Success! Our London Protest

The build-up to our protest yesterday was hectic, with coverage in the Huffington Post and the Independent in the preceding days.

When we originally planned the event, we thought it would be great if a dozen people turned up: after all, that’s about the size of the typical pro-censorship protest held by Object and other anti-sex campaigners. In fact, at least 50 people turned out, including pornstars, strippers and sex workers.

We’d like to thank those who came – especially former pornstar Renee Richards, who helped build for the event, and turned up to make a speech, despite being seven months pregnant!

Click here for full event coverage and photos from XBIZ.

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A Critical Look at Stop Porn Culture (by a Lesbian Woman)

I will start out by letting everyone know that I make absolutely NO money off of the adult industry whatsoever, I have several friends in the adult entertainment industry, I am a lesbian woman, I have a college education (EMT-B & Human Development) I am Canadian, I am a person who politically is a left leaning Libertarian and am a supporter of the adult industry.

I have always been fairly critical of Stop Porn Culture & Dr. Gail Dines’ viewpoint & arguments against pornography. However I used to believe that it was just a group that had misguided views & ideas of what pornography was but its intentions were inherently good. It also crossed my mind that maybe they were so passionate about their cause, that it might have left them blinded to see any viewpoint but their own. Now I believe differently.

One of my issues is that I have never heard Dr. Dines speak on hardcore lesbian or gay pornography. I myself have seen the so-called acts of ‘degradation & humiliation’ (Gail’s words, not mine) in gay/lesbian adult media, but yet nothing has been said about this form of adult entertainment by her or her organization. I know the excuse will probably that the target audience are heterosexual males (especially in the case of lesbian pornography), but I’m genuinely interested in knowing why this is never mentioned. Is it less degrading because the “body punishing sex” is being perpetrated by a member of the same gender? I am in no way agreeing with Dr. Dines’ views on pornography, but her focus does seem to intentionally solely be on heterosexual pornography.

As a member of the LGBT community, this troubles me. Why hasn’t Dr. Dines addressed abuse within same-sex relationships in pornography? I always hear in lecture after lecture the “body punishing” & “women being gagged with penises” explanation. However I never hear about “butch girls gagging femmes with strapons” or “male on male rape fantasy” porn. By this standard it seems to me that Dr. Dines is (possibly even subconsciously) bashing the heterosexual male. I thought she was was supposed to be leader & academic speaker of an anti-pornography organization, not attack the adult viewing habits of the hetero male. The focus seems to be very direct, deliberate, and intentional. Not at the ENTIRE industry like SPC claims.

A number of SPC (Stop Porn Culture ) members/supporters have been extremely abusive toward those with opposing views. Insults, defamation, accusations & assumptions ran wild. These included a passive agressive death threat, accusations of beastiality, claims that I support rape & enjoy watching women be raped, questioning if I am a pedophile, and saying that I was happy when a 13 year old raped his sister. When I questioned/informed SPC about this they told me it was upto the Sex & Censorship moderators on their facebook page to deal with it. I had explained to them that I actually had concern for THEIR organization. Afterall, I wouldn’t want some of my biggest & outspoken supporters to be making these obscene & untrue claims because naturally people assume guilt by association. Despite the people making these claims were on Dr. Dines facebook friends list. These concerns were simply brushed off & ignored. Gail herself has refered to female pornographers/supporters of the adult entertainment industry as ‘scabs’. She especially likes to use immature terms towards males defending the industry brushing them off as ‘boy-men’, ‘creeps’ and ‘porny men’. It shocked me that an academic would resort to using these words. I was dumbfounded and at a loss of words that someone who professes to hate abuse, bullying and derogatory words would behave in this childish, infantile manner.

Gail’s refusal to debate women who hold their jobs in the sex work/adult entertainment industry in high regard is unusual for someone of her academic level. She is highly avoidant when it comes to those who question her beliefs or debunks her research. She often misquotes forums, researchers, and adult stars to coincide with her message. I frankly do not understand it. Why doesn’t she want to debate? Is Gail afraid that the likes of Nina Hartley, Lily Cade and Tristan Taormino will utterly wipe the floor with her uncited & unsourced research? Is she afraid of losing her credibility by having actual people (especially women) currently in the business speak positively about it? Although I don’t know if you could lose much more credibility than by hanging out with the likes of Shelley Lubben (whom now apparently is a ‘Doctor’ as well).

