Molly Ackhurst

The Sexism Behind the UK’s New Porn Laws

Porn – it’s a controversial topic that has the potential to divide any feminist group. Now I don’t really want to get into the ethics of porn here because I don’t really think it’s necessary. Instead I want to try and find a way to unite the various divergent groups of feminists through a brief look at the new laws on porn. To give you all a quick insight on my views on porn: I think that our society is littered with rape culture that perpetuates VAW (violence against women), and I hate any industry that fosters the oppression of women. Consequently I don’t really like the porn industry (emphasis on industry, not porn itself) because it is largely driven by men, who gain power and money through the suppression and control of women and their sexuality. That being said I am also sex-positive. I think that there is space for a reformed way of watching and enjoying sex; your own and/or other peoples, when it is taken from a feminist, women friendly stance/viewpoint. In short I basically want a porn revolution where agency is valued, but I also appreciate how hard this is to do so I am conscious of treading carefully.

Ok, onto the porn rules. A lot has been written in the last couple of days about these new “porn laws”, but before I get into full flow I first want to provide a list of what has been banned by the audiovisual media services regulations R-18 bill. Keep in mind that these acts have all been banned because they are considered life endangering and/or excessively dangerous.

  • Spanking
  • Caning
  • Aggressive whipping
  • Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
  • Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)
  • Urolangia (known as “water sports”)
  • Female ejaculation
  • Strangulation
  • Face-sitting
  • Fisting

Now I can hear you screaming out from your computer screens, how on earth is face-sitting dangerous? I’ve never suffocated my partner/lover/fling/drunken hook up when I sat on their face so why does the government think that those in porn will?  Your screaming out: why is female ejaculation banned when it’s still possible to watch a close up of a penis in slow motion spewing cloudy-coloured semen all over the chest of a woman/man? I could go on and on but to summarise, the list of banned acts are a tad ridiculous.

A still from the film Secretary, which explored BDSM

A still from the film Secretary, which explored BDSM

Now to go back the main premise of what I am trying to get at here. I personally think the motivation behind porn laws/rules can be good – stay with me here. As I said earlier, I do think the current manifestation of the porn industry is largely a system that is driven by men and for men, and a lot of the time not very nice men either. The whole premise of porn laws is they are meant to be the regulation of “extreme porn”, and by this I don’t mean your a-typical BDSM type-porn (which I agree with when taken from the feminist view). By this I mean the stuff that will make your hair curl and your skin crawl. The stuff that stems from the deep-seated hatred of women and often comes from the ritual abuse sects, which pervade our country.  No one can argue that rules that prevent this type of porn are a bad thing. Extreme porn is something that a lot of pro-porn activists brush over, but having done work with women who have been part of it I can promise you it cannot be ignored. We are all feminists here, and we all are in favour of protecting women and men. That said …. We already have laws on extreme porn…

Since 2008 it has been a criminal offence to possess extreme pornography, which includes any pornographic material which is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise obscene and that explicitly and realistically depicts: a) Life threatening injury b) Serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals c) Bestiality or d) Necrophilia Sections 63-67.

Consequently my problem with the new B-18 rules is that I think our all-powerful lawmakers are trying to do the wrong thing. Yet again they are trying to control women’s sexuality instead of actually targeting the problem. In 2010 prominent academics on extreme porn [McGlynn and Rackley] noted that we needed a reform on our existing extreme porn laws, so that consensual BDSM isn’t criminalised and images of rape are. It’s now 2014, this has not happened and now there are laws on face-sitting and female ejaculation.

What bothers me most is that time and effort has been spent on this law. That means that the people in power think that the problem is fisting. Could they be further from the truth? The problems are actually that there is no good quality sex and/or relationship education; that there are still highly prevalent rape myths pervading our judicial system; that that the porn industry on the whole doesn’t have proper safe-guards for those who work in it; that sometimes women don’t have a choice about whether or not they work in porn. If we’re going to have more laws (I don’t have the word limit to talk about the problems of bureaucracy and the culture of law/positivism etc.), instead why don’t we start by having laws that allow women to make their own choices, and be protected in the choices that they make?


 

http://legislation.data.gov.uk/cy/uksi/2014/2916/made/data.htm?wrap=true
https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/law/research/CriminalisingExtremePornography-LessonsfromEnglandandWales.pdf
http://obscenitylawyer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-following-content-is-not-acceptable.html?m=1
http://jezebel.com/uk-bans-facesitting-fisting-female-ejaculation-from-1665629016
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/a-long-list-of-sex-acts-just-got-banned-in-uk-porn-9897174.html

2 thoughts on “The Sexism Behind the UK’s New Porn Laws

  1. Pingback: Sunday feminist roundup (7th December 2014) (feimineach)

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