Domme-art’s victory over commercial and moral repression

Mon. 18 Aug. 2014

Those with their ear to the ground, so to speak, will know of another important victory scored last week by art and sexual freedom over the forces of evil. The victor is London-based Spanish dominatrix and performance artist Ms Tytania and her website, The Urban Chick Supremacy Cell (UC-SC). And the forces of evil, of course, are the UK online-TV regulator, the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), which overstepped its mark in doing the dirty-work of increasingly evangelical-minded British governments.

I’ve known of Tytania for many years and have always admired her style, her activities, and her genuine, creative interest in sexual culture and her activism in today’s disturbing environment of sexual politics. So I’m absolutely delighted to learn of her victory in beating back ATVOD’s attempt to “regulate” her online domming–art project. In this case, “regulating” means ATVOD was treating her one-woman BDSM-themed performance-art-oriented website in the same way as it treats mainstream corporate TV-on-demand providers. Many other small, independent sites have apparently simply closed down after receiving a letter from ATVOD demanding compliance with its terms and payment of fees: it’s like shaking hands with a scruffy old sea dog from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and looking with horror at the dreaded “black spot” he deposited in your palm.

The fee for a small site, a “commercial micro-scale” provider in ATVOD’s terms, is £137 per year – not crippling (even though the bureaucracy of it all might be), but still totally, unacceptably unjust if you’re not actually providing a TV-like service, which Tytania isn’t. But how many small providers would subject themselves to the commitment – the time, expense, stress – of taking ATVOD to their superiors, Ofcom (the official government communications regulator)? Ofcom outsources online-TV-service regulation to ATVOD, which is basically a private operation.

But it’s not just about fees and yet another layer of bureaucracy and administration to deal with. It’s also about ATVOD’s rule 11 of their code, “material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of 18” (emphasis added), which imposes near-impossible operational conditions on small, independent adult-content providers. And what has a quasi-state bureaucracy – a quango – got to do with enforcing any interpretation of “moral development” on an entire population via its role in “regulating” online audiovisual content?

Although the repressive moralistic noose may be tightening around society almost by the month, at least in this case we have seen the noose being thrown off (another aspect of this situation is that as small providers are forced out of business, the corporate players move closer to the cartels they enjoy in traditional media). Congratulations to Tytania; and congratulations to the BDSM rights organisation Backlash and solicitor Myles “Obscenity Lawyer” Jackman who were instrumental in securing victory in this case.

Now for the links. Visit the site at the centre of this outrageous controversy-that-should-never-have-been: The Urban Chick Supremacy Cell (UC-SC).

For details of the case with some inside-story info, see the Backlash press release announcing victory: Dominatrix beats online video regulator into submission; and the blog of “Obscenity Lawyer” Myles Jackman: Dominatrix Beats Regulator into Submission; Ofcom deliver judicious spanking to ATVOD.

The story made the UK mainstream press with The Independent: Web dominatrix wins David and Goliath battle with regulators. And it made news in America too: Ofcom overrules ATVOD over BDSM site ‘Urban Chick’.

And for my own articles on sexual politics, see:

‘Extreme porn’ and internet censorship;

More on forced internet filtering and the ‘porn monster’;

Didn’t you know BDSM is akin to yoga? Well, it is!

Mistress Geo