Tumblr’s definition of what constitutes permissible adult content fails to recognise the value of this kind of work.
It separates sex from politics, preserves a class-based distinction between art and pornography, and limits representations of female nudity to reproduction and health.
Corporate monopolies now have a greater impact than national classifiers on what material the public can access.
Apple, which dropped Tumblr from its App Store on 20 November, has had a “homogenizing and sanitizing effect on the internet”.
Steve Jobs himself has stated: Designating representations of sex to the private, personal realm, outside of the public or political sphere, obscures the fact that heterosexual intimacies saturate public culture.But this policy reinforces a tenuous conceptual distinction between art and pornography.The demarcation of art as something distinct from pornography was influenced by the increasing availability of photography in the 19th century, which threatened the very existence of art.FOSTA prompted platforms such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to amend their terms of service to preclude nudity, sexual content and sexual services in order to avoid charges of promoting or facilitating sex work.Unfortunately this legislation has not improved grievance avenues for those experiencing exploitation.While traditional paintings sought to imitate the real, photography was considered “too real” and “too close”.It prompted fears about proximity (its corporeal effect on the viewer), danger (its seductive power) and contagion (its potential to harm or infect). It was used to distinguish lowbrow forms of cultural consumption for the masses from highbrow forms of art for the elite.It was the process of archaeological extraction in the 18th century that commenced a process of identifying and labelling ancient artefacts as “pornographic”, and removing them from public view.Historians have found that the modern regulatory category of “pornography” was invented at the same time, alongside the emergence of technologies (such as the printing press) that allowed for mass-distribution.Aside from the obvious regulatory dilemma of ascertaining which nipples appear to be “female-presenting”, this kind of targeting of women’s bodies has met with public criticism.For example, the Free the Nipple campaign has protested the criminalisation, censorship and fetishisation of women’s breasts.