Censoring pee porn won’t address the harm of pornography

porn ban

A clause in a UK bill will, if successful, force internet service providers to block sites hosting content showing “non-conventional sexual acts.” This amendment in the Digital Economy Bill will likely prevent users from accessing BDSM porn, limiting, among other things, “the number of digits that can be placed into any orifice while on video.” The Guardian speculates that “Pictures and videos that show spanking, whipping or caning that leaves marks, and sex acts involving urination, female ejaculation or menstruation as well as sex in public” will also be targeted.

Pandora Blake, a pornographer who owns a company that produces BDSM porn, claims the bill harms “people with marginalized sexualities.” She also complains that the mandatory age verification included in the bill will force “feminist, queer and indie porn sites” out of business because these sites supposedly can’t afford to “securely age check every site visitor” *cough* Bullshit! *cough* and says “age checks requiring users to submit identifying details to prove their age will enable record-keeping on a global scale.”

I can only assume these concerns mean Blake doesn’t have a Gmail or Facebook account?

Blake claims she makes BDSM porn because she “want[s] to send the message that there’s nothing wrong with being kinky, and to help isolated individuals feel less alone,” but of course that isn’t really the whole truth. The primary reason a person would produce and sell pornography is for profit. In other words, Blake is protesting because this bill cuts into her profits, not out of concern for the perpetually oppressed watersports fanatic. Profit is the number one reason porn producers protest laws that limit their ability to sell pornography. If they wanted to help marginalized people, there are many effective ways to do so that don’t involve caning videos. Beyond that, if these people were really invested in protesting this bill because they want to “maintain the rights of adults to view adult content,” then you’d think they’d want to ensure that their porn was only being consumed by adults, not kids. I mean, are you concerned about “harm” or not? (Spoiler: the answer is “not.”)

But aside from the lack of integrity behind these protests led by porn producers, I myself fail to see the purpose of these new restrictions. The harm of pornography is not rooted in pee or even in spanking. Rather, the harm of pornography exists in your regular, everyday “vanilla” pornography, as well as in the more extreme stuff. It is in the kind of porn most men watch, which is often pee- and menstrual blood-free. (A ban on period blood porn strikes me as particularly ridiculous — I mean, if I had to choose, I’d vote for more period blood in porn.)

Pornography is harmful because it turns women into sexualized objects that exist for male pleasure. Because it sells painful, degrading, male-centered, uncomfortable, often violent acts as “sexy.” Because it sexualizes rape and incest and pedophilia. (Those Bang the Babysitter videos are a-ok according to this bill.) Porn tells us that sex is for men and that their orgasms take precedence over everything else — anything that makes a man come is all good, no matter how it affects women, girls, and oh right marginalized communities.

And hey! Speaking of marginalized communities, you’ll notice that none of these porn producers who claim they are protesting “censorship” because they care so deeply about social justice and freedom ever speak out about the racism that dominates pornography. From “Geisha girls” to “hot and spicy Hispanics,” porn uses racist stereotypes to sell sexualized violence and degradation to men.

Not having free access to sexy pee videos does not marginalize anyone. Racism and misogyny does.

One thing Blake and I agree on is that this bill is “a distraction from the real issues.” But I have the feeling she and I disagree on what those issues are. I’m all for placing restrictions on the ability of porn producers to profit from exploiting and abusing women, but this bill doesn’t seem rooted in a concern for women or for society, as a whole. Compartmentalizing various sex acts that feature in niche porn misses the point, and will not address the actual harm of pornography.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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