Increasing legislation on UK porn is not designed to protect children, it’s designed to shame alternative sexualities

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Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

Kate Snowdon
Editor

We’re all adults here right? And as adults, most of us, will have watched some porn in our lifetimes. Even if it’s laughing about “Lemon-Stealing Whores” (which I highly recommend for its notorious plot and wonderfully subpar acting), to watching a variety of porn for our own pleasure in our own homes. Human sexuality is a wonderful and incredibly varied beast, ranging all over the LGBQA+ spectrum, and it should be celebrated as an expression of love in all its forms, from standard missionary to the most kinky shit you can imagine.

The new UK based porn laws currently going through committee in parliament seek to add “stringent” age verification to adult websites based in the UK, and would add to the previous 2014 porn laws. Combined, the effects are disastrous for both porn producers and porn consumers that are utterly unacceptable.

The first effect this will have that strikes me as incredibly worrying, is that to effectively age verify consumers of porn, you will have to use your government issued ID. This will mean, despite promises of anonymising code, that somewhere on a server, will be your full, real, name, and a log of everything you’ve ever wanked to. Is that data you want to exist? For most people, this is hugely problematic. For students, graduating soon and applying for jobs in the big bad world, this could ruin a career before it even started.

Not only could it affect all consumers of porn, but it will affect porn producers in the UK hugely. The cost involved with age verifying all users would impact indie porn producers adversely, and bring about the end of many niche porn producers in Britain. The 2014 Audiovisual Media Services Regulation has threatened British porn since its introduction, banning acts such as spanking, physical restraint, and humiliation, but more worryingly, female ejaculation and facesitting, the latter of which is explicitly clarified as “life-threatening”. This emphasis on acts which are related explicitly to female pleasure, and the wider list of acts which affects porn within the BDSM community, is hugely problematic, both in terms of internalised misogyny and hatred of acts which belong to marginalised sexualities.

A further item banned by the 2014 act is “physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual)”. Whilst this may seem bizarre and unpleasant to the majority that someone would consent to abuse in any form, the key phrase is “regardless of consent”. Here, the British Government is literally saying that they don’t care if someone has made a choice regarding their sex lives, because the British Government knows better.

The idea that adults are not free to look at other consenting adults performing niche sex acts without it being tied to their real name or imported from abroad is insane. The bills show the Government’s stance on a number of items they don’t fully understand; how the internet works, how adulting works, and how consent works. Putting age verification on some porn will not stop those who want to watch porn from doing so. VPNs will be used, mirrors, duplicate sites, and foreign porn that has not been contacted to age verify. There is an overwhelming amount of porn available, and age-verifying some sites will just send consumers onto others.

The argument of “save the children” wears thin here too, as children are not the ones accessing the “dangerous” niche BDSM porn, which is largely pay to view. Consenting adults should be free to watch and do whatever they want, within the realms of legality, without the threat of being outed. Marginalised sexualities should not be shamed or excluded by banning acts or instituting laws which will shut down small porn companies which tend to be queer, feminist and sex-positive. Consent should be upheld as the absolute cornerstone of sex and positivity going forward. We don’t need more legislation banning consensual sex acts – we need more education about why these acts are not shameful, and can be part of a healthy and loving sex life. As Girl on the Net, a popular sex blogger, rightly put it to the Guardian, “who decides what’s moderate? As a kinky person, I’ve always been taught, the person who decides these things is me.”