PAPER: This Healthcare Center Allows Sex Workers to Be Themselves

From societal stigma to privacy concerns to prudish insurance providers, it's no secret that sex workers have a particularly hard time receiving respectful and comprehensive medical care. Now though, the good folks at Callen-Lorde are trying to rectify this problem in NYC with their COIN Clinic, the first dedicated healthcare center for sex workers on the East Coast.

An acronym for Cecilia's Occupational Inclusion Network, the clever moniker was created in honor of trans activist and community leader Cecilia Gentili, who became a sex worker in her native Argentina in the '80s. And though she relished the "financial empowerment" that came with her job, she also soon realized that sex workers were facing "a unique reality" when it came to seeking adequate healthcare.

"For me, sex work is really close to my identity and who I am, and I have suffered the disadvantages that the community faces for the work that we do," she said. "That's why it's a commitment for me to create any sense of quality of life for sex workers."

There are a number of reasons why those in the already marginalized profession of sex work have a difficult time finding compassionate providers, receiving comprehensive care and navigating the notoriously complex American insurance complex. As an example, Gentili brought up her own experience as an undocumented immigrant after being arrested for street sex work two days before her visitors visa expired, explaining that she "didn't have insurance until I got a job that gave me insurance."

However, she also knew from past experience that many others working within criminalized forms of sex work were in a similar position as they couldn't report their incomes and, therefore, get insurance. According to her though, this all eventually led to the idea for a free clinic where sex workers, regardless of whether they had insurance or not, could find sex worker-friendly doctors, STI testing, trans-specific care, mental health referrals and free prescriptions, including HIV prevention medications like PrEP and PEP.

"Having a place that tells you, 'Hey, if you have health insurance and you want to use it, we'll take it, but if you don't that's fine, you wont be charged the copayment... and the medicine you need is going to be free," that's attractive and it creates a bridge for that gap that between sex workers and healthcare," Gentili said. "At the same time, if you're a sex worker [and you have a clinic like this], it's like you're going home. You don't have to think, 'How am I going to explain to this doctor that I had sex with a hundred people in the last month or that the hours I work are midnight to 6 AM?'"

She also went on to clarify that there are "so many things that create this lack of trust and communication with the provider," even if you work in something like a legal strip club.

"There are so many things that are hard to translate to your medical provider if they're not sex worker-friendly. I think having a space where it's understood from the get-go creates that clear space where you can go and be yourself and be like, 'My knees are so fucked up because I'm a stripper,'" Gentili continued. "Because if you go to a doctor that doesn't know a sex worker, you'll tell them your knee is fucked up because you 'fell,' and then you're not disclosing the truth and may get the best care you need."

Read the Full Article Here:

This Healthcare Center Allows Sex Workers to Be Themselves by Sandra Song

April 15, 2021


anOther: Female Dominance: Celebrating the Fetish Art of Namio Harukawa

On 24 April 2020, Japanese artist Namio Harukawa died at the age of 72, leaving behind an extraordinary body of work that explored his love of female domination. Obsessed with scenes of erotic asphyxiation, wherein voluptuous women revel in the pleasures of facesitting and transform diminutive men into human furniture, Harukawa established himself as one of Japan’s best known fetish artists in the 1960s and 70s.

Working under a pseudonym formed from an anagram of “Naomi”, the heroine in Tanizaki Jun’ichirō’s novel Chijin no ai / A Fool’s Love, and the surname of film actress Masumi Harukawa, the artist got his start in high school. There, he contributed drawings to Kitan Club, a leading post-war pulp magazine best known for publishing sadomasochistic artwork and prose. But it wasn’t until the 2000s that his work became recognised by everyone, from Japanese avant-garde luminaries Shuji Terayama and Onoroku Dan to Madonna.

“The popularity of Harukawa’s work can be seen in the context of the rise of feminism, fat liberation and the body positivity movement. Although Harukawa’s work can be compared to Robert Crumb, there is no other artist that depicts big girls having fun like that,” says academic, curator and editor Pernilla Ellens, who wrote the introduction to Namio Harukawa (Baron), the sumptuous new book that brings together some of the artist’s most iconic works.

Within the long-standing tradition of Japanese erotica and BDSM, Harukawa’s work stands out, in large part due to his celebration of buttocks. In a world full of ’skinny Minnies,’ Harukawa pays tribute to women of Rubenesque form, depicting them as figures of beauty, desire, glamour and joy. “He really loved the big gals and I think he wanted them to love themselves,” Ellens says. “That’s why his work is so inspirational, as fat women in our fatphobic society who are still marginalised and seen as unattractive, in Harakuwa’s work the subjects take centre stage in all their glory.”

