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      British BDSM Enthusiasts, Say Goodbye to Your Favourite Homegrown Porn

      By Frankie Mullin

      December 1, 2014

      Dominatrix Ms Tytania with a client. It's this kind of stuff that British porn producers aren't going to be able to produce from today onwards. (All photos courtesy of Ms Tytania)

      This morning, the laws governing online porn changed. Somewhere in the UK, stooped over a keyboard, teeth bared, the men and women charged with shielding our eyes from anything deemed legally a-bit-off are working to a new set of guidelines:

      As of today, the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 comes into force, amending the 2003 Communications Act. All Video on Demand (VoD) services must now comply with this. Content is no longer permissible if it cannot be classified as an R18, according to guidelines laid out by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).

      That means this: last Friday, the team only had to contend with the usual, run-of-the-mill nasty stuff – content that either incited hatred or could "impair" children (whatever that means). From today, however, they've got all kinds of evil to suppress; 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).

      "R18 is a strange thing," says Jerry Barnett, founder of anti-censorship campaign Sex and Censorship. "It's a set of weird and arbitrary censorship rules decided between the BBFC, the police and the CPS. There appear to be no rational explanations for most of the R18 rules – they're simply a set of moral judgements designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the British people from watching pornography."

      Stopping the British public from watching porn is one thing that today's legal revision will not do. That's because the new law only covers content produced in the UK, meaning that viewers – if they really want to – can still open up that private browsing window all the adverts claimed was for "buying an engagement present" and  view as much fisting, strangulation and urination as they like.

      However, the law will have an impact on the British industry. Not on the large porn studios, which tend to favour the strip, blowjob, fuck, cum-all-over-a-woman's-face formula, but the UK's smaller, independent producers. Specifically – given the activities prohibited by the BBFC – fetish producers.

      Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, AKA Ms Tytania

      Itziar Bilbao Urrutia, AKA Ms Tytania, is a professional dominatrix who also produces femdom porn, which she sells on her (obviously NSFW) website, the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell.

      Part porn, part performance art, Urrutia's imagined female supremacist terror cell is a URL mostly full of feminism, fury, strap-ons and anal hooks. One prominent feature is a fetish kidnapping service, where clients are offered the opportunity to be bundled into a van, driven to a remote spot and tortured (consensually). This – along with your traditional boot-licking, "electric emasculation" and "enforced brainwash hypnosis" – is filmed and available for download on her website.

      Granted, watching men being forced to recite radical feminist writing from the 1960s might not be your thing. But I'd argue that it's a good deal more interesting than most of what you'll find on SpankWire. Lucky, then, that Urrutia is exempt from complying with the AVMS.

      Earlier this year, Urrutia won ​what was dubbed a "David and Goliath battle" against the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD). Created in 2010 in response to an EU directive on audiovisual media, ATVOD works alongside Ofcom, regulating on-demand services including ITV Player and 4oD. Also in its remit is paid-for content on websites classed as "TV-like", a category into which many UK-based adult sites are thought to fall.

      Urrutia managed to prove that not only was the content on her site not "TV-like" (something I'd have thought would be pretty obvious to the regulatory board), but that it also didn't contravene the Obscene Publications Act. As a result, the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell lives on. However, it may soon be one of the last UK fetish sites left standing.

      "For the last week or so, fellow femdom producers – all of them women – have been emailing or messaging me, asking me to clarify some vague points," says Urrutia. "The truth is that nobody really knows how this new law is going to be enforced. Everybody is scared of losing their livelihoods."

      The ambiguity of this "TV-like" definition is worrying many in the industry, particularly since ATVOD itself makes no bones about the fact the classification is not clear-cut.

      "It is a deliberately dynamic concept, and the directorate the rules come from says it should be interpreted dynamically," says Pete Johnson, chief executive of ATVOD. "As the nature of television changes, so does the nature of what's TV-like. It does include a certain amount of room for judgements to be made."

      §

      Urrutia and others in the industry are angry that it seems to be small fetish sites being targeted. Because if there's one genre of British porn that can be classed as an underdog cottage industry, it's the one full of  whips, latex masks and ball-stomping.

      Sites either closed down or made to come into compliance last year include Belted by Beauty, Mistress Whiplash, Pleasuring Herself and Young Dommes. Looking at the list, femdom does seem to be disproportionately represented.

      "The new legislation is absurd and surreal," says Urrutia. "I mean, why ban facesitting? What's so dangerous about it? It's a harmless activity that most femdom performers, myself included, do fully dressed anyway. Its power is symbolic: woman on top, unattainable.

      "While mainstream porn will be peddled without fear by the large studios – often owned by the same media moguls who denounce the 'sexualisation' of our culture – more niche, less clichéd sexual interests will disappear. It's the corporate shopping chain crushing independent shops on the high street by piling it high and marketing it to the dumbest common denominator. In five years' time we may only have one-size-fits-all porn, peddled by the porn equivalent of Primark."

      Barnett, meanwhile, is concerned that this legislation – seemingly pointless when it comes to "safeguarding children" – is part of a slow but steady march towards broader online censorship.

      "I'm worried this will help build the case in the future for wide-scale blocking of 'illegal' sites," says Barnett. "Along with panics over terrorism and pressure over copyright theft, we seem to be edging towards a more censored network."

      For his part, Johnson says he hopes that the future holds,"a well-regulated adult industry and that adult content is seen by adults and not by children". Of course, the latter part of that goal – the desire to protect children from seeing porn – is still a long way from realisation. Not least because most of the stuff on sites like the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell is behind a paywall anyway (again, so consenting adults have the choice as to whether they want to pay for it and watch it).

      However it all pans out today in that grand tower of British censorship, it would be a shame if the bland smut of the tube sites was all that existed, leaving the likes of Urrutia erased from the UK scene. I mean, where else can you find porn made by a woman who describes her mission thus: "To destroy the patriarchy. To hunt down all city boys and other capitalist sexist male scum vermin. To wipe the smug smile off their complacent faces whilst they wipe the dirt off [my] bovver boots."

      Exactly.

      ​@frankiemullin

      More stories about porn:

      We Went to the Video Shoot for the Television X Christmas Single

      Porn Stars Are Letting Fans Pay for the Chance to Have Sex with Them on Camera

      WATCH – ​The Digital Love Industry

      Topics: BDSM, porn, UK, United Kingdom, Culture, internet porn, online porn, British porn regulations, BBFC, VoD, Ms Tytania, Frankie Mullin, pornography, sex, dominatrix, shipping, female ejaculation, facesitting, sexy pissing

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      Are you over 18?

      The stuff you're trying to look at is considered \"naughty\" by busybodies, legal types, and (probably) your mom, so we'd like to make sure you're of legal age before we let you see it.