Posted at 14:04 on 21 Jan 2009 by Pandora / Blake
I got back from my weekend away to discover I'd been mentioned on a mainstream political blog. No, I'm not famous yet - the blogger is my excellent friend Penny Red, and she wanted a quote from me on the violent porn legislation that comes into force on Monday. (In fact, she texted me to ask if I was available for a quick phone interview, but I was neck-deep in Shakespeare at the time and missed my chance.)
I have not, however, missed my chance to attend the demonstration at Parliament Square this Sunday, protesting the ban. The action is being organised by CAAN, the Consenting Adults Action Network. The Spanking Writers have already written this week about CAAN and the legislation; I've already discussed my own point of view at some length.
As Abel has already argued, I don't think most spankos are in danger of becoming criminals next week. Here's the relevant section again:
(6) An extreme image is an image which
(a) falls within subsection (7), and
(b) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
(7) An image falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following
(a) an act which threatens a persons life,
(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a persons anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or
(d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive).
6b is explicitly and worryingly subjective. The News of the World believes that a private judicial caning carried out by consenting adults is gross, disgusting and obscene; the Sunday Mercury thinks that filming spanking porn with consenting adults is a sex crime. (If you disagree, feel free to contact the journalist and explain why - a sample letter and his email address are available here, courtesy of SpankedHortic.) Let's hope none of their fans have jury duty coming up any time soon.
Section 7 is more precise, but significant subsets of BDSM porn are covered by the legislation. An abduction scene where the victim is threatened with a knife? Illegal. A photo of a blade lightly pressing against a throat? Illegal. Sexy shots of someone fellating a gun? Illegal. Erotic asphyxiation? Illegal.
I love non-consent games. Coercion roleplay? Sign me up. I wouldn't enact it with most people, but my fantasies overflow with forced sex, blackmail, kidnapping, restraint, slavery, objectification, threats and brutal discipline. Force me up against a wall and growl into my ear exactly why I have no choice but to submit and I'll be wet before you start. Hold a sword to my throat and I'll give up on even trying to pretend I'm not enjoying it. I get off on breath play so much it's been known to make me come on the spot. As such, I heartily support the existence of erotica depicting these acts. I don't own anywhere near as much of it as I'd like, but will defend the rights of anyone who's been lucky enough to get hold of the good stuff.
As a spanking model, the kind of porn I own most of just about, assuming a sympathetic jury, slips through this new net. Half of it has me in it, which potentially provides a defense under section 66 (although it's debatable whether it's possible to consent under law to, for example, the caning I received in my recent Pain4Fem film). But even if I'm not technically going to be criminalised next week it doesn't mean there's nothing wrong. Something is very wrong.
Images of violence, actual bodily harm, threats to a person's life have been acceptable as popular entertainment for years. The only legal difference between "extreme porn" and half of Hollywood is that the former was "produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal". Owning a copy of the torture scene in Casino Royale, for instance, is not criminalised because the film as a whole is not deemed pornographic. You tell me that half the people watching that scene weren't enjoying Daniel Craig's exposed body and delicious vulnerability. And yet an identical scene produced for publication on, say, this blog would be illegal.
This photo of Chris Burden holding a knife to a reporter's throat is either journalism or performance art, and therefore legal. This image of a handcuffed Asian girl being threatened with a knife is far more ambiguous. In many ways it is less violent than the Chris Burden photo. Was it created for purposes of sexual arousal? No-one knows but the photographer. (And would he be believed in court if he denied it?)
Essentially, the content of the images is irrelevant to this legislation. The intent is the deciding factor. This legislation is so significant because it is the first instance in UK law of a thought crime.
Which is why I'll be at Parliament Square at 2pm this Sunday, defending my right to make and own porn depicting scenes I can legally and consensually enact in private. I hope I'll see some of you there.