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UK Porn Stars Give Their Thoughts On The New Porn Laws

BuzzFeed News spoke to British adult performers about the controversial new government legislation. WARNING: Some slightly NSFW language.

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This week a series of new censorship laws aimed at UK-based pornography came into effect.

Lexi Lowe / Via brazzers.com

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 provided an amendment to the 2003 Communications Act, making Video on Demand (VoD) porn produced and sold in the UK subject to the same British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) regulations as DVDs.

From now on VoD pornography must now adhere strictly to an R18 classification, meaning the following acts are effectively banned:

Aggressive whipping

Caning

Facesitting

Female ejaculation

Fisting

Penetration by any object “associated with violence”

Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of whether consensual)

Spanking

Strangulation

Urolagnia (watersports)

BuzzFeed News spoke to UK adult performers and an anti-censorship campaigner to get their thoughts on the controversial new porn laws.

Lexi Lowe

Lexi Lowe has worked on most of the UK babe channels, including Playboy TV Chat, and runs Euro Elite PR.

What do you make of the new laws?

Lexi Lowe: I find it all a bit odd, there is no other way to describe it. As far as I can see there is no logical reason for the changes, other than "some people" find certain sex acts not normal and therefore have collectively decided it is wrong and British people shouldn't be corrupted by depictions of such acts.

I find it so bizarre that the changes only apply to VoD porn – in other words, porn that you have to pay to access – yet free tube sites where arguably the majority of minors will go to view adult content are left to continue as normal. The argument that the new laws are in aid of child protection hold no weight.

Itziar Bilbao Urrutia: The laws are a clumsy, but effective, form of state censorship of the internet. Porn is just an excuse. Dictatorially restricting people's access to free information on the internet wouldn't be popular among voters, but using the old "think of the children" argument masks it as something that it's not.

It's not about porn, but about preventing people from freely accessing knowledge on the internet. They are doing what China does but with a different veneer.

Paul Taylor: I think telling people what they can and can't do is shocking, and to come out and say "If you make your money from any of these areas you now can't by law" is very big-headed.

Who are [the government] to say if someone can enjoy something or not? Who have they consulted to make these laws? Have they just made them based on something they know nothing about like everything else they do?

If you believe the new laws are a bad move, what potential damage do you think they could cause?

Urrutia: The less-mainstream niche sexualities will be heavily censored, to the advantage of normative, corporate porn owned by the big conglomerates.

The only porn left will be homogeneous, misogynist sex acts where the woman has no other function than to be penetrated and come on and the man is nothing but an animated meat power tool.

Ultimately they'll start censoring other forms of information that have nothing to do with porn: potential WikiLeaks, [Edward] Snowdens, and Chelsea Mannings.

Lowe: Aside from the obvious repercussions that the new laws may lead people to believe any sex act that falls outside the realm of mainstream is dirty and wrong and has no place in a healthy sexual relationship, I believe there is also a far more sinister message being sent out by these changes: that the British people are willing to be censored.

If we don't challenge why adults are being restricted from viewing legal material on the say-so of a few people who just find it "all a bit icky", then we would be naive to think this is where it will end. Today we are being censored from spanking and squirting, tomorrow it will be something else.

Jerry Barnett (founder of anti-censorship campaign Sex & Censorship): On the surface, [the damage will be] the crushing of a UK-based porn industry. Behind the scenes, it lays the groundwork for Chinese-style website blocking on a grand scale.

Taylor: Yes, the laws are wrong. Let's not forget that we aren't against regulation. If we are asked to consult, the government and the UK industry can work together to make sure they are happy and so are we. But as it stands at the moment, this is affecting people's lives. You are talking about people's jobs and livelihoods.

Some of these people may not be able to go back to what society considers a normal job, and if they manage it and it ever comes out what they did, they are more than likely to get the sack.

Do you think there needs to be a much bigger debate over how porn is regulated and produced in the UK? If yes, what form would you like this to take?

Barnett: Yes – but even more, we need a debate about ALL free expression. The idea that something can be suppressed because it upsets or offends some small group is dangerous, and is gaining in popularity. This applies as much to "bad taste" comedians and computer games as to pornography.

Lowe: There is a common misconception that the porn industry is unregulated. UK porn is a highly regulated industry with regulations imposed by governing bodies such as the BBFC and also internal regulations agreed between producers and performers.

