UK's new Porn regulations: so are they banning 50 Shades of Grey or what?

by Shawna Scott December 05, 2014

This week saw the interwebs flooded with stories and tweets about the UK's new Video-On-Demand pornography regulations which essentially bans a whole swathe of sexual acts. Everything from fisting to hard spanking to female ejaculation. Well I take that back; female ejaculation is fine as long as it doesn't touch anyone else and isn't ingested. Nothing about male ejaculate, however.  

The New Statesman gave a brilliant explanation and take down of the new laws, referring to them as "arbitrary" and "deeply sexist," which they most definitely are. You can see the whole ridiculous list on Obscenity Lawyer's blog. One of my favourite porn directors, Erika Lust, shared her views with the Independent and explained why regulation should not be a substitute for education. I reached out to a few folks in different fields to get their perspective on these new restrictions. 

Performer, Sex-worker, Sex-worker Rights Campaigner, and Star of RTE's Connected, Kate McGrew:

"Once we're all consenting, it's game-the-fuck on. Humans don't always do it like they do on the Discovery Channel. I tell you what's not natural, curtailing consensual desire AT ALL. Wrong war. As IF those "acts" are somehow unnatural."

Peter Antonioni, who I had the pleasure to sit on a panel with at Kilkenomics last month, offered his opinion and made the  comparison between porn and pro-wrestling:

"I happen to love watching that [strangulation and face-setting]. I’ve shelled out a fortune to watch videos of two guys strangling each other and sitting on each other’s faces for the camera. On some of them (ECW BARELY LEGAL), they have hit each other with barbed wire or fired staple guns into each other’s faces. Are you telling me that’s ok because nobody looks like they’re orgasming from it? I’ll admit Jerry the King Lawler often sounded like it, but he was only the commentator."

Peter also gave his suggestion for an outrageously far-too-easy, common-sense approach to how pornography should be regulated:

  1.  Are all performers giving informed consent? Are you complying with relevant safety legislation and in case anything goes wrong have you got emergency procedures in place (in the case of very high risk activities, like blindfold tightrope otter felching)

  2. Are you taking valid credit card details?

  3. Are you complying with relevant company law.

If the answer to all 3 is yes, then fine."

 

 Feminist writer, Fulbright Scholar and friend of Sex Siopa, Roe McDermott:

"They genuinely feel that judging acts that show kink, female dominance or even just female pleasure as immoral & shameful is a more helpful strategy than educating children about sexuality, consent & media consumption. They're also ignoring the fact that internet users can still legally watch similar pornography produced outside of the UK, so they aren't affecting consumers at all, merely creating a cultural shroud of shame regarding sexuality, & a way of punishing UK porn producers."

Comedian and writer, Colm O'Regan:

"The listing of these things as banned from being produced in the UK is going to lead to increased interest in them. A sort of Streisand effect for porn. It's like the passion of St Tibilus on Father Ted where the presence of Ted and Dougal with placards prompts huge attendances at the film. Likewise in the Patrick Kavanagh novel Tarry Flynn, the missioner's warning about fornication prompts a bachelor farmer to go looking for a wife to see what it's all about."

Senior Film Examiner at the BBFC, Murray Perkins, wrote a short piece for the Guardian this week describing the new regulations and what the implications will be. In it, he specifically points out that these regulations only affect "works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation." This leaves one wondering what will become of the hotly anticipated 50 Shades of Grey, because there is no way anyone can tell me that the primary purpose of that film isn't sexual arousal.

The reasoning behind the new regulations are purported to be out of fear of damaging children's mental health. But that argument doesn't wash when the vast majority of porn that's readily available to adolescents (and anyone for that matter) is on free tube sites and not those affected by the new rules. 

This sets a worrying precedent on the censorship of art. As noted in this Telegraph piece, we've had moral panics like this one before. The perfect examples they gave were the time Labour tried to control Space Invaders or how regulation on comics in the 1950's killed the British comics industry for 20 years. If those panicking over the state of pornography want to see change in the industry, they should do like Erika Lust and encourage more dialogue in the discourse of pornography. In short: encourage more people, especially women, to create porn.





Shawna Scott
Shawna Scott

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