One man's extreme...
January 29, 2009 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Extreme pornography illegal in Britain since Monday, 26 January, thanks to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Aside from changes to custodial sentencing guidelines (and early release guidelines to ease overcrowding), the most controversial aspect of the law relates to the legal definition of extreme pornography. An image is deemed to be extreme if it "is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character" and "it portrays in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following (a) an act which threatens a person’s life, (b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals (c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse (d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive) BDSM groups, among others, have campaigned and protested against the law. Aside from concerns about the legality of kink, some have pointed out that some comics and graphic novels would also fall afoul of the new law.
posted by Grrlscout (87 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Sexual interference" with a human corpse? What? The corpses are getting it on and someone steps in to interfere?

"Pardon me sir, I just need to adjust your tie.....there....carrion."
posted by jquinby at 2:44 PM on January 29, 2009 [20 favorites]


I wonder what impact this will have on the Genitorturers' touring plans.
posted by mullingitover at 2:45 PM on January 29, 2009


This makes me wish I lived in Britain, so that I could be protected from...er...whatever it is this protects me from.

what is it again?
posted by davejay at 2:47 PM on January 29, 2009


BAN THIS SICK FILTH!
posted by jason's_planet at 2:47 PM on January 29, 2009


BBW is never ok.
posted by plexi at 2:49 PM on January 29, 2009


Something tells me those lawmakers get off on banning other people's fun. Kinky.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2009


I suspect the definition of "realistic" is going to be very hotly debated in the coming years.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2009


"Pardon me sir, I just need to adjust your tie.....there....carrion."

we have a winner! no further posts are necessary...lock this baby down!
posted by HuronBob at 2:51 PM on January 29, 2009


This makes me wish I lived in Britain, so that I could be protected from...er...whatever it is this protects me from.

The internet!
posted by delmoi at 2:51 PM on January 29, 2009


Britain is becoming more and more like the country depicted in V. Cameras everywhere, rampant censorship, and from what I understand the cops snoop on internet traffic at the ISP level.

But don't worry, as an innocent citizen you have nothing to fear, until you click on a link and find yourself looking at cartoon furry manboy sex, which automates a journalism process that writes the headline "NAUSEATING PAEDO-BESTIALIST DISCOVERED IN ESSEX FILTH PIT" in The Sun and dispatches a van to take you to Gaol.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:52 PM on January 29, 2009 [8 favorites]


Y'know, I haven't Captain America for a while. As it's the photo used in the last link, I assume the poor guy's fallen on tougher times or things have gotten a lot weirder since the Civil War arc...

Seriously though, I am very much against this sort of thing. The banning that is. You would have thought that the abject failure of the 'video nasties' ban would have taught someone somewhere a lesson. Let grownups watch and read what grownups like.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:54 PM on January 29, 2009


Aside from concerns about the legality of kink, some have pointed out that some comics and graphic novels would also fall afoul of the new law.

Well, far be it from me to quibble with legal terminology, but I think the word "realistic" sort of naturally lends itself to the phrase "not a cartoon."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:54 PM on January 29, 2009


Not sure what you guys are into, but I don't really have a problem with this law.
posted by Flashman at 2:57 PM on January 29, 2009


...haven't READ Captain America...

I censored that word. For my your our protection.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:57 PM on January 29, 2009


I can't define extreme pornography, but I know it when I see it.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:57 PM on January 29, 2009


Flashman: what about when it does affect what you're into and the legal precedent has been set? It's a slippery slope. Which are banned due to their potential to cause serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:59 PM on January 29, 2009


It just seems deeply unhealthy to think of the sickest shit possible and then legislate against it. I mean, just because you can think of it and it exists somewhere doesn't necessarily mean that it should be illegal. What's the purpose of this? Presumably to protect people, the vast majority of whom, if they do stumble upon this will think "Sick!" and move on.
posted by ob at 3:00 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man, they're already identifying commercials which fit the ban criteria.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:01 PM on January 29, 2009


The internet!

