Age verification: Young people, porn and sex education

Posted at 14:51 on 27 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

Response to the Government consultation on Child Safety Online: Age Verification for Pornography

1: Evidence of Harm

2: Sex education

The consultation opens with the bold claim that:

"The UK is a world leader in child online safety" (p4)

In the context of recent revelations showing how unsafe children in the UK are at the hands of exploitative individuals abusing their power within church, political and media institutions, this opening sentence is in poor taste. The Government's obsession with conjuring a demon to fight in the form of online pornography, while ignoring the real problems of child sexual exploitation, poor sex education, unsafe sex, and sexual violence faced by young people in our society, is reminiscent of the politician's syllogism: "We must do something! This is something - therefore we must do it!" Policy-makers would be far better served by devoting their energies to reducing real incidents of child sexual exploitation, that have caused provable and lasting harm, rather than going to great lengths to defeat the nebulous and unprovable harms of online pornography.

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, censorship, child safety, DCMS, gender politics, media, Ofcom, politics, porn, R18 material, sex critical, sex education, sex positive, young people

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Age verification consultation response: Evidence of harm

Posted at 20:59 on 14 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

I recently responded to a Government consultation proposing mandatory age verification for porn - not only within the UK, but worldwide. This is an expanded version of my response, the first of several posts. Before the deadline, I posted a list of key bullet points; if you want an at-a-glance view of why these proposals are a bad idea, that's a good place to start.

In this first section, I look at the evidence to see whether it supports the proposal's assertions that a lot of children are looking at online porn, and that doing so causes them developmental harm. These claims pop up again and again, often accompanied by the same shoddy statistics and debunked studies; this isn't the first time we've needed to challenge them, and sadly I don't think it will be the last. My hope is that if we share resources, it will make it easier to marshal our arguments next time.

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Tags: age verification, censorship, child safety, DCMS, Ofcom, politics, porn, R18 material, young people

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Become a patron and support my political activism

Posted at 12:21 on 11 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

Support my political activism on Patreon

I have big news! No, it's not the relaunch of Dreams of Spanking... I wish. But it's almost as exciting. I am now crowd-funding my political activism on Patreon, to help me afford to keep doing the important work I'm doing around censorship, porn and sex work. 

Patreon works like the old-school patronage model. You pledge a certain amount a month (it's all done in US Dollars, I'm afraid) - say $5, the cost of buying me a coffee at my desk. The pledges add up until I can afford to turn down some paid work next month, and do more activism in its place. I pay my rent, you get a campaigner fighting your corner with renewed enthusiasm, everyone wins. 

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Tags: activism, crowd-funding, Patreon, politics, porn

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How to respond to the age verification consultation

Posted at 19:13 on 5 Apr 2016 by Pandora Blake

A working group called the “UK council for child internet safety” have published a 44 page proposal document outlining new plans whose stated intention is to ‘protect children online’. The proposals have worrying implications for privacy and freedom of speech, and are based on questionable assumptions and widely-debunked statistics and studies. If they go ahead, online age verification will become compulsory for anyone in the UK wishing to view any web page anywhere in the world on which adult content (still images or video) is hosted. If a site does not install an approved age verification system, the government wants to be able to contact the site's billing agent to cut off their income, and/or their hosting provider to have the site taken offline entirely. These proposals formed part of the government's pre-election manifesto, which also promised the construction of a UK-wide firewall blocking adult sites that failed to comply.

If you think this is a bad idea, please respond to the consultation by midday on 12 April 2016 - that's one week from today. 

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Tags: age verification, BBFC, censorship, civil liberties, CPS, digital liberties, ethical porn, feminist porn, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, net filters, obscenity, Ofcom, OPA, piracy, politics, porn, privacy, sex education, surveillance, tube sites

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Public speaking events round-up

Posted at 22:08 on 23 Mar 2016 by Pandora Blake

Photo of Pandora BlakeAlthough I'm not currently making spanking films, it seems that since I got back from my Australia trip I'm busier than ever. In the aftermath of ATVOD's activities last year I’ve been doing more and more public speaking - particularly on freedom of speech and censorship, pornography, sex work and feminism. If you’d like to come along to any future public events, I’ll be posting the details on my website as they’re confirmed, but here’s a quick roundup of what's happening next, and what I've been up to lately.

Tomorrow, on Thursday 24th March, is the UK screening of The Unslut Project at the Prince Charles Cinema in London. I’m really looking forward to this - the film itself looks at the damaging impact of ‘slut shaming’,  and we’ll be using the documentary as a starting point for discussion about sex negativity, sex work stigma and the adult industry.

I’ll be on the panel alongside some fantastic speakers: obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, author and activist Jerry Barnett, sexual freedom campaigner Charlotte Rose, and Laura Renvoize from the Goldsmiths Sex Worker Solidarity Society. Tickets are under a tenner and available online -  there's still time to grab one if you want to join us.

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Tags: advovacy, censorship, politics, porn, public speaking, universities

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Interview with Marie Claire on feminist porn

Posted at 18:19 on 16 Mar 2016 by Pandora Blake

I recently had the pleasure of talking to the features editor of Marie Claire magazine Indonesia, who wanted to run an interview with a female pornographer. Somehow they stumbled across my name, and got in touch to ask if I'd like to take part. I was a bit surprised to be asked - with my niche spanking fixation and weird insistence on shooting non-consent fantasies, I'm hardly a straightforward representative of the feminist porn movement. But the questions were interesting, and I had fun answering them. I also enjoyed the challenge of finding a selection of pictures from Dreams of Spanking that were suitable for a mainstream women's magazine (ie. no nudity or spanked bums!)

