NEW ANTI SEX: LEGISLATION LAWS IN THE UK

There have always been people who have been offended by other people’s sexuality, sexual preferences and practices. Sex between consenting adults for any purpose other than making babies and perpetuating the human species strikes some people as highly disgusting and immoral.  Generally however, when sex is something studied or practiced by consenting adults, those adults have been left to get on with it in peace. That situation is changing in Britain, as of 2009.

Some powerful social taboos exist and with good reason. Pedophilia, rape, sexual contact with non-consenting adults, bestiality, necrophilia, incest, and such are regarded as unacceptable for very good reasons. Few mainstream erotica producers will touch authors who’s work deals in such subjects. Rape may be the subject of many crime stories, and these usually treat the subject with sensitivity, showing how the victim feels, and dealing with the police and the courts try to pursue the assailants in order to prevent them committing such offences again. That is how it should be. 

As of January 26th 2009 however, many forms of sexual activity that were previously deemed legally and morally acceptable, have been made illegal virtually overnight in the United Kingdom (Scotland is a little slower in applying the new draconian laws than Wales and England, but they are likely to introduce them very soon). 

The new law makes possession of images of ‘extreme pornography’ illegal. This applies to still photographs and moving images captured and preserved on video, DVD, Cell phones, etc.

What constitutes ‘extreme pornography’?  The following is from the wording of the new law itself.

The law defines it as (Clause 7) An image falls within this subsection if 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, or (d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive),

and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.

The law is primarily geared up to deal with people who practice and champion BDSM (Bondage, Domination, and Sado-Masochism)  It has been decided that someone who uses whips, chains, bondage cords, etc, might actually be jeopardizing the life  of someone who is quite happy and consenting to be strapped down to a bed or some other surface, and beaten with a variety of objects.

Actual deaths through sexual practices between consenting adults are extremely rare, and in fact, even straight sex can lead to untimely death or injury for the very unfortunate.. People have died having intercourse with a wife or husband when a stroke or coronary thrombosis have kicked in so any kind of sex could be defined as life threatening. Genghis Khan famously died while making love.

Practitioners of BDSM are overall, actually remarkably cautious, and when they are with new, nervous partners they will often begin lightly, working their way up from soft levels of physical contact, to harsher levels of painful stimulation, and the person being subjected to pain is always given total power to call a halt to such practice any time they find themselves uncomfortable with the situation. This is done through ‘safe words' (or hand signals if the submissive individuals are gagged as part  of their play-activity). 

As well as practicing BDSM, people interested in such fetishism like to watch films about others doing it, take pictures of themselves and their partners (again as ALWAYS, with consent by all involved) and share them with other parishioners via personal contact, and / or via magazine advert promotions and especially by the Internet.  This widens the net that the new hateful and unnecessary laws have cast. Not only are the people practicing BDSM in danger of arrest if anyone complains about what they do, and especially if the submissive shows signs of bruising, scarification or bleeding. which s/he is comfortable with even if others are not)  The people who watch them, live at the location of the event, or in still, and / or moving pictures are equally liable to be arrested or have their houses and computer hard drives inspected by the authorities.

This is what can and now inevitably will start happening more and more often. A man of twenty or older, browsing the internet for sexual stimulating imagery, finds an appealing, arousing image of a woman tied to a chair, while a masked figure hovers behind her with a spanking cane. He likes the picture enough to press copy and paste to add it to a folder on his own hard drive. (In fact, just the electronic registering of him visiting the site of the image would suffice)..  He may or may not enjoy masturbation in relation to the image, once or many times. One day, the fact or suspicion that he has such an image in his possession is related to the police, or to social services officials.  This could happen in one of many ways. One - someone close to him may be aware of the law and use it against him. Perhaps his wife wishes to divorce him and her lawyers encourage her to divulge such ‘sordid’ interests as he has in court. Two - Possibly he has one of the growing number of internet servers who notify the authorities of what kind of material their customers like to visit. (The servers are under increasing pressure to make such information available to the police and other authorities). Three - It is possible the police have discovered the site and the people with who the image originated, and from there, they have electronically traced anyone who has visited the website provided (the man need not have ever exchanged an e-mail communication with them). Four - He may have actually paid for the pictures and films, and left a record of the transaction processes on his credit card statements.