At a time when the Brazilian butt lift has become the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the world, the female posterior has been restored to its rightful place of veneration. But bootie worship is nothing new: for as long as people have made art, they have thrown ass – in dance, music, drawings, paintings, and sculpture dating back to the Venus of Willendorf (24,000-22,000 BC) and Venus Lespugue (25,000 BC).

“The buttocks represent the primitive image of femininity, sexuality, fertility and lust,” Ellens says. “In the 21st century, we saw a rise of the butt as the focal point in today’s cultural imagery, through song lyrics, music videos, photography, magazine covers, articles, TV, pornography, social networks, fitness culture and plastic surgery. The popularity of the butt has to do with the power of the image. The digital revolution, and especially the launch of Instagram in 2010, enlarged the power and influence of these images as they’re now distributed worldwide.”

Read the Full Article Here:

Female Dominance: Celebrating the Fetish Art of Namio Harukawa by Miss Rosen

April 8,  2021


MASHABLE: BDSM and meditation are more connected than you'd think

Whips, handcuffs, blindfolds, ropes, flogging, spanking. These probably aren't the kind of activities you associate with meditation and mindfulness, let alone spirituality.

But if you ask those who practice consensual BDSM (meaning bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism) — along with the researchers who study it and mindful sex — a connection between these seemingly disparate practices actually makes a lot of sense.

Though in its nascent stages, BDSM research is finding similarities between BDSM and mindfulness and other forms of meditation, especially in the context of heightened awareness and relaxing altered states of mind. Evidence is starting to support what many practitioners already innately knew: BDSM can be powerfully meditative, with positive psychological effects that go far beyond just sexual satisfaction.

To the uninitiated, it's easy to discount BDSM as salacious, or even deranged and dangerous. Thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey, the general public's perception of BDSM tends to be ill-informed, reductive, and unhealthy — worlds apart from the reality of a community that embeds enthusiastic consent, trust, and safety into practices that often involve intense but controlled pain.

Early psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud categorized BDSM as nothing short of a mental illness. But modern research reveals again and again that recreational BDSM practitioners are, psychologically speaking, pretty much the same as those who don't practice it. If anything, one study found them to have comparatively lower levels of disorders (like depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychological sadism, masochism, borderline pathology, paranoia) and another suggested they were less neurotic and sensitive to rejection, more open to new experiences and conscientiousness. They also rated their own overall well-being higher than non-practitioners.

The more we study the connection between BDSM, mindfulness, other types of meditation, and pain, the clearer the benefits of BDSM become, particularly when it comes to stress and anxiety. Potentially, it can even be a transcendental and spiritual experience for some.

While the overall BDSM community isn't tied to any religious ideology, the practice does share an important commonality with some spiritual meditation traditions that involve pain. Both embrace the idea of accepting pain, or even finding peace and pleasure in surrendering to it.

Don't yuck someone's ohmmm

Cara Dunkley, a clinical psychologist from the Sexual Health Laboratory at the University of British Columbia (UBC), is part of a group that has spent decades researching mindfulness-based meditation training as a treatment for various sexual difficulties, from chronic pain with sex to traumatic tiggers and low libido.

"Mindfulness at its core is the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention. And that is why it has real benefits with improving mood, depression, anxiety, pain, sexual functioning, all of that," she said.

Mindful sex specifically can help you shift your attention away from negative thoughts, memories, physical sensations, and painful stimuli through accepting it without reacting to it, so you can then refocus on pleasure instead. General mindfulness-based training has become an increasingly accepted treatment for managing various types of chronic pain. But one UBC study found that teaching patients to apply mindfulness to sex helped with their chronic vaginal pain.

Few groups understand how to turn pain into pleasure better than BDSM practitioners. So Dunkley started researching how they do it, positing multiple theories on the most important facts at play. In 2020, she published the first study ever into whether BDSM actually helps foster mindfulness. The results (though limited in sample size) were promising, showing that the group which practiced BDSM did indeed score higher on most traits associated with everyday mindfulness (which means bringing present-moment awareness to ordinary tasks, like eating, rather than during formal seated meditation).

"Mindfulness is comprised of about five skills: observing, describing, acting with awareness, non-judgment, and non-reactivity to your inner experience. Each of those can have useful applications to BDSM," she said.

In the BDSM community, the term Bottom describes the person fulfilling a submissive role, who's on the receiving end of commands and masochistic activities. Conversely, Tops are the ones who role play as dominants in a BDSM scene, doling out the painful stimulation and commands.

For both roles, exercising the tenets of mindfulness can be crucial for having a positive and safe experience.

