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The Kyoto International Manga Museum live-streamed its conference on the "virtual children" problem earlier today -the video is still available here. It was a good symposium, with many of the most important problems of this proposed legislation being explained by some very knowledgable people. I'm writing a longer post after I've gotten my grubby hands on a summary of Ito Go's presentation -he was the only one who spoke a bit too quickly and indistinctly for me to follow, and I don't want to misrepresent his words. For now, just a quick word on one of the topics raised that resonated the most with me: what happens when people are unwillingly faced with sexual imagery in public places.

One speaker, Saito Hikaru, talked about the appearance of sexual imagery -which was very much a private thing in Japan until quite recently- in public spaces, and how attempts to legislate the public expression of what used to be private fantasies could end up being an intrusion of the law into people's private space. During the discussion half of the symposium later on, the issue of sexual imagery in public spaces was raised again by Jaqueline Berndt, who noted that we do have a very problematic situation (and this doesn't count just for Japan) if you can't venture into public spaces and avoid being confronted with sexual imagery that you don't want to see or that may even be seriously triggering.

Here we have a big difference between the way commercial media and fannish media are pushed at potential readers/consumers: for-profit media companies will do pretty much anything to have their products be seen and noticed, while fannish creators often go out of their way to help other fans avoid seeing material that might squick or trigger. There was a big debate on fic warnings a couple of months ago. Warnings are one of the main reasons why I like spending so much time in fandom. On the one hand, it's relaxing to know that I will probably not be caught unawares by depictions of things I find squicky or upsetting. More importantly, though, the fact that warnings are there at all is incredibly reassuring. I often skip warnings altogether, because whoever this writer is and whatever the content of the story is, it's enough for me that they did me the small kindness of putting up a warning. I frequently read stories that warn for things I tend to find upsetting, just because having a warning there at all makes me feel safe enough with this author to give the story a go.

This is not to say that I'm deeply apprehensive about every commercial TV episode or movie that comes my way. It's just much easier to trust a piece of media given to you by someone who shows with words and actions that they give a damn how you experience that piece of media after you've shelled out for it (with time, money, or whatever currency is asked).
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