Pornography produced in the UK was quietly censored today through an amendment to the 2003 Communications Act, and the measures appear to take aim at female pleasure.
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 requires that video-on-demand (VoD) online porn now adhere to the same guidelines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).
Seemingly arbitrarily deciding what is nice sex and what is not nice sex, the board has banned the following acts from being depicted by British pornography producers:
- Aggressive whipping
- Penetration by any object "associated with violence"
- Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)
- Urolagnia (known as "water sports")
- Female ejaculation
The final three listed fall under acts the BBFC views as potentially "life-endangering".
While the measures won't stop people from watching whatever genre of porn they desire, as video shot abroad can still be viewed, they do impose severe restrictions on content created in the UK, and appear to make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual practices between adults
"There appear to be no rational explanations for most of the R18 rules," Jerry Barnett of the anti-censorship group Sex and Censorship told Vice UK. "They're simply a set of moral judgements designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the British people from watching pornography."
More worryingly, the amendment seems to take issue with acts from which women more traditionally derive pleasure than men.
"The new legislation is absurd and surreal," Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, a dominatrix who produces porn with a feminist theme added to Vice UK. "I mean, why ban facesitting? What's so dangerous about it? It's a harmless activity that most femdom performers, myself included, do fully dressed anyway. Its power is symbolic: woman on top, unattainable."
In a piece for The Independent, award-winning erotic film director Erika Lust said that she believes "we need to rethink what is offensive or dangerous and what is, in fact, normal human nature, and remember that it’s more important to educate than regulate."