Submitted on Dim, 09/20/2015 - 2:09pm
By Kasparkonsequent - Red and Black Leeds, September 18, 2015
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.
The UK’s gradually expanding porn law restrictions have been going on for years and eventually came to a climax the end of 2014, when previously existing restrictions were applied to all pornographic material made in the UK. Though I still see the occasional protest against this, and a few campaigners are still trying to overturn it, the flurry of outrage has largely died down. My aim here is not to defend the ban, but to critique the way this has been discussed, so we might be able to distinguish in future between what some members of the public want the sex industry to be, and an expression of working class solidarity towards those of us who work in it.
It’s obvious to most people that the list of banned acts represents pure moralising, and that the people who made this list seem to have a particular idea of what normal sex is and should be (part of which, as a number of people have noted, seems to be based on the idea that sex is something that women do for men). The legislation is clearly not about what should or shouldn’t happen on a porn set, but is entirely about what should be depicted and how. This is no mistake, the changes are part of the Obscene Publications Act, designed to outlaw any material that “tends to deprave and corrupt”. The fact that some of the banned acts are also things that many workers will want to avoid at work is coincidental and not the purpose of the ban. This becomes apparent when we see that vomiting, for example from facefucking, is something that is acceptable “if it is not performed as part of the sexual act, and is not visibly enjoyed by the participants”. The important phrase is “visibly enjoyed”, as the issue is not whether or not the worker is actually enjoying having the back of their throat hit until they vomit, but whether or not they have the inclination or acting ability to portray someone who does enjoy it. And according to the OPA they should not appear to enjoy it as it might give people watching the idea that this could be fun. However if your work involves occasional uncontrolled vomiting and you look suitably unimpressed by it when it happens, then as far as this legislation is concerned that’s fine and nothing to worry about.
Whether consciously or not, a lot of the responses to this have mirrored the same attitude in the sense that they’ve not been about what the work is like for those people having sex on camera, but about what consumers think should or shouldn’t be depicted, and how it should be represented, and what porn should look like to portray sex in a certain way to society. Progressives all over the UK have complained that they want female pleasure to be depicted and so are against the ban on female ejaculation, that they want women to be shown as empowered in sex and so are against the ban on face-sitting, that they want a variety of sexual acts to be represented so we aren’t conditioned to masturbate only to the same tired misogynistic porn formula. This is fair enough. It’s not only films and high art that influence our society and how we think, but all the media we consume. Even if all the porn actors on set were to be bored out of their minds, hate each other, and feel disgusted by the thought of having to get it on for the camera, if they produce a work of fiction that depicts the healthy negotiating of consent, where the people having sex are smiling at each other while on camera, where women are portrayed as having their own sexual desires, that could have a positive affect on people watching it.