"The mindfulness method of observing refers to the ability to attend to internal and external experiences, like sensations, emotions, thoughts. Bottoms must be very aware of their own internal experiences and emotional states in their moment-to-moment response during a BDSM activity, and to physical sensations, because they need to differentiate between safe pain and pain that could be indicative of real harm," said Dunkley. "Similarly, Tops must be externally attentive to the emotional and physical responses of the Bottom through very controlled focus, and consciously adjusting their actions accordingly to keep it pleasurable."

But the link between BDSM, meditation, and pain doesn't end there. While Dunkley's research focused on mindfulness as it's commonly used in western scientific research, others have found evidence that there's a transcendental or even spiritual appeal to BDSM too, just like there is in other forms of meditation. There are many types of meditation, but only a small sliver, such as mindfulness, have been tested in lab settings (and even then researchers are still calling for more study on various health benefits).

"There are a variety of reasons people do BDSM," said Brad Sagarin, a professor of social psychology at Northern Illinois University who also leads The Science of BDSM research group. Some go to BDSM for just your standard sexual arousal. But others seek it out for the sheer thrill and excitement, deeper connections to partners, and even stress release. "Some even pursue BDSM primarily for spiritual reasons. In particular, our research team looked into the altered states of consciousness that BDSM activities can facilitate in both Bottoms and Tops."

Their study found that both roles can experience unique states of mind during BDSM. Bottoms in particular describe entering a headspace that sounds a lot like what many longtime, spirituality-based meditators experience.

Read the Full Article Here:

BDSM and meditation are more connected than you'd think by Jess Joho

March 27 2021


DAZED: A dominatrix explains why documentaries about sex work never get it right

There are some hard-working sex workers in Hulu and ABC News’ new documentary, Only Fans: Selling Sexy, and I respect them. I’ve been a sex worker for over 20 years, and being in a documentary about doing sex work is a gigantic leap of faith. We’re rarely treated with respect, and sometimes not even with much humanity. It’s often difficult for me to even watch many sex worker documentaries; such filmmakers favour drama and controversy, and choose to sensationalise the lived experiences of myself and my sex work peers.

For those who’ve been living under a rock, OnlyFans is a subscription service website where individual models can create and sell photos and videos of themselves. (There are creators on OnlyFans who do not sell adult or erotic work, but they are not the subject of Hulu’s doc). There are several other sites that work the same way, but OnlyFans got name checked by Beyoncé, while Bella Thorne almost blew the whole thing up, and these, among other things, made it the biggest player in the game.

Hulu/ABS News did better than most with their documentary – it’s smoothly made, and it only made me wince a few times. But the true value in OF:SS is the voices of the sex workers. In media, anyone who does sex work is deemed not to be a credible witness to their own life, so there are always non-sex workers in these documentaries who serve to confirm (or more often deny) what we say is real. Irony in 2021 is watching a glossy TV show inspired by a sex work website, which features non-sex working actors saying to the camera, in serious tones, that giving sex workers “all this attention” might make us “go too far”. Ask yourself: why does that sound a little hypocritical to me?

But it doesn’t matter, because I’m sure they got legally paid to say it. Actors and models generally are – even when they act in steamy love scenes. In fact, I’m sure everyone who worked on this TV production about OnlyFans models got paid. And no one is upset about any of that; it’s just the models on OnlyFans being paid that upsets some people.

And these people aren’t alone. Writing moral panicky takes on OnlyFans (and sex work in general) has been some opinion columnist’s favorite hobby during the pandemic. But all that manufactured hand-wringing is a grift – see: The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof. These articles are an island of garbage that floats into your Facebook feed when radical feminists collide with upscale suburban wine moms, and stories about zip ties on your car mirror start bubbling up. Sex workers are a gift to people who stir up fake outrage for a living. In a changing world, it’s still permissible to hate sex workers and scapegoat them for anything you don’t like – facts not required.

There is another forthcoming documentary called Buy/Sell/Date, which also claims to be about the sex industry, but I’m sceptical. That’s a tacky, dehumanizing title, and producers Rashida Jones and Meryl Streep have both come out against sex worker’s right in the past. Why is it OK for corporations and famous people to take the lives of sex workers and sell them – and therefore make money off us – but somehow not OK if we do it?

Read the Full Article Here:

A dominatrix explains why documentaries about sex work never get it right by Mistress Matisse

March 24, 2021


VICE NEWS: Sex Workers Are Fighting to Get the COVID Vaccine

For 28 glorious hours this week, Solana Sparks thought she could get a COVID-19 vaccine. That's because a public health official in King County, which includes the city of Seattle, told her that Washington state would soon begin prioritizing sex workers for vaccination.But about a day after Sparks tweeted out the good news, she said she was told the whole thing had been a “misunderstanding.”

Sex workers were not, in fact, in line to get vaccinated.

“Overwhelmingly, our clients don’t want to wear masks, and they don’t want us to wear masks,” Sparks, who’s a full-service sex worker, told VICE News. “I have clients who are older and I’m really worried about them.”