What, just the one?
posted by davejay at 3:01 PM on January 29, 2009


Not sure what you guys are into, but I don't really have a problem with this law.

Aside from the whole "First they came for the sadomasochists and I said nothing" angle, the wholesale continuation of England becoming a horrible distopia, the invasion of the privacy of consenting adults and the fact that this law would effect some of my close friends (if they were to go to England) I guess I don't really have a problem with it either.

What would you have a problem with? How far does sexual legislation have to go before you have a problem with it? I take it you like nice plain vanilla sex.
posted by fuq at 3:03 PM on January 29, 2009


the wholesale continuation of England becoming a horrible distopia

Yes, exactly.
posted by ob at 3:04 PM on January 29, 2009


Kittens, the thing is that there's some question as to what "realistic" means. There's a lot of art to porn - not very realistic. Airbrushing, posing, digital manipulation, you name it. You could argue that a very realistic, naturalistic, or graphic illustration has the same level of art to it. You'd have to be psychotic to think that a graphic sketch is flesh and blood, but I'd say that you'd also have to be a bit cuckoo to think that pornographic pictures are completely realistic, either.

What about porn depicting autoerotic asphyxiation? Or giant dildoes? Or nipple clamps? Under this law as it currently exists, possession of BDSM porn could very easily land you two years in the slammer.
posted by Grrlscout at 3:06 PM on January 29, 2009


Does this mean the lastest episode of Grey's Anatomy will be banned in England?
posted by srboisvert at 3:06 PM on January 29, 2009


(a) an act which threatens a person’s life, (b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals (c)

This would seem to eliminate almost all forms of displayed graphic violence. The wording is so broad it would seem to include many well established genres. No more kung fu movies, no more Tarentino movies, not to mention homegrown efforts like Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels.
I also have to wonder if this extends to the undead as well? Can you blow a zombie's head off or kick him in the groin, using the logic that since they are already dead, no harm can come to them?
posted by doctor_negative at 3:09 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This would seem to eliminate almost all forms of displayed graphic violence. The wording is so broad it would seem to include many well established genres.

This is only about porn, doctor. You can still make a movie of someone sawing off someone else's head, so long as both participants are fully clothed, and there's no naughty talk.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:17 PM on January 29, 2009


Kittens, the thing is that there's some question as to what "realistic" means. There's a lot of art to porn - not very realistic. Airbrushing, posing, digital manipulation, you name it. You could argue that a very realistic, naturalistic, or graphic illustration has the same level of art to it. You'd have to be psychotic to think that a graphic sketch is flesh and blood, but I'd say that you'd also have to be a bit cuckoo to think that pornographic pictures are completely realistic, either.

Well, I think "no real people are involved" is a pretty strong argument for something being unrealistic -- but its opposite is a pretty lousy litmus for what constitutes realism, I agree. I'm just saying comics and animation should really be off the table here, for obvious reasons; I can't imagine why there'd even be a debate about that.

I have to say, though, I am not completely lacking sympathy for this legislation, provided it was drafted with good intentions (and not as stealth censorship of works someone just finds icky for their own sake). There is no sane way to apply it, but the underlying idea (I would guess) is criminalizing porn that isn't really porn at all, but exploitation (i.e., unwilling participation/coercion/etc.). It's hard to prove exploitation, so you just get rid of the avenue altogether. It's a fucking awful idea, it's totally unworkable, and it can't possibly hang around, but I get it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:21 PM on January 29, 2009


You can still make a movie of someone sawing off someone else's head, so long as both participants are fully clothed, and there's no naughty talk.

