British feminist porn producer Pandora Blake has something big to celebrate today. Her appeal against the shutdown of her kink-themed website, Dreams of Spanking, was ruled successful. “This decision is a landmark victory for feminist porn, diversity and freedom of expression,” Blake said in a statement.
Ofcom, the U.K.’s communications regulator (the British equivalent of the FCC) declared today that Blake’s website does not come under its jurisdiction and therefore she can reinstate all her content—caning videos and spanking photoshoots included.
Earlier this year, the Daily Dot reported on Blake’s experience of being targeted by U.K. censors following new, restrictive guidelines set in place December 2014. The 2014 Audio Visual Media Services guidelines cover all on-demand videos produced in the U.K., and its Rule 14 banned any content from showing face-sitting, female ejaculation, or spanking that leaves marks. This rule was criticized for its inconsistent and sexist targets—male ejaculation and deep throating are not banned, even though the latter is the act that the British Board of Film Classification most regularly has to censor in porn—and was satirized in a “face-sitting protest” outside British parliament.
Blake’s Dreams of Spanking, which featured a mix of BDSM role-playing between men and women, was taken offline nearly a year ago by the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), along with three websites containing dominatrix-themed videos. All four were shut down for Rule 14 violations.
In a statement released today, Blake said: “The point of Dreams of Spanking was to make ethical porn based on my own fantasies. I’m not ashamed of being kinky and there’s no harm in adults sharing consensual BDSM films. The AVMS regulations effectively criminalized my sexuality.”
Blake believes she was specifically targeted for her outspoken criticism of the regulations, as she was contacted by ATVOD after appearing on British news and radio condemning the rules as “needlessly oppressive and sexist.”
As of January 2016, ATVOD no longer exists; regulating on-demand programming was taken over at that point by Ofcom. While ATVOD was extremely active in enforcing the AVMS regulations during the year it was in charge, Ofcom has not made any new investigations since it took over. Blake speculated to the Daily Dot that Ofcom was deliberately being more restrained in its approach to online porn in contrast to its predecessor; “there’s a general sense that ATVOD were quite embarrassing and were a PR blunder.”
Blake’s appeal was ultimately successful on the grounds that the primary purpose of her site wasn’t video on demand but rather to create a “community of interest for like-minded people to share stories, including blogs, comments and discussion.” This means the site no longer falls under Ofcom’s remit and is therefore exempt from the AVMS regulations. In 2015, Mistress R’eal, a producer of dominatrix-themed videos targeted under AVMS, successfully appealed ATVOD’s charges in the same way.
This ruling doesn’t alter the AVMS regulations, which both feminists and BDSM practitioners have condemned as arbitrary and anti-woman—not to mention the fact that they forbid the depiction of acts which are completely legal to perform under U.K. law. Nonetheless, Blake feels it is this is a massive step in the right direction: “Now I’ve won my appeal I feel vindicated. It proves that it’s worth standing up to bullies.”
Dreams of Spanking is back online as of today.