This is how they shut you up. If you're producing non-mainstream porn, the British authorities are coming after you. They will threaten you, they will destroy your business, they will publish your real name and they will issue crippling fines against you. The penalties for producing ethically-made, non-mainstream porn are legion. Pandora Blake had just started turning a profit when it happened to her. After four years of running her own website, a letter came through the door. It was from the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), a shadowy privately-owned regulator. Atvod is supposed to be the watchdog for video on demand services – stuff like 4oD and iPlayer. In reality it is an organisation which uses a twilight area of law to shut down non-mainstream porn, presided over by a man named Pete Johnson, who appears to be on a personal crusade against pornography.
Summer’s soft, warm breezes are back, bringing their own special memories: the end of exams; holidays on the beach; falling asleep in hammocks; but most of all, the first few exciting weeks of a new relationship. How many of us have enjoyed our first romantic relationship thanks to the revealing outfits that warm weather allowed us wear, the tanned limbs the sun gave us and the simple fact we had somewhere that wasn’t indoors to go and, well, explore? But when sun goes in and the Ray-Bans come off (somehow instantly losing that rose-tinted quality they possessed) we find ourselves ‘in a relationship’.
Every now and again, the wheel of fashion turns but discovers it has nowhere new to go, and suddenly bellbottoms and crop tops are back in vogue. The same cyclical patterns can be found in Gender Politics. Catcalling, quotas and ‘how-to’ books on feminism are all back on the agenda. And so it is that the question of body hair has become somewhat of a ‘thing’ lately, with the press reporting ‘hairy isn’t scary’, with a combination of fear and fascination that denotes it could well be the last taboo. Girls, rejoice! Sporting neon dyed underarms is proof your feminist credentials and a fashion forward-look for SS15. But is a bit of fluff really a political statement?
Down here there is special concern about whether an EU ban on neonicotinoid coated seeds will threaten the oil seed rape crop. Rape, apart from its colourful contribution to our landscape is apparently (do we detect the PR hands of the OSR Marketing Board?), a coming rival to disease-threatened olive oil in the kitchen. This issue was the cause of some discussion in the Old Doom Bar the other weekend. June arrived wetly so there was leisure time to consider whether to cover our verdant meadows with solar panels – like our neighbours in Devon or persevere with a cash crop such as rape. Rapeseed or brassica napus to give its proper name has nothing contextually or etymologically to do in its familiar form with the act of sexual violence. Nonetheless the term inevitably led someone in our little discussion group to mention the current issue of new CPS guidelines that enable being drunk as no impediment to a female’s claim of rape – that is, non-consensual sex.
The account Tom of Tehran (https://instagram.com/tom_of_
Do you read slash fiction? Well, you read the Erotic Review, so presumably you have fairly eclectic literary tastes– but until recently I had never heard of it. Frankly, it was a more innocent time. Then one evening, quietly googling Sherlock plot predictions like the amazingly cool adult I have become, I stumbled across some of the most shocking filth I have ever read. Honestly, I may never be able to see Sherlock and Moriarty together on screen again without blushing.
It’s been odd weather of late. May struggles to present itself as nearly summer, rather like a long dreamed of or fancied lover who turns out on re-acquaintance to be not quite as remembered. May, despite sunny moments has been in general a little colder, less reliable and more windy than hoped for. The first two could well be true of lovers, but one hopes not the third. As my friend Nick the builder says ‘you can get pills for that’.
We like the winds of change, especially when they are blown as a result of popular vote, as if it means we, as a species, have evolved a little, that we have become a tiny bit better. Ireland’s vote to legalise gay marriage is a welcome change. It is a victory against the Church’s obdurate dogma and a show of Irish people’s maturity and goodness. In comparison to many other countries, Ireland has done well. Although homosexuality was a crime only 22 years ago, this is a good deal of progress. The result of the Irish referendum is great news. However, I cannot agree that upholding human rights should require a popular vote. It is always dangerous to ask the majority about the rights of a minority. But where in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does it say that a country has to resort to a referendum?
In Part 1 of this article, the evidence was laid out that writers are wary of presenting sexual detail. Peter Stothard, a Booker judge, had read 145 new British novels in one year and concluded that our writers prefer to close down the action at the bedroom door. The article also considered the psychological and cultural constraints and the idea of taste and decency. Some writers are now saying that this avoidance of sexual detail in literature is unwarranted. Sarah Hall, author of Haweswater, said in a recent Guardian interview, ‘Most novels avoid sex like the plague, but I love writing about it.’ She said she likes extreme situations: ‘people pushed out of their comfort zones; the civil veneer stripped off. Sex does that.’ So why are other writers more wary and how much of this is to do with the mechanics of making a story work? What is it that is shocking about sex when we read the details? Is it just that it comes in breach of a custom of silence and that, if that custom was broken for long enough, we would find it as normal to read a description of a penis as of a hairdo or pair of shoes? Or is there something in the nature of a penis or a vagina that makes it a bum note to describe it in the middle of a love-scene, even though it is fully present in it and there is no love scene without it?
There are unmentionable parts of human experience. At least, many writers seem to think so. The chair of the Man Booker judges in 2012, Sir Peter Stothard, observed before the rash of Fifty Shades inspired erotica distorted the picture, that literary sex had ‘gone out of fashion’. He reached that conclusion on the greatest possible authority, having just read 145 new British novels. This is not what was expected when legal changes freed writers to describe copulation more lucidly. Then it seemed that the main obstacle to sexual candour was the danger of being banned or imprisoned. But clearly there are other restraints at work. In terms of literature, some of these restraints may be psychological or cultural and some may derive from the mechanics of constructing a story.