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’.”
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?
The British Fetish Film Festival is still brand new. The first event, in 2013, was a closed group of producers only, testing the format and giving kinky UK filmmakers the chance to screen their work in front of their peers. This was actually the first film festival I ever went to, and it was invaluable to see how fetish films play on the big screen.
I learned a lot about the different requirements of a festival compared to viewers watching films individually online: for instance, pacing needs to be much tighter in a festival edit; long kinky shots that would allow viewers the chance to climax at home are wasted on the big screen, because people probably aren't masturbating at a film festival; and funny films are almost universally better suited to festivals than unfunny ones. In fact, it was watching my online edit of Marital Discipline on the big screen at the zeroth British Fetish Film Festival that inspired me to start cutting festival versions of the films I wanted to submit to the Feminist Porn Awards that year, a process which eventually resulted in my shooting Houseboy for the Berlin Porn Film Festival, and winning the Short Film Competition last year. So I owe a lot to the British Fetish Film Festival, and I'm keen to help other UK filmmakers benefit from it too.
Lovely afternoon with other kinky pornographers at @britfetfilmfest. I think we really are all as shy, quiet and introverted as each other!
When the new porn laws came in last December, criminalising the distribution of material depicting sex acts such as facesitting, female ejaculation, watersports and spanking or BDSM that leaves lasting marks, the first person I called was Myles Jackman. Over brunch, he provided invaluable advice regarding how I should proceed with my porn site Dreams of Spanking, which was strongly affected by the new legislation. Since then he has taken on responsibility for handling my Ofcom appeal, provided support countless times as a volunteer for Backlash, and been on the end of the phone during the most stressful periods of my investigation by ATVOD, the new UK video on demand regulator. Almost all of this support has been provided free of charge.
Myles is a tireless campaigner defending sexual liberty in the UK, and many individuals who have been charged with consensual adult pornography offences, or facing family or employment law issues on the basis of their sexual preferences have benefited from his pro bono legal advice. He has dedicated his career to challenging the legal framework through which sexual morality is constrained in the UK, and he specialises in privacy and freedom of expression issues, especially for members of the BDSM and queer communities, sex workers and people in the adult industry.
When I talk to someone about the AVMS guidelines, which control what content it is now legal to distribute online in the UK, their first question is always how on earth these regulations came to pass. Why is facesitting banned, but not gagging on cock? Why can UK video producers not show female ejaculation, but male ejaculation is permissible? Why are the guidelines weirdly specific on the details of a high number of niche activities only found within female domination porn - such as trampling, ballbusting, facesitting, scissoring, wrestling, urethral sounds, anal insertion and BDSM pain play - but no mention is made of countless other obscure fetishes?
After I describe these inconsistencies, the person I'm talking to usually makes a face as they try to imagine how such a bizarre list of banned acts could possibly be compiled. Perhaps they envisage a group of old white men sitting in a boardroom, listing all the fetishes they can think of on a whiteboard, deleting some and underlining others. Half the fetishes on the internet they have never heard of, so they don't get a mention. None of these old white men have ever made a woman squirt, so the consensus is that female ejaculation is a myth, and probably urine - better ban it. But perhaps some of them have guiltily visited a dominatrix or watched femdom porn, so those activities are on their radar - along with all the attendant anxiety of a repressed sexuality. It's potent stuff, they might think, but it's also clearly morally suspect. Best to remove the temptation and ban it all together.
Nimue Allen was the first to take her caning, and she tweeted photos of her welted bottom after 50 cold cane strokes on Friday... which just served to make me more nervous. Thanks to the generosity of our funders (said through gritted teeth!) I was due 50 strokes and Ariel 25 strokes. I kept on waking up last night and was had to give myself a stern talking-to to stop myself getting all strung out with nerves.
I'm still reeling from the news. Thanks to our 105 generous funders, we raised a whopping 3836 for Backlash, and the money was transferred to their account yesterday. I met with David last week and he tells me the cash will be invaluable for funding legal support for producers affected by the UK porn legislation (which might well include yours truly).
I want to extend a personal thank you to each and every person who supported our sponsored caning campaign - whether by donating, sharing the link or writing a newspaper article. I had no idea when I launched this campaign that it would turn into such a wild success, and it's heartening to learn how many people in the UK and worldwide support the stand we're taking against this unjust attempt to censor our freedom of expression.
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!
Our sponsored caning fundraiser to fight against UK porn censorship has now raised 1400 - thank you so much to all who have donated so far! But we aren't stopping there. All proceeds raised (and I mean literally all - we aren't keeping a penny) will go to Backlash, who campaign against laws that restrict sexual freedom - and maintain a legal fund to help defend those prosecuted under such laws.
No UK fetish porn producer can afford an expensive court battle. We are all small independent businesses operated by solo kinksters or couples, working from home and barely making a living after the costs of running a website. Any producers affected by these regulations will desperately need Backlash's support - and it's up to us, the kinky community, to help ensure Backlash have the resources they need.
Encouraged by the amazing support we've received so far, we are continuing to promote the campaign and are adding new stretch goals. Every pound will help in the battle against the UK's draconian new censorship of consensual kinky porn.
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.