I don't believe there is any need to debate how porn is produced. I do however completely agree that child protection is essential, and I would be happy to see discussions taking place on how that can be improved. UK adult producers and performers should be included in any debate instead of being dictated to from an outside agency.

Taylor: Despite what people believe, we in the adult industry actually do really care whether minors see our content, and of course we don't want them seeing it. Our business is to entertain adults. If these laws are brought in with consultation with people who work for the adult entertainment industry, I am sure we can find some common ground. However, that's never going to happen.

Things that have been banned over here are still legal in other countries. Why? Because they see it for what it is: entertainment for adults by consenting adults.

Urrutia: It's good that the general public realises that it's not one monolithic conglomerate run by media honchos, that there is independent stuff too, and lots of it. Although I think it's not accurate to polarise the debate and make rigid divides between "mainstream studios" and "independent studios".

I don't think that porn should be regulated beyond issues of consensuality among the participants and work or production conditions. My issues are with representation of gender and conditions in the bigger studios. There is enormous diversity among the more independent producers.

The ban on female ejaculation, face-sitting, spanking, and fisting is what the media are picking up on this week. Do you have a problem with any of them? And why do you think they were singled out?

Lowe: It all seems very misogynistic that the new laws focus on aspects of female pleasure whilst the male parallel is deemed OK. It is bizarre to me that according to the legislation it is acceptable for a woman to be surrounded by 20 men and have them all ejaculate on to her face, yet that same woman is not herself able to be seen to ejaculate on to a male.

As far as spanking goes, how is it OK to read about it in Fifty Shades of Grey yet not to watch it? We need to remember that none of these acts are illegal to perform in the comfort of our own homes, yet a higher power has decided that we can't be trusted to watch them.

As to why these acts have been singled out in the new legislation, the only plausible answer to this is whoever passed this law just finds them all a bit disgusting. I find Marmite disgusting; I don't try and stop other people from eating it.

Taylor: I can see why they have singled them out: because they don't understand. Female ejaculation is a grey area. It's stupid that they've banned it, but I can see why they have as it links to another one of their rules, watersports. There are some out there that believe people who squirt aren't really squirting, they are pissing, and watersports on people is banned.

Women can come, they can have a real orgasm, but if they have an orgasm that involves them squirting then that can't end up in the final scene. It's as if the government are asking women to control how pleasure and their sensors work, [and] that is just plain stupid. If something feels good it feels good; if something makes you come, you can come. The reason why men can do it [on screen] is because semen isn't seen as urine.

Fisting has always been a grey area, and face-sitting too. I mean, no one is in danger, there are precautions taken to make sure people can breathe, and each shoot has a model release form signed at the end of a shoot to say they have agreed to anything.

Urrutia: No, I don't have any problems with any of these activities, which I practise and film myself. There is no medical evidence, no police record, to prove that these activities are any riskier than choking on a cock, something mainstream porn is very fond of showing.

I wish I could show fisting videos myself, because I am big fan. Fisting was banned already.

Barnett: I don't have a problem with any of them. They were just things that the press chose to report on because they made for good headlines. The real nature of this censorship runs far deeper.

It has been claimed the laws could mark an end to independent fetish sites in the UK. Do you think this is a genuine reality, and what do you think could be done to counter it?

Taylor: I don't myself get off on the fetish thing, but I would imagine it would affect it, yes. I know a model and fellow producer who was planning to launch her site next year and a lot of it was fetish-based, and she was saying it hasn't launched yet and already some of it can't be used at all.

Lowe: The porn industry will find a way to survive, it always does. The new legislation only applies to VoD content so we will probably see a rise in producers and performers offering custom videos. There will always be a market for fetish content, and where there's a market there will always be a supplier.

Barnett: Actually, UK regulations for the past decade have been driving independent porn sites out of business or offshore. This process will now accelerate.

The ATVOD seems to have taken perverse pleasure in closing down most of the UK porn industry for little apparent reason.

Urrutia:This legislation affects the independent studios, but not the big ones. I have heard that UK banks have already blocked studios on the very popular amateur and niche platform Clips4Sale. Banning certain forms of sexual expression that are staple among fetish and LGBTQ sexualities demonises a sexuality that is, at least for now, legal to express in real life.

[As for what to do about it,] some studios are trying to hand over editorial control to persons abroad so they don't fall under UK law. Otherwise, protesting, lobbying, and campaigning against a law that, so far, only those who put it together support, will have to do. And carry on filming.

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