Warning: NSFW content ahead
This week the UK released an amendment to the 2003 Communications Act, adding VOD (aka subscription and paid-for) pornography restrictions. These new rules bring VOD porn under the same BBFC guidelines that (R18) DVDs must meet to be allowed for sale.
The list of banned acts are:
- Aggressive whipping
- Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
- Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of whether it is consensual)
- Urolagnia (known as “water sports”)
- Female ejaculation
- Full bondage and restraint (i.e. gagged and all limbs restrained)
Much controversy has followed this stating that it is sexist and unfair, much of which I agree with.
The BBFC currently states that adults over the age of 18 are capable of ‘deciding their own entertainment’, so long as it does not break any laws (such as involving children or animals). But as stated, surely consenting adults deserve to decide what is and is not appropriate for their viewing? Do adults not deserve the freedom to choose what is erotic for them and what is not?
Some of these banned acts I fully support, such as the fourth, as it is physically dangerous. I also believe (as do the general public, of course) that pornography sexualising children and animals, or fetishising things such as race or disability should not be legal let alone allowed on VOD sites.
However, three of these acts were banned due to being ‘life-threatening’. These three acts were strangulation, facesitting and fisting. The main consensus among public is that these acts are by no means life threatening, as (with every act on this list, in fact) they are controlled. There are safe words and guidelines and limits. The simple act of facesitting is an act of sex – it is not even BDSM-related, which are the normal circumstances that safe words etc. are employed.
Another big issue that women, in particular, are having is the banning of female ejaculation. This is not life-threatening (nor can it be argued as such), so why ban it? Why allow male ejaculation but not female? There is no way to describe this rule other than inherently sexist.
This list of rules, although perhaps trying to protect the public, and maybe even pornography actors/actresses (though we all know how looked down upon these people are), they ban acts that need not be banned. They explicitly target women’s pleasure and BDSM-related acts, which need not be targeted. I have touched upon this before, but BDSM – as some people seem not to understand – is consensual. It is not rape or sexual assault, and if it is ‘humiliating’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘forceful’ that too is consensual. It has been agreed upon by both parties and discussed in detail. It is not harmful to anyone involved and is a healthy and trusting expression of sexuality.
My final issue with this list of rules is that it, in effect, stops any form of lesbian pornography. I myself do not watch porn; I find what I have seen to be distasteful and offensive (the constant woman-on-woman starring clearly heterosexual women, made by heterosexual men for heterosexual men is disgusting). However, what ‘real’ lesbian porn, made for, with and by LGBT+ women, is almost exclusively available by subscription only. And, with these rules in place, now cannot take place – because without several of these banned acts, what is lesbian sex but cuddling and kissing? This then makes the new rules not only sexist and anti-BDSM but also homophobic.
So although I agree with banning dangerous objects being used in pornography, everything else, in my opinion, should be allowed. Hell, perhaps even ‘objects associated with violence’ should be allowed – IF it is consensual. My points stands that none of these (except as stated, 4) should be banned so long as they are consensual. These new restrictions simply add to the stigma surrounding pornography and make people even more ashamed of what is a normal, healthy expression of human sexuality.
Perhaps instead of trying to control what people watch for pleasure (which is a tad pointless, as most porn available online isn’t even made in the UK, and this is only for paid-for pornography) perhaps we could focus more on the representation of women in porn, and treatment of porn stars.