.XXX

March 29, 2007

In case anyone is interested…

A large portion of what we perceive as the Internet is administered by a non-profit organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). As you might guess, they don’t do a very good job at what they are assigned to do, and this is largely the result of their unwillingness to confront controversy. Case in point, their ongoing struggle with the question of whether to establish the .xxx domain. This issue is hot again, as another review of the proposal is scheduled for today (Friday).

The Internet uses a system of domains to divide up the addresses of its computers and users, such as .gov (for government), .com for business (commercial), .mil (for military), and so forth. This is what ICANN does, it decides what to call these domains and how many of them to have. What ICANN is considering is to create a new domain, “.xxx,” to be used by businesses hosting adult content.

Perhaps gays ought to be supporting the creation of the .xxx domain, and here is why.

On two separate occasions, friends (one gay, one straight) have commented about how gays aren’t as respected as they could be because they don’t set clear boundaries between themselves and the sleazier elements within their community. In both cases this was in response to the friend reading over my shoulder and noticing either sex-content or sex-related ads in a mainstream gay publication that I was reading (one printed, one on the Internet).

Many straights make a connection between gays and pornography, and gay publishers appear to have a tolerance (or maybe even a preference) for sexual content that reinforces this perception. In the straight world, publishers have fairly strict standards about what kinds of content can go into a mainstream publication or website; in the gay world, less so. Gays are a tolerant lot and it shows. In a mainstream, publicly distributed, straight publication you will seldom see risqué copy, photos, or ads; in similarly distributed gay publications, such content will be featured predominately. A side effect of this tolerance is the perceived connection between gays and porn.

As currently structured, the Internet domain setup reinforces this association; mainstream sites and adult sites are all lumped into one domain (.com). This isn’t such a such a problem for straights, but for gays, who are already confronting a world of social stigma, would it not be better if people were able to more clearly distinguish between the educational purposes of independentgayforum.com and the explicitly adult purpose of gays4men.com? Moving gays4men to a .xxx domain would accomplish that.

The current ICANN proposal is only a step in that direction though, as it wouldn’t make adoption of the new .xxx domain mandatory. But should it be? Is it not reasonable that any website that requires a “you must be 18” login to enter, also be required to use the .xxx domain? That will likely be a question for Congress and the courts to decide, but only if ICANN first creates the .xxx domain.

In the meantime, the adoption of .xxx could help establish gay sites with .com and .org domains as more legitimate then gay sites with .xxx domains — and in the process help disconnect the public’s association between gays and pornography.

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4 Responses to “.XXX”

  1. The Snarkmeister Says:

    Of course, they did reject .xxx on Friday.

  2. The Snarkmeister Says:

    Of course, they did reject .xxx on Friday.

  3. Scott Reno Says:

    It is too bad that this did not get approved. I agree 100% that all pornography should be moved to this type of top-level domain. I kind of doubt that many of these porn sites would comply since they are operated by some pretty sleazy operators.

    Good posting, though!

  4. Scott Reno Says:

    It is too bad that this did not get approved. I agree 100% that all pornography should be moved to this type of top-level domain. I kind of doubt that many of these porn sites would comply since they are operated by some pretty sleazy operators.

    Good posting, though!


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