Author Archives: Jane Chelliah

Liberalism and porn

‘Where and how does pornography fit into Liberalism?’ is a question that I asked myself when I was being filmed for a Channel 4 documentary. The three-part programme features five mothers, including me, who are introduced to the problem of easily available online porn for children to watch. While the impact on children was my primary concern, the content that I was viewing was disturbing for another reason. 

Much of it was highly dehumanising and derogatory of women. I found it distressing. Scenes of women being violently grabbed, slapped and shoved raised my feminist hackles. Teenagers were the favoured category of content on these porn sites. Women of colour were stereotyped and highly racialized. 

I saw an inherent immorality but I am mindful that porn, to many others, is recreational.

Porn is watched by women. Many women choose to watch porn either on their own or with their partners. If porn dehumanizes women but women are consumers of porn too what should a Liberal’s conscience dictate? Feminist friendly or ethical porn, as it is also called, could be situated as an acceptable middle ground but these are niche productions. Most people view porn on mainstream hubs. The commodification of the female body in porn is linked to the male gaze. Let’s face it, most of porn is made for men by men. 

My conscience was also pricked by wondering about whether the female porn actresses had consented to being manhandled. Male porn actors, allegedly, are often forced to do things against their will too. Their choice to become porn stars cannot always translate into consent for everything that they are told to do. There is also the question of authenticity. After having been on a real-life porn set, I can say that what people watch as consumers is half the story. 

It would be naïve to attach free will to everyone who works in the industry. If you do that you are choosing to exempt them from your conscience for your viewing pleasure. Thus, the concept of choice is an inherent paradox in Liberalism.  A concept of choice which disregards the reality of people’s social context, like austerity, is a false God. When students turn to sex work to fund their studies and mothers see the sex industry as a way to earn a living, then ‘choice’ becomes something between the devil and deep blue sea. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

The Progressive Alliance Needs Mothers’ Voices

I am launching a group called ‘Mothers for a Progressive Alliance’ with the backing of Compass on Saturday 18 November in Central London and am inviting Lib Dem members to attend to contribute to the discussion.

The concept of the Progressive Alliance gained prominence during the Richmond Park by-election in 2016 when Sarah Olney won the seat from Zac Goldsmith. Parties, campaigners and voters came together to work for Sarah Olney’s success. It was an example of what can be achieved when political conflict is set aside for something bigger.

The Progressive Alliance is a stepping …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 17 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDennis Wake 17th Oct - 2:40pm
    The by election was for the Scottish Parliament Shetland seat. Mr Carmichael is the Westminster MP for Orkney and Shetland.
  • User Avatarmatt 17th Oct - 2:40pm
    Junker on the BBC Asked if he thought the deal would pass parliament, he said: “It has to.” Then he added: "Anyway, there will be...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 17th Oct - 2:27pm
    Then, of course, there's the possibility of a GNU.
  • User Avatarmatt 17th Oct - 2:22pm
    Junker has just said on BBC news that the EU will not grant any further extensions So I guess it's this deal or no deal
  • User Avatarfrankie 17th Oct - 1:32pm
    I'd quibble with the designation of John Mann as a Labour MP. To use the current in vogue language de jure he is while de...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 17th Oct - 1:29pm
    Johnson is ruling out an extension and saying it is his deal or no deal. He does hold some of the cards. The EU are...