- The Observer, Sunday 14 March 2010
I'm Anna Arrowsmith, the Liberal Democrat PPC for Gravesend or, as many will know me, Anna Span, the UK's first female porn director. Take your pick.
Since news of my selection broke on Thursday, many people have asked me why I want to be an MP. The answer is: for exactly the same reason I decided to start making pornography for women more than 12 years ago. Someone had to do it and it didn't look like anyone else was going to – at least not with the drive, enthusiasm and determination that I could offer. The unfortunate truth is that there are far too few female MPs in this country compared to the rest of the world.
Did you know that Rwanda has the highest number of female MPs of all countries at 53%? Imagine living in a country with a female majority! Well, here I am again thinking that another male-dominated field needs challenging.
Back in 1998 I was in the final year of my degree, studying film at Central St Martin's College of Art & Design. I had decided to write my dissertation on what fundamental changes would need to be made to mainstream pornography in order for it to be enjoyed by women. I called it Towards a New Pornography, intending it to sound like a manifesto, more for my own amusement than anything else. Then came lesson one in the British psyche. Even the so-called experimental filmmaker lecturers at this outstanding college were actually conservative with a small 'c'.
My adverts for performers to appear in my graduation film were defaced and torn down by members of staff and my final film was refused a public airing "for fear of upsetting people's grandparents", according to the head of the department. All this for a film where the sex was actually simulated due to lead actor issues.
Twelve years later I have won many awards, including Indie Porn Pioneer at the international Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto and best director for two years in the UK.
I have fought long and hard for women's right to sexual expression and consumption, as well as for freedom of speech. I have long since felt vindicated about my choices back at college and know my pro-sex feminist argument is based on sound principles and logic.
So why don't I stay in my industry and continue to reap the rewards of my efforts? Because I am the type of person who needs a challenge. I achieved much in my last career and now I want to broaden my campaign to other pressing issues such as why this or previous governments don't think they have a responsibility to give young people something productive and engaging to do with their spare time. I lived on a council estate in Bermondsey and saw first hand why the kids were taking drugs, fighting and committing crimes.
They are simply bored. I want to campaign to give young people in Gravesham the help they deserve.
To do this I have to fight yet another old man's club – only this time without the dirty raincoats. Some won't like it; they'll assume that my selection means the world is going to hell. I've been here before; last time I changed my industry for ever.
That, among other issues, is why I am making the transition from porn to Parliament.
Watch this space; I've got a lot of – for want of a better word – balls.