Teenagers Reading

research for my PhD thesis

Filtering is not the answer

with 6 comments

Australia’s Rudd government wants to trial online content filtering through Australian ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as a part of their Plan for Cyber-Safety [1]. Material deemed inappropriate for those under 18 would be blocked, and on the way, adults (who did not opt out) would also be unable to view this content.

Senator Conroy has stated that Australians would be given the opportunity to opt-out, and that the scheme would therefore not be mandatory…

But a network engineer from one of Australia’s leading net suppliers, Internode, has challenged that assertion, arguing that there would be two black-lists. One would contain unsuitable and harmful material for children; the other would include inappropriate material for adults.

Mark Newton of Internode wrote in an online forum:

The much-touted ‘opt-out’ would merely involve switching from blacklist number 1 to blacklist number 2…Regardless of your personal preference, your traffic will pass through the censorship box.

Senator Conroy has since indicated that there would be a two-tier system: a mandatory one that would block all ‘illegal material’ and an optional tier that would block material deemed unsuitable for children, such as pornography. [2]

The whole system should be opt-in for those who wish to take part. As CW blogged at Ruminations,

This is wrong on so many levels. For one thing, filters are never going to be 100% effective, and for another, who is going to decide what is unsuitable for adults? I didn’t realise we were living in a dictatorship!

Parents or guardians are the only people who should decide what is unsuitable for their own children, and only their children.

A couple of weeks ago I joked to my friend Andrew that if this legislation went ahead, there’d be no more blogging about Yaoi for me. It wasn’t until CW’s succinct ruminations, that I realised I shouldn’t be joking about it. My posts Challenges to Graphic Novels in Libraries and Yaoi in the Library include the words “sex,” “explicit violence” and “erotic titles.” My blog includes no explicit content. I write about the topic of explicit content, and the importance of it in public (and other) libraries’ collections, because some adults have an interest in it. Interest in such content is not illegal and every adult has the right to enjoy content of their choosing. A filter would block those posts and probably all of my blog.

Yaoi Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) discussed censorship creep.

Everyone with any lobbying clout will be after the government to ban their pet peeve websites. [2]

I blog about Yaoi and Boys Love (BL) manga, which have themes of love between two men [3]. Sometime in the future would “The Censor” decide such content is inappropriate? Yaoi are erotic titles aimed at adults [4] while Boys Love has no explicit content and are fine for all ages. Some people have a problem with even BL [5]. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be available, read and enjoyed by those who like it, either online or in book form. Love and sex between two men (or two women) is a part of life and children and teenagers need to learn this whether they are gay, straight or undecided.

Although the Labor Party has a majority in the lower house, the Senate is another matter. The Greens, an independent from South Australia and the socially conservative Family First Party must agree with any legislation in order for it to be passed. Family First don’t think much of “alternative” lifestyles or families.

I don’t want to live in a nanny state! If you don’t want to either, sign the petition, then write to Senator Conroy and your local MP.

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  1. Meloni, Michael (2008) The high price of internet filtering ABC News, 24 October.
  2. Bryant, Nick (2008) Australia trials national net filters BBC News, 25 October.
  3. Masaki, Lyle (2008) “Yowie!” The Stateside appeal of boy-meets-boy YAOI comics After Elton, 6 January.
  4. McLelland, Mark (2000) Male homosexuality and popular culture in modern Japan Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, issue 3.
  5. Brenner, Robin (2007) Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, p.135.

Written by ClareSnow

30 October 2008 at 12:53 pm

6 Responses

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  1. The entire plan scares me to the core. I am sitting here sobbing into what is left of the Australian constitution (yes, we do have one, pity no one seems to read it any more! *cough*seperationofchurchandstate*cough*). I guess what’s good for China, is good enough for Australia though.

    A good podcast and some forum topics on the subject:

    Edward Shaddow

    30 October 2008 at 1:13 pm

  2. Hey I found a website for teenagers…
    It’s called books4teens. It’s a new website and quite basic, (AT THE MOMENT) but it has everything you need to get your teenager reading. It worked for me.


    30 October 2008 at 6:31 pm

  3. Hey Clare,

    Just signed the petition too.


    Andy x

    Andy Garcia

    30 October 2008 at 8:39 pm

  4. Good to see people blogging about this. Tell your friends! I teach at a Uni, and half my students have no idea that this is happening!

    Sam D

    31 October 2008 at 2:41 pm

  5. Well, in Japan BL is yaoi for women…

    And actually, most BL is for teenage girls, not adults…

    and it is not for gay men…

    (Source: Japanese BL mangaka, Makoto Tateno)


    9 April 2011 at 3:40 am

  6. In countries other than Japan, when manga in translation is published, or read on the net (translated or not) BL and Yaoi are read by a proportion of gay men and other GLBTQ because we have very little like this available.

    And in English speaking countries there’s disagreement among fans when to use the terms BL or Yaoi ie. which is for women (may be explicit) and which is for girls.

    See these which I read after writing this post:

    Levi, A. (2009) “North American reactions to Yaoi” in M. I. West (Ed.) The Japanification of children’s popular culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki (p.147-173) Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press

    Pagliassotti, D. (2008) “Reading Boys’ Love in the West” Particip@tions 5(2) http://www.participations.org/Volume%205/Issue%202/205_202_pagliassotti.htm


    11 April 2011 at 3:55 pm

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