I have covered already how the recent UK porn regulations are not ‘anti-woman’, and the acts it bans not ‘feminist’. Pandora Blake is not a ‘feminist pornographer’ she is a female pornographer, selfish-individualism while female is not feminism.
This is barely a victory for ‘free speech’, it proves nothing about porn being ‘speech’. Ofcom didn’t actually rule on whether or not the site’s contents counted as ‘harmful material’, just whether it was the type of site that fell under the regulations. It’s about a regulatory body acting outside of it’s remit, it’s a technical victory only.
A [female] pornographer has hailed a victory for freedom of expression after she won her appeal against an order that had forced her to take down a sadomasochism fetish website
Pandora Blake, from London, said she believed she was targeted by the Authority for Television on Demand (Atvod) watchdog because she spoke out publicly against rules on porn deemed “harmful to minors”.
Now, after Ofcom ruled that Blake’s website, dreamsofspanking.com, did not fall under Atvod’s remit, she is free to reinstate its content. “Now I’ve won my appeal I feel vindicated,” she said. “The war against intrusive and oppressive state censorship isn’t over but this decision is a landmark victory for [porn], diversity and freedom of expression.”
“If you look at [Atvod’s] archive, the sites they were ruling against, a lot of them were run by women,” Blake said. “It did really feel like they were upholding a kind of patriarchal sexuality.”
Atvod, a quango which regulated video-on-demand websites, was stripped of its powers earlier this year. It had been widely criticised for acting against sites outside its remit and, after new rules were introduced in 2014 banning some sex acts in pornography, free speech campaigners also said it disproportionately acted against websites run by women.
Blake had been among those who spoke out publicly against the Audio Visual Media Services regulations (AVMS), which in 2014 banned the depiction of sex acts that were judged morally damaging or life-threatening, including face-sitting, female ejaculation and spanking that leaves marks. She appeared in panel discussions on Newsnight and Women’s Hour opposing the new rules.
She says she was placed under investigation by Atvod soon after. In August 2015, after a five-month inquiry, she was forced to censor her website, which Atvod ruled had breached rules in three areas: a failure to pay regulatory fees, a lack of effective age controls to restrict access to over-18s, and the broadcast of harmful material.
Atvod’s investigation into her work had been traumatic, Blake said. “Making porn was part of an act of self-acceptance for me, to say I’m not ashamed and to reach out to other people who share the same sort of fantasies,” she said. “As a result, the films that I was making did show very honestly the sort of play that I enjoy in real life, it does include quite heavy impact with things like belts and canes – always consensual, but it does leave welts and bruises that might take a few days to heal.”
In a ruling published on Monday, Ofcom decided in favour of dreamsofspanking.com. A spokesperson said: “Ofcom found that the site was not a video-on-demand service and therefore it was not subject to regulation. When regulated video-on-demand services break our rules, we take robust action to protect children.”
Lady*Fest, a feminist festival scheduled to take place June 22nd – 25th in Heidelberg, Germany, has declared the clitoris “exclusionary.”
The festival, which features workshops, lectures, and art, had initially planned to include topics like, “clitoris/glitzoris” and “masturbation” as part of their art exhibition, but protocol documents from the last planning meeting now explain that the clitoris is “problematic,” because it refers to female anatomy.
The festival organizers have stated that, due to being a “queer Lady*fest,” it shouldn’t empower “only certain groups,” such as those with clitorises, and that the festival will not be “excluding any groups” by referencing female anatomy. Lady*fest claims these actions embody their policy, which translates to, “be tender to all genders,” and that being mindful of how female anatomy offends people will provide “a safer space to all human beings by applying awareness.”
Naida Pintul, a radical feminist and former organizer of Lady*fest who lives in Heidelberg, is critical of the decision. She told me via email, “Female anatomy has become a taboo.”
“This is a postmodern version of the same old hatred of female bodies and their biology. Once again, we are not supposed to talk about the reality and the consequences of having our female reproductive organs.”
Initially, the decorating of “vulva cupcakes” was planned as an activity to celebrate and destigmatize female anatomy. This event was also cancelled by festival planners on account of vulva cupcakes not being “inclusive” of everyone’s identity.
“Maybe vulvas and vaginas would be seen as less disgusting/offensive if we called them non-penises,” Pintul quipped.
Similarly, Scripps College was compelled to shut down their “project vulva” last year, an event that invited women to decorate cupcakes to resemble vulvas, as the cupcakes were deemed “violent to transwomen.”
Lady*fest is now considering having “gender star” (*) cupcakes available to replace the vulva cupcakes. (A “gender star” refers to an asterisk placed after gendered words in order to convey that the category includes anyone who identifies with it.)
Lady*Fest itself uses an asterisk in its official name. But, under the circumstances, the asterisk doesn’t feel all that inclusive. Rather, it feels more like a disclaimer that reads: “Lady*Fest (*Not actually for ladies with gross, offensive vulvas and clitorises).”