Thursday, 4 December 2014

On filth

“Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die. If this assault on liberty is allowed to go unchallenged, other freedoms will fall as a consequence.” Myles Jackman, UK-based obscenity lawyer

As reported by The Independent on Tuesday, a large number of sex acts have been made illegal in pornography on the United Kingdom, in an amendment to obscenity laws that was quietly rushed through parliament. In actuality, these acts were already illegal to portray in materials on DVD and video, and have been for some time. The new amendment simply brought the rules pertaining to video-on-demand pornography into alignment with the materials that can be sold in sex shops. It's a crock, of course; the law only affects materials produced in and streamed from the UK; the majority of porn sold in Britain is imported and has been for some time, due to the fact that it can legally show elements that homegrown material cannot.

The list of acts now banned from all forms of British pornography is as follows:

  • Spanking
  • Caning
  • Aggressive whipping
  • Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
  • Any physical or verbal abuse (regardless of consent)
  • Urolagnia (water sports)
  • Role-playing as non-adults
  • Physical restraint
  • Humiliation
  • Female ejaculation
  • Strangulation
  • Face-sitting
  • Fisting

The list is arbitrary in the extreme, bereft of any logic. The final three have been blacklisted as being “potentially life-endangering,” and while it is possible to see why they might be viewed as such, it would take a high degree of incompetence, stupidity and bad luck to die by any of these means. Other items on the list could not possibly be seen as dangerous. Spanking? Surely one of the most common and harmless forms of light S&M play, now apparently an obscene act. Dirty talk is seemingly out, penetration by a hazily defined type of object no longer permitted, even handcuffs are apparently unacceptable as items of physical restraint. There's also a very unplesant tone of misogyny to the list. Face-sitting and humiliation make up a significant part of femdom play. Most bizarre and alarming of all is the criminalisation of female ejaculation. Seemingly the compilers of the list consider it to be nothing more than a pornographic act, as opposed to a natural consequence of orgasm for many – although far from all – women. Presumably any female performers will have to ensure that they do not enjoy themselves too much, lest they achieve an explosive orgasm and invalidate their videos for sale.

There appears to be no issue taken with male ejaculation, or forcible male-dominant acts such as face-fucking, actually a more dangerous activity than face-sitting. There is also a complete lack of any consideration of consent. All that appears to matter is the appearance of consent, of two partners who engage in equally-levelled play, with no dominant or submissive party.

The laws won't affect the majority of people. Many, many members of the British public view pornography, mostly online, but the laws will not prevent them from downloading or streaming material from other countries, or prosecute them for viewing such material that has been produced in the UK against the law. At least, not yet. It's very clear to see that it would only take a small amendment to the law to block materials from other abroad or to criminalise the viewing of materials. Even as it is, scores of performers, professional and amateur, will now be unable to make money from or take pleasure in producing videos of these activities, in spite of having broken no laws in the process of engaging in such acts.

I watch porn. I enjoy it. I know a couple of people – women, as it happens – who perform in it. I also enjoy some of the acts on the list. Others are not things I enjoy partaking in or watching, but then, I don't have to. I simply have to let others do what they enjoy and not worry about it a moment longer. Now, however, my government has passed a law stating what is and is not considered morally acceptable to gain pleasure from. It is worrying to think that it's only a small step from banning the broadcast of these acts to criminalising the acts themselves. We should remind ourselves that it was only a few decades ago that any homosexual activity was illegal in this country, due to a moral decision by our government.

In a perverse attitude resemblant of those of the Victorian era, it seems that the fact of consent is not what matters, but merely the appearance of it. It's about propriety, not protection. Better to have a regulatory system that would work to ensure that those performing in pornography were doing it consensually, rather than attacking the industry itself.

And let us not forget that this is decision by a government facing investigation for historic abuses of children. A country in which a vast paedophile ring at the highest levels of government and the media industry was kept secret for decades by coercion, bribery and murder. A legal system with a long-standing systemic inability to criminalise and punish rapists, which continues to victimise the survivors of abuse. Rather than focussing on exposing, punishing and stopping genuine abuses of consent, of looking inward and taking scrutinising their own houses, the government would prefer to remove one more freedom from the general public.

1 comment:

  1. 'Spanking' seems to hold a peculiar place within British law.

    Consider the plight of the porn actor parent in the UK.

    They must be careful on set that 'tapping' doesn't become 'spanking', and when reprimanding their children they must ensure that a 'spank' doesn't become a 'hit'.