Porn stars prepare for stand-off with feminists over Stop Porn Culture London conference

Performers and workers in the porn industry argue the conference is aimed at 'censoring sexual expression in the UK'

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The Independent Online

The porn industry is preparing for a stand-off with anti-pornography feminists in London this weekend, over a conference they argue is aimed at “censoring sexual expression in the UK”.

Stop Porn Culture (SPC) will be holding a conference organised by Gail Dines, a sociologist and anti-porn campaigner and the Guardian columnist Julie Bindel, which they describe as a “progressive, feminist collaboration against the sex industry".

US-based Dines said the aim of the conference was not to ban porn, conceding that this would be impossible, but to “challenge the porn industry and the harmful culture it perpetuates.”

But news of the event has been met with furious responses from adult performers, who have organised the ‘Don’t Censor Me’ rally, led by Jerry Barnett, porn distributor and head of the pro-porn Sex and Censorship group.

More than 100 people have said they will attend the demo on Saturday, where the Don’t Censor Me Facebook group has said “pornstars, others in the sex industries, and their supporters, will come together in London to protest against the Stop Porn Culture event that aims to censor sexual expression in the UK”.

Former porn star Renée Richards is also expected to join the rally. In a post, Richards described her fear that male and female performers are not being given the chance to speak for theirselves.

“We have the ‘right to speak freely and join with others peacefully, to express [our] views’. In this instance the pro-porn and/or the pro-sex industries’ voice is very rarely heard.

“Gail Dines is a well renowned author, Julie Bindel regularly writes for The Guardian and OBJECT are no stranger to protesting or speaking out.

"Yet the men and women who perform in adult films, prostitutes and lap dancers who are regularly spoken about are very rarely heard from themselves.”

Both sides of the debate over porn have been locked in a war of words with each other in blogs and via social media in the lead-up to the conference.

Barnett said that the group had been deluged with offensive comments regarding adult film performers.

"The depth of the vitriol thrown at female sex workers by anti-sex feminists genuinely shocked me”, he wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post.

“Female porn stars can't win,” he argued. “They are labelled victims, and if they try to defend what they do for a living, this is taken as proof of just how 'oppressed' they are."

He said that he and Richards had tried to participate in debates with anti-porn feminists, but "anti-sex feminists have no more interest in hearing the voices of female porn stars than they are prepared to listen to strippers."

In turn, Dines said she too has been met with anger and accused the Sex and Censorship group of “trying to silence us”.

“Nowhere is this more apparent than on Twitter, which is alive with tweets from porn industry shills making ridiculous statements about the goals of SPC," she wrote.

Dines said she had offered the group a chance to engage in a "serious debate", but this was declined.

"The goal of the porn industry is to divide women because they understand only too well that a united international feminist movement will be their death knell," she added.

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