Dworkin protested with us and porn profits plummeted!


OBJECT protested against the ‘London Porn Film Festival’ which took place on 27th April 2019.

OBJECT protested against the ‘London Porn Film Festival’ which took place on 27th April 2019.

OBJECT has been campaigning in collaboration with London Anti-porn Women against the annual London Porn Film Festival. This year's films can be summed up by their hashtags: fisting, cutting, shibari (new fancy Japanese word for bondage), blood, aggression, hot wax pregnancy, knives, necrophilia, sex education. Yes, the festival was seriously proposing that these films are used for sex education in schools. We have a huge outbreak of child-on-child sexual violence and these people proposed educating our children in sexual violence. 

The initial venue was the trendy, central Horse Hospital near Russel Square. We alerted Camden Council that all the films were unlicensed by the British Board for Film Classification, and that the content, judging from the hashtags, was violence. The film write-ups sounded 'fun, cool and new', but the hashtags told a different story. We focused mainly on the necrophilia (can this ever be acceptable?) and the fisting, a huge feature of porn these days. Many prostitution survivors tell us that, apart from extreme pain at the time, it has caused them lasting damage including anal tears which can of course lead to serious infections. Children abused in this way can be damaged for life.

Many thanks to all of you, including NotBuyingIt, who wrote and called to protest. Camden listened. Only a few days before the start, we heard that it had moved to a new venue only disclosed to ticket buyers. Someone (in fact, someone's mum!) bought a ticket. The new venue was a pub in Camberwell we had never heard of. You had to get a tube, a bus and then walk to reach it. This alone meant it was probably going to attract less punters.

We immediately got on to Southwark Council with our complaints. To be fair, they had little time to act. The day before the first event we heard that they had passed our complaint on to the police:

'I am very concerned to hear that the films are alleged to contain content that may make possession of the films an offence under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. The Council does not have the expertise to assess this type of content and under such circumstances we will be contacting the Police to respond to your allegations under the 2008 Act.

Council Officers will be contacting the premises licence holders to advise them of the allegations and that, should these allegations be founded, they may not only be liable for prosecution but it can also result in a review of their premises licence.

If you are aware of any other venues within Southwark that are participating in the showing of these films please let me know.'

We contacted our fellow protesters about the new venue and, on Saturday afternoon, set off for Southwark, known in medieval times for its 'pleasure gardens' and prostitution. Near the venue we passed a Muslim family returning home very nearby, and noted a Christian church just along the road. We wondered if they knew what was going on.

We met up in a nearby pub, and heard from people there that the new venue, the Flying Dutchman, was a major kinky sex venue with an all-night licence, and would be very busy later on.

A solitary security man was patrolling outside as we set up our placards and banners on the windy corner. Opposite were a betting shop and a closed-down school. We were shocked at the scuzziness and general dilapidation of the place. Many years ago it was perhaps a nice pub, but now it looked closed up and neglected, paint peeling. Only a tired advert stating that it was opening soon as a 'co-working space and daytime cafe' indicated possible activity. Not a single poster or advert for the porn festival. Or the kink 'parties'. All the upstairs windows were shrouded in blinds except for one which showed an ornate iron bed head. A little prostitution on the side, perhaps?

I offered OBJECT leaflets to people waiting: some took them but most had been warned not to. It was generally a young, rather lost-looking crowd. One group of four nobly occupied the pavement for a couple of hours to support their friends the hosts - a rather chilly little rent-a-crowd. A few people turned up dressed for kink, and photos started to be taken. We took some too, and a young woman objected. Instead of moving away, covering her face or asking us to stop, she rushed up to me and, in an incident reminiscent of the attack on Maria Maclachlan at Speakers Corner, seized my phone. I'm afraid I seized it straight back and may have spoken, in anger, words not normally associated with OBJECT board members. Some of her friends came and kettled me, towering over me and refusing to move. I shouted repeatedly 'leave me alone, leave me alone', and when they saw others filming their behaviour, they eventually did.

A few passing locals stopped to chat. Some had read about us in the Guardian. One man (who could not believe that a group of women could not wish to speak with him) shouted at us repeatedly and offered us a fiver to suck his dick. It felt in keeping with the event we were there to protest. The security man kindly persuaded him to leave. We thanked him.

The atmosphere changed when a young man arrived with a sound box and started playing Andrea Dworkin's speeches. Dworkin was a sex trade survivor, and to hear her confidently call out the misogyny, violence, pain and humiliation of women in prostitution and the deliberate and repeated agency and entitlement of pimps and johns grabbed everyone's attention and was impossible to ignore. I had been unsure about this aspect of the protest but in fact we all relaxed into the support of Dworkin's conviction and truth-telling. It reinforced our certainty that we were in the right place doing the right thing, together. It felt like she was there.

15 of us were there from about 3.30pm to 6pm. About 25 people attended the four o'clock event - we counted. Presumably they made money on drinks. Our impression that attendance was poor was reinforced by a mock invoice given to us by the festival organisers. It was a bit rich that they thought our turnout was poor!

The pornographers gave us this ‘invoice’, informing us of how successful our protests were in reducing their profits! Priceless!

The pornographers gave us this ‘invoice’, informing us of how successful our protests were in reducing their profits! Priceless!

The most interesting part of the invoice was, in tiny print, a list of organisations they asked us to pay the money we 'owed' them to:

  • SWARM ('sex worker advocacy and resistance movement', presumably an alter ego of the ECP)

  • Edge Fund (a funder presumably generous to the sex trade, though with its huge profits, how does it need funding? Oh yes, it's because the profits mostly go to the pimps)

  • Sisters Uncut  (originally a feminist organisation but now allies of Action for Trans Health which advocates violence against gender-critical women)

  • Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids (the profitable and heavily government-funded training arms of the transgender promotion industry)

  • and finally, BLM UK (Black Lives Matter), the only one we would consider donating to. 


We won't be paying because we don't owe anything. People who think they are owed a profit out of recycling the sexual abuse of women disgust us. It is often said among feminists that the same people are behind the promotion of porn, prostitution and transgenderism. We now have it in writing from them.

Janice Williams


PornJanice Williams