Better not have a saucy neck hole winking suggestively.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:25 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


And England's march to comic book dystopia continues on. No one loves creepy government more than the British.
posted by chunking express at 3:32 PM on January 29, 2009


Something similar was tried here in the US concerning "drug and bomb recipes" in a law sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) CA. When it was explained to her that the new law would outlaw science libraries, she slunk greasily away, pretending to fight on.
posted by telstar at 3:33 PM on January 29, 2009


kittens for breakfast, there are whole genres of Manga and Hentai which many people would find offensive based on the definitions given above. In fact I'm pretty sure there was a post about that here on MetaFilter. Stuff like this is a stupid idea. There are already laws in place to protect people who are forced to make pornography, etc. I'm not a fan of this stuff, and i'm guessing a lot of people aren't, but that isn't a reason to make something illegal. A lot of people find ALL porn offensive.
posted by chunking express at 3:36 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank God for the First Amendment. And the Presidency. There's no check on Parliament. Maybe Queen Elizabeth II could step up and stop this.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:37 PM on January 29, 2009


While I'm personally against this legislation, I'm pretty damn sure any political party that campaigned against this law wouldn't get very far at the electoral booth.

Democracy? It's not always right.
posted by almostwitty at 3:39 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe Queen Elizabeth II could step up and stop this.

Yeah, I hear she was a huge Urotsukidoji fan back in the day.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:40 PM on January 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


So the government will be acting as a sort of MeatFilter?
posted by resurrexit at 3:43 PM on January 29, 2009


I wondered if Warren Ellis was either (a) infuriated about this or (b) thought it was funny that everything he's ever written could well be illegal.

So I go to his blog and there's nothing about this on the front page -- but there is a picture of The Flash having sex with Spider-man.

So I guess that answers that.
posted by spiderwire at 3:43 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:44 PM on January 29, 2009


Yeah wasn't it a big deal recently, where the Queen broadcasted her annual address on the internet for the first time?

I say step it up to the next level - 2 Queens 1 Cup
posted by mannequito at 3:47 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, so they have a lot of time on their hands and can't get it up. Ok.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:49 PM on January 29, 2009


Canada's got a law similar to this. So far, it's prevented some Jane Rule novels, lesbian erotica, Meatmen comics, and the like from arriving at and being sold by gay and lesbian bookstores in Canada. Madonna's book "Sex" had no trouble crossing the border on its way to Chapters stores, but books portraying g/l BDSM got to stay in Canada Customs warehouses. The enforcement has been arbitrary, with some Canada Customs agents allowing some shipments through but not others, to some bookstores but not others. Its effect has been discriminatory.

It's fucking stupid.
posted by rtha at 3:59 PM on January 29, 2009


Every time I read about this, I get a very vivid courtroom setting in my mind where an artist is slowly drawing individual lines on a page, and the judge is going:

"OK.... that's fine... no problem... that's ok... still fine... BAM YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL YOU PERVERT!!!!"

Exactly which part of the illustration makes it a crime, your honor?
posted by Aquaman at 4:01 PM on January 29, 2009


sigh.
posted by krautland at 4:02 PM on January 29, 2009


Ok so I read this comic once, it had 2 vampires, twin brothers, if I remember correctly. The Felch brothers?

Anyways, they do the virgin mary up the arse, and she subsequently gives birth to Sweet J.C. rectally.

Would that comic be considered porn?

And anyone know who wrote that?
posted by Max Power at 4:05 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank God for the First Amendment. And the Presidency. There's no check on Parliament. Maybe Queen Elizabeth II could step up and stop this.

Somehow I don't see the queen stepping up to the plate to defend porn which realistically depicts acts likely to cause serious harm to people's anuses. Also, england has never had the kind of free speech laws that the U.S. has and even then, it is apparently constitutional to ban extreme pornography in the U.S. The distributor of the "2 girls 1 cup" source material was actually charged under an obscenity law, and copped to a plea agreement.

I'm not saying it should happen here, but it certainly can and has for stuff that is actually less extreme then what's described in the U.K. law.