In closing, I am proud to say I support the adult industry, sex workers & the anti censorship movement. I’m proud of who I am & As a PROUD WOMAN I stand by my beliefs.

Warmest Regards & Stay Safe,
-Kat C

‘De-Pixelation’ Machine Discovered in Osaka

Following a raid in Osaka that saw the seizure of 140,000 uncensored DVD’s a strange machine was also discovered, which was apparently used to de-pixelate the required censored mosaic in Japanese DVD titles and videos.
A machine right?! I’d expect an app or web site but no – we are talking an actual machine complete with dials and knobs to adjust the strength of depixelation.

Source: http://www.xbiz.com/news/175578

Search Engine Reveals Real Time Porn Searches

PornMD, one of the largest porn search engines has launched a live search page which shows what people around the world are searching for at that moment.

Search queries are scrolled through in real-time as they are being searched for by users of the search engine and for the curious out there they are clickable.

If nothing else it is an interesting glimpse into the huge number of searches for adult entertainment carried out on the Internet every second.

New Browser Allows Users to Bypass Porn Filters

‘Jerky’ is a web browser that has been developed explicitly to allow its users to bypass the UK porn filters that were switched on at the beginning of 2014.

As well as an ‘incognito’ style desktop browser they have an Android app available through Google’s Play store and an iOS version in the works too.

Source: http://newswire.xbiz.com/view.php?id=175032

Censored UK: Where Are We Now?

While we at Sex & Censorship are following – with increasing trepidation – the endless drift towards censorship in the UK, we’re sometimes reminded that many of our supporters can’t keep up with all the news and events. That’s hardly surprising: Britain is currently experiencing wave after wave of moral panic, and it seems that hardly a week goes by without more bad news for free expression. So here is a brief round-up of some of the main issues comprising British censorship at present. I’ve undoubtedly missed stuff: feel free to add it below. Of course, a short blog post can’t hope to explain everything that’s taking place. I’m currently documenting British censorship in a book, Porn Panic: please join our mailing list to be alerted when this is published.

Law

  • The Obscene Publications Act: the grandaddy of all censorship laws, outlawing the distribution of content that might “deprave and corrupt” its audience.
  • Video Recordings Act: since 1984(!) the BBFC (a private organisation) has had the right to censor videos and DVDs, and they seem to have a particular problem with pornography, making UK video among the most censored in Europe.
  • Protection of Children Act: originally designed to criminalise images of child abuse, but sometimes misused, even to harass viewers of legitimate pornography.
  • Dangerous Cartoons Act: yes, you can become a sex offender for possessing a sexual cartoon featuring a character that might appear to be under-age – such as seen in popular Japanese anime cartoons.
  • Extreme Porn Law: three years in jail for possessing images of what the government considers to be “extreme pornography” – even if they are images of yourself participating in consensual sex with your own partner.
  • Rape Porn: a planned extension to the extreme porn law whereby you can be jailed for possessing an image of a sexual act that appears to be non-consensual (whether it is actually consensual or not). Quick, delete those bondage photos!
  • Gagging law: no, it’s not about blowjobs: it’s a serious attack on the rights of political campaigning organisations to speak freely, disguised as a law to regulate lobbying.

Regulation

  • Although they’ve never been mandated by Parliament or the British people to do so, Ofcom have consistently refused to allow hardcore sex on TV: even on adult channels at 3am. Almost all other EU countries, and the US, allow porn to be broadcast.
  • A private body, ATVOD, has taken it upon itself to drive much of the online porn industry out of the country, or out of business, by mandating strict website guidelines that make profitable business effectively impossible. They claim an EU directive gives them this right, although strangely, none of the other 26 EU member states have taken this action, and erotic/sexual material continues to be sold legally elsewhere in Europe without such restrictions.
  • Internet blocking: There were at least two attempts to introduce mandatory Internet censorship laws into Parliament last year; while these both failed, we expect similar laws to have more success in the near future.

