By now, you’ve likely heard about the censorship laws that went into play almost a year ago - there have been a variety of reactions including face-sitting protests, porn created specifically to challenge the laws, and more recently, legal challenges from the EU. Many of the reactions have been creative, but one recent one stands out a bit.
UK Artist Lucy Sparrow recently created an exhibition and pop-up shop she titled Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium - wherein she sold hand-embroidered felt adult novelties and porn, many of which infringed on the new censorship laws.
Heading the censorship is the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which grants R18 permits to films or videos that are within the realm of British censorship laws. According to XBIZ, “R18 permits the depiction of most consensual sex acts, such as vaginal intercourse, masturbation, anal sex, oral sex and mild BDSM. However, it forbids more 'hardcore' content including aggressive whipping, female ejaculation, spanking, strangulation, fisting and penetration by objects ‘associated with violence.’”
Sparrow, who has done a variety of felt-based pop-up shops and exhibitions before, sought to challenge these laws by creating an adult store that contained items that would be illegal in Britain were they not made of felt.
According to the artist’s statement, which you can read in full on the website:
In a stinging comment of the hypocrisy of third-wave feminism, Sparrow seeks to challenge the rights of sex workers, fetishists and consumers of porn with the creation of a complete sex shop which, were the exhibits not made from felt, would be illegal. Sparrow’s latest works seeks to test the boundaries of legality. Does a porn magazine created from felt and hand-stitched break Britain’s new porn laws?
The show was on successfully from October 7th to 17th - no one decided to take it down. You can also still purchase felt objects, from condoms and lubricants to viagra and emboidered naughty mags on the Madame Roxy site.
You can also, in the meantime, wonder with me what made the proper authorities let the show go on unhindered - is it because of the line between art and smut (which was actually recently mentioned in a House of Lords porn debate, when one of the Lords brought up the Erotic Japanese prints that had been on exhibit in the British Museum), or did they simply not notice?
Caitlin is a writer, sex educator, consultant, and product reviewer who focuses primarily on issues of sex toy and accessory safety, pleasure, sexuality, gender, and more. You can learn more, or ask any questions, at their website- www.sex-ational.com.
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