This is something I've been wanting to do for a really long time, and I'm thrilled that it's finally happening.
I'm facilitating a new workshop in London - Getting and Giving What We Want. I've developed this workshop with my co-facilitator Felix. So far we've run it a couple of times at little festivals and got a really good response. This will be our first time running it in London. It's happening at 7pm on Tuesday 2 October - just in time for the London Fetish Weekend - at the Apple Tree in Clerkenwell, a fab new LGBT venue that has just opened.
We will explore consent, boundaries, and ways to sensitively communicate with other people to create the best experiences possible.
Last week I was invited to visit the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and deliver a half day of training. This was something of a coup. Three years ago, my ethical porn website had just been closed down by the previous online porn regulator, due to my films contravening guidelines maintained by the BBFC. Now, the new online porn regulator were asking me to come and deliver an expert briefing to their compliance team about BDSM, its ethics and practice, and my recommendations regarding the way BDSM films are regulated.
It was an amazing opportunity to meet the people making decisions that affects filmmakers like me, talk to them about the issues, and create a shared context. I was excited to have the chance to share my knowledge and experience to help the team's understanding as they make classification recommendations on BDSM content.
The #metoo movement is just getting started. Lately it seems that every time I come online, I see more excellent articles discussing the gendered dynamics and inequalities of sex, pleasure and consent. This is a much-needed conversation, and it's thrilling to see it taking place in mainstream publications, on an international scale.
Here are some recent highlights from my reading. Content note: sexual assault and consent violations.
Last Thursday evening found me screening porn to a crowded basement bar in Shoreditch, as part of my workshop ‘Feminist Porn - where to find it and how to feel good watching it’. It was totally sold out, and when I got there I realised I'd underestimated how big an event it was going to be; there were apparently a hundred people there including ten journalists, so the whole thing was a bit higher profile than I'd anticipated. I hope that the coverage is favourable, and that my material wasn’t too controversial for the members of the press who were there.
My intention was to introduce the topic of feminist and ethical porn to people who wanted to learn more about it (including talking about the differences between those two terms, and some of the problems that have been raised with ‘feminist porn’ as a phrase), and to also screen some short samplers of some of my favourite feminist porn films, to give an indication of the variety available under that umbrella.
To kick things off I gave a very brief history of feminist porn, starting with Candida Royalle’s Femme Productions of the 1980s (read a heartfelt bio of her here), and introducing other important feminist directors and producers since then, from Annie Sprinkle to the present day. The first screening was a short clip starring Annie which kicks off with her schooling a male lover in how to lick her pussy. I wanted to show that porn which bucks mainstream trends and centers female pleasure and desire has been around for several decades now, and is going from strength to strength.
"Are those 'ows' real 'ows'?" my top asks in concern, resting the tip of the cane on the bed.
"No. Well, yes, they're real as in it really hurts, but it's the difference between owwww!" (high pitched squeal) "and 'Gerroff, you fucker'." I twist around and look at him through my eyelashes. "Basically if I'm still being cute, I'm consenting."
Consent is complicated, and playing with non-consent can be really difficult to do in a way that feels reassuring and secure for all concerned. This short film, found via Kitty Stryker, offers an awesome introduction to the complexities of non-consent play:
The "obvious answer" to the problem posed by this film is to use a safeword, but safewords can also be pretty complex. There's a lot to say about safewords, but right now I want to focus on the negotiation part of non-consent play.
Northern Spanking have just released an unusual new film called The Travelling Disciplinarian and the Novelist. This film is remarkable in a number of ways.
It stars the now-retired Niki Flynn in footage that has never been released before. Ms Flynn also co-wrote the scenario.
Adding to the "spankee gaze" credentials of this scene, the other writer was Amelia Jane Rutherford, who also produced and directed it for Spoilt Ladies Spanked, a project which never went live. After this shoot, Amelia decided she wasn't suited to having executive responsibility of a spanking site and far preferred to work for other people.
In a testament to how very lovely Amelia is, she donated the footage to Northern Spanking after their troubles a couple of years ago when they were maliciously "outed" by a local paper and Paul lost his job as a result. So we get to see it anyway, and Northern Spanking got some awesome extra films to help relieve the pressure in their time of need. How brilliant is that? You can read Paul's comments about this geneous gesture here, and I think it speaks volumes about the supportive and open-hearted example Paul and Lucy themselves have set.
The Spoilt Ladies Spanked project seems to have very much been a reaction against the schoolgirl-tastic state of the spanking film scene, and an attempt to add a bit of diversity, sophistication and elegance. I was really looking forward to seeing the fruits of this endeavour, and The Travelling Disciplinarian and the Novelist does not disappoint.
I've seen these adverts on the Tube recently (or very similar ones: the London version has the word "nympho" instead of "maneater".) They're for a film which will be showing soon in the UK, and the marketing campaign is aggressive. I'm even seeing promoted tweets about it turn up in my Twitter feed. So far, every ad I've seen has made me angry. My anger is half at the film itself (which is perhaps not fair to judge before I've watched it), and half at the way it's being marketed.