I'm finding it a bit strange how many journalists are interested in talking to me about Dreams of Spanking now that the site is offline, when I struggled for ages to get publicity for the project while it was live. But I suppose if my experiences of government censorship help shed light on the conversation around porn, feminism and production ethics, it's no bad thing. I'm certainly pleased to see a feature like this in a mainstream magazine - it all helps to spread awareness of feminist porn. It's a bit surprising that this is still necessary after 40 years of pioneering work by female directors, but when prominent feminist celebrities are still unaware that any alternatives to heteronormative mainstream porn exist yet, I guess every little helps.

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Tags: Dreams of Spanking, ethical porn, feminist porn, interviews, Marie Claire, media

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DIY porn workshop FAQ

Posted at 16:54 on 1 Mar 2016 by Pandora Blake

Express Yourself Through DIY Porn

This coming weekend I'll be running my first ever workshop, a full day event hosted by the amazing people at the School of Erotic Mysteries, who are passionate about helping people explore and express their sexual power. It's going to be the first event of its kind (that I know of) in the UK, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to share the knowledge I've accumulated during ten years working in porn. If more people made their own porn we could transform the industry for the better - make it more authentic, more diverse and more representative of the gorgeous variety of real people's sexuality. Plus it would give more people the chance to experience the many rewards of expressing your erotic self on camera - it's an incredible buzz and a journey towards greater self-love and creative satisfaction!

We've had lots of interest and many people asking questions about the event, so we have put together the following FAQ. If you have any other questions, ask away - and if you want to dip your toe into the waters of erotic performance in a supportive, accessible and non-judgemental environment, perhaps I'll see you on Sunday.

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Tags: DIY porn, event, fairtrade porn, porn, School of Erotic Mysteries, teaching, workshop

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British fetish film-makers are organising against censorship

Posted at 22:35 on 28 Feb 2016 by Pandora Blake

Today thirty British fetish film-makers met to discuss UK porn censorship, particularly the news that at the start of 2016 video-on-demand regulator ATVOD was shut down and re-absorbed into its parent body, Ofcom. The occasion was the British Fetish Film Festival, a new event that aims to bring film-makers together and showcase the diversity and creativity of kinky erotica produced in the UK and abroad.

Led by femdom pornographer, artist and activist Itziar Bilbao Urrutia - who organises with Backlash, the UK non-profit organisation defending freedom of sexual expression - we shared knowledge around the changing landscape of porn censorship in the UK, and brainstormed strategies to resist attempts to close us down. As Itzi pointed out, “putting all of us out of business is not going to stop porn being available online.”

Under the ATVOD regime, many of us were targeted for censorship, and some of us have had our websites forced offline entirely. Some, such as myself, have appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD’s decision - as Itzi did, successfully, in the wake of ATVOD’s investigation into her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. While many appeals to Ofcom are still pending, that organisation has become the sole regulator of video on demand, and none of us knows how we will fare under the new regime.

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Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, Backlash, British Fetish Film Festival, censorship, civil liberties, internet freedom, Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, Myles Jackman, Ofcom, porn, sexual freedom

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Empower Yourself Through DIY Porn

Posted at 15:51 on 19 Feb 2016 by Pandora Blake

Empower yourself through DIY porn - workshop flyer

A couple of years ago I wrote an article about why I think we need more DIY porn - to improve industry working conditions, increase diversity of representation, and empower more people to see and express themselves as the sexy creatures they are. Well, if you thought making porn might be something you might want to try but you don't know where to start, I'm now developing my DIY porn thoughts into a full day hands-on workshop, in collaboration with the School of Erotic Mysteries.

This event will take place in central London on Sunday 6th March - just two weeks away! It will run from approximately 10am-5pm with a break for lunch, and we’ll focus on building your confidence and capacity to the point where you have the skills and inspiration you need to go home and start shooting.

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Tags: DIY porn, event, fairtrade porn, porn, School of Erotic Mysteries, teaching, workshop

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Did I tell you I shot myself?

Posted at 12:18 on 7 Feb 2016 by Pandora Blake

Pandora Blake poses nude at I Shot Myself

While I was in Melbourne I thought it would be fun to shoot for some Australian porn sites. Thanks to my connections I already had some contacts, and before I left the UK Michelle Flynn had booked me to shoot for Yanks. Once I was there, I also sent off applications to Girls Out West and Feck. I didn’t end up fixing a date with Girls Out West, but Feck got back to me and booked me to shoot for two of their sites - Beautiful Agony and I Shot Myself.

I’ve been performing in porn for nearly ten years, but in all that time I’ve never worked for mainstream studios. All my experience has been in the UK spanking/fetish scene, where sites are mostly run by couples or individuals working from home, or for similarly small scale feminist porn outfits like Bright Desire. So going into the offices of Girls Out West and Feck offices for an interview was a weirdly new experience. It was surreal, as a relatively experienced performer, to be put in the role of a newbie, auditioning for production companies half a world away. The Feck offices in particular are dauntingly professional - I mean the idea of a porn company having offices in the first place is already a bit alien for me, used to the miniscule budgets of UK fetish porn - but Feck’s offices struck me as particularly snazzy; in the hipster bit of Melbourne, with a lobby and pot plants and a receptionist and lots of different people sitting behind desks in lots of different rooms. Porn on this scale is a totally different world.

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Tags: Australia, ethical porn, fairtrade porn, I Shot Myself, photos, porn, sites and studios

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