Last week, the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 introduced a series of restrictions on the pornography produced and sold in the UK. The acts that are now prohibited to show on video range from the edgy to the puzzling.
- 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
- Female ejaculation
The last three are included for being potentially life threatening.
Rest assured, all these restriction only apply to video remediation of the acts, but what interests me is the reasoning behind them.
Certainly breath play can be dangerous; there might, feasibly be some concern that making it seem unproblematic could lead people to try it without further education on the subject (although a reenactment your run-of-the-mill movie bar fight would be just as likely to cause severe injury). But a search of the research indicates only one death, in 1987, caused by fisting which tore the tissues so badly that the victim bled to death. There is another recorded death associated with an air embolism. Following this reasoning, as dangerous activities go, videos of showers should be banned; it’s a thousand times more likely to lead to fatality. I’ve searched far and wide, and cannot find a single incident of death by ‘facesitting’.
Then there is the puzzling ban on female ejaculation. When asked to explain their thinking on this, the group responsible for this decision argued that there was no evidence that female ejaculation actually exists and that the fluid being ‘ejaculated’ might contain urine, putting it in the same category as other watersports, i.e. golden showers. The fact that mainstream society’s objection to golden showers stems from it being considered an act of degradation – not because it involves urine – seems to have been lost on this panel. Is there actually porn out there where women degrade men by squirting on them? Well, if there wasn’t, there will be now!
The list of ‘strange’ goes on. Spanking is out, even though approximately 65% of all couples have tried it. Penetration by any object “associated with violence” is on pretty dicey grounds; most women who have been raped would consider a penis an object associated with violence. Physical restraint is so broad as to be laughable. Hands up if you’ve ever let your lover tie you up and fuck you? The absurdity of this part of the list would be risible if it weren’t so sad. How is it that a government ends up banning the remediation of what a considerable number of lovers do in their bedroom on a fairly regular basis? The subtext is that these things aren’t normal. They are abusive, they are perversions, they are wrong.
But strangest of all, at least to me, are the prohibited acts that are not even physical: verbal abuse, humiliation and age-play. None of these are acceptable even when there is clear consent in the video. All of these restrictions approach the concept of ‘sins of the mind’. It appears that the powers that have imposed these restrictions have completely discounted the difference between fantasy and reality. Fictionality is no longer acceptable in porn because, in their view, our society can no longer be trusted to distinguish the difference between, for instance, pretending to be a 12-year old schoolgirl and actually being one. Ironically, it is fictionality that makes porn culturally safer.
Another defense of these restrictions is that it protects children from seeing things they shouldn’t see. But think about all the sexual acts NOT on the list. Is it okay for children to see those things? I’m not going to list them. I trust your imaginations. This argument can be dismissed as ridiculous.
On a personal basis, the banning of the remediation of the acts on list offends me – not because I would want to see most of the acts, I’m not much of a porn fan – but because the prohibition makes a very grave statement about how intellectually subnormal the government assumes its adult citizens to be. More importantly, the government has once again entered into the business, as it did in most of the 20th Century, of taking on the authority to determine what normative sexuality is, and it has moved to ensure that non-normative forms are discouraged, even in fantasy.
But more ironically than all of that, in the name of stemming ‘rape culture’ and the depiction of violence against women, it has banned the video remediation of female ejaculation and facesitting, while still allowing the depiction of women choking on cocks and bukakke scenes.
This is not about protecting anyone from anything. This is, along with the ever-increasing surveillance of our private lives, a claiming of additional powers in the guise of concern for our safety.
Of course, the censorship of sexually explicit material and bans on pornography have never stopped people from getting their hands on it. The plethora of both written and photographic porn produced during the late Victorian period attests to this. What the legislation has done is make certain pornographic spectacle more forbidden, and therefore more alluring. If squirting was a popular meme before, its cache in the UK will go through the roof. People will crave more violent flogging, caning and spanking material because it is prohibited. Eroticism requires transgression and this has simply made the things that have been banned all the more erotic.
And it that spirit, I offer you a little piece of social science fiction:
Show Me Bad
Having pulled on their gimp masks as they make their way down into the basement of the strip-mall Thai takeaway in Ruislip. Gina, Lotte and Rose weave their way through the occupied stacking chairs in the dank, windowless, impromptu cinema.
The others in the secret audience are also masked. Some in balaclavas, some in gas masks, some in pillowcases with holes for the eyes. People nod, murmur. All the seats are occupied, so they stand to the side, leaning against the damp brick wall, and stare at a large flatscreen TV.
Someone switches the lights off. The bluescreen menu prompt pops up and the input is set to ‘video’. First the screen goes black, and then brightens again. On the screen, in what looks like an old fashioned kitchen, a small, bony man argues with what appears to be his obese wife. The wife grabs him, trips him, and pins him to the dirty linoleum floor. The camera moves in, closer, closer. She is hiking up the skirt of her faded, stained housedress. She’s not wearing anything under it. The little man is struggling to free himself but he’s no match for her. She inches her bared bulk up his body.
Someone in the audience whispers, “Fuck, yeah.” The sound of multiple zippers being pulled down, the rustle of displaced clothes is a whisper beneath the hiss of the video. On the screen, there’s a close-up of a plump, enormous cunt lowering itself onto the little man’s panicked face. He screams as the huge, meaty, wet labia cover his nose and mouth. Only his bloodshot,frightened eyes are visible as the woman begins to rock her pelvis back and forth, slathering his face in viscous effluvia.
“Lick me, you motherfucker,” mutters the woman. The man’s hands are fluttering, clawing at her thighs but she doesn’t stop.
In the dark of the room, there are moans, the quick, determined sounds of genitals being self-pleasured.
The man’s legs are kicking wildly, uselessly. Muffled choking sounds are emanating from under the draped slabs of her vulva
“Oh, my god,” whispers Lotte.
Gina has her hand down the front of her jeans, frigging herself, gimp mask impassive, eyes fixed on the flatscreen. The little man’s face – what’s visible of it – has turned a deep red. His head jerks helplessly.
“So fucking hot,” whispers Rose.
On the screen, the massive woman is coming. Her body goes rigid, flesh judders, fluid floods out over the face of the little man, who now appears to be passed out, if not dead.
Half the masked audience is also coming. Moans, cries, grunts fill the dark.
* * *
While waiting for the bus, Rose, Gina and Lotte stand in silence for a while, their gimp masks tucked safely back in their purses.
“I can’t believe what we saw,” says Lotte. “So this is a thing?” “They used to have face sitting in porn, on the net,” says Rose. “It used to be just cunnilingus, you know. The normal kind. But then the government banned it.”
Lotte looks confused. “Why did they ban it?”
Gina smiles. “They said it was too dangerous,” she says. “So someone decided to make it dangerous, for real.”
Rose nods. “It’s way hotter now, isn’t it?”