Wednesday, December 3, 2014

(Probably) My Last Jolly Good Rant

Whenever I felt the need to have a jolly good rant about something on this blog, I published it with the tag "guerilla warfare". Out of 475 total posts at the time of this writing, 21 fall under that label. So Kaelah (who contributed some "guerilla warfare" pieces) and I haven't done an inordinate amount of ranting. Actually, compared to some other BDSM-themed blogs, we are rather tame. But we have had our share of rants over the years, and when we did, we always made sure that it wasn't just random raging and letting off steam, but backed up by good arguments as well.

I have ranted against reactionary tabloid rags, anti-porn feminists, hypocritical kinksters who live by the motto "Everyone kinkier than me is a pervert!", video pirates, live traffic feeds compromising the privacy of BDSM blog readers, and against the arbitrary censorship policy of online billing services. A good variety of targets. Most of the time, though, my opposition was against the advocates of censorship, whether they were politicians, political activists or even kinksters themselves. Admittedly, there is a healthy dose of self-interest in my stance, because I am into BDSM, have friends who are into BDSM and enjoy watching BDSM porn. But I have a more far-reaching motivation as well. I truly believe that how much freedom a society grants its citizens in regards to sexuality and the expression of sexuality in erotic literature or erotic films is a good yardstick for how much individual freedom a society grants its citizens in general. Those societies which are liberal towards porn tend to be liberal in other ways as well, and those who are restrictive towards porn tend to be restrictive in other ways as well. Therefore, there is a legitimate worry that, if the self-appointed moral guardians succeed in censoring porn which is produced by consenting adults, they will proceed to censor other forms of expression or opinions they dislike as well. All for the sake of "protecting minors" or "upholding family values", of course!

How about one more rant, then, before we close down the blog next spring? This will probably be my last one, and I am launching into it because of present events.

The UK has changed its law in regards to what kind of content porn producers can sell online as "video on demand". UK distributors are no longer allowed to sell content depicting bondage and gags, fisting, public sex, age play, facesitting, urination, female ejaculation, and spanking and caning beyond what is deemed “transient and trifling”.

Even as censorship legislation goes, this is a particularly idiotic and ill-conceived piece. Pandora Blake points out one if its many major inconsistencies:

With these restrictions, distributing images of acts which are legal to consensually practice – such as piss play, bondage and fisting – becomes illegal. It’s fine to do it, but not to sell images of it. Obscenity legislation is meant to prevent the publication of images which might corrupt those watching – in other words, stop people from being tempted to try something that is deemed “extreme”. But quite aside from whether porn does in fact corrupt (and the evidence shows that it doesn’t), if trying it would not actually be illegal, why do the images matter?

Why indeed? Hywel Phillips (Elegance Studios) is equally, and rightfully, incredulous:

Let’s just be clear about how ludicrous the very concept is before we get on to the grossly offensive nature of the restrictions they impose. We’re talking about acts which are entirely legal to do – like doing a BDSM scene with someone where someone is bound and gagged. Or spanking. Or female ejaculation. Or face-sitting. So it’s legal to do it. It’s legal to own pictures and video of it. It’s legal to make pictures and video of it. It’s legal to download it from a site outside the UK, even if the customer is in the UK.

But as of 1st December, it is no longer legal for a UK production team to show it to you.

If you downloaded exactly the same material from a non-UK based site it would be legal for them to sell it to you and legal for you to buy it, watch it and keep it.

What the actual fuck?

I suppose what astonishes me more than anything else is the utterly irrational and arbitrary nature of the list of sexual acts addressed by the legislation. It does not surprise me that those oh-so-awful BDSM practices like bondage, spanking and caning are being targetted - unfortunately, that is to be expected, as they are old favourites of the censors. But why on Earth would anyone want to criminalise the depiction of female ejaculation? What is so threatening about a woman having a squirty orgasm? I suppose it falls outside the scope of Victorian sexual mores, and apparently that is enough for it to be deemed "obscene".

Ironically, then, the legislation turns out to be rather patriarchal and anti-feminist - it is still okay for UK producers to sell depictions of male ejaculation, but not female. Moreover, the legislation disproportionately affects producers of BDSM and spanking porn and, because of the criminalisation of fisting, of gay and lesbian porn as well.

Other kinky bloggers have already made a compelling, richly argued case for why this law is wrong and harmful. Pandora Blake's piece, in particular, is excellent. She also provices a great link list of the media coverage so far, which contains more articles worth reading. All that remains for me to do is urge you to make your voice heard if you are kinky and a UK citizen. You could, for instance...

...write to your MP.
...sign this petition or another one on 38 Degrees.
...donate to the anti-censorship campaign of Backlash UK.
...come to a protest outside Parliament at midday on Friday, December 12th.

Kaelah and I are neither British nor professional spanking porn producers, so the legislation does not concern us directly. But we are friends with Pandora and others from the UK, and would like to see them produce more great videos without having to worry about legal repercussions. And we know that many of our readers are from the UK. So we would like to express our support for your cause and send you our very best wishes. Good luck!


gustofur said...

Well said. If I want to be micro-governed, there are plenty of countries in this world that do just that. We do not need to add to the list. "Political correctness" needs to be reigned in not expanded.

Donpascual said...

To my knowledge, here have always been laws against the distriution of porn in UK, but it was always possible to advertise it and for clients to somehow buy it. On one of my trips to London, 30 years ago, I had a spanking video deliverd to the lobby of my hotel; in the Janus shop where I bought it, they had been afraid to hand it over from under the counter. It always has been a problem in UK where in other countries politics is watching but does not act.
Since it is legal to produce porn, all Pandora has to do is to load her products onto a server outside Great Britain and sell it from there.
However as long as CCBill controls nearly all of the invoicing ctedhchbusiness, we will have to worry about them clamping down on the selling end.
I just wonder if Amazon is going to grab this slice of the market, eventually. They are selling erotic material already, why not go all the way? They are far beyond te point where raving puritans could harm them in any way.