The BBFC and the regulation of BDSM

Conference paper

Cronin, T. 2014. The BBFC and the regulation of BDSM. 1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?. London, UK 23 - 24 Apr 2014
TypeConference paper
TitleThe BBFC and the regulation of BDSM
AuthorsCronin, T.

There is no doubt that the BBFC has liberalised its practices since the dark days of the introduction of the VRA in 1984. Indeed since the year 2000 only 29 video works and one cinema film has been refused classification. Drilling down beneath the veneer of tolerance however, one is left in no doubt that matters of sexuality are a significant site of struggle within the contemporary regulatory landscape. In recent years we have witnessed an intensification of academic debate, public discourse and wider social fears about ‘sexualisation’, ‘pornification’ and ‘rape culture’, and within the BBFC the depiction of eroticised sexual violence is of course, a cause célèbre. However, in regulating depictions of BDSM the BBFC exhibit an absolute failure to differentiate between the sadism manifested in graphic depictions of rape, and the depiction of sadomasochistic sexual practices. Moreover, the BBFC’s rationale for refusal in some cases highlights the broader struggle of BDSM communities for legitimacy and public visibility, specifically the struggle against de facto criminalisation of BDSM practices in the wake of Regina v Brown, better known as ‘the Spanner case’. As such a discussion of these cases raises pertinent questions about the status of sexual minorities within contemporary society that cannot be ignored.

Conference1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media – Where Are We Now?
Publication dates
Print24 Apr 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited02 Jun 2015
CompletedApr 2014
Accepted31 Jan 2014
Output statusPublished
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