MY JOURNEY INTO THE APPALLING WORLD OF INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY; Sarah Payne's Murderer Was Obsessed by Porn. Here, a Star Writer Analyses the Horrors Available on the Net. Her Words Will Shock Many but the Mail Believes It Is Only by Being Honest about This Degradation That We Can Begin to Prevent It

By Phillips, Melanie | Daily Mail (London), December 15, 2001 | Go to article overview

MY JOURNEY INTO THE APPALLING WORLD OF INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY; Sarah Payne's Murderer Was Obsessed by Porn. Here, a Star Writer Analyses the Horrors Available on the Net. Her Words Will Shock Many but the Mail Believes It Is Only by Being Honest about This Degradation That We Can Begin to Prevent It


Phillips, Melanie, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: MELANIE PHILLIPS

THERE is one fact in the disturbing history of Roy Whiting, convicted this week of the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne, which has not received much attention. It is that he kept large quantities of pornography in his garage workshop.

Indeed, there is scarcely a sex offender who has not had an acute pornography habit. In America, the FBI has reported that 81 per cent of sex killers have said their biggest sexual interest lay in viewing pornography and in compulsive masturbation.

Now, no one would suggest that pornography alone causes such men to commit their terrible offences; and many men who use porn lead otherwise blameless lives.

But equally, as the British sex crimes expert Ray Wyre has observed, pornography creates a climate of thought and belief which influences attitudes towards women and children. What's more, Wyre says, the more men pleasure themselves over pornographic fantasies, the more likely they are to put those fantasies into practice.

In other words, porn has an effect on the behaviour of those who use it. Yet many think instead that it acts as a safety valve. Unlike fantasies involving violence, sexual pornography is widely thought to be harmless. More than that, the fashionable society magazine Tatler reports that porno-chic is the new fashion statement.

But then, our society runs on sex like a car runs on petrol. TV, films, ads for everything from perfume to ice cream, are all sold on more and more explicit sex. So, since sex is no longer taboo, isn't it ridiculous to behave like Mrs Grundy over pornography?

After all, the argument goes, English culture has always been bawdy and debauched. Just think of Chaucer's Miller's Tale; or Shakespeare's prostitute Doll Tearsheet; or, indeed, the pornography produced by the Victorians.

Who now would ban the works of D.H. Lawrence, Radclyffe Hall, James Joyce or Henry Miller, all of whom were once considered obscene?

Tastes change all the time, along with standards of acceptability.

Pornography, it is said, is a legitimate form of expression which may even do some good.

Such an ostensibly sophisticated view is surely na've and self-deluding. It was fashionable in the Sixties and Seventies to believe that if people were freed from rules and constraints, they could be trusted to place limits on their own behaviour.

BUT, as the doughty feminist Germaine Greer has observed, porn is nothing to do with freedom of expression. It is a ruthless industry which abuses not only those who furnish its imagery but also the men who pay for its product.

Today's pornography is no longer a bit of full-frontal nudity and some explicit bumping and grinding.

What was illegal merely 18 months ago - and could be obtained only by means of a package slipped out from the back of some tacky premises - is now legally on open display in licensed sex shops and available through the internet.

The spread of computers has hugely increased the availability of pornography which can be downloaded so easily from the web.

The illegal stuff amounted to cruelty, degradation and humiliation of women through closeups of penetration, ejaculation and masturbation. Now such images are all legal.

The details are sordid, and will shock many. But it is surely essential that people are aware of what is being tolerated in the name of freedom of expression and of personal choice.

For these legal videos do not merely show sad, loveless encounters. They dehumanise sex altogether.

There is very little view of faces or indeed any part of the anatomy apart from the genital region. Women and men are reduced to pieces of hydraulic machinery.

The action consists mainly of close-ups of anal and vaginal penetration, sometimes simultaneous.

Sometimes the girl undergoes double penetration while practising oral sex on a third man, or with more than one man at the same time. …

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MY JOURNEY INTO THE APPALLING WORLD OF INTERNET PORNOGRAPHY; Sarah Payne's Murderer Was Obsessed by Porn. Here, a Star Writer Analyses the Horrors Available on the Net. Her Words Will Shock Many but the Mail Believes It Is Only by Being Honest about This Degradation That We Can Begin to Prevent It
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