Tumblr's Porn Ban Hurts Artistic Expression And Female Sexuality

Tumblr, By Banning 'Porn,' You Also Banned Self-Expression And The Art Of Sexuality

Tumblr used to be the place to show women and men that their bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But now, that inclusivity is under threat because of censorship.


Recently, Tumblr has changed the restriction policy on its context to ban "primarily includes photos, videos, or gifs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content — including photos, videos, gifs, and illustrations — that depicts sex acts." The intent of this involved the problem Tumblr has with child pornography, and rather than spend the money to verify ages and add age restrictions to content, the platform is putting a blanket ban on this type of media.

What could go wrong?

As with most blanket statements, there's no nuance. Images are bad, thus they are banned. The only wiggle room Tumblr have was the exceptions of "art," such as sculptures and drawings, or related to political or newsworthy speech. But what is considered "art"? Is photography not included (and what about self-photography)? And couldn't nudity or sex be a political statement within itself? By placing a blanket statement on restricting sex, genitalia, and "female-presenting nipples," they are opening up political statements made about sexuality and about the female body to be banned.

For example, the Women's Marches included women carrying posters depicting vaginas and breasts. Would images of this be subject to complaints under this policy? They technically are illustrations depicting real-life genitalia and "female-presenting nipples," so that is up for political sabotage. If someone who disagrees politically with the women's movement for body autonomy, or the woman's right to make decisions over her own body, they could flood Tumblr's complaint pool to hinder the efforts of women spreading their message through images online.

And for those questioning the possibility of misuse of this policy, it's already happening. Take an innocent illustration of two boys hugging. Yes, it was flagged on Twitter. This is just the beginning of an unintended attack on the LGBTQ+ community who had used Tumblr as a form of expression. Sharing sexual experiences and pictures of one's body can be freeing in a homophobic society. One LGBTQ advocate for allowing pornographic media Kitty Stryker shared that Tumblr used to "[represent] us... indie performers who created their own content outside of an often racist, transmisogynist, fatphobic industry".

By taking away the right to share nudity and porn on this platform, Tumblr is wiping out a community's way of having a conversation on sexuality, and where the alternative is PornHub.

And why is this platform so much more concerned with "female-presenting nipples" when images of violence are allowed to remain unrestricted? One New York Times writer points out that "we seem to ignore public debate about the censorship of sex and the human body, reflecting the American tendency to get more offended by the sight of a female-presenting nipple than by guns, hate speech or violence".

Rather than take away a platform that allows expression of different sexualities and body-positivity, we should take a look at the promotion of violence culture through our online networks. Furthermore, allowing people to share their bodies fights beauty standards made by PornHub, which breeds unrealistic beauty standards of what is or isn't "sexy." Tumblr used to be the place to show women and men that their bodies come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But now, that inclusivity is under threat because of censorship.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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