However he is discovered, he will find himself questioned and probably get attested. He will be treated as being as vile, repulsive and disgusting as any child molester. There is a growing utterly unfounded belief that people who indulge in one kind of 'extreme' sex will have an anything goes attitude, and that someone who likes to be stood on by a consenting adult partner wearing sharp stilettos will also turn out to be a pedophile. This is as absurd as any claim that someone who smokes a few Marijuana cigarettes is also likely to be a Crack Cocaine addict.

The real scary clause in the law’s wording is the final one “and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.” Here, even simulated sexual violence becomes illegal, not just the real thing. It only takes one person to find an image or set of images offensive and potentially dangerous, to spark a witch-hunt against the people owning the images..  That the people in the image could turn up and state / show plainly that they are utterly unharmed and actually enjoy what they do, and that any animals involved were not harmed or abused in any way (on the occasions when such have been involved) is irrelevant to the law. The offenders risk heavy fines or imprisonment, and for doing no harm to anyone, while enjoying themselves in a practice they have all freely consented to participate in.

 Another problem is that the law is ambiguous enough to make images deemed innocent in one context potentially criminal in another.  There are countless mainstream films featuring people in peril. Women have been tied to railway lines by villains since the dawn of the cinema, with the heroes rushing to the rescue at the last minute.  Such is a staple of the cinematic arts. However, taking a copy of a picture of Gloria Swanson in peril, from a film dating back to the 1920’s and adding it to a hard drive folder of images  that you like, could potentially be seen as indulging in extreme sex.

Some cinematic and TV images of people (not necessarily women) in peril, actually echo fetish pleasures in many ways. Take a classic scene from the 1996 movie, A Long Kiss Goodnight.  Geena Davis plays a spy who suffers from amnesia. Various people try to torture her for information and to kill her before her memories come back. In a keynote scene, she is captured and tortured by being tied to a large water-wheel, while wearing a flimsy outfit, and repeatedly submerged in deep water until close to drowning. Eventually, as the attackers decide to leave her under, to die. she manages to escape. The scene captures not only a tense element of action adventure excitement, - it also touches on imagery appealing to bondage fans and people who find women in wet clothing appealing. (Wet And Messy, or WAM) being a major fetish). 

You cannot be prosecuted for watching the film, on TV or on Video / DVD, etc.  However, if you detach the scene of near drowning and add it to your hard drive you risk prosecution for selecting the scene for pornographic pleasure.

So, someone finds or buys a copy of stills or moving images of Geena Davis subjected to such torment. They may just be fans of the film, or aroused by bondage, the faked danger scenario (There is no doubt that Davis and her stunt doubles took no unnecessary risks). Or, the image collector may be turned on by the actress’s sheer, clinging wet clothes. Having any or all of those images on a hard drive could put anyone at risk of arrest under current law. It only takes someone even mistakenly thinking they are aroused by Geena Davis being ‘really’ harmed even though her many films since 1996 prove that she obviously wasn’t. As the authorities are openly hunting for anyone with images of such a nature, we are likely to see many people subjected to dawn raids on their houses, home and office computers confiscated, and many innocent people are going to find their names on sex offender registers – all for nothing. Their trials are likely to be as absurd as those of Oscar Wilde and the publishers of the paperback edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover (Penguin Books), but decent human beings could have their lives ruined at the tax-payers expense anyway.

It doesn’t stop at real pictures of real people simulating sex –Many bondage and sadism related cartoons can land you in the hands of the Thought-Fun police too.  Yes, cartoons! That’s how far from sanity and reason the new laws have taken us.