ISPs

  • Mobile networks: since 2004, mobile operators have voluntarily censored Internet access from phones until the owner proves they are over 18. This censorship covers all sorts of material, and many adults as well as teenagers are denied access to much of the Internet from their mobile phones.
  • Broadband filtering: since December, ISPs have voluntarily begun to offer “porn filters” to home-owners, under the pretext of “protecting children”. However, these filters block, not just porn, but dozens of categories of content for entire households, and offer the bill payer a means of restricting Internet access for others in the same household.

Policing Speech

A raft of laws against “malicious communication” and “terrorism” have been used to jail people for speech alone. Increasingly, the important line between expression and action is becoming blurred in the eyes of the UK authorities. These days, writing can be considered terrorism, and jokes tweeted in poor taste can see you dragged into court.

Academia

There is a worrying trend towards increasing censorship within universities, which (one would have hoped) should be beacons of free expression, debate and discussion. For example, several student unions have banned the Sun newspaper, not for its dodgy news or political bias, but for displaying that most terrible thing, the female nipple.

What now?

Censored UK is a reality. We struggle with limited resources to expose these attacks on free expression, and campaign against those who try to push us even further in this direction. If any of this worries or outrages you, please donate to our campaign and help us restore some sanity!

Virgin Media Roll Out ISP Filtering

Virgin Media have rolled out their filtering to new subscribers. They claim the rollout will help parents prevent children seeing inappropriate content online.

Virgin Media are the last of the top four ISPs to implement filtering and have pledged to ask existing customers by the end of the year.

Virgin’s system works at a network level which means all devices in a house which connect via its router will be subject to the same filtering system.

Why Are We Protesting on March 15th?

Since the London protest was announced for March 15th, I’ve been asked by some UK pornstars what the event is about. Although Stop Porn Culture (SPC) is well known for its anti-sex campaigning in the US, it is a new introduction to the UK. Their conference next month is aimed at setting up a presence in this country.

SPC is the brainchild of Gail Dines, probably the most prolific anti-sex campaigner around today. She sells a fantasy world in which the all-powerful porn industry is plotting to turn everybody into promiscuous, sex addicted, pornstar wannabes. And she makes a good living from this, having written three books, and regularly featuring in the press and on the speaking circuit.

Dines claims to have studied the porn industry for over 20 years, but a quick read of her work reveals that she neither knows or cares how the industry works. Her job is to scare people into believing that the porn biz is huge and powerful and coming to destroy their children, and then use that fear to build her profile and bank balance. She spreads the usual anti-sex myths – such as porn addiction – and throws in a few of her own, like claiming the porn industry is worth $96 billion, when in reality it might be 2% that size. She is the hero who will take on and destroy the evil Porn Empire. But of course, she needs lots of money to fight this crusade. Although she claims to be a radical, Dines (like so many anti-porn feminists) finds more in common with the religious right than with progressives.

Like all supporters of censorship, Dines hates free speech, and her favourite tactic is to shut down debate. Last year, she attempted to get the industry XBIZ EU event shut down by calling for a boycott of Radisson hotels if they hosted it. Her letter to Radisson, like so much of what she writes, is a work of comic genius, and worth a read.

She attempted similar disruption to our protest of her event, leading her supporters to bombard our event page – which they did. Women who opposed them were attacked especially strongly. Although some supporters asked me to block the haters, I chose instead to support their right to free speech, and responded as follows:

Dear Gail Dines and Stop Porn Culture:

Your coordinated spamming of this event page has been noted. Our response is as follows:

1) We note that we have rattled your cage; we must be doing something right.

2) Unlike you anti-porn fundamentalists, we believe in free expression, and have not acted to block you. We know that pro-porn people are not afforded this right by Stop Porn Culture or Gail Dines. We claim the moral high ground.

3) Although you claim to be on the side of “exploited” women in porn, we know that in reality, you attack them and refuse them a voice. We, on the other hand, represent the women and men who choose to fuck for a living. You will be hearing from them on March 15 in London.

As well as Dines, the conference will feature well known British anti-sex voices, including the journalist Julie Bindel and speakers from Object, which campaigns against everything from strip clubs to lads’ mags.

The purpose of the conference is to attack sexual expression in all of its forms, and to advance the censorship agenda. And the conference will deny the basic rights of women who choose to be pornstars, strippers and sex workers, which is why they will be protesting outside.

