APCNews 119 – EroTICs – Sexuality and the internet
APCNews – April 30 2010 – Year XI Issue 119
The news service on ICTs for social justice and sustainable development
Put new technology and sex together and it seems you’ll always get waves. Victorian societies were scandalised by the arrival of the telephone because women –who were chaperoned at all times– could potentially talk with suitors in private. Over the last decade, the internet has been censored and content regulated for a multitude of reasons and the principal reason cited by governments across all geopolitical spectrums has been sex – or “harmful sexual content”. However while porn accounts for one in every ten web pages, the internet is also used to express and explore a range of sexual experiences, relationships and content that cannot be considered “harmful”. As sexual content and sex-related behaviour online is such a trigger for state and other intervention, APC is carrying out ground-breaking research on how different people in different parts of the world are really using the internet related to sex.
Censorship, sexuality and the internet
MONTEVIDEO (APC) – The proliferation of sexual content on the internet and the considerable size of the pornography market online is a concern to lots of different groups. However while the online adult sex industry accounts for 12% of web pages, the internet has also been used to express and explore a range of sexual experiences, relationships and content that cannot be considered “harmful”. This kind content is very important to people’s right to freedom of expression and right to information. Especially for people who have little access to resources, rights and spaces in the “off-line” world. Learn more about these issues and the research that APC is doing to understand them better.
Does your mother know? The online lives of young women in Mumbai
MUMBAI (Manjima Bhattacharjya and Maya Ganesh for GenderIT) – “And I can chat with you baby / Flirt a little, maybe / But does your mother know that you’re out ?” Twenty-something middle-class women in Mumbai, the city with the highest internet use in India, talk about how they explore their sexuality online, how they present themselves however they want and how they deal with risky situations.
Who’s afraid of the big bad Lebanese internet?
BEIRUT (Nadine Moawad for GenderIT) – “The gay rights movement in Lebanon would not be anywhere near where it is today if it weren’t for the internet”. In the midst of strongly censored neighbours, Lebanon enjoys online freedom that is hampered only by very slow and very expensive internet connections – but is that freedom there to stay? In a country where homosexuality is punishable by upto two years in prison, Nadine Moawad assesses the role of the internet in the rise of sexual rights activism in Lebanon and asks if Lebanon’s strict social controls are about to encompass the internet.
South Africans use transgender community website to “rehearse” their new identities
GRAHAMSTOWN (Jeanne Prinsloo for GenderIT) – Two out of three gay South African respondents to an online survey said that going online had helped them accept their sexual orientation and many admitted to coming out online before they did so offline. But the voices of transgender people rarely appear in studies and surveys. To address the gap, APC EroTICs researcher Jeanne Prinsloo of the University of Grahamstown looks at the use of a transgender site which provides a critical space for trans people to lurk and listen to ideas and debates that are not present in mainstream sites, to rehearse their new identity and to assess the risks they might take.
Content filtering in US libraries is haphazard
NEW YORK (Sex Work Awareness) – Freedom of speech and its flipside, access to information, is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. However federally-funded libraries are required to prevent people under eighteen accessing “harmful” content. Kevicha Echols and Melissa Ditmore investigate the use of internet filters on public library computers and find that measures adopted by libraries range from installation of filtering software on all computers for child and adult use to no filters at all! The law is being implemented differently varying across city, county and state. Sectors of the society most likely to be affected by this ad hoc censorship are young people and the economically-disadvantaged who rely particularly on library computers to access online information.
Sexuality is at the heart of internet regulation debates in Brazil
RIO de JANEIRO (CLAM and Sex Politics Watch) – Proposals to fight cybercrime have been floating around in Brazil for more than a decade but the backers – primarily banks and music companies worried about internet fraud and unauthorised music sharing — couldn’t find public or parliamentary support until they switched their focus to child pornography. Lula has refused to sanction online censorship and the government has opened a public consultation on what a civil law to regulate the internet should look like. EroTICs researchers Corrêa, Maria and Queiroz explore the history of the Brazilian regulation debate and conclude that the time is ripe to talk about rights – and for feminists and sexual rights activists to get involved.
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Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 2010