let's be adult about it

The is something strangely comforting when considering the balances which hold the human race on the precipice of advancement, each time we extend our reach we account for our actions and put in place a means of regulation and control as a counterbalance to our increased lean away from the fulcrum.
For the most part these institutions and rules work as they should but conversely, there are periods when control is applied to something which has made no attempt at increase or progress. As time passes we are left with a situation akin to the Emperors new clothes, a vague sense that something is inherently wrong yet slightly indefinable. There becomes a transparency to the arguments for these measures which, while trying to shield us from the metaphorically naked truth underneath, claim in themselves, to be the supporters of decency and common good.

This same filmy voile has been attached to the subject of sexuality and its depictions in society. As it stands we are almost all immune and accepting of sex being used as a selling tool for virtually every product on the market from cars to clothing, all the way down to the over sexualisation of popstars predominantly promoted to children and teenagers. Yet simultaneously there are those who strike up outraged at any given chance should something slightly titillating cross the paths of everyday life. All in all it would appear that the outlook is gaining clarity and we are all growing to understand that should the emperor want to be naked that is wholly his prerogative as long as it does no harm. In fact New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia all have yearly nude events without cause for alarm or civil unrest. Indie duo Matt & Kim managed a full strip in the busy streets of New York for the single ‘Lessons learned’ while soul singer Eryka Badu was arrested in Dallas for disrobing on a shoot last year which was directly cited as a tribute the now famous Matt & Kim video.

Why should there be any alarm? There is little wrong with nudity or sex in general as long as it is treated with correct and logically applied boundaries, but when it comes to the subject of sex it is often the case that logic is left behind in place of misfired rhetoric and pointed fingers. Depictions of sex are not inherently bad, sinful, nefarious or demeaning as long as rules of consent are upheld and in terms of hiding nudity and sex from children, I’m sure once prudishness is set aside it is easier to explain to children that sex is more acceptable than violence. Sexual representation and pornography have been a part of human history for as long as we could communicate, we are creatures of our senses and with that we have found pleasure in visual (not to mention, literary and audible) forms of eroticism. As communication advanced, sexual imagery hitched a ride and thrived like a tended-to pot plant that moves with you to a new home. On the internet pornography has found a place to bury its roots and in doing so has simultaneously had it foundations attacked and its praises sung. It has taken nearly fifteen years for the world to accept that the internet has become the surrogate home of pornography, a promised land where those who wished it, could see it granted.

In 2001 the ICM registry, a private company with figures in computer management, telecommunications and adult entertainment filed in the first round of registration with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) for the setup of a .xxx top level domain. The principal was to appease both sides of the pornography debate, those against would know how and where sexual imagery and depiction was housed on the net via the new suffix and those for would know that registered and legitimate companies in the adult entertainment field were taking their business seriously. Ten years down the line and with rancorous debate espoused from both sides, approval has been made and the window for registration has opened. The registration opportunity has not just been made for those wishing to claim a .xxx domain, in a mark of how much the idea of sexuality has matured and grown more complex and civilized this period is also open to those who wish to opt-out and be sure that their company identity does not have the new domain added, so a well known company such as Disney can be assured that www.disney.xxx will not appear to sully their reputation.

The implications of this move may go mostly unseen as we create a digital ‘reservation’ for adult entertainment on the web but on a cultural level it speaks volumes about our attitudes to sex and our acceptance of its place in our society. The adult entertainment business is the basis for the livelihoods of thousands of people across the globe and purports to be an industry worth $13 billion a year, where it may not sit comfortably on moral terms with some people there is little question to its influence on economy. The move to create a specific internet domain will not only create a huge input from the one-time opt out fee (e.g. for Disney etc) but a reported additional $200 million a year via new web hosting revenues.

Essentially what the ICM registry is creating is a comfortable and safe environment where - whether you believe in its existence or not - should one wish to view the Emperor in all his splendor you know where to find him. He may very well be as naked as you suspect but, like it or not, it is only the existence of his clothing that can be called into question not the Emperor himself. He will be with us for as long as we can find an appropriate tailor.

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