The oeuvre of porn director Anna Span, one of the few British women behind the camera in the still small and low-budget world of British-based pornography (and, she likes to claim, the first), has always had a political slant. A self-professed feminist, she wrote a dissertation while a student at Central St Martin's about the possibilities of making porn from a female viewpoint and rejects the anti-porn stance often associated with feminism. She told F Word's Abby O'Reilly that the "the best way to tackle derogatory sex and speech is to reply with positive sex and speech" - adding that pornography was "central to the third wave of feminism". She currently has two nominations in the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards.
Span's renowned 2006 production, Hug A Hoodie, used footage of hardcore sex-acts to cast a rigorous eye on social breakdown on some of our less salubrious council estates. Notwithstanding such high-mindedness, the BBFC censored one scene featuring creative use of someone's foot. Ah well. Last year she celebrated victory after winning another tussle with the censor over a scene of female ejaculation. The BBFC denied that such a thing were even possible, but the determined Ms Span provided them with "irrefutable scientific evidence in support of model DJ’s ability to ‘squirt,’ as it is known in the adult industry." She boasted that she was proud to have "made a difference to women who experience this in their own lives throughout the UK. It was never fair that the BBFC dismissed their orgasms as urinary incontinence." The offending film, indeed, was part of an altruistic project to increase female involvement in the porn industry:
It is particularly fitting that ‘Women Love Porn’ should be so groundbreaking for women in the UK, as it is the result of a competition set by Anna Span to encourage new female directors into directing pornography. Five women won the opportunity to write and film a scene for the DVD, which includes the contentious FE scene ‘Top Milf’ by director Paula Porn. The winner of the competition Katie Coxxx then went on to film a full DVD of her own titled Apocalypse Angels, also for Easy on the Eye Productions.
Now, I learn, the "openly bisexual" Span - who also has her own range of sex toys - is to stand for Parliament. Under her real name of Anna Arrowsmith, she has just won the selection battle for the Liberal Democrats in Gravesham, Kent. That's going to make for some interesting hustings. I've not been able to find out much information is available about her political activities - certainly compared with her porn work - but I discover that around the time of her triumph over the BBFC she was speaking at party conference in support of Jo Swinson's proposals for compulsory labelling of airbrushed advertisements. The stars of her own films, obviously, are real women - not the plasticated creations of West Coast surgeons who feature so strongly in the US porn industry.
Arrowsmith's road to Parliamentary candidature has not been altogether smooth. Just last month, after an unsuccessful selection meeting, she Tweeted that she was "a bit upset today as my dreams of being a Lib Dem candidate at next election have all gone. I am not sure any local party will Vote for someone who has worked in adult industry. Even the supposed liberals!" Less than a fortnight later, however, she was celebrating her triumph in Kent. And at a House of Lords meeting in honour of International Women's Day she commented that she'd met "women from all parties and backgrounds who were very supportive of my becoming an MP after my previous job. Nice!"
The Gravesham Lib Dems have certainly made a brave choice. The tabloids will love it.