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Fluid Sexuality: Female Ejaculation and Censorship in the UK

The British film establishment is in a lather, and it's all because a female film director has dared to claim she knows more about women's erotic experience—in particular, female ejaculation—than they do.

Last week, female porn director Anna Span triumphantly announced that as a result of her intervention the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) had over-turned a long-standing ban and allowed a film that included images of this phenomenon—also known as "squirting" or "gushing"—to go on general release.

A press release from Span's company, Easy on the Eye Productions, said she had "won a historic victory with the passing for viewing in the UK of her DVD, 'Women Love Porn' which includes a woman clearly ejaculating". This, she explained, was as a result of scientific evidence that she had presented to the BBFC to the effect that female ejaculation was a real phenomenon—and wholly different in form and origin from urination. "[A]ll members of the crew including myself," Span said in a letter to the Board, "witnessed the ejaculation and knew that the speed, volume, viscosity, smell and sight were all very different from urine. To be honest we were all very shocked by it! Especially Dean, who received the ejaculate in his mouth...."

However, the BBFC claims otherwise. They compared this to a recent ruling in respect of a serious cartoon about the Arab-Israeli conflict —Waltz With Bashir—where they passed a film for general exhibition despite the fact that it contains a few images that are of a far more adult nature. So where a film as a whole had merit, they would not reject it on the basis of a few insignificant frames.

To understand what all this fuss is about, you have to understand how films are censored in the UK, and the role played by the BBFC. First of all, films are passed for viewing by local authorities—not central government. However, it became evident very early (1912) that requiring every single local authority in the UK to view and classify films for exhibition to the general public would be an enormous waste of time and resources—as well as creating massive anomalies whereby a contentious film might be banned in one Borough and openly available in the next.

So the film industry came up with what is a fairly British approach to the matter, and created an independent trade-funded body—the BBFC—whose role is to view films pre-release and issue certificates which provide their own expert opinion as to what classification a film merits.

Their views do not have the force of law: over the years there have been times where a film passed by the BBFC has been rejected by a local authority. Monty Python's Life of Brian was one such. On the whole, though, the system is accepted both by the viewing public and by most public bodies most of the time.

One area where it appears increasingly not to be working is over this question of female ejaculation. According to the BBFC, their function includes the refusal of certification to any film whose content a jury might consider, under English law, to be "obscene"—and this includes urination during sex—"golden showers" or "urolagnia" .

A spokeswoman for the BBFC stated last week that they consult regularly with the Police and prosecuting authorities, and the advice they have been given is that depiction of "piss play" is still prosecuted in the UK, and that juries do still convict. In practice, this almost certainly reflects a division across the country, with juries in the big cities and London less likely to convict than those in more conservative areas.

It is also the origin of a long-runing dispute between the BBFC and various women's groups including Feminists against Censorship (FAC), who first raised the issue back in 2001.

The story then was much the same as it is now. A film entitled British Cum Queens was submitted for certification in May 2001. The BBFC rejected it, claiming that what was on offer was no more than urination. FAC protested that this was a deeply sexist position to take—and offered up medical advice to the effect that women could and did ejaculate.

The BBFC responded with three arguments, from which they appear not to have shifted at all over the last few years. First, they instance their own medical advice, which comes down on the skeptical side of the issue: second, they claim that they are not taking any view on the issue of female ejaculation at all; and third, and most controversial, they claim that all they have ever seen put before them was urination—not ejaculation.

In fact, the entire tone of their response suggested that they found the issue decidedly distasteful—with strong hints that they see the "squirting" debate as nothing more than a trojan horse, got up by big bad male porn producers, desperate to smuggle urination into their films. In this sense they—perhaps misguidedly—see themselves as protecting women from further exploitation.

This argument wholly misses some key points. First, the question of whether medical evidence can "prove" the existence of female ejaculation is irrelevant. There is a long literary tradition in its support—from the Bible to the Kama Sutra. It only disappeared from history around the turn of the last century as (male) "scientists" such as Freud and Kraft-Ebbing claimed that it was evidence of female disorder.

But if scientific authenticity was the yardstick by which film content is to be measured, that would put a severe dampener on most Hollywood action pics—not to mention all porn featuring men carrying out feats requiring a level of erotic stamina and endurance well beyond what most would consider possible in the real world!

If women believe—as very many women do—that they are capable of ejaculating, then where is the public interest in denying its existence?

Which brings us back once more to the BBFC and what looks to be an increasingly dishonest position. First, they claim that they have no view—but in fact, by taking this stance, yet simultaneously claiming that they have never seen squirting—only urination—they are inevitably going to censor almost all images of this nature.

Then there is their argument in this case. A spokeswoman said: "Were the focus on urolagnia to be more significant in other works, they would require cuts."

Anna Span finds this hard to swallow. She believes that, as with their initial stance, the BBFC is desperately trying not to respond to the challenge set by this question. According to her, the BBFC were initially inclined to reject the film, but took fright at her determination to push this to their Appeals Committee: their solution is a cop-out; the end result is a significant weakening of their position.

The issue will not go away: the question of whether female ejaculation exists or not is a red herring, whilst continued refusal to show it is, according to FAC, "a purely discriminatory approach to ejaculation by the Board—that is, the depiction of male, but not female, ejaculation is being permitted."

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Interesting piece, but you

Interesting piece, but you are wrong about the legal status of the BBFC and local council censorship. What you say is true for theatrical releases, but the BBFC is a statutory body when it comes to video - their decisions can be appealed against - something that happens rarely - but the final decision of the appeals body will then stand. No film can be sold without BBFC approval.
They also have passed several films with explicit sex for general showing, arguing that the likes of 9 Songs, Baise Moi etc are not 'sex works'. Films that don't pass this dubious 'artistic' qualification are restricted for sale to sex shops - which have to be licensed by local authorities, many of whom refuse to do so - and cannot be sold mail order. Though there are no restrictions on mail order sales from overseas.
See what a fucked up system we have?

prostitution

You should publish the essay on prostitution "A She-Savior" by the well-known Russian author Mikhail Armalinsky. It was published in Moscow edition of his Selected Works http://www.mipco.com/english/introVozn.html
Here is the link: http://www.mipco.com/english/SheSavior.html

The main idea of the essay "A She-Savior" is that the legalization of prostitution must be based on a return of its divine, sacred character, so that prostitution will be considered the most honorable profession, the one closest to God, the holiest.

Here are the chapters:

A Short History of Prostitution
A Comprehensive Definition of the Prostitute
Why Young Men Need Prostitutes
Why the Lonely Need Prostitutes
Why Married Men Need Prostitutes
Why the Poor Need Prostitutes
Why Old Men Need Prostitutes
Why the Sick and Deformed Need Prostitutes
Why Every Man Needs a Prostitute
The Prostitute and the "Proper" Woman
The Causes and Incentives of Prostitution
Hatred of Prostitutes
The Future of Prostitution

I would be happy to provide you with more information.

Sincerely,

Alexander Sokolov

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John Ozimek
October 15th, 2009
John Ozimek's picture
John Ozimek is a UK writer on the topics of liberty and sexual freedom. John is a regular writer on online news magazine “The Register”, where he covers legal, policing and governmental issues...