British Porn Getting Less Sexy Than Usual

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New ban combats violence, undermines women

by Elena Meuse

Opinions Co-Editor

 

Interested in filming some face-sitting porn in the UK? Sorry, you’re out of luck. On Monday, December 1, the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 came into effect in the United Kingdom, stipulating that all video-on-demand online porn produced in the UK must adhere to the same guidelines as the porn available in UK sex shops. This amendment to the 2003 Communications Act,  included a list of sex acts now banned in online porn, now regulated by the British Board of Film censors. While UK porn is already subject to some of the harshest restrictions in all of Europe and these new regulations only effect about 1%  of the porn online available to UK residents, the new law is drawing large amounts of criticism based on the acts now banned in UK porn.

The law bans a large number of sex acts in what is being said to be an attempt to discourage “sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent” and “the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm.” The law bans: spanking, caning, aggressive whipping, penetration by any object associated with violence, physical or verbal abuse (regardless of consent), urolangnia (otherwise known as water sports), role-playing as non-adults, physical restraint, humiliation, female ejaculation, strangulation, face-sitting, and fisting (but only if all knuckles are inserted.) The final three on the list, (strangulation, face-sitting, and fisting) are all considered “life endangering.”

This ban has incited widespread criticism for a variety of reasons, most notably for the fact that female ejaculation somehow made it onto a list meant to decrease violence right between humiliation and strangulation. This would seem to somehow be suggesting intense female pleasure is in some way violent or harmful, which is not quite scientifically correct. The ban has been accused of sexism for disproportionately taking aim at female pleasure without addressing male pleasure at all. Under the ban, male ejaculation is still completely legal even in more controversial acts such as the “money shot” and “bukkake” both of which are generally regarded more questionable than female ejaculation. Additionally, the ban has been criticized for its apparent inability to discern between consensual and nonconsensual practices failing to acknowledge many of the acts upon the list could in fact be desired by the receiver. There are also concerns that this ban would further disadvantage the already struggling UK porn industry, producing bland content that will simply be passed over in favor of competitors in other countries.

While the new UK porn law will not have a major impact upon the porn offered on the internet, it is being seen as a disturbing attack on sexual behavior, particularly that of women. While supporters of the ban argue it helps discourage violence and illegal behaviors, opponents contest that its unequal focus on female pleasure undermines much of the progress being made in regard to gender equality. By treating female pleasure—and acts which bring it about—as something dangerous or wrong, it only further perpetuates a male-centered idea of sex, denying women equal pleasure. Additionally, people on both sides of the debate acknowledge that the ban leaves a large gray area of what is acceptable in porn, potentially resulting in a great deal of confusion. Overall, the UK porn ban is being criticized as an arbitrary list of random sex acts leaving people with a wide array of questions regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable, and more importantly, why certain acts have been privileged over others.

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