This is the first time I've updated the Dreams of Spanking blog for ten months - almost exactly. I've been staring at the empty page for a while wondering where to start. There's too much to say; and no way I can adequately express it.
We won our appeal.
Ten months of silence, of grief, of waiting, of nothing. And now all of a sudden this news that we won. We fought the law, and the law lost. It's pretty immense. It's huge, actually.
I want to do a proper post about the appeal at some point - there's the appeal document itself, which I'm pretty proud of and have permission to show you, and I can talk about the process, share Ofcom's determination, explain what arguments we made and what they accepted and why. But that's not this post. This post is just me wanting to make a start - wanting the most recent blogpost on the site not to be from ten months ago, what now feels like ancient history. This is just me feeling how good it is to be back.
I wrote last week, after the news had broken but before I was able to re-open the site (I was a bit overwhelmed by it all and didn't think of submitting a support request to CCBill to reactivate our billing account until the day before the public announcement, and then CCBill dragged their heels and didn't approve the account until Friday) about how my feelings were more complicated than pure jubilation. That's still true. I feel lots of things that aren't straightforward bouncing-up-and-down-for-joy: I feel exhausted, and overwhelmed, and worried that I'm not going to be able to manage the additional (if welcome) workload that re-launching Dreams of Spanking implies. I'm concerned not to let this development distract me from the political work that I've been doing recently, and which has been very generously sponsored by some of you on Patreon. I'm committed to that process, just as I'm committed to this one, and there'll be a period of adaptation while I learn how to juggle both.
Luckily, they are both part of the same thing, when it comes down to it; the same world work that I am ultimately engaged in. That of creating meaningful art about fetish sexuality (slash fetish porn, slash erotica - whatever definition floats your boat) that helps people overcome shame, accept their erotic selves and enjoy their kinky fantasies without guilt. That of opening a conversation about ethical porn; porn that breaks out of the gender binary and subverts stereotypes; porn that serves the sexual desires of a broader audience, in terms of both gender and sexuality, than just the typified heterosexual male. It's about making porn production - especially BDSM porn production - more transparent, making the differences between the fantasies expressed through fiction and the realities of sex work on set more visible, making the line between real consent and fictionalised non-consent more easily understood. It's talking about working conditions on porn sets and helping move the industry towards a more transparent, more accountable set of working practices. It's about empowering performers, offering them equal pay, creative control, and freedom to do what they want on film, with the people they choose. It's about fighting for our right to freedom of speech, our creative, sexual and civil liberties. It's about improving consent culture in wider society; modelling healthy relationships, negotiation, safer sex and best practice in porn, making it sexy. And of course it's about sex education, reducing stigma, and working towards better labour rights and decriminalisation for all workers in the adult industry.
Dreams of Spanking has a part to play in all of this. It's my working model of how to make BDSM porn as ethically as possible, my playground for trying out ideas. I can't say I always get it right, but I can honestly say that I hold myself accountable when I get it wrong, and am always trying to improve.
It's weird, clicking through these pages after nearly a year away. A few times I've got sucked in to reading old blog posts. Coming to the site fresh I'm struck by the sheer quantity - and, if I say so myself, the qualtity - of content here, accumulated over three and a half very active, enthusiastic years. There's so much great material to explore in the archive. Of course, perfectionist as I am, I'm already making a mental list of tweaks I want to make to the site, and am starting to think about a redesign to celebrate this new chapter of the site's life. But that's a job for later.
Now, it's time to enjoy what we have; to rediscover forgotten gems, to share favourite scenes with your friends you think might like them. For ten months, I've been talking to people about Dreams of Spanking who were gutted that they missed the chance to join before it was taken down. Let's get those people on board and show them what all the fuss is about. I'm looking forward to welcoming old members and new back to the community; there's already been lots of comment activity since the site re-opened last Friday, and I'd love to see that continue.
Community, ultimately, was what won us the appeal - the argument that the "Principle Purpose" of Dreams of Spanking is not that of a commercial porn movie site, but a community of interest, a multimedia site where likeminded enthusiasts can discuss their mutual interest, look at photos, listen to audio stories, read blogposts, comment, update their profile photos, and do all the other things you do in an online forum.
We're indebted to Myles Jackman and Backlash for all the help they've provided over the last year and a half - Myles in particular has been an absolute legend, and I'd like to urge you to pledge a couple of dollars to his Patreon if you can afford it. He lives on coffee, can't provide legal support without it, so buying him a virtual one would be a really lovely way to thank him for the invaluable role he's played in getting Dreams of Spanking back online. But most of all, I feel as if you, the Dreams of Spanking community, are really what's saved us. Without your engagement, your enthusiasm, your spirited comment threads, Ofcom might not have agreed with our argument that this site first and foremost a community of spanking fans, not a commercial video-on-demand site. And on a more personal level, without the support you've given me during this painful hiatus, I don't know if I'd have had the strength to keep fighting. Thank you.
We won this together. I couldn't have done it without you. Join me in celebrating - it's a landmark victory for kink acceptance, for feminist porn and for freedom of expression.
But more than that, it just feels good to be back. It feels right. I'm so very, very, glad that we're allowed our community again. I've missed it, and I've missed you.