Stripper

The ‘Feminists’ That Cried Wolf

Stripper Edie Lamort writes about snobbish and prudish attacks on strip clubs made in the name of feminism.

This Friday 28th February, Labour MP Diana Johnson, will be reading her proposals for a new bill on Sex Entertainment Venues (SEVs) for the second time in the House of Commons. She is the MP for Kingston-Upon-Hull and the striptease venues near her are Honey Trap and Purple Door. Her bill aims to increase regulations of Sexual Encounter Venues (SEVs) despite these being very heavily regulated anyway. Currently a council can consult with the public on SEVs and ask if it wishes to see a nil policy introduced. Effectively banning striptease in that particular borough. However this is not mandatory and this new legislation seeks to make it mandatory for all councils to go through this procedure, whether they believe it relevant or not.

Along with being an admirer of extremist lobby group Object she states: “As well as the specific concerns about the links between the sex entertainment industry and coercion and human trafficking, there is a widespread view that lap-dancing clubs can contribute in a negative way to the general character of an area and detract from the residents’ quality of life, especially if the clubs are located in residential areas or near schools.”

This is the usual line given and is not supported by any evidence. In terms of human trafficking; the very idea of allowing legal licensed venues is to prevent such things. You have to show your passport to the club to prove that you can legitimately work in the UK therefore making it impossible for undocumented or trafficked persons to get a job. Copies of passports must be held by the club as they can be checked by the local council at any time.

Tied up in the ‘concerns’ about coercion is the patronising attitude that good girls couldn’t possibly choose such a job and those who do must be damaged, drug addicts and therefore coerced.

In terms of them contributing negatively to the character of the area one thing I hear frequently, when attending debates on the subject, is the phrase ‘I had no idea these places existed in my borough, but they must be banned.’ So if they had no idea they existed then they weren’t causing that much trouble in the first place. There have also been very strict regulations on the kind of signage and advertising clubs can do for many years now. No club is allowed to display obscene or overt advertising or flyer passers by.

Finally clubs are not usually open during school hours and children do not attend school in the nighttime. But hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good moral panic?

She also uses quotes from three concerned local residents who do not like striptease venues. They say they fear the customers of such clubs and feel vulnerable. As much as their fears are real to them we must ask if they are founded. Is this fear real or imagined?

The three residents quoted by Diana Johnson may not like the dancers and dislike the customers. They may find us all slutty and trashy for dancing naked but I find their snobbery distasteful. They are welcome to their opinion but I and many others are also entitled to our freedom. The argument of finding customers of strip pubs rowdy and unpleasant could also be used against football supporters, clubbers or rock fans going to a gig.

A few weeks ago, in the club I work in, we had a group of girls in celebrating a birthday. They were great fun, respectful to all and are most welcome to come again. These women were not afraid of dancers or customers. Not all women are quaking with fear because of striptease.

The Stripping the Illusion blog recently put in a freedom of information request to the Kingston-Upon-Hull City Council to see if they too were of the same mind as the three upset residents.

“Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Information Request – 000304/14

With regard to your Freedom of Information request received on 7 February 2014, please find our response below.

‘I am making an enquiry under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and I would grateful if you would provide me the following information:-

• Details of premises within the city currently licenced for striptease (either under the Police and Crime Act 2009, or the Licensing Act 2003);

• Details of any premises which were licenced for striptease (under the Licensing Act 2003) over the last ten years, i.e. from February 2004;

• Records of any official complaints made against the above premises, either to Kingston-upon-Hull City Council or Humberside Police.’

The only two premises that have been licensed for striptease are Fantasy Bar (now the Honey Trap) and Purple Door. There have been no official complaints made against either of these premises.

We hope that you will be satisfied with our response and should you require any further information then please do not hesitate to contact us.”

It is very easy to criticise and condemn something you don’t understand but the main question here is do we want to live in the prison of other people’s fears? Fears that are not your own but simply those of a tiny yet vocal minority. Whilst their fear is of significance to them we cannot let them dictate to the more courageous majority and have the richness of our lives censored or limited.

This does not only affect dancing venues. If we continue to put the opinions of the local busybody, someone with a grudge or perhaps the interests of a property developer over and above the enjoyment of the rest of society we will all be poorer. This nimbyism doesn’t stop at strip clubs. More and more the objections of a tiny minority of residents are causing venues and arts projects to close.