The sudden hysterical claims about ‘extreme sex ’ and ‘extreme pornography’ come from the same stable of stupidity as the Rochdale & Orkney Satanic Abuse scares that led to many innocent families being accused of sacrificing children to the Devil. All of the evidence proved to be nonsense then – it will with extreme porn too. Another example is the ‘snuff movie’ myth, a notion that people film actual murders and sell them to others at high prices. No such film has ever been found. What we have with the ‘extreme sex / pornography’ claims is hysteria, but a hysteria that can potentially ruin many people's lives. The witch hunting at Salem in the US was nothing but hysteria, and so was  McCarthyism in the 1950’s in the US. The new law is a product of the latest manifestation of such histrionics.

We live in terrible age. There really are child molesters at large, and terrorists, but creating a grossly exaggerated picture of the extent of their threat, so that no one trusts anyone, and the police out us under increasing surveillance and scrutiny comparable to a Stalinist police state of Martial Law is not acceptable. 

The world of sex and love, even with fantasy role play involving whips, chains, bondage, domination, and for those who like it, watersport activity, is a private and consenting sanctuary from the terrors and drudgeries of ordinary working existence – the new puritans wish to point accusing fingers and tell innocent law abiding, loving people that they are disgusting and criminal. The only crime is the finger pointing itself. The attack on BDSM affextionadoes is every bit as contemptible as any act or word of homophobia.

                                    IS SEX DANGEROUS?

Yes. Some sexual activities are undoubtedly more dangerous than others. Beyond the obvious dangers of multiple partnerings increasing the risk of contracting STD’s, which many more sexually active people wisely protect themselves against with condoms,  there are some practices that come with elements of risk.  It must be said though that the practitioners are still consenting adults, and fully aware of the risks involved, and able to take all necessary precautions, so that actual injury or fatality is extremely rare. 

The genuinely dangerous forms of sex include those relating to the Quicksand fetish, arousal by getting stuck in deep mud or actual quicksand.  I have an essay on the practices at QUICKSAND  No parishioners are on record as actually drowning while indulging in this bizarre activity to date. Another dangerous practice is that of AUTOEROTIC ASPHYXIA : described on the website http://premierswinging.com/members/glossary.php?Display=A as

“The practice of strangling oneself or depriving oneself of oxygen until the point of nearly passing out to achieve sexual arousal. “ This can also be practiced with others, Assisted Asphyxia, which is not strangely mentioned in the above website. (This is actually safer than doing it alone, as someone is able to help if something does go wrong). Having breathing reduced by application of plastic bags to the mouth and nose, or pressure applied to the neck, is obviously something to do carefully, and though practice of the games has increased (since it was popularized by the book and film of Michael Crighton’s Rising Sun) fatalities are very rare. It was however, such a rare event, the death of a teacher at the hands of musician Graham Coutts in an alleged assisted Asphyxia game gone wrong that led to the new law being introduced. For the case history see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Coutts

Though not my cup of tea, I believe that the practitioners of such activity know what they are doing, and that they are no more to be regarded as endangering themselves than people who take parachute jumps, bunji jump and who practice freediving. All of these legitimate practices kill more people than any kind of human consensual sexual activity known to exist. Anything we do should carry the warning that we do it at our own risk – anything. 

Some people are undoubtedly irresponsible. A couple were recently arrested when it was found that a man driving a car erratically was receiving a blow job (Fellatio) while the car was traveling at speed on crowded highways. Such selfish stupidity rightly got the culprits in trouble as they endangered others as well as themselves. They were arrested for dangerous driving, and not for having sex. Around the same time a man was arrested for driving erratically because he was watching TV at the time, and using mobile phones while driving is now equally illegal. That is a far cry however, from someone (who isn’t driving a car) risking arrest for liking a well known film featuring some images of Geena Davis in a wet dress.

