LONDON — Jerry Barnett, founder of U.K. adult entertainment advocacy group Sex & Censorship, said he was “delighted” with the turnout at the Don’t Censor Me! protest held in central London today.
More than 50 people joined the Sex & Censorship’s organized protest against the Stop Porn Culture conference, including representatives from the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open University and Queer Strike campaign groups.
At about 3 p.m., adult industry performers, strippers, sex workers, academics, legal professionals and individuals opposed to sexual censorship mounted a peaceful protest outside Wedge House in Southwark, where the Stop Porn Culture conference was taking place.
XBIZ GOES ON THE SCENE: Click here to view photos of today’s London protest against Stop Porn Culture's U.K. launch convention.
Led by Stop Porn Culture co-founder and adult industry opponent Gail Dines and English feminist Julie Bindel, the conference aimed to expand the “antipornography feminist movement” in the U.K., and included speeches from antiporn academic Julia Long and Object campaign officer Sarah Matthewson.
Dines and Bindel appeared outside the venue to debate with the assembled crowd, just after 3 p.m. For about 15 minutes, they gave out free biscuits and Dines spoke with individual attendees, including porn performers Johnny Anglais, aka Benedict Garrett, and Ava Dalush, before returning to the conference.
Debating with Benedict Garrett, Dines said: “I believe sex is crucial and everyone should be able to enjoy it, but I personally want to see a society without pornography. I believe the sex industry is based on the sexual slavery of women. Some institutions cannot be salvaged.”
Sex & Censorship campaigners Jerry Barnett, former porn star Renee Richards and porn performers Edie Lamont and Benedict Garrett were amongst those who addressed the crowd, along with spokespeople from the English Collective of Prostitutes and Queer Strike.
Speaking at seven months’ pregnant, Renee Richards, who had previously rallied fellow performers to support the Sex & Censorship, took Dines to task for her lack of industry knowledge: “Dines and the other so-called feminists at this conference claim all porn has harmful effects. Yet Dines has never stepped on a porn set.”
Richards went on to refute Dines’ claims that the industry was riddled with abuse.
“I never saw any abuse while working in porn, nor was I abused,” Richards said. “What’s more, Coca-Cola and Apple exploit their workers in horrific ways but the women inside this conference venue aren’t boycotting them.
“What’s more, if we try and leave the porn industry, the moral majority oppress us with their unreserved judgment. These women claim that porn causes rape, but porn is used as a scapegoat. Porn is made by consenting adults for consenting adults.”
Meanwhile, Benedict Garrett contested the idea that some problems within the industry justified its abolition: “I don’t particularly like soccer, and despise football hooliganism. But do we ban the sport because a minority spoil it for everyone else? No … we use the laws we have to tackle the hooliganism.”
Garrett went on to urge those gathered to make their own decisions about their labor.
“If you wish to use your body to make money, that’s your right in a capitalist society,” he said. “Don’t be bullied by Dines or anyone else into deciding otherwise.”
The Sex Porn Culture claims its campaign is grounded in “a feminist analysis of sexist, racist, and economic oppression.” But many in the industry hold alternative feminist views.
Porn performer Edie Lamont said it was time “to reclaim feminism from the women inside.” Eva Dalush agreed: “I’m a feminist of a kind — but not their kind of feminist.”
Alongside performers and sex workers, the protest was bolstered by support from other professionals working in the field of sexuality.
Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman of the law firm Hodge, Jones and Allen congratulated attendees for exercising their right to protest under the human rights act, but urged them “not [to] forget the people inside this building also have the same right to speak out.”
“Let’s celebrate consent culture, the right to express adult sexuality because the people at this conference are vitiating the consent of adults.”
Jude Roberts, associate lecturer in Gender and Sexuality at Birkbeck University was also in attendance.
She criticized Dines’ analysis of all porn as inherently corrosive, saying, “If Stop Porn Culture has a problem with capitalism, that’s fine. But only addressing sexual representation is not good for anyone’s freedom.”
In a final word to Dines, Barnett addressed her claim that the Sex & Censorship campaign was being funded by the adult industry.
“If that’s true, I’d like the person with the cheque book to step forward,” he said. Meanwhile, who is funding Stop Porn Culture? They clearly have enough money to hold a whole conference.”
Going forward, Barnett said that Sex & Censorship now plans to hold regular London gathering of pro-sex groups, and is hoping to hold an anticensorship conference later in the year.