The UK’s new porn regulations aren’t particularly feminist, but neither do they prove the existence of ‘feminist porn’. Also, ‘squirting’ isn’t feminist

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The above images are from the fucknobornblogs tumblr, and are captioned “articles from dailydot posted literally within a day of each other; cognitive dissonance is wonderful this time of year”

A lot of fuss was made last month over regulatory changes in the UK regarding on-line pornography. While there has been a lot of histrionics over censorship – with pornography described by one sex industry lawyer as “the canary in the coalmine of free speech”, these regulations only bring the internet in line with DVD regulations in the UK:

Introduced on Monday, the changes to existing regulations will ban a list of 10 sexual acts, reported to range from aggressive whipping to strangulation. It means that paid-for online pornographic films must now adhere to the same rules as content produced for hard-copy DVD films sold in sex shops.

While the changes took some by surprise because of the absence of any major campaign, the government said the Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2014 removed uncertainty from the regulatory framework covering video-on-demand services and provided the same level of protection online that existed on the high street.

Acts that would fail to meet an R18 rating under guidelines laid out by the British Board of Film Censors are now prohibited, while material for which the BBFC has issued an R18 classification must not be included in an online film unless it is behind effective access controls which verify that the user is aged 18 or over.

A spokesperson for the DCMS said: “The legislation provides the same level of protection to the online world that exists on the high street in relation to the sale of physical DVDs.

“In a converging media world these provisions must be coherent and the BBFC classification regime is a tried and tested system of what content is regarded as harmful for minors.”

The other big claim, being repeated unquestioningly by the liberal/lefty mainstream press, is that these regulations “appear to take aim at female pleasure,” as equivalent acts, like ‘deep throating’ aren’t banned.

The quote above comes from an article in the Independent, which also lists all the acts the new regulation covers:

Spanking
Caning
Aggressive whipping
Penetration by any object “associated with violence”
Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)
Urolagnia (known as “water sports”)
Role-playing as non-adults
Physical restraint
Humiliation
Female ejaculation
Strangulation
Facesitting
Fisting

The final three listed fall under acts the BBFC views as potentially “life-endangering”.

Even assuming that all these acts are being carried out by a dominatrix in a ‘femdom’ scenario (and we really can’t make that assumption, especially when it comes to “role-playing as non-adults”, a euphemism for the fetishisation of child sex abuse), this doesn’t mean they have anything to do with “female pleasure”; ‘femdom’ porn is by and for men, and it depicts male fantasies (if that were not the case, men wouldn’t have to pay women to do these things in real life).

There was even a protest outside the Houses of Parliament:

idiot sex-pozzer

You have to feel sorry for the woman in this photo, if she thinks the ’69’ position is synonymous with ‘face-sitting’ or necessarily involves suffocating a man with a woman’s genitals.

Next Years Girl sums the protests up nicely:

R-E-A-L-L-Y interesting that the protesters/commenters are all focused on the banned acts done by female performers (face-sitting, squirting) (while of course ignoring why those acts/the way they’re accomplished on a porn shoot are harmful to the performers themselves) and not the other acts banned by the law. Do you think it’s because it’s harder to sympathetically/hilariously act out caning/whipping women, penetrating a woman with billy clubs, pissing on/choking women, or adults “roleplaying” as children? Not so much quirky, alt-fun to be had there, harder to make the animus behind the law look like simple prudish cringing?

The only thing of any real interest here is the ban on the depiction of ‘squirting’, or female ejaculation. Since female ejaculate comes out of the urethra, it is impossible to distinguish from urination in pornography, and the two seem to be used interchangeably, which is the justification being given for the ban.

But putting the urination issue aside, is ‘squirting’ feminist? I am saying no for several reasons: ‘squirting’, like the vaginal orgasm, is not something all women can achieve, so it simply becomes another way for women to feel sexually inadequate. Also, it is only popular in porn because it is visual, so it reduces ‘female pleasure’ to something surface and performative, with no relation to the subjective experience of the woman making the performance. In fact, not only is most ‘squirting’ in porn faked, the occurrences that aren’t faked require a lot of effort on the performer’s part, detracting from any putative pleasure involved.

