Traditional-Maltese-female-clothing.

Traditional-Maltese-female-clothing.

 

After years of covering up with an ostrich-like head-in-the-sand  mentality – it’s now in the open. The people of Malta and Gozo are avid followers of pornography which seems to take precedence viewing throughout the year – except when the Eurovision Song Contest Final is on!

 

-MCWO-Chairperson-Ms-Lorraine-Spiteri-on-todays-sex-education-for-children

-MCWO-Chairperson-Ms-Lorraine-Spiteri-on-todays-sex-education-for-children

Let me explain. My age is at three score and ten (almost eleven). My memory goes back a long, long way. As a child, sex or anything related to sex was strictly off the itinerary; little babies were brought by a Messenger from God like you wake up one morning and find a little baby nestling in your arms!

 

-As-it-was-then-village-woman-in-peasant-clothing

-As-it-was-then-village-woman-in-peasant-clothing

Women were strictly covered from tip to toe (unless they were ‘loose’ ladies who frequented the bars and restaurants in Valletta’s Strait Street or along the Marsa and Gzira waterfronts); any lustful thoughts had to be strictly confessed and the least mention by a small boy of anything sexually-related would earn a good clip around the ear and blatent threats of a final conviction to hell and eternal damnation.

 

As-it-is-more-likely-to-be-now.-Gentlemens-Clubs-highly-popular

As-it-is-more-likely-to-be-now.-Gentlemens-Clubs-highly-popular

Down through the years matters somewhat mellowed – slightly – although any kind of sex education was still far off the agenda and any prospect of coming across erotic material like pictures or a film was way out and beyond the question.

 

The-ultimate-in-propriety-clothing-The-Ghonella

The-ultimate-in-propriety-clothing-The-Ghonella

For years and years the Church and religious lay societies exerted a strong clamp on the lid. Scores of people were employed by the Government to work as ‘censors’. Cinema films were strongly calibrated in the ‘universal’, ‘over 16’ and ‘over 21’ category and even in the adult category there was no prospect of ever seeing any kind of lurid scene beyond a good kissing session (which would normally be accompanied in the cinema with catcalls, clapping and some lewd comments in general!)

 

Public-notices-posted-in-all-swimming-areas-strictly-banning-the-wearing-of-bikinis-enforced-by-regular-Police-patrols.

Public-notices-posted-in-all-swimming-areas-strictly-banning-the-wearing-of-bikinis-enforced-by-regular-Police-patrols.

Then, the expediency of communications took a helping (or hindering) hand. Air travel began to gain steady volume in the late 1950s with daily flights from London and Rome thanks to British European Airways (BEA) while almost simultaneously, Malta began to receive black and white television from the Italian peninsula.

 MalDia 06 (08-03-17)

From then onwards nothing was ever the same. Flights brought in daily newspapers from London and Rome as well as magazines. British newspapers were extremely popular because of a numerous British services presence and Italian magazines were much sought as fashion trenders.

 

-Strict-censorship

-Strict-censorship

The downside was that newspapers like The Daily Mirror, The (then) Daily Sketch and the (then) News of the World (later followed by The Sun) proved disastrous for the censors. Every single one of these journals had to be carefully screened and where necessary every single blessed copy carrying ‘salacious’ girlie pictures had either to be trimmed out or inked over before it went on sale. Sex and girlie magazines were out of the question.

 

The-now-defunct-Daily-Sketch-girlie-pictures-inked-out.

The-now-defunct-Daily-Sketch-girlie-pictures-inked-out.

The accelerated evolvement of ‘The Sun’ as a daily newspaper posed new threats with their Page Three girls, requiring gallons of black ink and much hard sweat and labour.

 

The-Daily-Mirror-closely-scrutinised-daily.

The-Daily-Mirror-closely-scrutinised-daily.

Bikinis were strictly prohibited in print, but also in actuality and Police patrols toured beaches to tell female offenders to ‘cover up’. Public notices were published in all bathing areas.

 

The-last-edition-of-The-News-of-the-World-kept-Maltese-censors-very-busy.

The-last-edition-of-The-News-of-the-World-kept-Maltese-censors-very-busy.

Italian television was beyond control. Then, as now, renowned for its saucy presentations, this proved to be beyond censorship.

 

-Page-3-girls-in-The-Sun-more-work-for-Maltese-censors.

-Page-3-girls-in-The-Sun-more-work-for-Maltese-censors.

The newsprint clampdown stretched into the early 1970s until the advent of Dom Mintoff’s Labour Government in 1971 and newsprint censorship was immediately terminated. Cinemas began to introduce softcore porn films but copies of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Penthouse’ still had to be clandestinely purchased under the counter and at risk of prosecution.

 

-Was-strictly-banned-even-when-Donald-Trump-was-featured-many-years-ago

-Was-strictly-banned-even-when-Donald-Trump-was-featured-many-years-ago

Jump forward to the 21st Century and the advent of the internet smashed once and for all any semblance of censorship. Under the current Labour Government, censorship has been completely legislated out making it even possible for sex shops – although nobody as yet has taken the ‘bold’ step of opening one. So-called ‘Gentleman’s Clubs’ have mushroomed everywhere as well as ‘Massage Parlours’ promising all sorts of things.

 

Only-available-under-the-counter.

Only-available-under-the-counter.

Over and above all this, survey results carried out by the porn server ‘Pornhub’ has established that Maltese viewers are very substantial and porn categories have been analysed with some surprising results.

 

However, more about that in a further article.

 

-Back-street-Valletta-soft-core-cinema-entering-the-1980s

-Back-street-Valletta-soft-core-cinema-entering-the-1980s

The situation has led Lorraine Spiteri, the Chairperson of the Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations to remark:

 

“As things stand, the sad truth is that pornography is probably the main sex educator of our children today”.

 

Watch this space for further insights in further articles…

 

 

ALBERT FENECH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Albert Fenech

Born in 1946, Albert Fenech’s family took up UK residence in 1954 where he spent his boyhood and youth before temporarily returning to Malta between 1957 and 1959 and then coming back to Malta permanently in 1965. He spent eight years as a full-time journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking up a career in HR Management but still retained his roots by actively pursuing freelance journalism and broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel.