Kelly Sans Culotte


CENSORSHIP

The War On Sex
Anglo-American child-porn hysteria escalates.
By Sara Pursley


Targeting Tatu's "girl-on-girl ways."

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MARCH 27, 2003. In case you've been preoccupied with the war on Iraq, the war on sex seems to be escalating at just about the same dizzying rate. And maybe it's a coincidence, but the same Anglo-American forces are at the vanguard.

Dynamic Duo
On March 5, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments in a case brought by the American Libraries Association, which is challenging a new federal law requiring libraries that receive federal subsidies to install filters blocking out "obscene" material from its Internet-enabled computers.

Meanwhile, the Sexual Offences Bill currently being considered in the U.K. would allow 5-year prison sentences for any person who is predicted to sexually abuse a child in the future. In another measure of the bill, people caught having sex in an outdoor place could face six months' imprisonment.

The anti-sex folks are moving so fast they haven't even figured out how to keep themselves out of the dragnet. A new e-mail obscenity-filtering system at the U.K. House of Commons, for example, has been put under review after MPs complained it was preventing them from receiving messages about the Sexual Offences Bill.

Vigilant Visa
Private corporations are on board, too. Over the past year, Visa has been fine-tuning a system to identify customers who use their credit card to buy and sell pornography. The company is also requiring the 7,000 financial institutions that are members of the Visa association to register "high-risk merchants" who are involved with adult content. A Russian bank is already being threatened with expulsion from the association for refusing to register its pervert-merchants.

Visa's new project involves more than cooperating with authorities on illegal child pornography, which credit card companies have been doing for a long time. Michael Stannard of InteCap, a technology company Visa hired for the job, explains: "We have a website profile and run sophisticated Web crawlers and spidering techniques to search for child pornography and someone using the Visa network."

Not only is Visa doing the government's work by searching for illegal child porn on the web, but it's going after entirely legal adult content as well, and entirely at its own discretion. Recently, the company decided it doesn't want its card used to purchase images involving rape or bestiality fantasies.

"We look at it on a case-by-case basis," said a Visa spokesperson, a statement which I do not find comforting.

Private Enterprise
So far, the company's project has been widely applauded. Bob Evans, editor in chief of Information Week, wrote: "[Visa] has shown that a private enterprise can act in both its own self-interest and also that of society at large by simply recognizing the big, fat, nonblurry line between right and wrong and saying, 'Enough.'"

The closest thing to a big, fat line that I see around here is the one between fantasy and reality. But that's exactly the line that the anti-sex warriors are bent on erasing once and for all.

I wish Evans would explain the nonblurry difference between his (and Visa's) definition of "child pornography" and the one recently used by the BBC when it caved in to right-wing homophobic attacks on the teenage Russian rock duo, Tatu, and their girl-on-girl ways.

"We are being told that these girls actually have underage lesbian sex in real life, and we are being told by their manager that he spotted a gap in the market — a pedophile gap in the market," said British talk show host Richard Madeley, commenting before each of the girls recently turned 18. "That's sick and it's wrong, and personally I think Polydor should not be selling the record in this country." The BBC agreed, and banned the group's teen-girl love video.

Dirty Old Men
One of the problems, besides the kissing and fondling in schoolgirl uniforms, is that Yulia Volkova and Elena Katina were 14 when they were discovered in Moscow by child psychologist and advertising executive Ivan Shapovalov, who has bragged that forming Tatu was an "underage sex project." As he explained to The New York Times, "All our inspiration is from childhood. Why should this be hidden?"

Numerous commentators have concluded that Tatu targets "the dirty old man market." The New York Times intoned: "Ms. Katina and Ms. Volkova combine a sometimes baffling mixture of kissing and embracing with school girl uniforms that often appears more male fantasy than lesbian love."

I won't argue with the pundits about the straight male fantasy, since they seem to know what they're talking about. But I will point out that Tatu's millions of shrieking, adoring fans worldwide resemble dirty little girls more than dirty old men, a fact many commentators have ignored.

The media's "dirty old man" fixation oddly coincides with a recent flurry of smug world-news reports that the Tatu girls aren't really lesbians. The reports are peculiar, not only because they're based on vague references to mysterious photographs of Katina and Volkova dancing with their secret boyfriends at a nightclub, but because the girls themselves have denied being lesbians on numerous occasions. They have also refused to say whether they have sex with each other in the double bed they share at hotels, a question that no amount of real or imaginary dancing with boys at nightclubs is going to settle.

Out of Control
In any event, the two girls don't behave much like pedophile victims. Interscope Records, representing the group, promised Jay Leno that Katina and Volkova would refrain from tonguing each other on his Tonight Show. When they did it anyway, the cameras cut quickly to the nondescript guitar player for a full 17 seconds. Prominently displayed on camera, however, was the Russian-language message on the girls' T-shirts. The producers later learned it meant, "Fuck the War."

According to the Washington Post, a "tearful" Interscope publicist told the furious Jay Leno producers, "They're out of control!" And that, it seems, is what the fuss is all about.

Sara Pursley is a columnist for Gay City News.


From the Web

t.A.T.u. official fan site
A different view of Britain's Sexual Offences Bill, which repeals the current anti-gay offenses of "buggery" and "gross indecency"
The American Libraries Association challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)


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