Channel 4 debate on UK porn protest

Posted at 16:56 on 23 Jan 2015 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: ATVOD, AVMS, extreme porn legislation, fairtrade porn, gender politics, in the news, kink activism, media, politics, porn protest, sex worker rights

You have all probably seen this already, but I haven't mentioned it here yet - on 12th December after the facesitting protest outside Parliament against the new UK porn laws, I was invited to debate the issue on Newsnight. This was my first proper TV appearance and it was a big deal for me.

My segment was 6 minutes long and you can watch it online here:

My opponent was Anne Atkins - I had to Google her to find out, but she is a well-known homophobic Christian bigot, outspoken in her opposition to LGBT equality. What was interesting was that although I was booked the day before, the producers really struggled to find anyone to debate against me. I was texting them on Friday afternoon asking for a name so I could go in with a minimal amount of preparation, but it wasn't until an hour before the broadcast that they were able to give me Anne's name. It seems that there aren't many political commentators willing to stand up and defend this sort of heavy handed, ill-considered nanny state censorship. Shame, then, that only five MPs have signed the early day motion requesting a debate on this issue in Parliament. My impression of public opinion on this issue is that most people agree the new laws are ridiculous, but very few are willing to label themselves pro-porn or pro-kink by standing up and challenging them.

Unfortunately, their struggle to find me an opponent meant that I ended up debating this legislation with someone who was completely uninformed. Anne had received a call only 90 minutes before the broadcast and had jumped on a train without time to read up on the issue. She didn't know what the law said, and she wasn't interested in debating it, instead using her time to make very arguments against porn in general, claiming that it is inherently exploitative and that violent porn causes rape, etc.

I felt like it was a bit of a missed opportunity - I'd have loved to get stuck into arguing the real issues here of online censorship, obscenity legislation, the argument that extreme porn "depraves and corrupts" and the discrepancy between what it's legal to do and what it's legal to depict - not to mention the ways in which the BBFC and ATVOD regulations disproportionately target sex acts associated with queer, kinky and feminist sex. I'd have loved to have more time to talk about the problems that do exist within the sex industry and the importance of full decriminalisation in reducing harm and stigma. Instead, it was a Porn 101 debate about whether all porn is harmful or degrading to women. Yawn. Still, I suppose if that conversation still needs having, it's still worth having until we have a consensus understanding that porn, like the internet itself, is a morally neutral medium, neither inherently harmful or helpful - and that performer consent and ethical production are far more important than the nature of the fantasy depicted.

If you oppose the censorship of fetish acts including face-sitting, bondage, breath-play and spanking that leaves marks in UK porn, please support my sponsored caning fundraiser to raise money for Backlash, the UK campaign group that are fighting these regulations.

Comments

Well done, Pandora.

Good on you Pandora! So happy to see people in the industry taking a stand in England. I will have to keep my eye on the news over there

You did really well here - incredibly hard under pressure to think quickly enough to get the important points out and not stumble and you do a fantastic job of it. You were obviously very well prepared. It's a really good piece of advocacy.

What strikes me is that most people watching won't really have had much of a grasp on what the legislation actually changes and the moderator doesn't really do a great job of giving a neutral and informative background, which I think is important as obviously as a panellist representing one side of the argument you don't really have the same capacity to lay out the facts without everything you say being challenged.

I think your best moment was when you started to talk about how this is bad for women and I think a good angle to pursue in situations like this is to outline who is this good for and who is this bad for. You very often hear politicians trying to characterise their policies in those terms and I think it's because for people who are on the fence and not very well-informed, they might not immediately be sure where their sympathies lie when presented with the issues but they are more likely to know which groups they do or don't identify with.

Most important is to come across more rational and less wacky than your opponent and you definitely win this exchange.

I left quite a long comment on this a couple of days ago but it doesn´t appear to be here - I thought maybe these days comments were being moderated and it would turn up later but judging from the previous comment this seems less likely. The gist was to congratulate you on an excellent piece of advocacy and a really good and calm performance under pressure. I'm bummed out to see the rest of it disappeared though, I don't suppose it landed in your inbox somehow?

Go Pandora! You got lots of good points across, and perhaps the best point of all was that here was an intelligent, obviously well-educated woman speaking out in defense of consensual porn and the right of women to make, distribute and enjoy it. I was rather hoping that MS Atkins would put you over her knee and give you a good spanking for interrupting her so much, but, sadly, that didn't happen. Not on camera, anyway... I've signed your petition and hope lots of other people do, too.

[…] recently enacted UK porn law extension that severely impacts the producers of spanking material. Link here to read her comments on this television debate, and to view the clip. All Things Spanking urges you […]

Pandora, I just saw the interview (debate), and must say that you did a wonderful job. The other presenter seemed more (most) interested in slamming non-consensual sex and protection of children. All of us agree non-consequentiality is wrong, and of course children need to be protected but much of that falls on parents. As you say in your post, she missed the big points related to the obtuse legislation.

I do think that there is media around that's a bad influence and I'm sure Pandora like anyone would agree. I've been quite support of American feminist Anita Sarkeesian in her claim that violent, sexist video games are a bad influence, but her solution is based around creating better video games, not outlawing games. Much like Pandora has talked about making better porn. But I guess the law has generalized spanking porn saying "It encourages violence and disrespect".

I guess I'll have to be totally frank and say that SOME spanking films in my eyes makes women look weak. I've often downloaded spanking films and watched them with the sound off because I get offended at the way the spanker talks down to the spankee sometimes. I've had a problem with this for a while, but I think I have sort of learned to accept that not everybody quite sees it the way I do. What offends me about a woman's treatment doesn't necessarily offend her or other women watching.

I often say that there are many different ways of reading a picture or film and just because one person says it's sexy, sexist, harmful or whatever doesn't mean everybody is going to read it that way. It's not like the written word. And just because someone reads a picture a certain way, doesn't mean that it was intended to be read that way. I do think that producers do have a responsibility to be careful and thoughtful about what they produce and consider how it might be read by the consumers, but the consumers also have a the responsibility of perceiving it in a fair, reasonable way and realize that their perception is partly based on who they are as a person and how they are inclined to perceive things and not necessarily based on the intentions of the producer.

If the UK government wants ban something, thinking that it'll change society for the better, then I can think of far better places to start than on spanking porn. I mean maybe spanking porn isn't innocent, but Dreams of Spanking is probably the classiest, most professional and least offensive pornographic business I know of. It's really unfair that Pandora and her crew should have to suffer like this when there are people and businesses out there far more deserved of getting whacked with new legal restrictions.

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