Sunday, 23 September 2007

Update on the UK 'extreme pornography' ban

Thanks to verte for the introduction. Here’s a brief-as-possible summary of the current status of the British government’s proposals to ban the possession of “extreme pornography”.

These proposals have been included as Part Six of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on 8 October. If the bill is passed as is, people will be at risk of entry on the Sex Offenders’ Register, and up to three years in jail, just for owning an “extreme image”.

As for what on earth an “extreme image” might be, the bill has become even vaguer on this subject since the consultation stage. It states:

‘An “extreme image” is an image of any of the following—
(a) an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life,
(b) an act which results in or appears to result (or be likely to result) in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse,
(d) a person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal, where (in each case) any such act, person or animal depicted in the image is or appears to be real.’

Categories c and d are not relevant to consensual sexual activity in the SM community. However, a and b are likely to have extremely serious consequences. No distinction is made between images of real or staged sexual violence, and it appears not to have entered the heads of the drafters that there could be any distinction between sexual assault and consensual rough play.

A rigorous interpretation of the law could make pictures of everything from breathplay to fisting illegal. A really aggressive interpretation could make even images of vanilla sex without a condom illegal, as the participants could contract a life-threatening disease. How the law is interpreted will depend entirely on the investigating authorities.

Most ridiculously of all, it will become illegal to “extract an [extreme pornographic] image” from a “classified work”. This means that you can still buy James Bond: Casino Royale from WHSmiths, but if you take a still from the ball-busting scene you will be a violent pornographer!

Now the proposals are at bill stage, the government has also abandoned the emotive waffle about ‘protecting’ women and children that characterized the earlier stages of the process. Instead, in note 803 to the bill, they specifically refer to the footage in the Spanner case, describing it as ‘the type of activity covered by the offence’. Such material, it says, is ‘abhorrent to most people’.

The UK government, which has prided itself on its support of gay rights, is using one of the most notorious recent miscarriages of justice against gay people as a foundation stone for a new wave of sexual repression. They are doing so in the name of ‘protecting’ women, even though they have not bothered to produce a single concrete example of how women or anyone else will be served by a law that eradicates the distinction between actual sexual assault and photos of kinky fun.

To find out more about the Backlash campaign, visit www.backlash-uk.org.uk

14 comments:

Trinity said...

Thanks for this, purplepenny!

As far as the "corpse" bit goes, a BDSM porn site I was a member of did a shoot wherein one woman pretended to be newly dead and the other woman played the role of a mortician who got, well, a little too interested. So it may well actually *be* relevant, even though it was obvious to anyone with a brain that the woman in white makeup was y'know NOT DEAD and all.

Not my personal cup of tea but it was really well done, actually. And I can easily see Gothy types doing similar: the Vampire "kills" and keeps going, etc.

Carpenter said...

doesn't a) put everyone who ever watched an action movie on the offender's list?

thene said...

Nah, everything is fine and dandy until someone gets a hard-on. Then all the viewers turn into rapists and the streets are no longer safe for us innocent, sexless women.

That particular inconsistency is bugging the hell out of me. Imaginary violence is such a massive cultural staple, and often exists in conjunction with sexual tension. IMO this ban is driven by the same misogyny that says women shouldn't be on the front line, or shouldn't get into fights with men, or shouldn't be the nameless, anonymous enemies you blow away in videogames. It's 'don't hit girls, they're so weak and fragile!' in combination with 'girls shouldn't like sex'.

(I'm wondering if everyone who plays Dead Or Alive is going to get locked up. I figure anyone who reads Ghita is seriously in for it...)

Trinity said...

"That particular inconsistency is bugging the hell out of me. Imaginary violence is such a massive cultural staple, and often exists in conjunction with sexual tension."

Yes.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, no kidding, there goes like every single horror flick that's come down the pike and -then- some.

and it's like: okay, if the concern is that we're concerned that, unlike in Hollywood where there are enough standards so that we know that "no actual humans or animals were harmed during the making of this picture," the anonymous actor might really be dead, mutilated, fucking the horse, whatever--well, shit, wouldn't -that- be a better angle at which to approach this? for several reasons?

Trinity said...

"the anonymous actor might really be dead, mutilated, fucking the horse, whatever--well, shit, wouldn't -that- be a better angle at which to approach this? for several reasons?"

No shit.

Renegade Evolution said...

gahhh, so glad I am not in the UK...

Anonymous said...

Im delighted by this bill and have written to my MP on learning of your opposition to it - to fully show my support. Ive never been more encouraged to do anything.

Purplepenny said...

"...and have written to my MP on learning of your opposition to it... Ive never been more encouraged to do anything."

If petty spite against a blog is your reason for taking political action then you are a fool and a coward, and disgrace whatever cause you may play at supporting.

Trinity said...

What Purplepenny said. I'd hope that you're usually motivated to activism based on your own opinions, rather than on antagonism toward other people and their opinions.

Iamcuriousblue said...

Great post! I'd really like to put this one up on BPPA, actually, unless Trinity or Verte were planning on doing that themselves.

verte said...

iacb:

I will post on BPPA tonight, as there's a new government report emerged on the 'harm' extreme pornography does women. It's been carried out by radical feminists for, as usual, an authoritarian, predominantly male government as some kind of 'evidence' that this law must be passed.

Iamcuriousblue said...

"I will post on BPPA tonight, as there's a new government report emerged on the 'harm' extreme pornography does women. It's been carried out by radical feminists for, as usual, an authoritarian, predominantly male government as some kind of 'evidence' that this law must be passed."

Sounds like this report is pretty bad news. It also gives lie to the idea that radical feminists aren't calling for censorship or putting power in the hands of male-dominated legal systems. In this case, clearly they are.

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