The Wapping Project in East London is closing due to the complaints of three awkward residents. It will now be turned into ‘luxury’ flats. The George Tavern music venue in Stepney is threatened due to a development of ‘luxury’ flats. The Coliseum is closing, all the clubs by London Bridge have been closed and the Raymond Revue Bar was closed in the disgraceful Soho land grab just before Christmas.

This all amounts to nothing more than a conservative attack on communities and the arts. Hundreds of pubs and venues are closing up and down the country every week. Mostly to make way for ‘luxury’ flats that are bought off plan by foreign investors. Whole areas are being cleansed and sold, not just Soho, but also the Elephant and Castle redevelopment.

Do we wish to live in society full of unaffordable ‘luxury’ flats, in a cultural wasteland, or do we want to keep music, dance (including pole dance) and the arts as part of our lives? A friend of mine who has been a successful club promoter for over two decades now, gave a wry smile recently and said, ‘I don’t know why they are planning a 24 tube service in 2015. At this rate there will be no more clubs in central London to go to.’

Not only is this bill part of ‘the feminism that cried wolf’ syndrome, taking offence to everything, but it’s also the feminism that is the handmaid of property developers.

Another question this raises for me is why are ‘feminists’ such cowards and why do they seek to blame others all the time for their issues? I know the world is not perfect but my formative years were during the 90s where everyone went a bit hippy. People went travelling and ‘found themselves’, people did Yoga, meditation and therapies of all kinds. Essentially people took responsibility for themselves. They therapied themselves silly, sometimes with charlatan gurus admittedly, but the over all philosophy of the time was, ‘if you have personal issues you can deal with them, gain power over them and be happier.’ A flotation tank and some crystals do not solve all problems but this was an overall healthier mentality than today’s finger pointing.

Now people do not look to themselves to see why they are afraid or if their fears have any foundation, they instead they accuse the other. They point the finger and say ‘it must be banned’. Whether the narrative is ‘porn makes me feel bad’, ‘men who’ve looked at other women may gaze lustfully at me’ or even ‘she’s prettier than me, I feel bad, it’s her fault’. They need to ask themselves questions first before blaming the other. It’s not always someone else’s fault and it’s very important we get the balance right.

Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates recently attacked Helen Grant MP when she dared to suggest girls who don’t like traditional sports should try other types. A reasonable suggestion in my opinion and as someone who enjoys ‘feminine’ dance as well as ‘masculine’ British Military Fitness I appreciate the differences and the benefits of varied forms of exercise. Apparently teenagers can be awkward and say they don’t want to mess their hair. Err ….. well of course and hasn’t this always been the case? I don’t think difficult teenagers are a modern phenomena. This is just another way that people abdicate personal responsibility by pointing the finger at external factors.

Are today’s young women really so feeble minded? I know my nieces aren’t. I’m sure our athletes or cheerleaders aren’t, I know my pole dancing friends aren’t. This modern strand of feminism really is in danger of being the feminism that cried wolf and simply makes a mockery out of a once honorable movement. Laura Bates and Everyday Sexism being a good example of this. Some of the stories published on the website are of actual sexism and some even of criminal acts, these are valid complaints. However there are a great deal that are simply small-minded whining and these will only serve to damage the movement.

Whether it be your local pole dance venue, your local music venue or arts project; these should be saved and not closed down on the whims and complaints of a tiny handful of residents. This bill should set a threshold, a minimum number of complaints, before a successful business can be closed. These complaints should also be backed up by police evidence. Thus preventing the local busybody from ruining everyone else’s fun.

Diane Johnson MP is using hashtag #peoplepoweronstripclubs‬‬‬ if you wish to join the debate.

University Professor Warns of ‘Outsourcing’ Sex Education to Pornography

Whilst I do not take kindly to the phrase ‘dangers of pornography’ I would agree with Cambridge Philosophy Professor Rae Langton on his concerns that Children will soon be learning more about sex education than they previously ever had before the filters came into effect as we sweep legitimate sex education further away from the curriculum.

On top of taking education from the porn movies they’ll also accumulate additional skills in IT such as hacking, bypassing court ordered content blocks and proxy servers.