Where do the AVMS guidelines come from?

Posted at 22:13 on 13 Jul 2015 by Pandora Blake

When I talk to someone about the AVMS guidelines, which control what content it is now legal to distribute online in the UK, their first question is always how on earth these regulations came to pass. Why is facesitting banned, but not gagging on cock? Why can UK video producers not show female ejaculation, but male ejaculation is permissible? Why are the guidelines weirdly specific on the details of a high number of niche activities only found within female domination porn - such as trampling, ballbusting, facesitting, scissoring, wrestling, urethral sounds, anal insertion and BDSM pain play - but no mention is made of countless other obscure fetishes?

A preview photo from Femme Fatale Films, which definitely doesn't depict any of ATVOD's banned acts.

After I describe these inconsistencies, the person I'm talking to usually makes a face as they try to imagine how such a bizarre list of banned acts could possibly be compiled. Perhaps they envisage a group of old white men sitting in a boardroom, listing all the fetishes they can think of on a whiteboard, deleting some and underlining others. Half the fetishes on the internet they have never heard of, so they don't get a mention. None of these old white men have ever made a woman squirt, so the consensus is that female ejaculation is a myth, and probably urine - better ban it. But perhaps some of them have guiltily visited a dominatrix or watched femdom porn, so those activities are on their radar - along with all the attendant anxiety of a repressed sexuality. It's potent stuff, they might think, but it's also clearly morally suspect. Best to remove the temptation and ban it all together.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, BBFC, censorship, CPS, fisting, kink activism, obscenity, OPA, politics

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ATVOD's Preliminary View on Dreams of Spanking

Posted at 23:05 on 7 Jul 2015 by Pandora Blake

I spent all of May anticipating a letter from ATVOD regarding my porn site Dreams of Spanking, and by the time I went on holiday at the end of the month, none had arrived. I met with Ms Tytania (who successfully appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD's Determination against her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell in 2014) for coffee, and she gave me some more info on the appeal process. For instance, I learned that while her appeal was underway, she took her members section offline, but left her site and blog up. She also suggested that it might be months until ATVOD issued me with their Preliminary View (that is, their first report on the site and whether it is in breach of their guidelines) - they are pursuing lots of cases at the moment and in the case of UCSC, they sometimes kept her waiting a long time for a reply.

I came back from holiday feeling refreshed, and got stuck back into work on Dreams of Spanking with enthusiasm. The detachment and depression I'd felt after I first learned of ATVOD's investigation felt like a thing of the past. For a couple of weeks, I took pleasure in editing videos and promotiing the site.

Then I received a letter from ATVOD enclosing their Preliminary View on Dreams of Spanking.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, censorship, Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn

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Naked solstice

Posted at 10:40 on 23 Jun 2015 by Pandora Blake

I've just come back from a magical weekend in the country with friends, camping at a naturist village for the summer solstice. It was lovely to get away from screens, from London, and from work stress. There's something so freeing about being naked outdoors. I love the feel of the sun on my skin. 

We didn't have the best weather on Saturday, but it turns out that being naked in the rain isn't that bad - I find that I feel the chill a lot less when I'm naked for some reason, and if you get wet, you dry much quicker. We had fun swimming in the heated outdoor pool while raindrops splashed the surface, and when the wind picked up we went into the clubhouse and sat in the sauna to get warm.

On Sunday the sun came out, just in time for the solstice ceremony I'd agreed to help with. A lot of people took part, and it was lovely to stand beneath an oak tree reflecting on the turning of the year, and our intentions for the months ahead.

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Tags: naturism, outdoor

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Historical porn from the Museu de L'Eròtica

Posted at 00:11 on 2 Jun 2015 by Pandora Blake

D and I have just got back from a lovely holiday in Barcelona, which is just as beautiful as everyone says it is. While we were there I made certain we had a look round the Museu de L'Eròtica on La Rambla. It's a small museum with an exhibition on sex through the ages, mostly dedicated to historical erotic art. The section on BDSM was disappointingly tiny, but the entry price included a free glass of champagne so I didn't mind too much. I particularly enjoyed the collection of 18th century European (mostly French, Italian and English) erotic art. Forgive the crappy cameraphone photos, but there were some images I just had to share...

I was struck by this drawing of two lovers engaged in acrobatic sex - one for ballet lovers everywhere. I like the way the woman is being lifted off the floor, gravity held at bay merely by the strength of an erect cock and one dainty hand. But most of all I'm intrigued by the feminine appearance of her lover. I don't think the concept of a trans woman (which was my first instinctive interpretation) existed in the same way back then, but there were definitely some gender-benders - is this intended to depict a male cross-dresser or drag queen, I wonder? Or is this sort of feminine appearance perfectly standard for a male ballet dancer of the time?

