Mobes, web filth 'pornifying' our kids, warns top Labour MP
Youngsters powerless to resist 'hardcore American porn'
Labour's health spokeswoman Diane Abbott will today warn that Britain's culture is "increasingly pornified" and hyper-sexualises adolescents.
The shadow minister reckons today's technology - specifically, the proliferation of internet connectivity and cameras in every phone - damages British teens and society.
That bullies can easily share compromising photos of their victims, and secretly explore X-rated corners of the web, is of particular concern: it puts parents and teachers in the dark on what their children are really up to and leaves the adults unable to teach effective sex education.
"I think one of the symptoms of the culture that has grown is that young girls and women are subject to 'slut shaming' and sexual bullying in schools. The truth is that slut-shaming shames us all," she will say in a speech tonight.
Sexting (sending steamy text messages) and "slut-shaming" (ridiculing girls by alleging promiscuous behaviour and posting images online) are helping to sexualise younger and younger children, Abbott will argue. Older people, particularly those who didn't grow up with the internet, are baffled by the online world and are unable to monitor it.
She will say to the Fabian Society women's network tonight:
I fear we’re seeing the rise of a ‘strip tease’ culture in British schools, and British culture, with the British family unit left marginalised. It’s hyper-sexualised British culture in which women are objectified, objectify one another, and are encouraged to objectify themselves; where homophobic bullying is normalised; and young boys’ world view is shaped by hardcore American pornography and other dark corners of the internet.
For so long, it’s been argued that overt, public displays of sexuality are an enlightened liberation. But I believe that for many the pressure of conforming to hyper-sexualisation and its pitfalls is a prison. And the permanence of social media and technology can be a life sentence.
Parents and teachers have a duty to ensure that children develop a healthy view of sexuality, distinct from this porn version that is swamping and infiltrating British life.
The shadow minister will call for "a revolution" in sex education in schools and more information and support for parents as well as easier age-restricting controls on internet connections and other media. She will say that internet users should have to make an active choice over whether adult content is allowed into the home or portable device or not.
On-by-default porn-filtering for home broadband was proposed in the UK but resisted by ISPs and parents showed little appetite for the tech. If Prime Minister David Cameron gets his way, families will be able to configure filtering when they set up their new internet connections, but there won't be any network-level web blocks for now.
Abbott will claim in her speech that she is "here as a feminist" to help parents get their concerns taken seriously, but in this Reg hack's humble opinion, her ideas seem to be more aimed at changing girls' behaviour than that of boys.
In her speech, she will say that there's something wrong with "padded bras, thongs and high-heeled shoes" being marketed to younger children and although she has a point, it is uncomfortably close to the argument that the way women dress invites aggressive sexual attention.
She'll also say that girls need to "value their bodies in terms of physical activity: more Jessica Ennis, less Paris Hilton", which again seems to put the responsibility for sexual behaviour solely on teenage girls' shoulders - that girls alone are expected to be bastions of virtue.
Abbott thinks there's something wrong with teenage boys learning about sex from hardcore porn, but she doesn't offer ways for them to change any subsequent damaging behaviour. Apparently, once lads have seen that porn, they're ruined for good and can't possibly learn any kind of sexual respect, so there's no point trying. Girls have to dress modestly and constantly fight off these pornified yet blameless predators. ®