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.
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.
Happy new year! It's traditional to do an end of year review, and I've been chewing over my 2016 one. Damn, it was a hell of a year; comparable in craziness only to the year before it. Here are the headlines:
I attended meetings in Parliament with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport discussing the age verification policy, and with the Liberal Democrat policy committee to consult about sex work and porn policy more generally. On request, I submitted my research into age verification to the Lib Dems to help inform their policy on online porn.
I taught a workshop on how to get started making DIY porn for The School of Erotic Mysteries (I still owe the participants the promised showreel from the shooting we did at the end of the day; what with reopening Dreams of Spanking and campaigning against the Digital Economy Bill, I sadly haven't had time to edit anything extra)
I went to Eroticon 2016, gave two talks, shot a documentary (see above; I'm hoping to finally find time to edit and publish it before Eroticon 2017, but we'll see), gave a spanking and caning demo, and shot a spontaneous porn film in a hotel room
I produced and directed three shoots for Dreams of Spanking - with Zak Jane Keir and Charlie J Forrest at Eroticon in April, with Nimue Allen and Tai Crimson in London in July, and with Adele Haze, Molly Malone and Amelia Jane Rutherford for a super-exciting (and very nearly finished!) Victorian feature film, which was written and backed by a private sponsor and will be out on Dreams of Spanking soon...
I'm finally ready to announce some exciting news that I've been working on behind the scenes for over a month - ever since I realised the full extent of the harm that will be done by the Digital Economy Bill. The bill is currently going through Parliament, and proposes to bring in mandatory age verification for online porn without any provisions to safeguard the personal privacy and sexual liberty of web users. The bill has been debated twice by MPs and on 8th October will go through to the committee stage; and yet none of the concerns which I and other civil liberties activists have raised have yet been satisfactorily addressed.
Do you want to have to enter personal identifying details before you're allowed to look at porn - such as your real name, address, or date of birth? Do you trust porn sites to keep this data secure - and do you want a database of your accumulated porn browsing history to be owned by private companies, exploited for commercial gain and at risk of Ashley Madison style data breaches that would leak your personal sexual preferences into the public domain?
So, a few months ago I kicked off a Patreon campaign supporting my political activism. I expected it to grow fairly slowly, though of course I had plenty of hopes - but I was absolutely gobsmacked when one very generous benefactor made an extremely substantial pledge. Their support has meant I've had an unbelievably busy and productive few months:
Regularly giving unpaid media interviews about porn censorship, feminist porn and other issues relating to sexual freedom and sex workers' rights.
Researching and writing in-depth articles every month on topics of sexual liberty and sex industry law reform.
I'm incredibly grateful for the help of this particular patron to date, along with that of all my Patreon supporters. But my benefactor was always very candid that they couldn't sustain this level of support for ever, and now it's come to an end - just as I'm really getting some momentum with my activism. I'm so glad they were able to help me get to this point, and now I need an extra boost.
All the activism and political organising I do is unpaid, and I still need to pay my bills and keep a roof over my head, just like everyone else. I don't receive a regular salary from any organisation - all my income is entirely self-generated, and every moment I'm volunteering can feel like lost earnings, as I'm sure the freelancers amongst you can understand. This is why Patreon has the potential to be such a revolutionary tool for activists - it's a way to support unpaid work that doesn't rely on a huge expenditure from any one individual. If enough people want to contribute even $10 a month to support what I'm doing, then I can keep doing it.
Last month I attended the second meeting of the newly reinstated Adult Provider Network - an adult industry trade association formed last month to co-ordinate responses to the Digital Economy Bill. It was an absolutely fascinating meeting, and I learned a lot. Read on to discover how this will actually affect your business if you run a UK porn site, why the bill potentially discriminates against the visually impaired, and how the bill risks creating a new trade barrier between UK industry and overseas.
Since then I've attended meetings with representatives from DCMS, the UK Adult Producer trade association, and the Adult Provider Network to discuss the age verification proposals. In these meetings the civil servants I spoke to worked hard to come across as reasonable, open-minded, and interested in listening to our concerns and improving the proposals. But now they've published their official response to the consultation, it's clear that this was a performance purely for our benefit. The Digital Economy Bill reproduces the original policy proposal pretty much unchanged; which in turn is drawn straight from a Conservative party manifesto pledge. It seems that the consultation was a mere box-ticking exercise, paying lip-service to the of listening to experts, industry and the public, but without any intention to actually take the responses into account. Despite seeming open to criticism when we met in person, the official response makes it clear that they don't care what we think, and intend to go ahead with the proposals as if the consultation had never taken place.