I will be occasionally including entries to this blog which are off topic in order to bring to light instances of hypocrisy, mendacity, duplicity and general lack of integrity as and when I discover such behaviour whether it is buried within the social norms of society in general or found in our institutions, corporate practises or government policies.
Apparently, after campaigns by the protest groups “No More Page 3” and “Child Eyes”, Tesco’s and Waitrose have announced that they will cover-up or remove from a ‘child’s line of vision’ tabloid newspapers. The often unchallenged assumption is that porn is harmful to children. The fact is though that we simply don’t know if this is true or not and if it is, the question remains, “how harmful?” A recent extensive report you can download here looked at 41,000 academic articles and papers on pornography yet only considered the findings of 276 of these relevant and containing empirical evidence of any quality; the vast majority were merely unsubstantiated opinion pieces. The main findings of the report are summarised below:
What do we know and are confident about?
- Exposure to sexualised and violent imagery affects children and young people
What do we think we know but are less confident about?
- The effects of pornography on children and young people’s sexual expectations are unclear
- Exposure & access to porn appear related to ch/y ppl’s perpetration of & victimisation thru aggressive behaviour
- Exposure and access to pornography as a child or young person appear to be related to sexual offending
What don’t we know?
- We cannot infer causality
- Are a child/ young person’s characteristics, vulnerabilities & strengths related to exposure & access
- Should we reduce the risk of exposure and prevent access (and, if so, how)
- We do not know what effect viewing violent images has on children and young people
- We don’t know whether there are diffs or sims between the effects of porn & the effects of other sexualised imagery
This then is pretty much all that could be distilled from 41,000 academic articles on porn. I have formatted one of the above findings of the report in bold to emphasize the point that really, without establishing causality, we have nothing. The rest is just correlation.
Clearly, the popular views that protest groups such as “No More Page 3” and “Child Eyes” lean on for support of their agendas are not themselves the consequence of careful analysis of reports such as this. Moreover,the report is concerned with pornography which is hardly how most people would classify the front pages of tabloid newspapers while it possibly pertains more to the images on the front covers of many celebrity magazines with their frequent zoom photography of cellulite thigh dimples and nothing has been said about these publications.
Unlike most that is said and written about the effects of pornography, there is a vast body of hard scientific evidence on the harm done to children through poor diet. One reason that, if you have children, a visit to Lidl is a far more enjoyable and civilized experience than shopping at Tesco’s is that in place of the food porn intentionally thrust directly at child eye level as you approach the cash tills that is so cynically and unashamedly practised at the latter, Lidl has, with what appears to be a genuine effort to improve the customer experience, presented well stocked supplies of healthy snacks.
Ever since Tesco started the annoying practice of including a 3p redeemable voucher with your receipt to remind you that you’ve paid too much instead of simply improving their prices I’ve been meaning to make an effort to avoid the place; this latest announcement just shows a lack of any credibility or strength of corporate character and is enough for me to cut up my clubcard and vow never to go near a Tesco’s store again.