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Why I've gone from porn to politics

I started making pornography for women because there was a need. And now I want to do something about the need for more female MPs

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.


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  • MoveAnyMountain MoveAnyMountain

    14 Mar 2010, 12:17AM

    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.

    I am sure that John Newton thought the same thing about his profession before he found God. Not all niches need to be, if you will forgive the rather unfortunate expression, filled. Not all jobs need to be done. Someone did not have to do it.

    And if the candidate does not understand that I don't think she is qualified.

  • Hectagon Hectagon

    14 Mar 2010, 12:20AM

    Wow. You're a real American hero(ine). Good to know that politics is now attracting self-congratulating narcissists from all walks of life (and Bermondsey!)

  • Battistan Battistan

    14 Mar 2010, 12:23AM

    "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! "

    Yep, I just imagined living in Rwanda.

    Still, I feel duly browbeaten nonetheless. It's not every day a crowing media wannabe uses politics as a career vehicle and tries to use moral improvement as an alibi. Well, not every single day anyway. Well, actually, may be it is every single day.

  • JedBartlett JedBartlett

    14 Mar 2010, 12:26AM

    '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.'

    So why does this mean that you need to beccome an MP? Wouldn't you be more likely to have more success using your seeming wealth and becoming a community worker (or something) in the area?

    The government does not have a, 'responsibility,' to give people something to do in their spare time - whatever happened to civil society? Before porn became an unfortunately large part of it.

    You need to take your argument up with people in the locale, not me - I couldn't really care less about Gravesend or Bermondsey.

  • Jebedee Jebedee

    14 Mar 2010, 12:29AM

    Not usually one for "why was this published" moaning, but this does read much more like a "Vote for me!" campaign speech than an actual comment article. I know self-promotion is par for the course when campaigning, but it sounds as though the author's interest in there being more women MPs is really just a desire for one particular woman to be the MP for Gravesend.

  • ElliotRhodes ElliotRhodes

    14 Mar 2010, 12:33AM

    The usual identity politics bollocks then.

    Rwanda has the highest proportion of female MPs. And it's a basket case.

    NuLab gave us Blair's Babes, and look where that's landed us.

    Back in the good old days, the Left understood that the struggle was class based and that true equality could only be achieved by addressing inequalities of wealth. As wealth became more equally distributed and the living and working conditions for all people improved, it would automatically follow that the prospects for working class women, self-evidently falling into the category of "all people", would improve.

    The New Left, the bourgeois charlatans who told us that the class war was over and that the struggle should be fought in the ghettoes of feminism, gay rights and anti-racism, failed to understand that these ghettoes might have conflicting interests and contradictory values. And, more important than that, they took for granted that they could use the institutions built by working class people to further their struggle at the same time as they spat on the values of those people.

    It's no great surprise to see the liberal-Left now represented by unprincipled chancers who are less interested in poverty, crime and the lack of opportunities for those left behind than they are in the rights of all people to have equal access to high quality porn.

  • DurkheimwasRight DurkheimwasRight

    14 Mar 2010, 12:39AM

    '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.'

    Well Anna, in the best British tradition, I think I'll choose neither thank you.

    By the way: 21 uses of the word "I' in this little piece. Far too many.

  • Elke Elke

    14 Mar 2010, 12:40AM

    Although you come across as somewhat arrogant and dilettantish in this article, despite your pornography, you probably have less dirty hands than most who aspire for office.

  • dementedbear dementedbear

    14 Mar 2010, 12:43AM

    The fact that you even have to justify your decision to become an MP is ridiculous. It's great to finally see someone going into politics who:

    a) isn't a bloke

    b) isn't a bloke educated at Eton

    c) 'gets' what post feminism is about

    (Julie Bindel, take note.)

  • hunsrus hunsrus

    14 Mar 2010, 12:44AM

    This is the description of one of the scenes from Anna Spans film Good Service

    "Next up it?s a Christmas dinner party and while Tony de Serghio enjoys his Christmas pudding straight from Sarah?s pussy ? all part of the service as she has been hired to serve the food, the other guests continue with their meal and conversations as he strips her and then fucks her."

    Great stuff. Gets my vote. Just don't let her near Ed Balls, Black Rod or the Whips Office.

  • duroi duroi

    14 Mar 2010, 12:44AM

    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.

    Once I read this, too many jokes filled my mind and I couldn't concentrate on anything else you wrote.

    Another thought, will you be able to provide free porn to Jacqui Smith's husband so that he doesn't shaft the taxpayers with his expenses?

