Australian censorship and squirt denialism

Female ejaculation is a sticky subject; in part, the nature of the fluid excreted during a ‘squirt’-inducing orgasm has influenced discussions about the nature of the sexual act (that is, whether or not it involves urination, a critical determinant in Australian pornographic classification). Restrictions also apply to porn depicting women with small breasts, citing the problematically childlike appearance of anything smaller than an A-cup as the justification.

Alleged proposals by pro-censorship politicians to restrict porn depicting female ejaculation sparked debate in early 2010, resulting in a backlash from sex-positive activists. In 2010, an Australian Sex Party press release denounced the Federal government’s alleged attempts to confiscate depictions of female ejaculation. Discussions sparked by the release rapidly obscured the specificities of proposed restrictions, and the idea that squirting would be completely banned gained traction.

This is not necessarily the case – ambiguous criterion applies to films depicting the act. Subsequently, female ejaculation falls into a grey area of classification in Australia, partly due to a lack of knowledge of the physiology behind squirting.

Studies in 1985 and 1994 indicated the presence of a small percentage of diluted urine in some instances of ejaculation. However, formative research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010 found that the majority of liquid excreted in a ‘squirt’ is in fact not urine, but rather a mixture of discharge from the vagina’s paraurethral glands. Similar findings are present across the current literature.

Since squirting may be interpreted as a type of urination (in the Film Classification discourse, a “golden shower”), films depicting it are subject to the same scrutiny that applies to porn depicting urination and defecation, which is illegal. Outdated research is likely a partial basis for lingering perceptions of squirting as an act of urination. It’s thus likely that conservative discourse is grounded in outdated information and lacks self-reflexivity. The Australian Classification Board analyses films on a case-by-case basis, leaving depictions of squirting open to varying interpretations.

A (strictly academic) online search might prompt incertitude about the ramifications of Australian porn restrictions amongst readers. For there abound videos covering a miscellany of porn categories, and squirting is amongst them. Indeed, restrictions can only prohibit the physical sale of porn in adult stores, rendering the prohibition of such items fairly inconsequential for consumers of internet porn.

Whatever the precise restrictions, controversies surrounding classification are emblematic of the stigmatisation of female sexuality that fuels anxieties surrounding the content of porn. It’s no secret that hegemonic male sexuality dominates sexual discourse and social relations, thus causing the discord in scrutiny applied to representations of male vs. female sexuality. Restrictions on small breasts exemplify this double standard, and show that our largely sex-negative and sexist society has the problem, not its diverse individuals.

Society consistently values male sexual climax over that of females; male orgasms have historically been constructed and understood as the reproductive crux, as well as being pleasurable. Conversely, female ejaculation represents not insemination, but pleasure. Squirting, although only possible for some women, symbolizes the epitome of female sexual gratification. The polemic around squirting is therefore unsurprising since it threatens the sexual status quo and, God forbid, depicts women experiencing sexual pleasure that doesn’t necessarily have an end purpose valued by a sexist post-industrial society centred around (re)productivity and growth. It’s also worth noting that squirting is usually only achieved through simultaneous stimulation of the G-spot and the clitoris – a practice lacking in much of the heterosexual sex depicted in porn.

Perhaps the threat to this heteronormative standard is the true culprit for anxieties about depicting female sexual pleasure.

This article used the terms ‘female’ and ‘male’ to refer to cis women and men respectively. I acknowledge the problematic cissexist nature of the gender binary. It is not appropriate for me to write critically about the sexual issues of trans* people. As a cis woman, I can write about issues affecting cis female sexuality. I acknowledge that I have a privilege that many non-binary individuals do not.

Mariana Podesta-Diverio

Mariana Podesta-Diverio

Mariana is an Honi Soit editor and a fourth-year Arts student. When she is not reading or writing, she's either cycling around the Inner West or stress cleaning. She tweets: @mapodi
Mariana Podesta-Diverio

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