esperanto (lingvoj@lds.co.uk)
Thu, 05 Dec 1996 23:35:42 +0000



This is a regular column in FREEDOM giving news about recent=20
publications. It often aims to be contraversial.


Soft Core: moral crusades against pornography in Britain and
America* by Bill Thompson, Cassell.

Anti-pornography campaigns have been used over centuries to
prevent the dissemination of material on sex education,
contraception and venereal disease; to justify flogging
prostitutes' husbands or boyfriends; to incarcerate and torture
'nymphomaniacs' in mental hospitals; to deny women's sexuality:
and to get rid of unwanted racial minorities who supposedly
controlled prostitution or pornography Britain has about the most
repressive censorship in Europe, yet pornography is rarely out
of the news. It began with the 1580 Obscenity Bill, since when
innumerable attempts have been made by the moral guardians
and thought police to suppress free speech From the Victorian
morality campaigns by Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and
Listeners Campaign; from the American witch-hunts by
McKinnon, Dworkin and Meesem right up to the recent crusades
of the Campaign Against Pornography, Women Against Violence
Against Women, and the Lesbian Avengers, among others. Most
use the pretext of 'cleaning up' prostitution or protecting 'the
public' from corruption; latterly it has been groups trying to
demonise porn by repeatedly claiming 'new' and 'conclusive'
evidence that it causes sexual discrimination and sex attacks
against women. The lack of any real evidence over the centuries
that pornography causes anything doesn't bother the crusaders
at all: they either distort the scientific findings or quite simply
invent their own and there are plenty of examples Thompson, a
criminologist at Reading University specialising in sex crimes
and moral issues, brillianty debunks the myths and ideologies of
these pro-censorship crusades, demolishing their pseudo-
science and exposing their hidden political agendas which would
silence all dissent from their views and enforce conformity of
personal behaviour to some supposed norm. Soft Core is also
about hard core, the tide being merely a punning reference to the
emptiness of the pro-censorship lobby's arguments (although
most British 'hard core' is classed as soft core in Europe and the
US) The book reveals that despite all the media hysteria about
hard core child pornography, Internet porn and 'snuff movies', the
vast majority of material seized by police and customs is
mundane newsagent-type soft core - a policy which devours
millions of pounds of public funds each year and to date not a
single genuine snuff movie has ever been found (the origins and
development of his mythical bete noire of porn is nicely exposed
in chapter eight) Tuppy Owens points out that the moral
indignation is often "a mask for something more sinister and .. is
built on a myth a fear of sex and an ideologically-motivated
craving for power" Thompson shows how the current separatist
femmist anti-porn campaigners (who are largely refugees from
the defunct Stalinist political parties seeking a new home for
their authoritarian attitudes) have allied themselves with the
right-wing Christian fundamentalists and have, as their ultimate
aim, not the prevention of sexual abuse against women and
children at all (which has not been reduced by any anti porn
campaigns, of course), but the inhibition of women's free sexual
expression The anarchist group Feminists Against Censorship
say it is a fallacy "to believe that anti-pornography ideology has
any place in movements to improve life for women and children",
and Women Against Rape split from the WAVAW Stalinists
(Thompson calls them Marxists) over this very issue. Despite the
amount of empirical evidence, Thompson combines a scathing
critique with a lively and entertaining polemic and makes
suggestions for "a more healthy and rational approach towards
the enjoyment of erotic material" A very readable book with a
comprehensive 'further reading' list and index Highly
recommended, whatever your views. Now available from us at
=A33 99 (reduced from =A313 99) for 300 pages=20

Tales from the Clit: a female experience of pornography* edited
by Cherie Matrx, AK Press.

By sheer coincidence this book
arrived at about the same time as the one above, and how
snugly they fit together. Until the 1960s most women were
expected to submit to male domination, sexism and being told
what they thought about a whole range of things including sex
and sexual imagery, by men. They were nor expected to
complain. By the end of that decade many were fed up and
began meeong to discuss woman's liberation, later known as
feminism. By 1969. says the preface, after years of some of
those women trying to tell us that we all hate pornography, that
no woman likes it and that every woman wants to see it 'off the
shelf," other women were fed up with being stereotyped by their
erstwhile sisters and formed Feminists Against Censorship in
response. Quite a courageous move with Thatcherism and the
Victorian family values nonsense in full flood, growing reaction to
feminism by many in the male half of society (Neanderthal
branch), and increasing desperation on the part of the
separatist-feminist police who were eager to demonstrate how
well they could do the state's work (unpaid) by attacking both
verbally and physically those who dared demand free
expression. This book is a collection of pro-sex essays by FAC
members their fifth to date and comprises intimate, soul-baring
(and body-baring) true stories about what pornography means to
them. No stereotypes here, and they have all found it liberating
from sex writers to a feminist porn teacher, from a British-born
Indian lamenting the suppression of India's Gupta period erotica,
to sex magazine publishers not to mention the poor little convent
girls who missed out early on and are now gagging for it. Well,
we all know about convent girls! There's a piece by a blind and
deaf woman who reads hers in braille, a sex toy manufacturer
and loads more. Some are intellectually stimulating, others are
just plain horny Their criticisms are that porn is still not easy for
women to obtain, is too expensive, is produced mainly by
capiralists and by men, for men. However the increasing amount
being produced by women should solve some of these problems.
My criticisms are only two: the editor's claim that the image on
the cover stands up on its own as a brilliant piece against
censorship is just silly, it nothing of the kind: and one writer
credits Nabokov's Lolita to Emile Zola! Still, as she was only 13
when she read it I imagine she was far too busy reading the juicy
bits than noting the author's name FAC are to be congratulated
on this one. 144 pages, =A37.95
'Searchlight' for Beginners* by Larry O'Hara, Phoenix Press.

Aimed mainly at those who are unfamiliar with the magazine, or
who read it and are unaware of - or unconvinced by - the serious
and, if true, disturbing allegations about this ostensibly anti-
fascist periodical Searchlight in its current form was taken over
by editor Gerry Gable when the formed editor, the ex-CPGB
member Maurice Ludmer, died in 1981 Prior to that it had
appeared only as an irregular news-sheet since 1965 by Labour
MPs Joan Lestor and Reg Freeson, among others. Not only is
Gable a former CPGB member, but he is also known to supply
inhrmation to the authorities. The first information on this
surfaced in the 1970s when he was working for LWT and
informed on one of his colleagues to Special Branch. It is now
thought that he also has contacts in MI5, Mossad and French
intelligence, and passes on names and addresses, meeting
points and so on, of anti-fascists who contact Searchlight or do
not agree with his Stalinist views (sound familiar?). This
pamphlet concentrates on the main players and events, such as
the spreading of disinformation in the left, green and anarchist
movements, and the attempt to use a self-confessed M15 agent
to infiltrate Green Anarchist with offers of weapons. Essential
reading, =A32.00=20

Titles distributed by Freedom Press Distributors (marked*) are
post free inland (add 15% for overseas orders) For other titles
please add 10% towards postage and packing inland. 20%
overseas Cheques in sterling payable to FREEDOM PRESS

Cheques in US dollars payable to Chips Booksearch.

The bookshop Christmas Party this year is on Saturday 21st
December from 12 noon until about 6pm. Do pop in if you're in
the area, with a bottle if you can .

84b, Whitechapel High St.,