Posted at 22:15 on 22 May 2013 by Pandora / Blake
I received an email this week from CCBill, the billing agent who handles the credit card transactions for Dreams of Spanking. The email notified me that they had recently reviewed my site, and now required me to make certain wording changes, or else they would disable my billing. "Terms, Themes, and Marketing (Other Violation - Egregious)" was the heading, followed by a list of pages (mostly blogposts) where the words "non-consent", "force" or "rape" were used.
I like Domination and submission, rope bondage, takedown play and even force fantasies. I figure all of those things have to do with control and my giving mine up-- consensually (or consensually non-consensual).
CCBill noted, "It is a violation of CCBill's AUP to reference 'force' in this context as it implies a non-consensual situation (fantasy or non-fantasy). In order to be compliant with CCBill's AUP, please ensure all references to forced acts are removed."
Performers consenting to scenes and finding them hot? Against CCBill's acceptable use policy. Sorry, Ten, I've had to edit your profile for you. Hope you understand.
Here are some other pages on Dreams of Spanking which were listed as being against CCBill's AUP.
This scene represents a bit of a departure from the classic disciplinary spanking scenario. Don't get me wrong, I love domestic discipline, school scenes, punishment and non-consent fantasies as much as anyone. But I also like variety, and one of the things I'm looking to explore alongside the above is consensual, erotic dominance and submission.
When the fantasy being played out on camera is non-consensual, then the consent of the performers becomes all the more important. Some of my scenes are overtly consensual, but you can't always include consent in the scene itself without breaking the fourth wall, and disrupting the immersion of the fantasy.
Having performers write tweets or blogposts about the shoot helps a lot, but it's nice to have something on the site itself, so that you know what you're looking at is "safe" and not created in dodgy or unpleasant circumstances. Where my scenes explore particularly edgy scenarios, I want to always try and include some behind the scenes material, and contextualise the fantasy of the scene in the reality of the shoot.
Note that these blogposts are not advertising a non-consent scene, or talking about why non-consent is sexy. They are talking about what differentiates my work as explicitly consensual, and they are discussing the issues surrounding consent in porn production.
It turns out to be fairly difficult to discuss consent in porn without ever using the word "non-consent". CCBill are effectively saying that discussions of consent are against their acceptable use policy.
They flagged other pages on the site, too. Such as this blog comment about why many straight men fantasise about M/M spanking:
I think it's possible for someone to not eroticise male bodies, or want to play directly with a man, but to find the fantasy of M/M play hot in a non-consent sort of way.
Personally I think there's nothing wrong with fantasising about a situation with someone you don't fancy, or a non-consent fantasy which would be unsexy in reality. It's perfectly possible to be turned on by the idea of being forced to do something that doesn't turn you on, and having that fantasy doesn't suddenly mean it WOULD turn you on!"
As well as trying to write an F/F scenario which I could pull off convincingly as a novice top the same age as my bottom, I wanted to write a story which explored some of the more complex angles on semi- or non-consent. Pure non-consent, where the victim is forced to submit, is hot, but semi-consent holds a lot more potential for interesting psychology. I'm fascinated by spanking stories where the spankee consents under duress, consents within a range of limited options, is desperate or blackmailed. Being put in a situation where you're forced to choose between two unpleasant alternatives gives the spanking enough non-consent to be edgy, but the spankee's choice gives them at least some self-determination and power. I find that really interesting.
There were also some examples where, I confess, I was genuinely discussing a spanking fantasy that involved some element of reluctance, unwillingness, or coercion. For instance, my comments about this sci-fi/thriller psychic interrogation scene:
Most of this was ad libbed, and we had great fun with it. I think the non-consensual, D/S-y emotional interaction between Danby and the Cuckoo is almost hotter than the spanking, but you can decide for yourself. Along the way I discovered that I really, really like ziplock bondage, resisting interrogation by asking questions, playing a character who is caned while angry, and telepathic rape play. You learn something new every day!
Because according to CCBill, acted, telepathic fantasy rape is still rape, folks. Never mind that nowhere in the site was there any reference to actual, physical rape or a simulated rape scene. Never mind that telepathic rape is a silly fiction that doesn't in fact exist. Context is irrelevant in the CCBill AUP blanket word ban!
And, yes, sometimes I did actually say that being forced to do something within a consensual, negotiated fantasy scenario was hot. My bad.
