My first month fighting for sexual freedom on Patreon

Posted at 18:19 on 23 May 2016 by Pandora Blake

Last month, I launched my sexual freedom Patreon to crowd-fund my political activism - and just six weeks in, I've already shot past the first three goals and am closing in on the fourth. If you've become a Patron or shared the link with interested friends, THANK YOU.

What does this mean?

Your support so far means I am:

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Tags: age verification, DCMS, Liberal Democrats, Patreon, politics, sexual freedom

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Age verification: Problems with classification

Posted at 21:01 on 20 May 2016 by Pandora Blake

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

1: Evidence of Harm

2: Sex education

3: Privacy, surveillance and freedom of speech

4. Credit cards, classism and social exclusion

5. Problems with the existing classification system

The proposals assume a straightforward definition of “pornography” which is not workable in practice. During the second reading of the Online Safety Bill in the House of Lords Baroness Brinton argued that:

“A simplistic definition of pornography will cause immense problems in our courts. How do you define arousal and to what level of arousal - partial, full? Is that arousal the view of the average person on the Clapham omnibus, or should the definition cover the various fetishes that people may have? The famous film director Quentin Tarantino is a foot fetishist. There are a number of people who have assessed his use of bare feet in all his films. Clearly they arouse people with the said fetish.”

If a website calls itself “porn” or “erotica” but none of its contents depict nudity, staged violence or sexual acts - a foot fetish website is a perfect example - should it be categorised as a “sex work” for classification purposes? What harm could a young person possibly come to, looking at artistically lit videos of bare feet?

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC guidelines, British Fetish Film Festival, CPS, ethical porn, feminist porn, fetish porn, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, media, Myles Jackman, obscenity, politics, porn

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Age verification: Credit cards, classism and social exclusion

Posted at 13:36 on 11 May 2016 by Pandora Blake

Why would anyone use an alias?

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

1: Evidence of Harm

2: Sex education

3: Privacy, surveillance and freedom of speech

4. Credit cards, classism and social exclusion

Most methods of age verification assume certain privileges which marginalise and exclude adults on low incomes, those at risk of violence for whom it would be unsafe to share their passport names, and those in unstable accommodation.

The most common method for age verification, with currently available technology, is for the site visitor to enter their credit card details to confirm that they are over 18. This often operates as part of a paywall but can function separately, with the card details being checked but not actually charged. Age verification for online porn is already mandated on UK-based adult websites, with credit cards the only method of age verification accepted by ATVOD - and (since ATVOD folded in January 2016) by their parent body Ofcom, who have taken over sole regulatory responsibility. Debit cards are not considered acceptable proof that a porn site visitor is over 18 - in fact this was one of the gotchas under which my site was ruled against last year. 

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, censorship, credit cards, Facebook, freedom of speech, media, politics, porn, privacy, surveillance, technology

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Age verification: Privacy, surveillance and freedom of speech

Posted at 16:32 on 8 May 2016 by Pandora Blake

Ceiling Cameron is watching you masturbate - by @wefail

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

1: Evidence of harm

2: Sex education

3: Privacy, surveillance and freedom of speech

Freedom of expression is important and must be protected. The UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, stated last year in his report on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression that "the right to freedom of expression includes expression of views and opinions that offend, shock or disturb". His report also noted that restrictions on access to information can have a "chilling effect", whereby individuals restrict their own activities in anticipation of being forced to comply, often over-estimating and censoring themselves far more effectively than if it were left to government enforcement. He concluded that restrictions on access to information online must be:

  • limited to exceptional circumstances
  • governed by law and a clear legal process
  • necessary and the least restrictive means required to achieve the aim.

The Open Rights Group has reiterated the importance of these principles; they limit the extent to which governments, businesses or others can limit the free access to information, whether through overzealous efforts to protect citizens, or more abusive attempts to control free access to information.

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, censorship, child safety, freedom of speech, media, politics, porn, privacy, surveillance, young people

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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, AV consultation, 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, AV consultation, 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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