Régine Deforges, who has died aged 78, was a publisher and author known in her native France as "La Papesse de l'érotisme" (high priestess of the erotic) and stimulated a popular interest in sex on the page (much of it
sadomasochistic) almost half a century before the current obsession with Fifty Shades of Grey .
While she won praise from feminists for her exploration of the outer reaches of female sexuality, she was also criticised for her tendency to cast women in submissive roles and for her lurid celebrations of sexual violence. Her novel L'Orage
(1996), for example, chronicles the sexual adventures of a young woman who, as an act of homage to her dead husband, fulfils one of his erotic fantasies by subjecting herself to a sadomasochistic tryst with the local village idiot, his father,
brother and dog.
As a publisher of erotic literature she played a prominent role in a series of battles against censorship in the 1960s and 1970s, most notably over her reprint of Louis Aragon's Irène which forced her into bankruptcy, but led
progressively to relaxations of the rules on obscenity.
The sex toy trade is blossoming across Africa as people become increasingly relaxed with the idea of buying them, but most governments are behind the times, and out of step with the desires of the people.
You don't need to be a private detective to discover that sex toys are bought, sold and used almost anywhere you care to look in Africa. At the same time though, the sale of sex toys is illegal in many countries where they're being sold, although
some governments are seemingly relying on social shame -- which is fading fast -- as a means of regulation.
Basically, what seems to be happening is that the governments are anti-sex toys, but the people aren't. The Internet has made it easier for anyone who wants a sex toy to bypass the law, but it's importers who shoulder the risks, since they're the
ones likely to have their good seized at Customs. This probably accounts for the relatively high prices of sex toys in many countries.
Countries such as Zimbabwe and Mauritius have actively said no to bedroom trinkets but, being popular holiday destinations, there are websites that offer tips on how to sneak your sex toy in when going on holiday.
Sex toys are very much legal in South Africa. In fact the country now has one of the most liberal constitutional and legal frameworks in the world on matters sexual. You cannot throw a stone anywhere in the country without hitting an Adult World.
Incidentally, the chain, which has 60 stores nationwide, is currently embroiled in a tiff with the ANC for opening a store opposite Parliament in Cape Town.
Taboo surrounding sex toys in Kenya has pretty much faded, especially in Nairobi where more and more sex shops are opening. Kenyan laws prohibit the sale of pornography and obscene materials, but according to Nairobi lawyer Humprey
Manyange, there is no law in Kenya that prohibits the sale, distribution or circulation of sex toys under the Penal Code or any other law.
Sex toys on are not so openly available In Zimbabwe. The law covering sex toys and peep shows in Zimbabwe is confusing. According to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority's director of legal and corporate services Florence Jambwa, the importation of the
toys into the country is prohibited under the Customs and Excise Act. However, Censorship Board secretary Isaac Chiranganyika said whoever intended to import or trade in sex toys had to seek permission from the board. He also said, Anyone who
wants to do that business should first bring them [toys] to our offices for [testing and] approval.
Sex toys are contraband in Nigeria, at least according to government officials. Nevertheless they are starting to become more popular in the country, even in the northern States that abide by Sharia law. Either government officials have enough
wahala on their hands to add chasing after sex toy importers to the list or they know they'll be onto a losing battle if they do.
There are shops selling sex toys in Ghana, offline (in Accra, at least; some street hawkers even sell them) and online (Area 51, GH erotic; you can even WhatsApp your order), though, again, the government considers sex toys obscene and
have been known to close down sex shops.
And women in Swaziland throw product parties, and have been calling on the government for years to legalise the sale of sex toys, stating that there's no valid reason why women should be deprived of their inviolable right to choose how
they pleasure themselves.
It seems that Africans are sending the message: Governments, we want our sex toys, and we will get them any way we can, whether you like it or not!
Indonesian communication and informatics minister Tifatul Sembiring declared its anti-porn mission a jihad, that he says will continue to the end of time. He told the religious griup Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI):
I have often told young, religious teachers to never stop once they start jihad. A jihad may also be in the field of information.
Sembiring said that Indonesian officials have been able to block about a billion sites for carrying pornographic content, surmising that there are a minimum of three billion such sites in existence.
