I was expecting quite a short piece - maybe something like this listing in Time Out (which coined the delightful phrase "patriarchy pounding pornos") but instead Hackney Citizen lavished 1200 words on the event, and went into quite a lot of detail about the subject matter too. The piece talks about the history of feminist porn, what makes porn feminist, the importance of good working conditions and what to look for behind the scenes, and how kinky sex and satire have a place in feminist porn.
So while I was away this month, I got cited by a Radio 4 presenter.
I listened to the segment on the BBC website after a heads up from some kind folks on Twitter. You can listen to it here until Wed 16 August - the relevant section begins at 32:51. Presenter Eddie Mair was interviewing Matt Hancock, the Digital Minister, about the age verification policy enshrined in the Digital Economy Act 2017. Unfortunately, Matt Hancock didn't come across very well. He sounded bumbling and under-informed, unable to give any clear answers about how age verification will work in practice. After claiming that age verification won't require giving any identifying information, the only means of verifying your age that he was able to think of were a passport and credit card - both of which involve revealing your identity, and exclude many marginalised adults without access to these documents from being able to look at porn. Not only that, but it's in doubt whether credit cards will be accepted by the regulator as a compliant form of age verification, as it's possible for under 18s to have them. Clearly Matt Hancock hasn't spent much time looking into this.
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.
This week Artefact Magazine has published a short article on the Digital Economy Bill following a phone interview I did with journalist Nana Baah, who had already written a piece in December on Porn Censorship. This piece fleshes out the details of the censorship overshadowing the UK internet, and includes quotes from my interview with her, and by Jerry Barnett of Sex and Censorship. Jerry rightly links this sort of censorship, to "rising intolerance to free expression" that is permeating our politics at the moment, both in the UK and beyond.
As well as pointing out the high costs of age verification software and the disproportionate impact this policy will have on small businesses, I talked about some of the knock-on effects of an increasing lack of accessibility to erotic media. '“I get messages daily from people who say that I have helped them to accept themselves, changed their lives and got rid of their shame. If you can’t find out that there are other people with these fetishes, learn about consent and how to practice it safely, then you might think that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. I did until getting online at 13 and seeing preview pictures of spanking - I finally thought ‘Wow, I’m not the only one’.”
The article has received over one and a half thousand comments - and I was pleasantly astonished to discover that the majority of them are sympathetic or supportive. It seems that many people share my outrage that the Government think it a worthwhile use of time and money to legislate what consenting adults do for fun - or think that this bill is a proportionate, workable answer to the problems emerging from young people's lack of sex education.
I hadn't heard of this Channel 4 short web series until one of my friends showed me the episode on Sploshing, because she was in it. It's a fun, non-explicit 3 minute short film about the wet and messy fetish, with two kinky girls getting each other messy and talking about why they like it. I found the editing to be sympathetic and surprisingly non-sneery, showing genuine curiosity about why people enjoy the kink, rather than looking down their noses. I'd be interested to hear from WAM fans what you think of it!
There are a few other films in the series, including Pony Play, Shibari, BDSM Wrestling, Interrogation and Forniphilia. I don't recognise any of the other performers at first glance, but I wouldn't be surprised if I know one or two of them. The only remaining question is - when are they going to do one on spanking, and can I be in it?
On Monday a Guardian article entitled "Porn belongs in the classroom" made waves in the UK. I got home on Monday afternoon to several journalist interview requests, and an invitation to discuss the topic on BBC Newsnight (which I politely declined because seven hours notice really isn't enough for that sort of thing, although apparently it's standard). This idea has clearly made waves.
Prof Christian Graugaard of Aalborg University has called for pornography to be shown to older teens in schools to kickstart discussion and education that will help them become "more conscientious and critical consumers".
“My proposal is to critically discuss pornography with 8th and 9th graders [age 15 – the legal age of consent in Denmark – and 16 respectively] as part of a sensible didactic strategy, carried out by trained teachers,” he told the Guardian.
The week before it went out, I dreaded an unsympathetic edit. The debate audience had been dominated by members of feminist groups such as Object and Stop Porn Culture, who are vehemently opposed to the existence of pornography and consider any woman who willingly participates in it to be either an abused victim or a gender traitor. Sitting on the stage, I was all too aware that the first few rows of audience members were very hostile towards me - not only towards my political position, but towards me personally. There was a lot of jeering, heckling and yelling, and from where we were sitting the atmosphere in the room felt very tense. When the debate opened to the audience members, individuals from these groups seemed to spend twice as long on the mic as the rest - and some even started preaching, delivering emotive impassioned rhetoric which felt very out of place.
Wow, what a week it's been! Thanks to you, the kinky Indiegogo campaign I launched with Nimue Allen has raised more than five times our original funding target to help fight UK porn censorship - and there's still 18 hours left.
The fundraiser is running until midnight tonight PST (that's 8am on Sunday for us Brits), so there's still time to donate. Every penny raised will be donated to Backlash to help fight the UK's regressive new porn laws. Please do contribute if you can!
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.