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2016 year in review - highlights and reflections

Posted at 13:35 on 11 Jan 2017 by Pandora Blake

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:

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Tags: Bright Desire, Charlie J Forrest, Digital Economy Bill, Dreams of Spanking, Eroticon, media, Nimue Allen, Parker Marx, politics, porn, School of Erotic Mysteries, Tai Crimson, year in review, Zak Jane Keir

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English Collective of Prostitutes - Parliamentary film screening and decriminalisation evidence report

Posted at 12:09 on 1 Nov 2016 by Pandora Blake

Invitation from The English Collective of Prostitutes - Make Mum Safer

The English Collective of Prostitutes invite you to a launch event hosted by Dawn Butler MP and actress Sarah Solemani.

Tuesday 22nd November 2016, 2.30-4.00pm
Committee Room 9, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.

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Tags: decriminalisation, English Collective of Prostitutes, politics, sex worker rights

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Written evidence submission to the Public Bill Committee on the Digital Economy Bill

Posted at 12:29 on 28 Oct 2016 by Pandora Blake

Digital Economy Bill

Written evidence submitted by Myles Jackman and Pandora Blake (DEB 61)

 

Who we are

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Tags: age verification, BBFC, classification, Digital Economy Bill, freedom of expression, Myles Jackman, obscenity, politics, porn, privacy, R18

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Announcing the Backlash Kink Olympixxx - changing the rules for adult games

Posted at 17:39 on 4 Oct 2016 by Pandora Blake

The Backlash Kink Olympixxx: Mon 17 October, Houses of Parliament

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?

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Tags: AVMS, Backlash, BBFC, classification, Digital Economy Bill, Myles Jackman, obscenity, politics, porn, protest

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Help me keep fighting for sexual freedom

Posted at 18:05 on 3 Oct 2016 by Pandora Blake

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:

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.

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Tags: activism, Patreon, politics, sexual freedom

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The Adult Provider Network discusses problems with the Digital Economy Bill

Posted at 12:29 on 28 Sep 2016 by Pandora Blake

The Adult Provider Network

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.

Who are the Adult Provider Network?

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Tags: Adult Provider Network, age verification, ATVOD, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC, BBFC guidelines, censorship, child safety, civil liberties, Digital Economy Bill, digital rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, health and disability, MindGeek, obscenity, Ofcom, politics, porn, privacy, sex education, surveillance, technology, young people

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Age verification: The Digital Economy Bill and what it means

Posted at 22:30 on 30 Aug 2016 by Pandora Blake

The government have published their reply to the consultation responses we submitted earlier this year on their proposed policy to enforce age verification for UK viewers of online porn. These proposals are not evidence-based, are classist to the core, and have worrying implications for privacy and freedom of speech. Along with many of you, I submitted a response to the consultation in April, which you can read in full here (it's split into six parts - turns out I had a lot to say). My response was also submitted to the Liberal Democrat policy committee, as well as to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the civil service. 

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. 

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Tags: age verification, ATVOD, AV consultation, AVMS, BBFC, BBFC guidelines, censorship, child safety, civil liberties, credit cards, Digital Economy Bill, digital rights, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, obscenity, Ofcom, politics, porn, privacy, surveillance, technology, young people

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Age verification: Piracy, monopoly and industry standards

Posted at 09:59 on 29 Jun 2016 by Pandora Blake

Response to the Government consultation on Child Safety Online: Age Verification for Pornography

1: Evidence of Harm

2: Sex education

3: Privacy, surveillance and freedom of speech

4. Credit cards, classism and social exclusion

5. Problems with the existing classification system

6. Piracy, monopoly and industry standards

The age verification proposal observes that free tube sites are the primary route by which under 18s access porn, and yet the proposed regulatory framework fails to adequately differentiate between tube sites - which make money from advertising, and often distribute commercial content without the consent of the producers - and commercial porn sites, where the viewer can purchase content direct from the makers. This distinction is worth emphasising. It is not reasonable to impose identical regulatory controls when the two types of site function in very different ways, and have very different effects on the browsing experience of under 18s.

Adult content redistributed on tube sites (often by a third party rather than the original creator) is usually given new headlines and scene descriptions, utilising very different language. Videos are often re-edited to be more concise, with contextualising dialogue and scene-setting removed. A scene which was originally published as an extended exploration of foreplay, intimacy and sensual affection, described with respectful, humanising language that emphasises the consent and mutual respect of the participants, might be pirated and uploaded to a tube site, cut down to a jerky sequence of out-of-context sexual acts, with the activities and participants described using sexist and offensive language. Moreover, videos on tube sites are redistributed outside the content in which they were originally published, without giving the viewer access to any behind the scenes videos, performer interviews and commentary that were available on the original site.

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Tags: age verification, AV consultation, civil liberties, decriminalisation, digital rights, piracy, politics, porn, sex workers rights, tube sites, Zahra Stardust

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The Sex Workers' Opera is back - bigger, braver and more powerful than ever

Posted at 17:08 on 25 May 2016 by Pandora Blake

Since I last blogged about the Sex Workers Opera it has had two years to grow and develop under the direction of Siobhan Knox and Alex Etchart. I watched it last year at the Arcola Theatre; a longer run than its two-night debut in 2014, with new scenes and polish added. Since then, they have crowd-funded the budget for a bigger, better-rehearsed, more ambitious production - and they have also, incredibly, received Arts Council Funding; a fantastic validation by mainstream culture of a marginalised community production, and a useful boost in terms of perceived respectability, as well as being practically useful in providing much-needed extra cash. The cast and crew made incredible use of their budget, and as a result the show has significantly leveled up. Who knew that with adequate funding, artists could produce their best work? It's almost as if money made things easier.

It was, more or less, watching the Sex Worker's Opera - and picking up an invitation to sex worker breakfasts in the ladies loos - that got me involved in the sex worker activist community. Since then, I've organised with the Sex Worker Open University and the English Collective of Prostitutes; I've attended breakfasts and the poledancing class run by the same community enough times to form intimate friendships, although not as much as I would like. So this time, watching the Opera was a much more personal experience. I knew almost everyone on stage (and already had crushes on nearly all of them, which were made all the more acute by watching the sheer talent exhibited during the show) and consider many of them good friends. I felt like a proud sister, beaming with pleasure at the skill of the performance. As a sex workers rights activist I felt included in the solidarity and community that we were invited to witness among the cast members - in fact a clipping of my voice is used at one point in the performance, ranting passionately about the stupidity of the UK porn laws, so I really was, literally included. 

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Tags: gender politics, politics, review, sex worker rights, Sex Workers' Opera

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My first month fighting for sexual freedom on Patreon

Posted at 18:19 on 23 May 2016 by Pandora Blake

Last month, I launched my sexual freedom Patreon to crowd-fund my political activism - and just six weeks in, I've already shot past the first three goals and am closing in on the fourth. If you've become a Patron or shared the link with interested friends, THANK YOU.

What does this mean?

Your support so far means I am:

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Tags: age verification, DCMS, Liberal Democrats, Patreon update, politics, sexual freedom

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