UK Porn Regulation is Dominating

Where does the UK get off with its porn regulations? Actually, I may have just answered my own question. An amendment passed as part of the Communications Act of 2003 placed arbitrary restrictions on sex acts performed by consenting adults in pornographic content available in adult video stores and via video-on-demand. Let's be clear about what that means. The government in the United Kingdom has taken it upon themselves to regulate which specific acts may legally appear in pornographic videos produced by and for consenting adults. Can something be both authoritarian and hilarious? Because I'm pretty sure this is.

Instead of the XXX or NC-17 ratings that are utilized in American, the UK uses a rating of R18 for their adult content. A film rated R18 may be shown only to adults, in licensed adult movie theatres, or sold by a licensed adult video store. Fair enough, right? However, if the adult films in question feature consenting adults and aren't shown to or sold to children then why place yet another restriction on them?

Banned in the UK (in Word or in Deed)

Popular articles in UK papers and websites (including independent.com.uk) have printed a list of acts now banned by this new amendment. Among other acts, these lists includes physical restraint, role-playing as minors, golden showers, whipping, spanking, or penetration by any object "associated with violence." Really? I know people who will happily tell you that any form of penetration is an act of violence. Sexuality is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Turns out that the new guidelines actually do not list any of these specific activities. Too bad. I was really looking forward to reading an amendment that contained words like "fisting" and "face sitting." No such luck. What it does say seems reasonable on its face, but it's sneaky. Now banned are:

  • Material in breach of the criminal law. Okay, nothing illegal. So that means no drugs, no minors, and no snuff. That seems pretty reasonable so far.
  • Material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity. That seems…intentionally vague.
  • Infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or simulated. So…Dom/sub play is totally off the table? Wow.
  • Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual… Even if you like it, you're not allowed to like it on video.

Binding Porn Availability with a Loophole

With that in mind, it's not difficult to see why consumers of pornography are annoyed with increased regulations on their solo giggity. There is one loophole in the new amendment. It applies only to porn produced or sold in the UK.

Luckily, pornography is protected under the First Amendment in the United States; San Fernando Valley, California, USA is still the pornography capitol of the world. So chin up, friends across the pond! There are still plenty of places to get the Dom/sub action, golden showers, and angry penetration that your little heart desires.

Should the government put restrictions on pornographic movies for adults? I want to say no. However, dressing up adult women as minors makes me vaguely uncomfortable. I suspect that most of these porn regulations stem from the idea that if someone is uncomfortable, that somebody needs to "do something" about it. Maybe part of freedom means tolerating things that make us uncomfortable. We don't have to let other's discomfort stifle us. It's a tricky issue. In the end, I think the real winners will be the unfettered oasis that is virtually restriction-free Internet porn.