I actually recall seeing some documentary or something about U.S. obscenity laws and someone was saying that fisting was obscene, but as long as you only stuck four fingers in someone's ass, you were legal.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 PM on January 29, 2009


Max Power: haven't seen it but it sounds like something S. Clay Wilson would do.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:14 PM on January 29, 2009


a) an act which threatens a person’s life

This makes me think of that bit in The Simpsons when Homer stamps on Carl's egg sandwich to save him from the cholesterol. Difficult to draw the line. I think this is what happens when peoplr try to clearly define what is 'taboo' and why. You just don't know. Perhaps we could change trials so that a television audience is shown the offending images, and asked: 'Is this sick? Is this sick? Is this sick?' We could all vote using the red button on our remotes. At least then I might use it. Or, for that matter, watch television.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 4:14 PM on January 29, 2009


So, just to understand, it is now illegal to own (look at? click on? link to? draw? publish?) this, say?
posted by progosk at 4:21 PM on January 29, 2009


Australia just bans porn altogether-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Australia
posted by bhnyc at 4:24 PM on January 29, 2009


or pretty much any of these?
posted by progosk at 4:26 PM on January 29, 2009


So not to get to graphic here, but who decides if something "is likely to result, in serious injury to an anus"? Do we have diameter guidelines? .....OK that guy's cock is good to go, but Mr. Beefy might hurt something back there....

Also, dead animal? Who would be hurt by a guy sticking his whatsit in a dead dog? Are we thinking of the children? It never occurred to me that porn might involve bestiality with non-live beasts but I suppose taxidermy might fill some particular niche. What about penis bones only? Is that a dead animal? Is there such a thing as porn featuring penis bones?

As you can see, I have a lot of questions to be answered.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:30 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, no-one who is or who is portrayed as HIV+, or having hepatits (amonst other things) can be shown having any sex? Because that threatens a person's life. Angels in America, bye-bye!
posted by rodgerd at 4:32 PM on January 29, 2009


Not sure what you guys are into, but I don't really have a problem with this law.

Right on. If you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to worry about!
posted by fire&wings at 4:45 PM on January 29, 2009


Not to wade in too deep here, but I just want to clarify some language use that the Brits couldn't get right.

it is apparently constitutional to ban extreme pornography in the U.S.

This is wrong. Hudnut made it clear you cannot ban pornography. What you can ban is obscenity. Criticisms of pornography are about power, criticisms of obscenity are about morality. Banning pornography was unconstitutional because it took a political position that women should be portrayed as equals. Obscene material is not political speech under the First Amendment, so it can be outlawed.

You can ban child pornography, yes, but that's about it in America. Everything else is banned for being obscene. Of course, courts and lawmakers often don't understand the difference, just like they don't understand much about the world.

There are already laws in place to protect people who are forced to make pornography, etc.

This is also untrue. Hudnut also struck down an ordinance that created a civil right for those forced into pornography. Any damages you could receive would be limited to issues like false imprisonment or assault. So if I were to be kidnapped and forced to perform sex acts on camera at gunpoint, I couldn't stop the screening of that film nor could I recover any of the money it made. This is essentially the true story of Deep Throat.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:45 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This whole thing just pisses me off royally.

Why are some people still so crap-their-pants afraid of sex? Oh sure, carry on with the ultra-violent horror and action films (the law explicitly excludes scenes that would be illegal as long as they're not in porn). But someone's getting off on it?! OH NO! QUICK, BAN IT BEFORE THEY KILL US ALL IN A HORNY SEX RAMPAGE!

I can't wait until all these dull old bastards dry up and croak so that the rest of us can get on with not giving two shits about what other people want to do together.


There's some more information here, at Backlash, but the site doesn't seem to have been updated for a while.

The Coroners and Justice Bill 2008-09 currently going through parliament has yet more terrified flailing. Such as making images of adults engaging in intercourse with "imaginary animals" in the presence of an "imaginary child" illegal. Whilst also amusingly disallowing "discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices".