Female ejaculation is not uncommon in the average woman, says Kerner. A small amount of whitish and milky fluid that’s produced during or just before orgasm, its contents are different than the natural lubrication produced when sexually stimulated. It has a tiny bit of momentum, but it doesn’t shoot out.

On the other hand, “squirting” or “gushing” – copious amounts of fluid that shoot out of the woman at the same time as her supposed orgasm – is actually caused by a deliberate manipulation by the woman of her own body, specifically an intense bearing down on the pelvis, according to Kerner. Basically, a forceful clench and release of the bladder. When the contents of this fluid have been analyzed, it’s actually – yes – closer to pee than it is to female ejaculate. While porn frames squirting as a “reward” for the male partner’s pleasuring ability – supposedly depicting a woman who has been pleasured to the point of losing control of herself – the reality it’s actually the opposite, pointed out Kerner.

Squirting has nothing to do with the intensity of the orgasm. In fact, the women who do it are likely more focused on fulfilling the sexual fantasies of their male sex partners than actually enjoying an orgasm. Many sex therapists actually think that straining to squirt can ultimately damage the pelvic muscles, said Kerner. “When you think about it, an orgasm is an involuntary process. Regardless of what happens during sex, orgasms are unconscious and involve relaxing and letting go.”

Kerner warned me that if I asked people in the adult industry, they’d likely claim otherwise, given that squirting is a moneymaker for them. But porn director Billy Watson, who also writes a blog called I Shoot Porn (NSFW), is willing to admit (in colorful language) that he’s come to no conclusions about squirting.

“I have no fucking clue,” Watson told me. “I wish I did. Female ejaculate is a fucking mystery to me. I’ve see it happen all sorts of times – usually when [the male actor] has a really big wiener. Once, [an actress] squirted a ton on my set (she was one of the best at that trick) and I immediately stuck my nose in it – not literally – and sniffed. Not a hint of urine smell at all! But then I’ll have Porno Princesses tell me that they’re pissing, and squirt doesn’t exist, and it’s all BS.”

Tara Lynn Fox, one of the porn actresses he’s worked with, confirmed that gushing, in porn – the extreme version of squirting – is often smoke and mirrors. And douches.

While shooting a scene for a squirting fetish site, Fox couldn’t seem to do it naturally, so (in her words, via email), “the director filled up a bunch of douches with water and had me lay on my back and started filling me up! Then as soon as he thought there was enough he threw the bottle out of sight and hit record – and ferociously started rubbing my clit to make it look believable.”

Nevertheless, Fox says that squirting is real – rare and difficult to accomplish, but real. She said that she has squirted on set before, but off-camera. During a brief break, in order to stay hard, the male performer went down on Fox, and she had an orgasm: “He told me it was just a little squirt, but I did it. It wasn’t a big mess or anything.” Granted, I’m not a professional at this, but Fox’s experience sounds like a female ejaculation, which means that the issue of “female ejaculation v. squirting v. gushing” is also a semantic one. Because this needed to be more complicated.

If a pile of garbage like Cosmopolitan can understand this, why can’t the idiot sex-pozzers outside the Houses of Parliament?

Another reason to reject ‘squirting’ as feminist is because of the way it is portrayed in porn; it is portrayed the same as every other bodily secretion (and sex itself), as something disgusting and degrading:

Elegant Angel has produced several multi-award winning film series including Buttwoman, Big Wet Asses, Cumback Pussy, and the Sodomania series. Several EA films were included in AVN’s book on the Top 500 Greatest Films.

In 1993 Collins bribed a Hungarian transport official to allow him to film Buttwoman Does Budapest on the city’s busiest Number 18 tram, as it travelled through the Taban Park neighborhood. The bribe was US$100 and a box of chocolates, and Collins became the first American pornography director to film in Budapest. The film starred Collins’ wife Tianna, and features public sex scenes in front of the city’s main tourist attractions.

Niche-themed series that followed the 2004 hiatus included Cum Drenched Tits, teen-themed films like It’s a Daddy Thing, and ethnic-themed releases like Up That Black Ass, Big Black Wet Asses and Latin Booty Worship.

