Monday, 22 July 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey Made Illegal in the UK

BBC News has today reported:

"In addition, Mr Cameron will say possessing online pornography depicting rape will be illegal, bringing England and Wales in line with Scotland."
This move; applauded by book lovers, English Literature graduates and English teachers all over the country; was made by Mr. Cameron ostensibly to protect children, but he has luckily snuck in the bill the ability to ban Fifty Shades of Grey! Thank the Tory-gods!

The Logic

Put simply, the comment from BBC News above shows that possessing any "online pornography" which "depicts rape" is now a crime. 

Fifty Shades of Grey is unquestionably pornographic. It contains multiple graphic descriptions of sexual acts, and therefore the novel as a whole can be considered pornographic.

The next question is "What does it mean to depict something". I don't have a legal dictionary on hand, but the Oxford English Dictionary has this to say about it:


[with object]
  • represent by a drawing, painting, or other art form
And given that prose can definitely be used as a form of art -- especially when portraying the fictional -- we can conclude that 50 Shades of Grey does "depict rape".

Fifty Shades of Grey may have a get-out-of-censorship-free-card in that it is not online. It is a physical book. Well, mostly. It's available for Kindle, via Amazon's Whispernet. This is definitely on-line. So it is definitely on-line pornography that depicts rape.

The more difficult question is quite a simple one: does what is depicted in the novel constitute rape? I've never read the book; however; I have had some particularly revealing passages read to me. They show that the woman in the novel did not consent to the majority of the sexual acts carried out in the book.

This puts E. L. James, Amazon and a large portion of middle class women squarely in the "illegal" category of the law.

Everyone's a Criminal

Given that many contemporary novels (and less-contemporary) novels do deal with sexual abuse and rape, some of which explore the idea of "rape fantasy" (Herein referred to by the more accepted name, "ravishment") between consenting partners means that a large portion of those with an interest in BDSM and kink will fall into this category.

That is not to mention those who simply study the novels, or get no particular pleasure out of them, and those who read the novels because they'll read almost anything will all be suddenly criminals.

Let me be absolutely clear. Joe Haldeman's "Forever War" depicts a lot of sex (Some of it could be considered to be coerced), Joe Scalzi's "Old Man's War" depicts a lot of sex (although none that I remember was coerced or forced), A Scanner Darkly has a fair bit of sex. These are SF&F books, with no focus on sexuality or pornography, yet under some stretched definitions could fall foul of this law. 

These are books that I regularly recommend to family members, usually over the age of 16 because of their violent (not sexual) content.

Also falling into firmly into this category is Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange". Once again, it's available for Kindle, it definitely depicts rape, and it's read world-wide by millions.

And it's well known that if we're all criminals, none of us are, thus bringing this absurdist tirade to a close and showing the law for what it really is: Propaganda codified as law.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm pretty sure A Clockwork Orange is NOT pornography ...

  3. I do agree that 50 Shades of Grey is pornographic and the only reason it's actually read is for the sex scenes (after all who would want to read the appallingly awful prose?).

    Despite my grievances with the book, I will say that it is clear you haven't really read it. It has been a while since I read it, but I'm pretty sure there was no rape in it. The point of it was that the girl was seduced by the BDSM lifestyle and went in willingly, even if she was reluctant at first. I could be wrong however, which bits did you think had rape in it?

  4. I've made a follow up post addressing most of the points here and over an Hacker News.

    Thanks :-)