Fortunately, there are voices of reason amidst the insane fundamentalist  hate-mongering going on. Several organizations, networks and individuals are challenging the new law, and this essay adds my own voice to theirs. I have added links below to some of the websites relating to the campaign to decriminalize love that should never have been criminalized in the first place.

The law rests on a seriously flawed assumption – that anyone who looks at or owns violent sexual art and photographs will be or become depraved enough commit acts of sexual violence, though absolutely no evidence exists to support such a claim.

                        ARE YOU LIKELY TO BE ARRESTED YOURSELF?

Who are likely to fall foul of such laws? The simple answer is anyone and everyone, but some people will be seen as priority targets. Sex workers, prostitutes, people who run massage parlors, sex shops, and well publicized S & M and swingers parties, burlesque and lap dancing performers, .people who advertise for sexual partners in pornographic  magazines, people with erotic and pornographic websites, especially those, unlike mine, with lots of sexually explicit pictures and videos for sale or free download. Celebrities with a reputation for having lots of sex are also likely to be targeted as the law’s champions will want high profile sensational scandals to help further their hysteria.

Plain text support for such activity, such as this web page will undoubtedly make many think opponents of the legislation are themselves paractioners of ‘extreme sex’, so I myself may be vulnerable for even writing this. The campaign will continue however until common sense prevails and such laws are scrapped forever.

A police case and criminal prosecution of any individual is likely to depend on evidence from computer hard drives and credit card statements. If you have images you worry might get you in trouble, it would be wise, though also probably tragic, to delete and erase them. You can be prosecuted over images that you collected or even which were created months and even years  before the law came into force. If unsure, seek advice from one of the organizations linked below.

                        OTHER DANGEROUS LEGISLATION IN THE PIPELINES

The extreme pornography Act is the first of several proposals that the Government is introducing against human love. That law is already in force. It can still be scrapped if public pressure makes it clear that the law is too costly, unpopular and unworkable. We stopped the Community Charge (Poll Tax). We can kill this hateful law stone dead too. 

Other laws can still be fought before they are put into force, and even if they are, enforced, the struggle will continue. The neo Puritans and Fun police are trying in all seriousness to destroy any kind of sex they dislike. Here are some other very real proposals

A/. Intensifying laws on prostitution – See www.iusw.org  The sex trade really needs to be decriminalized, much on the lines of the model used in Amsterdam. Pushing prostitution further underground never works, just as Prohibition never worked on alcohol intake, and anti-drug laws have done nothing to prevent a rise in drug consumption and trafficking.

B/. Increasing pressure is being put on employers to screen staff and especially new potential recruits not just for criminal records, but also to see if they have a reputation for unusual sexual practices. Names are likely to be applied to search engines to see if staff browse and contribute to sex forums, and visit sex related web sites. The authorities are likely to give employers increasing power to do so.

                                                FIGHT BACK

Many people who become aware of the dangers presented by the new laws will do nothing, and may possibly stop having the kind of quite harmless pleasure they have enjoyed in peace and without fear for many years. Cherished pictures and films may be destroyed or hidden away in the hope that no one locates, remembers or reports their ownership or possession.  Nazis burnt books - the new laws will make people press delete buttons on computers to the same effect.

Others might consider challenging the law, for their own sakes and on behalf of friends, and the wider community, (i.e., every adult in Britain). Criticizing the new legislation on websites and blogs would be a start. Writing to MP’s and the media is even better. Then there are a number of groups protesting against the new law, such as those mentioned in the links below. Read what they have to say, and then think about what you might do next.

                                                AM I VULNERABLE?

I keep asking myself if I am likely to attract the neo-Puritans. My hard-drive is decidedly empty of pornographic art and film clips. My interest is primarily the written word, as I have successfully penned some erotica and pornographic material. Though I write in other genres too, much of my best commercially successful writing has been my erotica, and I only moved into the genre about three years ago.