Ugh.
posted by lucidium at 4:50 PM on January 29, 2009


I think this may make The Aristocrats illegal in the United Kingdom.
posted by oaf at 5:02 PM on January 29, 2009


Maybe Queen Elizabeth II could step up and stop this.
Now know you that We invoke, by the Grace of God, Our ancient right: droit de faire la pipe du cheval.
posted by Flunkie at 5:28 PM on January 29, 2009


Here at the Death Star, one of my mags basically republishes stuff from a Spanish publisher called DoFantasy (they also run BDSM Artwork—both sites are NSF your W, duh). Under this law, we'd basically be unable to ship it to England, where a fair number of our letter-writers reside (also Australia, where, from the looks of things, it should be illegal).

Now, I'm not really defending the artistic merit of this stuff—most of it is vile and puerile. In fact, that's kinda the point. It's full of rape and torture, and we edit down from that to keep on the "safe" side of our skittish lawyers (which means, for some reason, that any blood or weapons are straight out, but we can show women being electrocuted into submission).

I'm just kind of tossing this out there so people can see what will actually likely get the kibosh, as opposed to the hypothetical concerns upthread.

As for the work itself, well, y'know, it's fantasy. It's repellent fantasy, stupid fantasy and nauseating fantasy, but it's fantasy. And I do think there's some value in every individual asking themselves just what the evilest, sickest shit they can come up with is. I understand that fiction has power, but I think that treating it as if it has too much power, rather than critiquing it from a distance, ultimately only encourages its further production and misses an opportunity to understand just where the impulses come from.
posted by klangklangston at 5:31 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of this guy who used to be into necrophilic, sadistic beastiality. He quit because it got boring. Yeah, he realized he was just beating a dead horse.
posted by 445supermag at 5:36 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


(a) an act which threatens a person’s life, (b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals

So, a video of two opposite-sex middle-aged adults having plain vanilla sex that results in the middle-aged female becoming pregnant, carrying her high-risk pregnancy to term, and then delivering the baby fits both of those criteria.
posted by Asparagirl at 5:45 PM on January 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


I thought the Puritans already sailed away from Britain and came here!
posted by jamstigator at 6:15 PM on January 29, 2009


In other news, in a desperate attempt to maintain their grasp on power, Harper's Conservatives not only budgeted tax credits for Young People Fucking but also Young People Fucking Corpses...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:25 PM on January 29, 2009


First they came for my free online rectal exam porn.
posted by Sailormom at 6:37 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


jquinby: ""Sexual interference" with a human corpse? What? The corpses are getting it on and someone steps in to interfere?

All we want is to be left alone.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:41 PM on January 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


I sort of wonder where giantess/giant fetishists and other extreme male-submissives(or femsubs!) fall under this law... does being stepped on by a city-bus-sized boot (boot of shiny leather in the dark) count?

Men who carry out murderous sex-crimes generally aren't emboldened by pornography, they're made crazy by a mental illness. Even deprived of their sick pseudosnuff pr0n, they still kill, and have been since at least since the time of Joan of Arc's close friend and ally, Le Baron Gilles de Rais.

If anything, the =lack= of a culture of death-de-lite snuff-sex in Japan, despite being the kill-kink media capital of the known Universe, indicates that their sex offenders are more apt to sneak an upskirt cell-phone snapshot than strangle a schoolgirl when exposed to extreme pornography.

I believe it's a fundamental right to be turned on by what you're turned on by... so long as that does not actually hurt anyone (and, for the most part, it doesn't. Child-porn is the glaring exception, and even then, I would much rather they have access to safe and legal pencil or poser pr0n rather than resort to live models.)

* * *
Too much personal info warning! Warning! Do not read below if you are over-sensitive!
* * *

Once upon a time, long ago, I dated on of their "live models", a girl of four, raped, beaten mostly to death and abandoned in a dog-cage in a desert. She was, by the time I met her, grown into a twenty-something woman. The stuff on her PC would send her away for life in the UK now, if sexualized drawings of of murdered and broken men counted, and they do. I'm still here, and there was never a doubt I would be... she could not help what she was attracted to, but she would never, ever do me harm. (Apart from the whole broken heart thing. Time, distance, and a similarly inclined ex wound up getting in the way, but still... ) She could and did allow us both to be involved with her violence fetish in a healthy, healing way, and I feel more of a man for being a part of it. And I'm not even a masochist!

