The cold, dead hand of the censor

New regulations have just come in which may kill fetish production in the UK. Excuse me while I have a bit of a rant. Please forgive me if this is less carefully considered than my usual posts.

The new regulations pertain to “TV-like” video on demand services where editorial control rests in the UK. The UK has chosen to define that much more broadly than other EU countries, and have now decided to censor much more heavily than other countries as well.

It has just become illegal to provide material which does not fall within the “R18” guidelines- a patchwork of outdated, arbitrary, misogynistic and paternalistic crap whose attitudes are held over from the Victorian era.

Let’s just be clear about how ludicrous the very concept is before we get on to the grossly offensive nature of the restrictions they impose. We’re talking about acts which are entirely legal to do – like doing a BDSM scene with someone where someone is bound and gagged. Or spanking. Or female ejaculation. Or face-sitting. So it’s legal to do it. It’s legal to own pictures and video of it. It’s legal to make pictures and video of it. It’s legal to download it from a site outside the UK, even if the customer is in the UK.

But as of 1st December, it is no longer legal for a UK production team to show it to you.

If you downloaded exactly the same material from a non-UK based site it would be legal for them to sell it to you and legal for you to buy it, watch it and keep it.

What the actual fuck?


Nice Girls Don’t

Apparently, the censor father figure has decided that women don’t ejaculate, so you’re not allowed to show that in case it is urine. Because of reasons. And that you can’t eat it, because presumably the male censors are a bit threatened by that. But swallowing semen is just fine (presumably because that’s the right way around- women should be taking it?) You can’t show a woman sitting on a man’s face because you poor innocents might not realise that he could suffocate, try it at home, and die. But of course it is OK to show a girl having her air cut off during a blowjob, because of … well… ummm… reasons.

The absurdities go on and on.

Apparently, bondage is OK and gags are OK but bondage plus gags are not because it might not be clear to the viewer that the person tied up can still withdraw their consent. So how did this scene get passed as 18 (not even R18):


I can’t see any way for Bruce Willis or Ving Rhames to withdraw their consent, do you? But the censor didn’t worry about that scene because of… well… reasons.

They didn’t worry about it because Pulp Fiction was shot on a film set, with professional actors, presumably. Just like all our films are shot professionally, on a film set, with professional actors. So why are we presumed to all be dangerous maniacs?

By any rational measure, if you are concerned about the safety of people in bondage and gags, you would come to the BDSM community and ASK THE EXPERTS what a good system of work is to ensure it.

We’ve shot over 2500 photosets and videos with gags and bondage over the last 14 years with exactly zero trips to the hospital. That’s a pretty good safety record. We have evolved a professional way of working to ensure that tied up people are not only still consenting, they are still comfortable, and they are still OK for the scene to continue.

So I’d actually be more concerned about the health and safety of mainstream actors like Bruce and Ving in this sort of scene. I really hope they had some BDSM players advising them on health and safety on set.


Ariel, by contrast, has been gagged and bound in a professional work setting literally thousands of times. But of course, she’s only a girl so she can’t be any sort of judge of what’s safe or not. The big brother censor knows better than her.

Here is our video explaining how we do it:



Spanking is out unless it is temporary and trifling- an arbitrary distinction which the father figure censor knows (but won’t define clearly for you, natch). Of course, the performers themselves- professionals who have FAR more experience of spanking than anyone else- cannot be trusted to set the levels or decide for themselves what constitutes acceptably temporary marks from a spanking. Some of them are only women, you know, and a lot of the rest might be homosexual. Of course those people don’t know their own bodies or their own minds. The paternal censor knows best.

I hereby propose we ban all sports where anyone has ever received a serious injury from video on demand services. Because someone might decide to play rugby and hurt themselves. So that’s bye-bye cricket, soccer, formula one…. Why can these professionals be allowed to decide acceptable risks for themselves when professional spankees cannot?

Denying Agency

This is the thread running through every line and fibre of the regulations and the organisations which enforce them. The idea that the people who do this for pleasure, or for a living, cannot possibly know better than the father figure censor what is acceptable, what is safe practice, what they want to do and what they want to have done to them.

This is called denying their agency- telling them that they cannot possibly know their own mind or make their own minds up. Because father figure censor knows best.

What the actual fucking fuck?

Won’t someone think of the children?

This will do exactly nothing to stop under-age people seeing this material because they will seek it out on free pirate sites anyway. I guarantee you they are NOT joining websites with a debit card!

How does this affect Restrained Elegance?

As with everything else to do with the censor, we don’t know. Restrained Elegance is operated under licence by a company registered in and based in the USA, as it always has been.

But a lot of our production is done in the UK.

Expect to see a lot of smaller hobby-level sites based in the UK close down.

We will not be pre-emptively stopping production.

When this first came up a year or so ago, we said we might move out of the country rather than stop running the site. But we’ve just moved house to a place we love, and DAMNED if we’re going to be forced out of the land of our birth by some pre-historic idiocy from the censor!

We believe we make lovely, intelligent, articulate, artistic, interesting, educational films and photographs in a safe, sane, consensual and professional environment. Our safety record and work practices are demonstrably effective in preventing injury and mishap. We have done our best to share this experience over the years precisely so people can enjoy BDSM for themselves safely.

We vehemently object to the suggestion that the censor has the first damn idea about how to signal consent in BDSM scenes, and believe that they should seek the advice of those in the BDSM community instead of presuming that we know nothing. They should be ASKING, not telling, what is good practice and how to ensure consent and safe working practice.

We are determined to continue doing what we do.

We’re delighted to say that we just won “Best Website” award at the 2014 Kiel Fetish Film Festival. It is a damn shame that the UK’s barbaric anti-porn laws have overshadowed what should have been a very proud day for us.


This is the important petition- enough signatures and the government is required to respond. Please help us repeal these Medieval regulations.
Sign UK government petition.

About Hywel

Particle physicist turned fetish photographer, producer and director. I run and together with my wife, who is variously known as Ariel Anderssen or Amelia Jane Rutherford, depending on whether she's getting tied up or spanked at the time.

4 thoughts on “The cold, dead hand of the censor

  1. Would it be possible to start a campaign on a website like 38 degrees to raise public awareness and campaign to get the law changed?

    As it stands, these laws are deeply misogynistic and an assault on personal freedom. I would hope that some people outside the industries most directly affected would care about that, or at least have the good sense to realise that if they don’t speak out now, they are almost certainly next.

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