I have not actually practiced BDSM, but I have written about what is involved, sympathetically and supportively. By challenging the law like this, I am putting the idea out that I think consenting adults should be left to get on  with their lives, and therefore to some, I will be seen as taking sides with people they consider to be sick, perverted and depraved. The line has been crossed. The people I meet who I know to be into BDSM are not sick, perverted or depraved. They are people who have a passion and desire that goes beyond seeing sex as merely a means to procreation. They are willing to experiment, and dare, (my own lack of participation in BDSM is due to personal cowardice and squeamishness, not disgust) and if the practitioners  feel that some pain needs to be involved in that experimentation, so be it. They consent to do what they do, and they are old enough to make up their own minds. Mind your own business and leave them to get on with it.

                                                            THE WRATH OF CAAN

On February 28th 2009, I attended a workshop in Manchester,  at the University Student Union building on Oxford Road. The workshop was run by The Consenting Adult Action Network, (CAAN). It was part of the Convention On Modern Liberty, which was running at various venues throughout the UK. I went primarily in support of the opponents of compulsory ID cards for all citizens in the UK (NO2ID – see http://www.no2id.net/  From the Conference I could see that sexuality is just one area of our lives where our civil liberties are being systematically whittled away at an alarming rate. The CAAN workshop was one of the most important and eye opening events I attended at the Conference.

CAAN is not a membership rooted organization,  but a network of  individuals  united by a need to see that they, and others feel free to make their own choices about who they take on board as consenting lovers and what they choose to do to, and have done to themselves by said lovers. They object to the State trying to dictate and decide for them as if they were unable to make informed choices of their own.

CAAN produce a mission statement to the following effect.

“We believe in the right of consenting adults to make their own sexual choices, in respect of what they do, see and enjoy alone or with other consenting adults, unhindered and unfettered by government."

"We believe that it is not the business of government to intrude into the sex lives of consenting adults”

The CAAN website invites potential supporters to sign up and state agreement and support for the statement.  Suffice to say I have happily signed it. 

The workshop event began with a discussion of the wording of the statement. A few people were worried about what it means in its use of the word choices.  Many homosexuals feel strongly that their need for same sex partners is not a choice, but an inherent need. The answer was that choices here refer to practices, rather than preferences or the sexuality of partners. Given however that the wording of the law places strong emphasis on potential or actual harm to the anus, and male homosexual love-making largely involves anal penetration, the gay community could well be priority targets under the new law.

Heterosexual and lesbian sex can involve anal penetration too, either with the male genitalia, or with dildoes and other apparatus. The use of butt-plugs, and other objects could be seen as sufficiently offensive and dangerous to some to make them press the police and courts into action against the people selling, manufacturing, using or owning such materials. We could well soon be seeing closures of sex-shops in a fashion not seen since James Anderton was Manchester’s Chief Of Police.

The various campaigns to protect children from the perverts apparently lurking behind every tree in the park have spilled over into contempt for hedonistic adults. Many people are shocked, but most are afraid to speak out for fear of being labeled as perverts, and possibly finding their names added to the sex-offenders register. The stigma that goes with such a label would ruin many people’s careers and perfectly innocent reputations. People are becoming very frightened indeed.

Similar legislation is affecting the World, and not just the UK. In Australia, a man was successfully prosecuted for owning a silly fan-generated cartoon depicting television’s Bart Simpson naked and participating in a sex act. The trial was conducted as if Bart Simpson was a real person.  As one commentator observed at the workshop, The Simpsons has aired for decades and if Bart was real, he would now be in his thirties.

While sexually violent imagery taken out of context may get you in trouble with the law, violent imagery that is not seen as sexual, such as film footage of Spiderman thrashing Venom, Batman slugging it out with the Joker, or Rambo killing hundreds of foreigners with a machine gun, will not get you in trouble at all. You can have pictures of guns and grenades on your website, or pictures of a masked bank robber, but a picture of a naked man in a gimp mask is likely to land you in court.

