Anna Span at Cambridge Union debate in 2012
|Born||Anna Imogen Thompson
15 January 1972
Greenwich, London, England
|Other names||Anna Span|
Anna Arrowsmith (born Anna Imogen Thompson 15 January 1972 in Greenwich, London), who works under the pseudonym Anna Span, is an English pornographic film director and producer. She makes frequent public appearances, speaking on sex, pornography and feminism, though not without significant opposition from feminists.
She was born and raised in Kent, the daughter of finance director Clive Thompson. She is a graduate of the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in BA (hons) Fine Art (Film & Video). Her films are female-friendly based on her ideas first outlined in her 1997 dissertation 'Towards a New Pornography'. She later graduated with a MA in Philosophy from Birkbeck University and is currently studying a PhD in Gender Studies at Sussex University, titled 'Rethinking Misogyny: How Men Experience Women to have Power in Dating Relationships'.
Her films focus on women enjoying sex with women or men, sometimes both. Other themes include sex toys, everyday objects (such as a chocolate bar or orange) being used as sex toys, threesomes, group sex, and gang bangs. Role playing and fantasy are also common. Sometimes a character from one of her films appears in another. There is a big emphasis on reality both in script and actor performances. In her films she includes a much higher than average percentage of shots which look at the men, which she has termed 'female point of view' shots.
Arrowsmith was the 2007/8 and 2008/9 Best Director at the UK Adult Film & TV Awards, where she also won four other awards for her DVD "Hug a Hoodie". She wanted to present a sympathetic image of the Young offender. British Conservative Party Leader David Cameron had taken a tough line on youth offenders but in July 2006 gave a sympathetic speech that was dubbed by the News of the World as 'Hug a Hoodie'. The phrase came into popular use in the UK despite Cameron insisting that he did not use it. She won Best British Film Brand at The UK's trade awards – the ETO Awards in 2008. In 2007 she won 'Indie Porn Pioneer 'and in 2011 'Best Bi Movie' at The International Emma Feminist Porn Awards, in Toronto. Her film Be My Toy Boy was nominated for best Film at the 2009 ETO Awards.
After a shorter documentary aired on Channel 4 earlier in her career, in September 2007, she was the focus of a TV documentary entitled 'Sex Films For Girls', made by Five, which captured her views on pornography and her film approach and featured on-set filming during the making of a film. Her father also appeared in the documentary, expressing a negative view of pornography but a very supportive view of his daughter.
She has given talks about pornography and feminism in various countries, for example at universities or film festivals and has won debates on pornography against Germaine Greer and Gail Dines. In 2011, Span was invited alongside Jessi Fischer and Johnny Anglais to debate against Gail Dines, Richard Woolfson and Shelley Lubben at the University of Cambridge. The proposition that she argued was that 'This house believes that pornography does a good public service.' Span won the proposition with 231 in favour to 187 against with 197 abstentions. Dines said her opponents won because the chamber consisted mostly of '18-22 year old males who were using pornography on a regular basis.'
Anna runs a campaign website called WeConsent.org on behalf of the people who work in the various sex industries against the various moral panics aimed at them and their industries. She has been a regular columnist of The Daily Sport newspaper, The Guardian newspaper and the British women's sex magazine Scarlet. She has been an active member of Feminists Against Censorship since the late 1990s. Anna has also appeared on various TV programmes and press such as Newsnight, The Today Programme, PM and Woman's Hour, defending the porn industry.
United Kingdom general election, 2010
Arrowsmith was the Liberal Democrat candidate for Gravesham in Kent for the 2010 general election. Conservative Adam Holloway held on to the seat by a considerable margin; Arrowsmith increased the Liberal Democrat vote share by nearly one third compared to the previous Lib Dem election results and by more than the regional average, but remained in third place behind Labour.
She explained her move into politics in The Observer. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said, 'It's not exactly my cup of tea what she's been doing before she has put herself forward in parliament but I also think it's really important that people like her who really care a lot about her local area are encouraged to come into politics. You can't accuse her of being a cardboard cut-out Westminster politician.'
- http://web.gravesham.gov.uk/.../General%20Election%20result%202010.pdf[permanent dead link]
- Wilkes, David (12 March 2010). "'From porn to Parliament': Woman adult film-maker to be election candidate (surprise, surprise, she's a Lib Dem)". London: www.dailymail.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 March 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
- "Anna Span", ShowStudio, retrieved 17 September 2007
- Emine Saner (5 March 2011). "Can sex films empower women?". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- "About Anna". Anna Arrowsmith. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- Daily Mail 2 May 2010
- The Observer 9 July 2006
- AJ (24 January 2007), "Anna Span", Strictlynews.com, archived from the original on 14 October 2007, retrieved 17 September 2007
- "interview". Lovegirls.co.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- "Videos". Anna Arrowsmith. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- For the proposition: Anna Span, Jessi Fischer and Johnny Anglais. Against the proposition: Dr. Gail Dines, Dr. Richard Woolfson and Shelley Lubben. The Cambridge Union Society (17 February 2011). This house believes that pornography does a good public service, The Cambridge Union Society (Video). Cambridge: The Cambridge Union Society via YouTube. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
- "Porn debate to spice up Cambridge Union". Cambridge News. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Walch, Tad (18 February 2011). "Cambridge University Union Society decides porn is a 'good public service'". Deseret News. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Span, Anna (21 February 2011). "Historic win for the porn industry at Cambridge debate". Adult Video Network (AVN). Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Damon, Dan (18 February 2011). "Debate: Does pornography provide 'a good public service'?". BBC. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- "Anna Arrowsmith". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Female porn director to fight Parliament seat in Kent", BBC, 12 March 2010
- "2010 Election Results: Gravesham", BBC, 11 May 2010
- "Why I've gone from porn to politics, Anna Arrowsmith ''The Observer'', Sunday 14 March 2010". London: Guardian. 14 March 2010. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- Mulholland, Helene (12 March 2010). "Nick Clegg defends former porn director standing for Lib ''The Guardian'', Friday 12 March 2010". London: Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- Anna Span at the Internet Movie Database
-  Anna Span's Diary – Film Website
-  WeConsent.org Campaign website for the sex industries run by Anna
-  AnnaArrowsmith.com – Anna's porn and politics blog
- Easy on the Eye – Production company web site, including her early works. Note: this does not appear to have been updated since 2004
- Lovegirls.co.uk interview