So, a long list of sex acts was outlawed in pornography on Tuesday (the full list of which can be found here), and it seems that Britain’s sex workers are not happy with it. And they have every right not to be, for it seems that pretty much the only performers who will suffer from this new legislation are women, and more specifically, dominatrixes.
Allow me to explain.
The acts that are outlawed are not acts that really harm anyone. They include acts commonly found, not on the mainstream porno sites, but on fetish sites such as spanking, caning, verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual) and fully-clothed facesitting, which many professional dominatrixes do as a symbol of power – they sit on a client’s face and ignore him while he struggles to breathe (unless he taps out, of course). Yeah, a bit dangerous I guess, but to my knowledge, the number of men dying from copying pornography that depicts such facesitting is – er, oh yeah – zero.
So, without going into detail, the type of acts that most would define as mild and mainstream components of the BDSM scene are now not allowed to be sold online from UK sites. Now, it won’t affect the viewers, because of course, there are ways around these things, but it will affect the producers and performers who make the videos.
Imagine this. You’re a professional female dominant, and you earn your living from selling video clips to men on the web. Now, even though you are fully clothed in these videos and they don’t involve any other person than you, they are classed as pornography because they are marketed towards a niche community of fetishists on the web. You know, the people who want to pay to lick your boots clean; that kind of thing. So you make videos insulting your buyers, because that’s what they like. They love being told that they’re worthless little pigs with no real purpose. They greedily consume every video you make, and you make a packet in sales. Everyone’s happy.
NOW, you discover that, although the most hardcore of sex acts are still totally fine to produce and sell, you sitting in your bedroom insulting your webcam is illegal. Websites won’t feature your material anymore, and you’re stuck. The only choices left to you, are to get a ‘real’ job (and good luck explaining all those blank years on your CV), or start dabbling in mainstream porn (which, let’s be honest, if you felt comfortable doing, you’d already be doing). What a choice, hey?
Now, I’m sure people will be reading this thinking ‘So? What does it matter if a few kinky freaks lose their jobs? It doesn’t affect me.’ And I can understand your point of view, but equally, when a law comes into place that actively persecutes and puts women at risk for simply doing their job it is a step back for everyone. In one of the only industries where women consistently earn more than men, sex workers are those that we should be striving to keep in jobs. These are not the kind of women that you need to ‘rescue,’ the damaged little souls that you need to free from exploitation. Professional porn performers, producers and dominatrixes are businesswomen who have carved out a little hole for themselves in a world that, generally, doesn’t give women the best deal. They have become experts at their trade, catering to men (and women) whose sexual desires fall outside of the norm. They provide an outlet for the men who have always wanted to prance around in dresses but don’t really know why, for the businessmen who just want to give up some power at the end of a busy week, and for the guy who’s tired of his wife expecting him to be the dominant one and just wants a little spanking now and then. Fetish performers and dominatrixes cater to a need that society clearly has. You only have to look at the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey for an insight into how fixated society is with the world of BDSM.
BDSM is one of the few genres within pornography that show the woman as assertive, powerful and in control of the situation before her. It is something that has continued to grow over the years, and is a damn sight more prevalent than you may first think. As long as it is consensual and safe, I see no problem with it. Spanking is not a dangerous act, and neither is verbal abuse (when it is consensual, and if you’re willing to pay top dollar for a woman to sit and insult you then, in my eyes, that is consent enough). Grown adults do not need to be babied. They do not need to see the performers giving consent for the acts to happen (believe it or not, this was a big part of the reason so many BDSM practices were attacked). The porn performers are actors playing a part. My guess is that, as with all other actors, their consent was given off-camera and probably on a contract of sorts. There is no need for ‘enthusiastic consent,’ or even safe words in pornography, because the scenes depicted are scripted. They are not real.
For once, I’m at a loss. I don’t know whether to feel angry that so many women’s jobs are at risk, sad that the government sees BDSM as a threat, or disappointed that, just when it seemed as though BDSM was finally becoming more mainstream, it is being pushed back underground. As someone quite heavily involved with the UK BDSM scene myself, it saddens me to know that many of the women that I know will no doubt face complications in the near future when it comes to making money. Saddens me that their male submissives may have to take their business to foreign Mistress’ in order to be able to obtain the particular kind of kink that they are looking for. Most of all, I’m saddened that such a unique scene is being threatened, that such a close-knit community could be forced apart.
Cheers, government. As if ruining our education, healthcare system, economy ETC. weren’t bad enough, you’re now ruining our sex lives. GOOD ONE.