Antara News reported that Sembiring has come under heavy criticism after banning Vimeo wholesale.
Google is set to ban advertisers from advertising hardcore pornographic services via its Adwords programme.
Google already restricts such adverts to adults only pages, but will now prohibit these adverts totally. This new prohibition will extend the current list of prohibited adverts for sex work, escorts and the like.
For the moment Google will still accept adverts for strip clubs and presumably for sex toys and softcore porn.
An email from Google reads:
Dear AdWords Advertiser,
We're writing to remind you about a change to Google's advertising policies we announced in our Policy Change Log that may affect your AdWords account
Beginning in the coming weeks, we'll no longer accept ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts including, but not limited to, hardcore pornography; graphic sexual acts including sex acts such as masturbation; genital, anal, and oral
When we make this change, Google will disapprove all ads and sites that are identified as being in violation of our revised policy. Our system identified your account as potentially affected by this policy change. We ask that you make any
necessary changes to your ads and sites to comply so that your campaigns can continue to run.
China has announced another miserable campaign against online pornography and has asked websites to remove any such links to avoid repressive punishment. The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications announced:
The campaign, Cleaning the Web 2014, will conduct thorough checkups on websites, search engines and mobile application stores, Internet TV USB sticks, and set-top boxes.
All online texts, pictures, videos and advertisements with pornographic content will be deleted. Websites, web channels and columns will be shut down or have their administrative license revoked if they are found to produce or spread
The campaign will last until November, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China's state media services announced the progress of its Cleaning the Web 2014 campaign , which has resulted in the closure of 110 websites and more than 3,300 accounts containing supposedly obscene material since January.
A Chinese crackdown on pornography is taking a creative turn. Authorities have arrested over 20 women in Henan province for writing gay erotic fan fiction online, according to a report (video in Chinese) from Anhui Television. +
Exported from Japan in the 1990s, slash, a subset of fan fiction that usually focuses on attraction or sexual relationships between people of the same sex, has taken on a cult following in China. Chinese Slash or danmei-- literally indulging
in beauty --focuses almost exclusively on relationships between men.
The writers for danmei blogs and websites are usually heterosexual women in their 20s who make a few yuan on each of their stories. Comics, videos that embellish story lines from favorite TV shows, and stories circulate on Chinese social media
Sina Internet Information Service Co, one of China's Internet giants, has been suspended from engaging in Internet publication and audio and video dissemination for supposedly running pornographic content online, the National Office Against
Pornographic and Illegal Publications said.
We have revoked the two licenses of Sina.com, including those for Internet publication and network distribution of audiovisual programs, and fined the company up to 5 million yuan ($800,000), said Zhou Huilin, deputy director of the
Sina supposedly published about 20 obscene articles in its reading channel and posted four Internet audiovisual programs with claimed obscene information, said Shen Rui, an internet censor with the Beijing Cultural Market Administrative
Enforcement Bureau. He said that some of the articles that were investigated included 500 chapters, and the number of clicks was more than 1 million, which brought serious negative social impact and seriously harmed the physical and mental health
Government censors explained that the supposedly pornographic material, included a book called The Village Woman's Dream Lover: Village Doctor Wanted.
Sina have since grovelled with several profuse apologies.
Easier access to porn movies across Europe's borders is one of the European Union's key merits, the leader of the European parliament's biggest conservative group has explained.
Asked by a local French newspaper how he convinced young voters to go to the polls in May's European Parliament elections, Joseph Daul first said that the killer argument when promoting the EU's merits was the creation of porn without borders
I tell them that at their age, when I was 18, when I wanted to go to Kehl (across the border in Germany) to see porno movies that were banned in France, you had to wait two-and-a-half hours to get through customs.
He also explained about the advantages of having a single European currency:
You'd get to the cinema and the film was already finished. And one out of every couple of times I'd realise I'd forgotten to bring deutschmarks!,
Imagine it's New Year's Eve, 2000. A bunch of us are sitting around with a good Cabernet, and someone wonders: what do you suppose would happen if the U.S. were flooded with free, high-quality pornography?