Porn protest: It's politics, but not as we know it

The man in this picture later said he was wearing the snorkel "for health and safety reasons"
The man in this picture later said he was wearing the snorkel "for health and safety reasons"
Alex Stevenson By

So this is what happens when ultra-liberal pro-porn protesters demonstrate against censorship by sitting on each others' faces.

It was, without doubt, one of the oddest political protests ever. There was something about this combination of outlandish sexuality with free speech rhetoric that was utterly unpredictable. The mind boggled. Reading on, you should be warned, is only going to make the mind-boggling worse.

The moment of truth came after the speeches when, in planners' excited minds, a man from the Guinness Book of World Records would stand with a clipboard counting the unprecedented hundreds of couples engaged in face-sitting. The reality was slightly more hesitant. "Who wants to donate their face?" one girl asked near me. "I'll donate my face," a young-looking chap said meekly from the throng nearby. Both looked pleased. They were complete strangers but, somehow, circumstances had collided to create a situation where he was about to lie down on the ground and be sat on by her. "Yeah!" she said once in position. Unable to communicate in the normal way, he stuck both his thumbs up. It was awkward and weird. It was thoroughly British.

What had brought them to this? The mind boggles at how far humanity has come that this spectacle was happening. It is the government's fault, of course. Their plans to clampdown on the rules for what is deemed acceptable pornography are judged to be an outrage against freedom of speech. "They're trying to control our sexuality," one latex-bodysuit-wearing woman put it. "But we're not going to sit back and take it quietly."


Actually, that was actually what they were going to do. It takes rather a lot of spunk to appear in public and engage in simulating sex acts, so the people attending this protest were as a rule more extrovert than your average hetero-normative on the street. I spotted a man in a wheelchair talking animatedly through a gimp mask. A woman wearing a gag was being gently whipped on a park bench. A club promoter wearing country gear - removing the 'o' seemed to be the pun she was going for - declared: "It feels like this is the first step in restricting what I do. It could be the slippery slope to stopping people's sexual freedom."

Not everyone present was prepared to engage in actual face-sitting, but this did not stop them bringing creative placards. 'We cum in peace,' one stated. 'Squirt doesn't hurt' another pointed out. Another one, targeting the regulator's objections to water-sports in porn, declared: "ATVOD - You're taking the PISS!" The man holding the latter banner disagreed when it was put to him that those in the Palace of Westminster wouldn't engage with this protest. "The last Tory government had a lot of knowledge of kinky sex," he said. "Far more than me."

As the crowd gathered one or two super-extroverts engaged in some warm-up face-sitting. At this stage the actual protesters were hugely outnumbered by cameramen, whose jostling and grunting was far more unpleasant than the innocent sex simulation they were scrapping over. "They just want to see a bit of tit, don't they?" one eyeshadow-wearing male protester observed slyly. He was sporting a dog-collar around his neck with a chain dangling down from it. It was not the kind a vicar would wear. I tried inquiring about the purpose of the chain but didn't get very far. "That's a chain, is it?" I asked, hoping for more details. "Yes mate," he replied, looking unimpressed. "It's a chain."

At one point a blonde was simulating fellatio, apparently just for the hell of it, on an unwitting cameraman. His colleagues got physical in a far worse way, pushing and shoving. A producer burst through, snarling: "Get out of the way, she belongs to me." In the context of the day this was not a very pleasant moment.

But it was incongruous; this was not so much a feminist protest as an utterly egalitarian one. "This is definitely a sexist law," another thoroughly-empowered woman wearing a mask over her face said. "It's ridiculous that men can ejaculate on camera and women can't."

That view was shared by everyone, although some had ulterior motives. One very normal-looking but enthusiastic man determined to fight against "gender apartheid" was also earnestly hoping he could find a "chick to sit on me". His ultimate fantasy, he said, was finding a wife who would do jujitsu "and use me as a dummy". But it was so hard to find women interested in 'femdom', he complained. I suggested to him this protest was a superb opportunity to find such a woman. He disappeared into the crowd, inspired to meet the woman of his dreams. I couldn't spot him in the final mass face-sitting, but there is an obvious reason for that.

When it came to it, there were around 30 women - and roughly 30 men underneath them - engaged in the big event. Interestingly - and there is probably a revealing psychological truth behind this - virtually all the men chose to stick their knees in the air rather than just take it completely lying down. This was the time to conduct what is, without question, the oddest interview of my career. Never before, and never again hopefully, will I crouch down to question a man whose nose and mouth are buried beneath the buttocks of a liberated sex-queen. "I'm like a porpoise," he said. "I need to come up for air every so often." Morale down there was cheerful.

These fellers were fighting for freedom of speech, both literally and figuratively. "I'm doing it for politics," the man lying on the cold concrete in Westminster insisted as he gasped for breath. Or at least I think that's what he said. His voice was pretty muffled.

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