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:
- Writing two publically-posted articles a month on issues around sexual freedom
- Taking on two unpaid or expenses-only public speaking appearances, debates, or media interviews per month
- Spending at least two full days a month on political lobbying
And with the next pledges that come in I'm getting closer and closer to being able to co-author an academic article with Zahra Stardust on UK and Australian porn law - we've got some great ideas and we anticipate this getting a lot of attention. I can't wait to get started on it.
This month and last month's articles have all been related to the age verification consultation - which touches on a wide range of issues including sex education, classism, privacy and freedom of speech. I've used the response I sent to the government as a starting point, and put together a series of blog posts unpacking the problems in more detail.
- Age verification: Evidence of harm
- Age verification: Young people, porn and sex education
- Age verification: Privacy, surveillance and freedom of speech
- Age verification: Credit cards, classism and social exclusion
- Age verification: Problems with classification
I've recently spoken at two events that I wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford to do. Some events don't have the budget for speakers at all, some can only pay expenses, and some pay the highest speaker fee they can afford but it's still tricky to manage - this is one of the reasons my Patreon is so useful. There are some incredibly worthwhile and under-funded organisations out there, and not only do I want to support what they're doing, I want to make sure more audiences can hear the perspective of a queer feminist porn producer.
This was organised by the University of Manchester feminist collective, and was a great event with an interested audience. I spoke alongside Jerry Barnett from Sex and Censorship, and our talks touched on the representation of women in porn, feminist porn, porn economics and equal pay. My talk was recorded, so I'm hoping to put that up on Youtube once I've received the footage.
I was thrilled to be asked to speak at Eroticon - it's an incredible event, and a wonderful opportunity for erotic writers, sex bloggers and anyone interested in geeking out about sex and sexuality to get together, network and feel like they belong. I first went in 2014, and would have loved to go last year, but sadly my troubles with ATVOD got in the way. I made up for it this year though, leading two conference sessions - one on how to get started making DIY porn (a highly truncated version of my Erotic Mysteries workshop), and one on the impact of the UK porn laws. I was also asked to give a live spanking and caning workshop during the kink demo on Saturday night, and I spent a bit of time during the weekend filming a mini-documentary about Eroticon which I'll edit and put out soon. Events like this are so important to provide a space for sexuality professionals to connect and feel at home, improve their skills, and feel nourished and energised by being part of an amazingly supportive, uncompetitive, non-judgmental community!
I've been talking a lot about the proposed age verification legislation recently; if you're interested but short on time, you can read an overview of the key points here to get up to speed. I submitted an extremely detailed, fully-footnoted, and thoroughly-researched response (26 pages long!) to the consultation, and I thought that would be the end of it. But that wasn't the case.
As a direct result of this work (which I wouldn't have been able to do without Patreon support), I was invited to two significant meetings.
Lib Dem policy committee
First, I was delighted to receive an invitation from the Liberal Democrats to give evidence at their policy committee in Parliament. They are drafting a proposal for sex work decriminalisation, which includes sections on online sex work and internet porn, and they wanted to hear evidence from specialists and experts to inform their policy.
It was a really positive meeting, with me giving evidence alongside academic Dr Teela Saunders, who has researched how sex workers advertise and work online. I was able to provide a different perspective as well as some new information. They were very interested to hear my thoughts about age verification as well, so once I've finished writing up my research (there's one section left to publish) I'll send it all to them to help inform their discussions. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with as a result; and they were very willing to listen, which is a fantastic start.
DCMS and UKAP
Next, I was invited to speak with the DCMS - the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Yes, that's the very same branch of the civil service responsible for producing the recent consultation on age verification, and the legislation under which my website Dreams of Spanking was criminalised and forced offline. So you can imagine I was very interested to speak to them!
I met them along with delegates from UKAP, the UK Adult Producers trade association, who have written up the meeting on their website. It was a fascinating experience to talk face to face with representatives of the department of government that has caused the adult industry so much grief over the last few years. I had to bite my tongue on a few occasions, but I used the time as best I could to represent the interests of independent UK pornographers, particularly those making fetish, alternative, queer and feminist porn. I'm pleased that a dialogue has been opened - it will be interesting to see what comes of it.
It's been a busy few weeks, and to be honest with you I'm expecting things to get even busier - the takedown of Dreams of Spanking has resulted in some surprising changes for me. It's perhaps not quite the route I would have chosen, but I'm so glad to have the opportunity to speak loudly in defence of our sexual freedoms and to represent the community I love. The support coming in via my Pandora Blake Patreon not only has a direct financial impact, meaning I can afford to take on unpaid activism work, it has a very real emotional impact - every pledge that comes in is like a little fistbump of support, keeping me motivated and working hard.
If you like the work I'm doing, and can afford to pledge even a dollar a month (that's about 70p!) it genuinely makes a difference. And if you're not able to pledge yourself, why not share the link with a few like-minded friends? The more people know about this the better - I need your help to get the word out.