The Sex Acts Britain Just Banned in Porn

Porn produced in the United Kingdom quietly incurred some major restrictions on Monday, via an amendment to the 2003 Communications Act that bans a long list of sex acts from appearing in adult films. While the new restrictions do not affect porn produced outside the UK (and do not prevent people from watching such porn), they do require on-demand adult films to meet the same guidelines as adult films available on DVD in sex shops. That means eliminating all sorts of different performances, from spanking to strangulation, many of which are typically associated with female pleasure.


According to the Independent, the British Board of Film Censors has banned strangulation, face-sitting and fisting from UK-produced porn under the auspices of preventing potential fatalities (the censorship board considers the acts “life-endangering”). Other banned sex acts include caning, aggressive whipping, penetration by any object “associated with violence,” physical or verbal abuse, urolagnia (perhaps better known as water sports) and female ejaculation. 

Several of the now-banned acts (for example, face-sitting) are cornerstones of “femdom” pornography, which carries explicit (no pun intended) messages of female domination, agency and pleasure. Additionally, regulations on physical and verbal abuse, for instance, completely ignore that concept of consent, despite the fact that it is critical to BDSM and healthy sexuality in general.

As pornographer Erika Lust notes in an op-ed for the Independent, the measures seem to be part of a larger effort to suppress sexuality in order to present one normalized view of pleasure, which effectively ignores pleasure for women. The rules have been openly presented as a way to “safeguard children,” but Lust says the government is going about protecting the kids all wrong.

“Is it correct to teach our children that certain sexual acts are wrong and others not?” Lust writes. “When a lot of these ‘R18 rules’ are targeted at censoring female pleasure … doesn’t that perpetuate the poor gender education our children are already receiving? We should be teaching them about the importance of female pleasure, not censoring it.”

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