  • golgolgolgoool golgolgolgoool

    14 Mar 2010, 12:44AM

    i really hope that people will judge this lady on what she says and does about her constituency, rather than what she has done in the past.

    as a tip though anna, try to use the word 'i' less.

    best of luck to you in the election, but i fear that middle england isn't quite ready for this yet. which is a shame.

  • LabourStoleMyCash LabourStoleMyCash

    14 Mar 2010, 12:47AM

    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 was at an art school once. At that time, porography was not allowed in the UK. Making it, and showing it, would have got you jailed. By then, it was being made legaly in some other European countries. Britain, as usual, was reluctant and slow to legalise anything to do with sex.

    I hope that you become an MP, as it gives a two fingered salute to British sensibilities.

  • tommyjimmy tommyjimmy

    14 Mar 2010, 12:48AM

    Great stuff. Gets my vote. Just don't let her near Ed Balls, Black Rod or the Whips Office.

    Seconded. Though I hope she isn't shocked by the number of c***s she'll have to work with.

  • mrhappy77 mrhappy77

    14 Mar 2010, 12:53AM

    im delighted that your standing for the following reasons.
    A. you have a past
    B. you might be described as intresting
    C. you will inspire woman to take a greater interest / role in politics and party membership.

    On point C if on avarage the Labour party has 30% of its membership made up of woman should only 30% of its MPs be woman.
    I therefor believe lets have 50 60 70% of MPs female but please just join the party and get elected because your the best candidate not on being the only candidate.

  • morethanthat morethanthat

    14 Mar 2010, 12:53AM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • BuffHoon BuffHoon

    14 Mar 2010, 12:56AM

    Saw a clip of your film 'Southwark Sugar' on your web site, and I have to admit it looks excellent! As it is certified as feminist approved and female friendly I am sure it makes the viewing experience all the more pleasurable for the thoughtful, discerning Guardian-reading male with a conscience. Well done!

    Good luck with your political career.

  • PaulBJ PaulBJ

    14 Mar 2010, 1:15AM

    OOH ER MISSUS.-apologies but this whole blog makes me feel i,m on a
    Carry On set-younger ciffers ask your parents about Carry On.

    Come on Anna behave! I,ve no problems with you making porn for women
    and becoming an MP.But as a man let me tell you this.Your crusade to get
    more female MP,s will hit the buffers before it even gets started.You will
    be up against a powerful coalition of groups who will do everything and
    anything to make sure you don,t succeed.In other countries it may well
    have been different but this is anally retentive sexually uptight Britain where
    sex and politics are sadly not a marriage made in heaven.And i,m genuinely
    sorry because although i don,t know you from adam i genuinely like you.
    Because in a more enlightened political environment you may well have
    had something really positive to contribute.

    If you do make the transition from porn to parliament then good luck to you
    is what i say.But when you are there reality will soon kick in.Because sadly
    few politicians-irrespective of party or sex-will want to beseen to be closely associated with you.And the media will treat you as nothing more than a joke.So i hope you will have an exceptionally thick skin because you will
    need it.

  • Weaselmeister Weaselmeister

    14 Mar 2010, 1:17AM

    Personally I think that the prevalence of pornography is a symptom of a decaying society. I'd be happier without it and I'd prefer my kids to be able to grow up without having other peoples' fantasies and perversions foisted upon them. Intimacy should mean just that, close and personal. Why can't we have the self respect to keep these things personal and private?

    It hardly seems necessary here to point out again the double standards that were seen in the Black Lace thread, female eroticism good, male pornography evil. Well, to me, if she's been happily turning out pornography she's not a person I think will help to build and strengthen the family and society. Surely there are some other people who think that there's more to life than commodifying and exploiting human emotions and relationships, who think that it's better to actually love and care for someone, with or without sex being involves rather than staring at a flickering screen in an ever more forelorn attempt to experience what a good relationship can be in reality.

  • GraemeFord GraemeFord

    14 Mar 2010, 1:35AM

    Pornography is as organised as terrorism. The difference is, it involves consent. I have been a victim of mass voyeurism contrary to the sexual offences act 2003, and it would appear that pornography has been schizophenically demonised as male orientated abuse, justifying that offence. The higher the profile of femine (feminist?) representation of porn the better. Representation of 'new' sexual and intimate statuses will be a high profile agenda in the near future.

  • MichaelBulley MichaelBulley

    14 Mar 2010, 1:37AM

    Sex is fine. The more the better. Sex in art is fine. The more the better. I'm all for women becoming MPs. Pornography is a distortion of sex and of art. It would be better if there were none for anyone. So the writer's view that there should be pornography for women and thus more women MPs seems a bad one to me.