Some of Elegant Angels’ most successful series have focussed on the niche of female ejaculation. Squirtwoman was the first, followed by Swallow My Squirt, Flower’s Squirt Shower starring Flower Tucci, Cum Rain Cum Shine and Squirt in My Gape.

More recent series include Blow it Out Your Ass, which focusses on milk enemas and anal creampies, and the snowballing line, Sperm Swappers.

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7 responses

  1. Thank you for this article. The buzz on “squirting” really damaged my self-esteem, as I felt like I couldn’t please – or be pleased properly – by my partner. Up until that point I’d felt relatively content with myself after years of hating on my mind and body, but when I found I could not “squirt” I felt like there was something physically wrong with me. Or, I was just psychologically closed off to the possibility of “letting go”. Of course all this nonsense about why I wasn’t doing it was coming from people who had no curiosity or consideration for the mechanisms of this act, and what it was doing to women to expect this of them.

    I ended up researching it for myself, reading journal articles and comparing the findings to anecdotes on blogs and so on. I was really losing my mind over this simple thing and was finding it difficult to connect sexually with my partner. The idea of it happening or not happening kept getting in the way. I even went to my doctor to have her examine me because I ended up believing that my genitals weren’t normal or that I was missing parts.

    A lot of this comes from ignorance of women’s bodies. I knew that much of this phenomenon was informed mostly by porn, but how I felt was that I had to do this thing to feel normal (probably due to the normalisation of porn). People were offering strange and contradictory advice, like to bear down and push out when you orgasm, but for me personally, this went against the normal muscular contractions of my body at that time. It was literally a strain. I was not in tune with myself. It was and is purely performative. I agree with you that it is popularised for its visual aspect. I’m really glad for the IFLScience article, as it confirms what I instinctively knew. It’s just really sad that given the evidence and the sense that was already there, that I still felt like shit about myself.

    Sorry this comment is so long, but I’ve been waiting to hear more feminist input about this, as I felt quite alone in my thoughts and feelings for a while.

  2. Dear weeghost,

    Thank you for your comment (no need to apologise about the length!), and thank you for sharing your experiences.

    I think it is becoming more and more obvious that porn, even though it is seen in the mainstream as being about sexual ‘freedom’ is simply creating a whole new set of myths, lies, and problems, especially for women, who are going to be at the sharp end of anything to do with sex for as long as we live under patriarchy.

    Really, what’s the difference between thinking you can’t get pregnant if you have sex standing up, and thinking women ‘should’ squirt? They are just different flavours of ignorance.

  3. That’s what I feared (about porn creating new myths), as I sensed that this idea that all women can or should ejaculate was creating another pressure on women to prove themselves according to pornographic notions about the female sexual response.

    One of the things that I felt quite strongly when I was struggling with this was anger at the blatant and widespread refusal to take the realities of women’s bodies (not to mention preferences, desires, and so on) seriously. Fairly recently I attended some volunteer training where we had to write as many words relating to sex and sexuality, and bodies, as we could think of to help prepare us for what we might be presented with when we started the work. One of the men in my group, in his mid-30s I’d say, didn’t hesitate to write down as many terms as he could that I instantly recognised had come from porn. Yet when I wrote down “vulva” and “labia” and so on, he looked at me blankly and asked “What’s that?” I just scoffed at him because the response was so typical of many boys and men I’ve encountered, who will react with disgust towards periods but then go on to ogle some model’s airbrushed breasts. It reminds me of a quote I read once and it really stuck with me – “Pornography tells lies about women, but tells the truth about men.”

    I’ve gone kind of off-course but it is all related in the end, isn’t it? I’m tired and pissed off at all the lies being put upon women. We’re expected to be and to play out the pornographic fantasies of men; we’re not permitted to be ourselves. Pornography is really just psychological poison.

  4. Hi weeghost, and thank you for your really insightful comment; there’s nothing much I can add (except to express my shock at a 30-year-old man who doesn’t know what a vulva is).

  5. […] also, naturally, opposes the new porn regulations that came in earlier this year, but the Guardian/Backlash article dishonestly reports this as being […]

  6. […] I have covered already how the recent UK porn regulations are not ‘anti-woman’, and the …. Pandora Blake is not a ‘feminist pornographer’ she is a female pornographer, selfish-individualism while female is not feminism. […]

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