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Tags: ATVOD, censorship, fetish art, funny, Gender politics, historical, other pictures, vintage, watersports

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The same journey

Posted at 21:03 on 2 Apr 2015 by Pandora Blake

Right now I feel pretty frustrated about the legal situation in the UK. I'm stressed about the consequences all this is likely to have on my life, and pessimistic about the chances of being able to successfully challenge the laws. When I'm feeling frustrated, stressed and pessimistic, to avoid lashing out at people I often curl inwards, seeking comfort and reassurance. It was in this mood that I posted the following tweets the other day:

Tags: age play, dominance and submission, kink, Princess Kelley, switching

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Teaching porn in schools

Posted at 20:53 on 20 Mar 2015 by Pandora Blake

On Monday a Guardian article entitled "Porn belongs in the classroom" made waves in the UK. I got home on Monday afternoon to several journalist interview requests, and an invitation to discuss the topic on BBC Newsnight (which I politely declined because seven hours notice really isn't enough for that sort of thing, although apparently it's standard). This idea has clearly made waves.

Prof Christian Graugaard of Aalborg University has called for pornography to be shown to older teens in schools to kickstart discussion and education that will help them become "more conscientious and critical consumers".

“My proposal is to critically discuss pornography with 8th and 9th graders [age 15 – the legal age of consent in Denmark – and 16 respectively] as part of a sensible didactic strategy, carried out by trained teachers,” he told the Guardian.

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Tags: ethical porn, feminist porn, gender politics, in the news, media, politics, sex critical, sex education, sex positive, young people

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The porn debate

Posted at 17:23 on 13 Mar 2015 by Pandora Blake

I've been doing a lot of advocacy work recently. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate in a Woman's Hour debate on whether "porn can empower women" (click to read my deconstruction of the myriad ways that question is unhelpful) hosted by the Women of the World festival on the South Bank. The two hour recording was edited down to 38 minutes and broadcast a week later on Radio 4 - you can listen to it on BBC iPlayer here. (I haven't listened to the broadcast. When we were chatting before the recording, Dr Clarissa Smith and Sam Roddick advised me "never watch your own press".)

The week before it went out, I dreaded an unsympathetic edit. The debate audience had been dominated by members of feminist groups such as Object and Stop Porn Culture, who are vehemently opposed to the existence of pornography and consider any woman who willingly participates in it to be either an abused victim or a gender traitor. Sitting on the stage, I was all too aware that the first few rows of audience members were very hostile towards me - not only towards my political position, but towards me personally. There was a lot of jeering, heckling and yelling, and from where we were sitting the atmosphere in the room felt very tense. When the debate opened to the audience members, individuals from these groups seemed to spend twice as long on the mic as the rest - and some even started preaching, delivering emotive impassioned rhetoric which felt very out of place.

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Tags: empowerment, feminism, gender politics, in the news, media, sex worker's rights, SWOU, Woman's Hour

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Can porn empower women?

Posted at 12:09 on 5 Mar 2015 by Pandora Blake

Last Sunday I participated in a debate at the Women of the World festival entitled "Can porn empower women?" In my three minutes I didn't have time to go into the full complexities of that question - so I'm going to do so here.

Debating "porn" is difficult because the word means different things to different people. Some people use it to mean "sexy media I don't like", and the word "erotica" to mean "sexy media I do like". So I want to start out with a definition: porn is media that is intended to sexually stimulate the viewer. It doesn't necessarily have to involve nudity, or sex (whatever THAT means).

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Tags: Fairtrade porn, feminist porn, Feminist Porn Awards, Gender politics, labour rights, Politics, Porn Film Festival Berlin, sex work, Sex worker rights

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The Full Body Project

Posted at 00:16 on 28 Feb 2015 by Pandora Blake

The Full Body Project by Leonard Nimoy

Until today, I'd never seen any of Leonard Nimoy's photography. He began taking photos as a teenager, but became famous for it after he (mostly) retired from acting. He took fine art portraits that showed the beauty and complexity of humans - particularly that beauty which often isn't appreciated elsewhere.

I absolutely love his Full Body Project, a series of nude photos that celebrate the beauty of full-figured female bodies. Some of the images are thoughtfully composed, others joyful and spontaneous. Each one has an undeniable sense of dignity and respect.

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Tags: Body positivity, Politics

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Google gradually tightens the net

Posted at 10:55 on 25 Feb 2015 by Pandora Blake

Google bans adult blogs - Violet Blue

It's finally happened: Google has pledged to remove all Blogger blogs deemed "adult" from the public internet.

Yesterday the owners of blogs behind an "adult content warning" page were emailed with a notice that if they didn't remove all "sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video" from every post in their archive, their blog would be removed from public view and set to "invitation only", meaning it would become private content only visible to logged-in Google users who have been invited to view it. Users have until March 23rd to comply (which for blogs that have been running for years amounts to an incredibly laborious job), or their whole blog will be hidden and removed from search.

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Tags: Blogger, censorship, freedom of expression, google, Politics

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