  • akermanis akermanis

    14 Mar 2010, 2:12AM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • Kendall99 Kendall99

    14 Mar 2010, 2:52AM

    I've just been watching one of Anna's girl/girl scenes and I have to say I'm pleasantly surprise. The performers looked like they had a good time and it's pretty nicely shot; not overly slow or soft focus like some other "women's porn" I've seen. If Anna gets her political career then it'll be a loss for the British porn industry.

    I don't know how she'd do on local issues, or whether she'd really be a good all round MP, but with all the authoritarian feminists in parliament, it'd be nice to have another women MP who'd speak out against censorship. She does have a track record for lobbying against that, even getting the BBFC to change their rules on porn.

    Good luck to her.

  • Darvinia Darvinia

    14 Mar 2010, 2:59AM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • LucyQ LucyQ

    14 Mar 2010, 3:05AM

    @ Anna Arrowsmith - I like your style. Please run for Pope as the RC church needs a gal like you with ....s to clean it up.

    Watch this space; I've got a lot of ? for want of a better word ? balls.

    Are you allowed to say that here, I mean with the Mods and all?

  • fbilleter fbilleter

    14 Mar 2010, 3:30AM

    I am like exercist. my family never had pornograph either. We had a Victrola and a monkey.
    Anyways, if we can have a professional wrestler for a governor and an Austrian character actor in charge of the asylum, not to mention the B grade actor that got to be president. I think she has a chance. We just had a clown for president and didn't Italy have a porn star in the parliment but then in Italy it really doesn't matter.

    I think a porn director is a good choice. She obviously has people skills and must have organizational talent to make it 12 yrs in the business. I would vote for her!

  • MoveAnyMountain MoveAnyMountain

    14 Mar 2010, 4:07AM

    In all fairness I think it should be pointed out that this woman is not a porn star - although no doubt there are perfectly good reasons as to why because I am sure she is fine with women who want to choose that career even if she did not herself.

    There is only one British political party that is running a porn star that I know of. And that's the BNP of course. Gay porn too.

  • Oroklini Oroklini

    14 Mar 2010, 5:26AM

    many people have asked me why I want to be an MP. The answer is: ... Someone had to do it and it didn't look like anyone else was going to

    Surely one of the thirty-odd candidates you beat in the selection process would have done it?

  • zanz3 zanz3

    14 Mar 2010, 5:32AM

    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.

    It may press political buttons, but the stuff that wins those awards is some of the least fappable material out there. I'll be sticking to apathy and pizzguzzlingsluts.com thanks.

  • VladDrakul VladDrakul

    14 Mar 2010, 7:31AM

    '' ElliotRhodes
    14 Mar 2010, 12:33AM

    The usual identity politics bollocks then.
    Rwanda has the highest proportion of female MPs. And it's a basket case.
    NuLab gave us Blair's Babes, and look where that's landed us.

    Back in the good old days, the Left understood that the struggle was class based and that true equality could only be achieved by addressing inequalities of wealth. As wealth became more equally distributed and the living and working conditions for all people improved, it would automatically follow that the prospects for working class women, self-evidently falling into the category of "all people", would improve.

    The New Left, the bourgeois charlatans who told us that the class war was over and that the struggle should be fought in the ghettoes of feminism, gay rights and anti-racism, failed to understand that these ghettoes might have conflicting interests and contradictory values. And, more important than that, they took for granted that they could use the institutions built by working class people to further their struggle at the same time as they spat on the values of those people.

    It's no great surprise to see the liberal-Left now represented by unprincipled chancers who are less interested in poverty, crime and the lack of opportunities for those left behind than they are in the rights of all people to have equal access to high quality porn.''

    EXACTLY RIGHT!

    I might add that there is NOTHING wrong with struggling against any prejudice and cruelty; the problem is the left forgot that IN THIS WORLD MONEY IS # 1. Even a rich muslim, african lesbian is MUCH better of than a homeless white guy. The other things DO matter (in particular racism as it impinges on wars, and the imperialism that have always been fought by the working classes for the wealthy ones.

    Fascism is the right con trick of racial scapegoating to divert attention from the string pullers shafting the people!

  • boredinbrizzle boredinbrizzle

    14 Mar 2010, 8:06AM

    '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'

    Ok so what is the help they deserve and how is it going to be brought to them please? This is the interesting bit for the voters.

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