CAAN members have taken some fascinating steps to challenge the law. They have petitioned Parliament, and taken many ambiguous sexual images directly to the police to ask whether they might be deemed offensive or not. The police proved unable to say one way or the other and in some cases, simply told the CAAN activists to go away.  Many people are now concerned enough about what images they have at home themselves that they send copies to CAAN to ask If they should be considered safe to keep or if they need to be destroyed.

The CAAN event ended with an invite to attendees to write out messages of support for CAAN Scotland, where the new UK legislation is still being discussed in government offices, and it is not yet impossible to stop the law being put into practice. 

My own message reads ’Good to see people standing up for common sense against the new puritans. Good luck. You have my full support'. Arthur Chappell.

                             HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?

To the Neo-puritans, it is sexual liberty that has gone too far. Their counter-measures are becoming extreme. Naturists and nudists are often under constant official scrutiny, even on beaches where nudity is acceptable, such as the one in Brighton. Some British railway stations are trying to ban kissing and heavy petting among couples waiting for trains there. People taking photographs of their friends standing near popular tourist attractions, such as Blackpool tower and the fountains at Trafalgar Square frequently get accused of taking candid pictures of people’s children, who at best happen to be in the background.  An old man who enjoys nothing more than feeding breadcrumbs to the ducks on a Sunday morning, may well find himself accused without warning of loitering with intent to molest or abduct children who also go to the park to see the ducks on the pond. Such things are happening, to real people, right now.

The Cole Porter song runs “In Olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now heaven knows, anything goes.“  There are those who would have us wrap up to avoid showing the stockings again. We will be back to swimming in Edwardian bathing costumes, etc. Our sexual freedom us under threat in many quarters. We have to fight back or we will probably lose everything.

                                    EXTERNAL LINKS

The legislation itself in full. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080004_en_9#pt5-pb1

Employers risk prosecution if employees download porn on office computers. http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/02/06/49313/hr-staff-face-penalties-under-new-computer-porn-laws.html

Organizations opposed to the laws referred to and offering advice on the issues raised here.

Backlash - www.backlash-uk.org.uk

Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) www.caan.org.uk

International Union Of Sex Workers www.iusw.org 

The Spanner Trust www.spannertrust.org  Wikipedia report on the homophobic case that led to this trust’s establishment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Spanner

Wikipedia article on the Extreme Porn Ban http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_pornography

SAY YES TO KISSING http://twitter.com/SayYesToKissing Opponents of efforts to ban snogging in public places in the UK

          LINKS TO SITES REGARDED AS EXTREME PORN

These websites have been listed by supporters of the legislation as examples of the kind of depraved material they have in mind. Keep in mind that clicking the following links could put you at risk of receiving a knock at the door by the fun police, even if you are assessing the evidence objectively as I am trying to do here.

HANGING BITCHES www.hangingbitches.com this site has been removed due to media pressure and the association it now has with the new laws. Opponents and supporters of the new laws refer to it as a prime example of the kind of site considered controversial. Attempting to go to the page results in a redirect to Google. The site depicted women in faked noose hanging games. As the same models appear in many different visual scenarios, it is obvious that they were never actually hanged to death. 

NECROBABES http://www.necrobabes.com/ The site features women pretending to be dead in a variety of ways, and the site’s disclaimers make it clear that some may find it offensive discourages underage visitors, and makes it explicitly clear that none of the women depicted are in any way harmed for real. A similar site NECRODUDES http://www.necrobabes.com/dudes/ does exactly the same thing with dead men fantasies

 Arthur Chappell  

                                    LINKS TO MY RELATED PAGES

My views on BDSM http://arthurchappell.me.uk/erotica-bdsm.htm

The Quicksand Fetish QUICKSAND

What is Pornography? http://arthurchappell.me.uk/pornography.htm

Film Review – Preaching To The Perverted http://arthurchappell.me.uk/film.review-preaching.to.the.perverted.htm – A highly under-rated look at government efforts to expose the BDSM scene as a hotbed of filth and depravity. Timely and hilarious.

Arthur Chappell

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