So! This is a law that will punish women as well as men, and do nothing to relieve sex-crime. It will allow the government to punish weirdos for being weirdos, and in this time of War on Terrorism, I suppose that's all that matters.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:44 PM on January 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals (c)

We need to ban the giver (from goatse).
posted by benzenedream at 7:10 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not sure what you guys are into, but I don't really have a problem with this law.

One good metric of a sane adult is one that can draw a relatively clean longitude between make-believe and real, between image and act. If you agree, it follows that these laws, which are applied broadly to every maker and consumer of speech, only benefit society to the extent that they come in contact with madmen; in all other cases, they will burden society in numerous ways.

So, unless madness is the defining condition of a people, obscenity laws will tend to cost more than they're worth.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:20 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"It never occurred to me that porn might involve bestiality with non-live beasts"

Have you blocked out the Chicken Fucker incident? [Original Middle image].

"Is there such a thing as porn featuring penis bones? "

Baculums might not be well enough known, but Rule 34 says "Of Course". There is a site out there that sells dildos shaped like animal penises.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 PM on January 29, 2009


Damn, no more traffic cones up the butt, I guess.
posted by facetious at 8:57 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know how they're going to throw all the Welsh in prison, but pip-pip and good luck with all of that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:36 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll never understand why our government seems so keen to legislate with one eye on the tabs, when the Sun and the Mail will happily turn round and shaft them for something completely unrelated the next day; or, depending on how bored the editors are, find a way to have a go at parliament for trying to give them exactly what they claim to want anyway. Attempting to please organs that are never pleased is a stupid way to govern.

In a way, though, I really hope that this law is an attempt to please those fickle moral guardians. If it's actually come to pass because people in government honestly think this ridiculously broad and fuzzily unspecific language is the right way to legislate then we're all fucked and we should close down the country right this instant.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:29 AM on January 30, 2009


(e) doing it whilst snowboarding. Extreme, dude!
posted by Artw at 12:29 AM on January 30, 2009


BAN BANS!
posted by davemee at 1:12 AM on January 30, 2009


There is some really crazy stuff out there that people should REALLY be prevented from profiting off of. I believe that this law was written with the best of intentions and hope that it isn't enforced to further prudish morality, but to protect people from being exploited in pornography that encourages harmful behavior.

On the one hand, people who make videos of themselves nailing their balls to wooden planks should be allowed to do it. On the other, it seems that when a profit motive enters in, there's a chance that some of the people who have their anuses severely damaged might not have known exactly what they were signing up for.

Adults should be allowed to do whatever they choose to do, but I do understand that a society might want to prevent video producers from paying people to mutilate themselves.
posted by paperzach at 3:20 AM on January 30, 2009


allen.spalding - This is essentially the true story of Deep Throat

As best as I can tell from what I could find doing some searches, this has to have been a metaphorical gun to her head.

I have heard the story of her abuse before, always used as a categorical argument against pornography, with explicit or implicit claims that her experience is typical of the treatment pornographic actresses are subject to. The straw that broke the camel's back for me regarding the credibility of the antiporn crowd was Dworkin's claim that gay male porn is violence against women because one actor always takes a "female" role (in her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women).

I am strongly in favor of vigorously prosecuting abuse of any kind, in conjunction with or at the service of any industry whatsoever, but extending this to a categorical ban of the materials produced is an extra leap that we need not take. It seems that we could ban the products of (non-pornographic) child entertainers on the same basis - emotional and physical abuse and manipulation are clearly prevalent there. If we ban Deep Throat then we should ban Jackson Five records (physical abuse made both of these possible).
posted by idiopath at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


What bothers me most is that in spite of living in Britain and following the news about as much as the average citizen, this is the first time I've heard of this provision.
posted by Phanx at 5:52 AM on January 30, 2009


You will take my BDS&M porn from my warm, sticky hands!
posted by Phalene at 7:08 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This is essentially the true story of Deep Throat."

