This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 7th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.
British readers, enjoy this website while you can.
In the year 2015, less than half a human generation past the end of a century which saw advances in sexual freedom (both practical and legal) unprecedented in human history, we are now well into an attempt by the powerful to roll it all back to the Victorian Era. But while the Victorians were largely concerned about appearances and tolerated considerable debauchery in the back-streets, neo-Victorians pretend that “sin” should be eradicated everywhere for everyone, and modern surveillance methods (not to mention the erosion of the presumption of innocence) have made it easy for police and prosecutors to destroy anyone’s life with an accusation of sexcrime, even if they have to manufacture it. For years, we’ve seen the recrudescence of the absurd but dangerous Victorian dogmas of the “innocence” of “children” and the fragile asexuality of women; these have been used to justify scorched-earth policies on adolescent sexuality and the re-establishment of the misogynistic doctrine that rape is a “fate worse than death”. More recently, however, the UK government has dramatically ramped up its censorship efforts, and this time even adult men will be included (though still mostly in the name of “protecting women and children”). In 2013, internet “filters” (i.e. censorship programs) were mandated, first to block adult content and later to stop anything else the government decides it doesn’t want the peasantry to see. Then last autumn, we discovered that the government is willing to cage people for years for looking at drawings of taboo subjects, and now it comes to this:
…from now on, VoD porn – online porn you still pay for, essentially – must fall in line with what’s available on DVD. That means that British pornography producers will no longer be able to offer content online that couldn’t be bought in a sex shop. Acts that are no longer acceptable include: spanking, caning and whipping beyond a gentle level; penetration by any object “associated with violence”; activities that can be classed as “life-endangering”, such as strangulation and facesitting; fisting, if all knuckles are inserted; physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual; the portrayal of non-consensual sex; urination in various sexual contexts; and female ejaculation. It’s quite a list, but one mostly made up of stuff that seems to have been picked out pretty arbitrarily (women orgasming, exactly which items can or can’t be inserted into a consenting adult’s body)…
The list also includes bondage, humiliation and “role-playing as non-adults”. As in the above-referenced manga case, even pretended depictions of taboo acts are taboo, despite the fact that pretended depictions of far more serious acts (like murder or mayhem) are allowed on ordinary television. For now, the Vice article assures us, “the new law only covers content produced in the UK, meaning that viewers…can still…view as much [international] fisting, strangulation and urination as they like…” However, given the expansion of the internet “filtering” parameters, do you honestly believe it will stay that way for long? Erotic Review certainly doesn’t:
…British authorities are gearing up for an all-out war with online porn. Sources tell me plans are afoot to start blocking British access to foreign so-called tube sites, which host porn videos, regardless of where they are based or whether the scenes they show are legal. The attack on TV-like services is just the latest stage in a war which could severely restrict people’s access to porn…
One detail of the new censorship regime which is being treated almost as a joke provides another clue to where this is actually headed: “the publicly funded regulator, the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), will have to pay someone to watch porn and enforce the new regulations…at a cost of £36,000 [per year]…” You know who else pays censors to watch porn so the people can’t? China. The Great Firewall of Britain is well on the way, and once it’s discovered that merely blocking adult content fails to achieve the desired effect, the next level of tyranny is criminal charges accompanied by “sex offender” registration (a combination already used for the most-vilified forms of porn). As I pointed out in “Welcome To the Future”, the dystopia is already here; all that remains to be seen is how heavy a yoke the subjects will accept before they finally attempt to throw it off.