, or humiliates women in

any way is repugnant to me as a feminist. The exploitation of women in porn is

what made it a burning issue for ­women’s rights activists.

Pornography is a complex ­issue, one not solved by kowtowing to

conservatives who cite ­protection of the child and ­pornography’s apparent

power to incite rape. These spurious ­arguments neither protect ­children nor

address the real causes of rape.

Similar sentiments around the “protection of the innocents” were

once used as a compelling ­argument against mixed ­marriages, and to demonise

gays and lesbians as oversexed ­predators who were a danger to children.

The agenda of the religious right is antithetical to women’s

rights. Morality-based arguments often hold women to a double standard. The only

acceptable sex within the paradigm of moral ­conservatism is confined to

­heterosexual marriage.

The moral crusade led by trade union Solidarity and other

­faith-based organisations such as the Christian Action Network and the Muslim

Judicial Council is symptomatic of a dangerous conservatism that is gaining

ground and eroding our constitutionally enshrined rights to ­freedom of


It mirrors the prudishness that seeks to censor any sexuality that

doesn’t conform to the hetero­sexual norm.

This was recently ­demonstrated by Arts and ­Culture Minister Lulu

Xingwana’s knee-jerk reaction to ­Nandipha Mntambo and Zanele Muholi’s work,

despite the fact that neither artist’s pieces were sexually ­explicit, or showed

any graphic depictions of sexual ­organs or postures, or were ­intended to

arouse – all accepted elements in the definition of ­pornography.

Solidarity’s claim of a link ­between porn and sexual ­violence,

and that porn is dangerous to children is based entirely on anecdotal evidence.

It works to serve their conservative agenda.

It deflects attention away from the real causes of sexual violence,

such as poverty and inequality, unemployment, violence between parents,

widespread alcohol abuse and the proliferation of guns.

These causes are not the result of anecdotal evidence but of hard

research conducted by the ­Medical Research Council.

The religious right is concerned not so much by the issues of

­coercion, objectification and ­degradation that concerns feminists about porn.

In a statement by The Film and Publications Board they promulgate

this as a “victory for the ­gender and children’s rights movement”.

Unless Solidarity and its moral henchmen have magically solved the

structural and budgetary ­constraints that hinder the war on sexual violence, or

miraculously transformed the lack of political will that hinders progress around

child protection, the victory they claim is Pyrrhic. One where ­everyone loses

except the moral majority.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.