That's bullshit.

The "true" story of Deep Throat is that Linda Lovelace had a religious epiphany and suddenly remembered being forced to do all sorts of shit, but there's no independent verification of that, and the other people involved with the film strenuously deny her assertions regarding Deep Throat. There's little disagreement that her husband at the time (in fact, both her husbands) were abusive assholes, but that does not mean that she was forced to do the film. This is the same woman who objected to being in a film with an image of the Venus de Milo due to Venus's bare breasts.
posted by klangklangston at 8:33 AM on January 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Which are banned due to their potential to cause serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals.

If these BDSM groups show the law is a major PITA, will it be declared null and void?
posted by ersatz at 10:13 AM on January 30, 2009


Dworkin's claim that gay male porn is violence against women because one actor always takes a "female" role (in her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women).

I suggest you re-read that book. You got it wrong. It's a tough read on many levels, but this is just an absurd conclusion to draw. It's like saying that you lost all faith in Darwin after he said that a monkey was my uncle.

klangklangston: The film's director himself had repeatedly said that Traynor beat Lovelace on the set and that he often had a gun on him, the same .45 that Lovelace claims he routinely pulled on her. There's little metaphorical about the what happened to her and if having your abusive, battering husband constantly on set monitoring you while armed with a gun he routinely pulled on you (including every phone call she made so as to prevent her from escaping) isn't coercion, well, I think you might want to rethink your standards.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:34 AM on January 30, 2009


On the other, it seems that when a profit motive enters in, there's a chance that some of the people who have their anuses severely damaged might not have known exactly what they were signing up for.

Mr. Hands.
One Man One Jar.

Please, won't someone think of the anuses?
posted by FatherDagon at 12:06 PM on January 30, 2009


"The film's director himself had repeatedly said that Traynor beat Lovelace on the set and that he often had a gun on him, the same .45 that Lovelace claims he routinely pulled on her. There's little metaphorical about the what happened to her and if having your abusive, battering husband constantly on set monitoring you while armed with a gun he routinely pulled on you (including every phone call she made so as to prevent her from escaping) isn't coercion, well, I think you might want to rethink your standards."

Really? What's your source on Damiano's confirmation of Traynor's forcing Lovelace to participate? Traynor denies it, obviously, and everything I've seen from Damiano is either a denial or a dismissal.
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on January 30, 2009


Damiano never said Traynor forced her to participate. He did say that he beat her on the seat, carried a gun, and was always present. It's one of those non-denial denials. My guess is that Damiano wanted plausible deniability to make sure he wasn't liable as an accomplice. You can see some of this in his own words in Legs McNeil's The Other Hollywood where Damiano is sort of obtuse, saying things like "you that when Chuck was there, Linda was in for a bad time later on" and so forth.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2009


allen.spaulding:

In your first post in this thread you mention the legal stance taken by the anti-pornography activists that banning pornography was a question of equality for women. People objected that gay male porn did not oppress women as a class. Her response was that since one of the actors always played a role that was essentially female, even gay men having sex on film in the absence of any women, oppressed women as a class.

The difference here is that Darwin did not write anywhere that a monkey is my uncle, while Dworkin did actually make the claim that gay male pornography is a form of violence against women. As I said, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. This book is full of unwarranted conclusions, generalizations from anecdotes, and hyperbole. She doesn't separate her appeals to emotion from the building of her thesis, her thesis is substantively a series of appeals to emotion, which makes it hard to read, sure, but that difficulty of reading it does not make it any more correct. As an account of the pervasiveness of the hatred of women, the book is excellent, even if it is preaching to the feminist choir. As an argument for blanket legal censure of the production of graphic depiction of sexual acts, not so much.

