I've recently made some decisions about the future for me and for Dreams of Spanking.
'We've been together a long time. It's been six and a half years since you opened for business, and I was working and planning for two years before that. You are a labour of love, and before ATVOD came calling, you were a pleasure. I was passionate about you and preferred you to any other project. But under the present circumstances the weight of obligation is growing increasingly heavy'.
It's two days until the UK general election, and the English Collective of Prostitutes have organised a drive to write to MPs and party candidates urging them to support the decriminalisation of sex work. Austerity, benefit sanctions and rising poverty are forcing more people into prostitution, particularly women and mothers. The UK's prostitution laws make it harder for sex workers to stay safe. People who lack other options shouldn't be penalised for making the best choices they can to survive and feed their families. When our government is letting down people with disabilities and mental health problems, defunding and selling off the NHS, cutting welfare and funding to public services, more of those people are likely to turn to sex work as a last resort - and the UK's deeply unjust prostitution laws make it illegal for sex workers to support each other to stay out of harm's way. I've just filled out the form to email my candidates, it's a model letter and only takes a minute or two.
It's too late for them to write back before the election, but it's not too late to take the opportunity to make candidates aware of this issue - and put pressure on whichever of them gets elected to support the recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee to decriminalise prostitution. If you have any time today or tomorrow, please take a second to contact your candidates and put sex work decriminalisation on their agenda.
The ECP have also finally released the evidence report from their parliamentary symposium on sex work law at the House of Commons, which took place in November 2015. I was there; it was an amazing day that brought together academics, activists and sex workers from all over the world to to give evidence on the social and health impact of prostitution laws. It delves into the real world consequences of the criminalisation of clients (the Nordic model), full criminalisation as in the US, and full decriminalisation (the New Zealand model). It's an amazing resource which is available in the parliamentary archives for MPs to access - if you email your MP using their lobbying tool the link is included to encourage them to have a read. Do take a look and educate yourself, there's a lot of misinformation about sex work but once you look at the evidence it's really clear.
I'm really pleased to be featured on a newly-launched site, ethical.porn, a fantastic timely addition to the conversation about the politics of porn production - click here to read my contribution. This is a really important issue to me: as a producer and director my production ethos is always performer-centric, and prioritises transparency, explicit performer consent, and equal pay for equal work. My work as a performer has informed my politics about porn working conditions and I hope that even when I'm directing, I still see things from a performer's perspective.
I look forward to following the conversation - there are some fantastic contributions on the site, including by feminist porn pioneers such as Shine Louise Houston and Ms Naughty. I hope this will have some influence on the often overly simplistic mainstream and feminist discourse about porn, and complicate the standard takes on the issue with some much needed nuance and critical thinking.
After it was passed by the Commons, the Bill bounced back to the House of Lords for final consideration. I've only skimmed the transcript of the debate so far, but as far as I can tell there were no substantive changes to Section 3, covering age verification for online porn.
The event was hosted at Newspeak House, a political community space dedicated to helping technologists improve the way that we make collective decisions as a country. It has regular communal meals and there's lots going on, so if you can get to Bethnal Green and this sounds like your cup of tea, I recommend looking it up.
Videos like this are made possible by my Patreon supporters - if you want to help me create more free-to-access public resources like this about UK porn censorship, obscenity law or any other issues, please donate - even $1 a month is valuable, and every penny adds up to time I can spend campaigning on behalf of our community.
Since the Digital Economy Bill passed to the House of Lords a few months ago, I’ve been following its progress closely. I’ve also been doing my best to intervene in the amendment of the Bill by lobbying the Lords - specifically, sending out a briefing on behalf of Backlash after the second debate, before the Bill was discussed in committee. Each time any transcripts have been published, I’ve read them - and started writing blogposts about each stage of the debate. But I’m not a lawyer, and the passage of a Bill through Parliament is a dense legislative process. Honestly, it’s taken all of my capacity to read, digest and comprehend the Hansard transcripts; I didn't also manage to write succinct, accessible reports on the changes as they happened.
I'm going to have to ditch those half-written drafts now, because the Lords have voted on their final amendments to the Bill, and passed it back to the House of Commons for approval. Section 3 on age verification for online porn has changed in some significant ways. In theory there is still the opportunity for MPs to disagree with the changes and propose amendments of their own; bills can be passed back and forth between the Houses until agreement is reached. But realistically, with a General Election just having been announced for 8 June, it's very unlikely that there will be time for an extended game of legislative ping pong. It's much more likely that the Bill will be rushed through in wash-up without any further changes. So this draft is probably the final shape of the forthcoming Digital Economy Act 2017.
I’ve spent a couple of days reading up on the Lords committee report and third debate, and I think I understand them as well as I’m going to. So here’s my overview of the final shape of the Digital Economy Bill.
Last month you may have noticed a new link which appeared in my sidebar: I started an Instagram! I'm really interested in a medium based around images and am enjoying the focus on the visual; it's a combination of pictures from my trips, activism and events, selfies, and of course some glamour and spanking shots.
Of course like so many social media sites (*cough* Facebook *cough*) Instagram doesn't allow nudity, so that means I have to be judicious in my selections of exactly which spanking shots to share - no pictures of bare buttocks or nipples. However I think I manage to navigate it quite well. Do feel free to follow me at @pandorablake - there's also a new @dreamsofspanking account - and let me know what you think!
You may remember my post last month, telling how I had a journalist and photographer over to my home one evening to watch me and Blath shooting a ritualistic, witchy content share scene. Well, the photos and resultant article are now available in Huck Magazine.
The piece contains some good stuff: talks in a positive way about queer kinky porn, critiques the Digital Economy Bill and Age Verification, and quotes Vex Ashley and Bishop Black along with me and Blath. It also does a bit to center our work in the historical context of political porn, rather than trying to claim that we are inventing it (as a lot of journalists do when they hear about alt porn for the first time). And at least there isn't any pointless "can porn be feminist???" questioning. I have to admit I'm also struck by the pictures - the photographer did a great job of capturing the dark sexy vibes of the scene (credit to Blath for the arty lighting). Sequins and "decriminalise sex work" postcards: yup, that's a queer porn set.
Next week I shall be speaking alongside Myles Jackman in a discussion with Martin Ashworth of ORG London (Open Rights Group), on the potential impact of the Digital Economy Bill and Age Verification on individuals in the UK. ORG London has over 1200 followers on Meetup, so hopefully this will be a well-attended event and will help to get the word out prior to the upcoming vote on the Bill.
If you're in London next Tuesday evening (April 11th), come along to Newspeak House in Bethnal Green to learn more, and to meet me and Myles!