Sex & Censorship Gears Up for Saturday's Protest

Rhett Pardon

LONDON — Adult entertainment performers, producers and website operators are gearing up to protest against Saturday's Stop Porn Culture U.K. Launch Conference.

Protest organizer Jerry Barnett, founder of U.K. adult entertainment advocacy group Sex & Censorship, has done much to raise attention over the antiporn group's initial launch in Britain, as well as his group's subsequent demonstration in the central London district of Southwark.

In recent weeks, Barnett has gained momentum advocating his group's stance against the U.S. antiporn group's push to branch out across the Atlantic. He recently penned a number of pieces about the protest on Huffington Post and CounterPunch, where he rebutted an editorial Stop Porn Culture's Gail Dines.

And just today, The Independent reported in a story that "the porn industry is preparing for a stand-off with anti-pornography feminists in London this weekend, over a conference they argue is aimed at 'censoring sexual expression in the U.K.'”

Barnett told XBIZ that he's ready for Saturday's protest, which begins at 3 p.m. and will last for about an hour.

"We probably have about 10 female performers confirmed; hopefully more that I don't know of," he said. "Then there are other sex workers, strippers and fetish people.

"The Facebook event [page] says 109 people are coming. Personally, I'd be quite happy with 40. My original target was 15 people."

Ben Yates, CEO of Pervlens Media, says that he will be one of the protesters taking part in the demonstration, one in which he calls monumental.

"This event is perhaps the first time groups from all areas of the U.K. adult and sex work industries have come together to fight against real threats to all of our livelihoods and to defend the freedom of choice, expression and speech we so crucially need," Yates said.

“It’s a cause I clearly believe in, not just professionally but personally too, everyone — male or female — should be able to exercise a freedom to choose what path they want to take in life," he said.

"As we’ve seen with the Belle Knox scandal, it’s a perfectly valid and profitable choice for women and men to make. As a society we should be encouraged to support each other not stigmatize and bully them because we don’t necessarily agree with their choices.”

On the group's site, Stop Porn Culture said that it has hired a security firm to monitor the conference to ensure it is without disruptions.

"Anyone who disrupts or treats others with disrespect or hostility will be asked to leave. The SPC conference is not a place for debate; our starting point is that (all) pornography is harmful and has detrimental effects," the group said.

"Pornography is misogynistic in its production and consumption.The goal of this antiporn conference is to explore how to build materials and programs to combat porn. We are coming together to develop a broad coalition of feminist organizations to organize together against the sex industry."

The Stop Porn Culture protest will be held on Saturday at 3 p.m. outside the conference at The Wedge House/Kids Company, 36-40 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, London, SE1 8PB.  Nearest tube stations are Southwark (7 minutes) and Blackfriars (10 minutes).