I would say that if the gun was not physically pointing at her head, that yes, her claim that she had a gun to her head was metaphorical, and nothing I have seen has given me reason to believe she had a gun pointing at her. I will not dispute that her husband was abusing her both emotionally and physically, and was manipulating and coercing her, but while on the set he was not literally pointing a gun at her head.
posted by idiopath at 1:35 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think at this point so many people have heard that canard that you have to wonder why Damiano didn't include Traynor holding the gun to her head in the film itself.

After all, that's what porno fans really want to see, isn't it?
posted by stinkycheese at 1:55 PM on January 30, 2009


allen.spaulding: So if I were to be kidnapped and forced to perform sex acts on camera at gunpoint, I couldn't stop the screening of that film nor could I recover any of the money it made.

Wouldn't this depend on your state's "Son of Sam" laws?

New York, after numerous revisions, adopted a law in 2001 again known as the "Son of Sam" law. This law requires that victims of crimes be notified whenever a person convicted of a crime received $10,000 (US) or more—from virtually any source. The law then attaches a springing statute of limitations, giving victims an extended period of time to sue the perpetrator of the crime in civil court for their crimes. This law also authorizes a state agency, the Crime Victims' Board, to act on the victims' behalf in some limited circumstances. Thus far, the current New York law has survived constitutional scrutiny.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:08 AM on January 31, 2009


kid ichorous - Those laws have largely been found unconstitutional and usually written so as to prevent criminals from writing tell-alls after-the-fact. What I'm describing, when the pornography is made by coercion, is very clear legally: you can't sue the distributors or prevent it from being screened. Any damages you have available will be limited to the harms caused in the creation and not from the screenings.

idiopath - I've just been stating what the American understanding of pornography and obscenity law is without taking any positions on this law. Yet you're still misreading Dworkin and it seems like you're quoting from a poorly-written cliff's notes version. She doesn't say what you think she does.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:27 AM on January 31, 2009


kid ichorous - Those laws have largely been found unconstitutional and usually written so as to prevent criminals from writing tell-alls after-the-fact.

Thanks. I'm no lawyer, but I guess I'd have expected more constitutional leeway on a civil matter, especially if the goal were not to injoin the speech, but rather to make restitution to the injured party.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:08 AM on January 31, 2009


allen.spaulding: thank you for taking the time to have a back and forth with me about this, it is a rare chance to have a civil disagreement about such a touchy issue.

I could very well be misremembering the source of the claims regarding gay porn, but I stand by my claim that they came from Dworkin. I tried doing a google books search in her pornography book but only got the first four references out of fifteen for my search term and too little context to be useful. But this is not about one particular book for me, or even just one author, it is about the fairly consistent set of arguments of the anti-porn movement. I quick google found this:

In sum, gay male pornography merges with an identity politics that personifies all that is masculine, hence gender "male", and which rejects all that is non-masculine, feminized, hence gender "female" -- an identity in which, as Andrea Dworkin explains, gay men are not only penetrated like women, but they also lust after pain and degradation like women.

As I understand it, this issue is a very important one to the anti-porn argument. If there is some set of circumstances under which pornography* representation of actual sexual acts can be mutually consensual for all parties involved, there is a gray area which people in the anti-porn movement find unpleasant - from everything I have seen they are fond of blanket statements and broad claims (perhaps because these make for a more appealing argument?).

Specifically regarding the above quote (and the article it comes from), I can make a similar set of observations that I did of the Dworkin book, that it makes a compelling case regarding the pervasiveness of misogyny, but falls short of being sufficient grounds for banning photographs of men having teh buttseks.

* I want to be able to use the word pornography here, but it gets used strangely in the anti-porn discourse: they give it a definition which is distinctly different from the common usage, but use it in ways that make it easy to forget that. It is as if some newspaper decided that "George W. Bush" meant "a stammering idiot" - most of what you read makes sense until they say "each of the main characters in Dumb and Dumber was George W. Bush".
posted by idiopath at 1:03 AM on February 1, 2009


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