"Not only that, but this lesbian domination scene includes the riding crop, face slapping, and Ten being forced to suck my big purple strap-on. Hot!" Strap-ons, birching and spanking games
"Shooting this was hot, hot, hot. D and I both enjoy non-consent roleplay, but are both a bit self-conscious to go for it in private most of the time. Taking photos offers us the perfect excuse to explore some of our darker fantasies.
By the time we'd finished I was flushed with arousal, and more or less failing to pretend I hated it (this is a problem I often have with non-consent scenes!)" Interrogation
All of the above references have now been removed. Because if I don't, I'll no longer be able to accept payments on the website which is my livelihood.
Never mind text which isn't sexual or erotic, but an intellectual, semantic discussion about consent, language or ethical production.
Never mind that nowhere in CCBill's Acceptable Use Policy are the words "force" or "non-consent". Here's the relevant section:
3. VIOLATION OF CCBILL POLICY
- The posting, display, or advertising of any image using a model or models under the age of 18 years anywhere on the site whether the models are clothed or unclothed.
- Marketing the site utilizing content including "Kids", "Lolita", "Pedo", "Peta", "Peto", Pre-teen", "Pedophile", "Underage", "Child" or any other words, images, or descriptions that would lead someone to believe that the models are less than 18 years of age is not permitted anywhere on venue including the URL and meta tags.
- The posting or display of any image or wording depicting or related to extreme violence, incest, snuff, scat or the elimination of any bodily waste on another person, mutilation, or rape anywhere on the site in a sexual or erotic manner, including the URL and meta tags.
CCBill haven't expressed any problem with words like "reluctant", "unwilling", "edgy", "coercion" (perhaps I shouldn't point that out, I don't want to give them ideas) so it's not about intent or meaning. They have picked out an arbitrary selection of random words taken out of context.
A blanket word ban on the word "rape" may make no sense whatsoever when you take contextual meaning into account, but it I suppose it's the cheapest way to implement a policy that is basically intended to protect people. It's stupid, but they're a big company, and nuance is expensive. But when did they start reaching for the thesaurus and start banning random words that aren't even in the AUP?
This highly subjective interpretation of their policy isn't even applied consistently. I only needed to use the site search box to discover multiple uses of those words which they hadn't picked up on, and which were no more or less likely to be relevant to their actual ban on extreme violence and rape. If they weren't using the site search tool, how did they find the pages they did pick out? Why didn't they have a problem with that Sensual D/S post when they first reviewed my site before it launched? What random words will they pick out next?
Nimue has remarked that in her experience, these reviews are hugely inconsistent, and content which is approved in one review will be picked out for removal in the next. The process really does seem completely arbitrary, dependent on the whims of whatever CCBill employee is tasked with the review and with little reference to consistency, common sense, or indeed the AUP itself.
Anyway, all the above references are gone. Even where I was talking about the ways in which I strove to demonstrate consent in my productions. Even where I was showcasing behind the scenes footage showing happy, giggly performers. Even though the CCBill employee who sent me this email is no doubt a perfectly intelligent human being easily capable of reading the surrounding words in a sentence and understanding that the intent behind these discussions is to emphasise consent and in fact matches their AUP exactly. They are my billing provider, they have the power to destroy my livelihood in a keystroke and they are able to hold me, and other producers, to ransom. I have therefore done exactly as I was told, and the original text is recorded here for posterity.
I toyed with the idea of replacing the words with comedy censorship spellings ("r*pe" etc) but I decided it would be more fun to use imaginative synonyms. In the process I learned that the approved BDSM term for consensual pre-negotiated rape play is ravishment. I am delighted that CCBill's arbitrary censorship has resulted in my using, for the first time in my life, the phrase "telepathic ravishment". Perhaps they'll ban that next, and we'll need to change it to "pillaging", "plunder" or "spoliation"!
A couple of people have asked why I don't change billing provider. Firstly, I am using custom software designed to interact with CCBill's API and I don't have thousands of pounds to spend on hiring my developer to rewrite it. Secondly, CCBill is the preferred billing agent of most spanking affiliates (resellers) and I would lose a lot of business if I changed to a different provider. Thirdly, other billing agents are exactly the same:
@NikkiKantaka May 22, 8:23pm via Web @NimueAllen @DreamofSpanking Epoch do this too. Ask us to remove/alter something then come back a year later & ask us to alter it again. :S
@HywelPhillips May 22, 11:42pm via Web @DreamofSpanking previous biller- explaining why RE was NOT about rape and violence towards women unacceptable use of "rape" and "violence"!
So there you have it. I have complied with CCBill's censorship regime, because I had no choice. How's that for non-consent?