Had Washington followed through, it likely would’ve been the first state to prioritize vaccinating people in the sex work industry, which encompasses a broad range of occupations with varying degrees of in-person contact and legality. With coronavirus vaccines in such short supply, deciding who gets first dibs is a deeply complex process that invokes questions of ethics, public health, and political acceptability.

But many sex workers have been economically ravaged by the coronavirus and driven to work in-person, sometimes without adequate PPE. Public health professionals say that they should not be forgotten in the vaccine rollout.

Read the Full Article Here: VICE NEWS: Sex Workers Are Fighting to Get the COVID Vaccine by Carter Sherman

February 12th, 2021


OPEN DEMOCRACY: Now is the time to support sex workers’ rights

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to mitigate it have exacerbated existing inequalities by forcing millions of workers around the world to lose work and income. Sex workers have been particularly hard hit. The long-standing conflation of sex work and trafficking have effectively led to their exclusion from not only government relief and protective measures but also from most private and philanthropic support. Yet the explicitness of the damage being done also presents us with an opportunity to turn the conversation around. Coronavirus has opened a door for funders to increase their support for sex worker-led organisations and to advocate for an end to this harmful conflation once and for all. Now they must walk through it.

The Sex Work Donor Collaborative will be waiting on the other side to help them get their bearings. Founded in 2008, the collaborative was first convened to fundamentally change the structures of funding that defined anti-trafficking efforts. In particular, the donor collaborative hoped to “increase the amount and quality of funding and non-financial support for sex worker rights and sex worker organizing”. Members of the collaborative oppose exploitation of and violence against sex workers, regardless of the form they take, and recognise the distinction between sex work and human trafficking.

A dangerous conflation

Links between trafficking and sex work are often based on assumptions rooted in the stigma against sex work. The denial of sex workers’ agency, reinforced by the conflation of trafficking and sex work, has led many funders to prefer supporting organisations that claim to ‘save’ or ‘rescue’ sex workers over organisations that are run by them. In turn, this perpetuates the exclusion of sex workers’ voices from philanthropic circles and makes funding sex worker-led organisations and networks incredibly difficult.

The damage caused by equating the two ideas together is plain to see. Anti-trafficking legislation and initiatives based in the conflation of sex work and trafficking have led to increased criminalisation of sex workers’ clients and third parties, forced ‘rescue and rehabilitation’, exclusion of sex workers from services, discriminatory immigration laws and restrictions, and increased violence against sex workers.

The “anti-prostitution loyalty oath” (APLO) provision passed into US law in 2003 and embedded in the 2003 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is a particularly egregious example of this in practice. This provision requires non-governmental organisations based outside the US to have “a policy explicitly opposing prostitution” in order to receive PEPFAR funding. The oath further prohibits recipient organisations from using the funds “to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficking” and specifies that no funds “may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking”.

Read the Full Article Here:

Now is the time to support sex workers’ rights by Paul-Gilbert Colletaz

Feb. 18 2021


STYLECASTER: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Golden Showers

Piss play. Golden showers. Water sports. There’s a laundry list of terms that refer to urophilia, which is exactly what you think: getting off on the act of peeing and/or being peed on.

Though this particular kink still seems taboo to many, it has in some ways hit the mainstream (pun intended)—even former president Donald Trump allegedly dabbled in golden showers. In fact, a study from Pornhub showed a huge surge in searches (a 102 percent increase, to be exact) for “golden showers” after Trump’s pee-gate was made public knowledge in 2017.

We’re never ones to yuck someone else’s yum—kink shaming is never cute, folks. So, we decided to chat with Dr. Megan Stubbs, sexologist, relationships expert and author of Playing Without a Partner: A Singles’ Guide to Sex, Dating, and Happiness, to get the scoop on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about pee play, but been too afraid to ask.

Fair warning: After reading this, you may find that pee play tickles your sexual fancy. Go for it, babe.

What is Pee Play?

As stated before, pee play, or urophilia, is exactly what it sounds like: involving urine into the bedroom. “This is when you’re purposely urinating on your partner, or you’re asking your partner to purposely urinate on you,” clarifies Dr. Stubbs. Other names for this fetish includes water sports and golden showers.

Dr. Stubbs notes that there are tons of reasons why someone would be intrigued by the act of bringing pee into the bedroom, but one of the biggest reasons she sees is the overall taboo stigma.

“I think a lot of kinks that we see often come from a forbidden or ‘it’s just not done’ kind of place,” she says. “So for this, obviously, we’re thinking about pee, it’s like an excreting kind of thing, but we’re going to make it sexual. So the taboo-ness of this is that we urinate in private, but now you’re doing it with your partner.”

Other factors that emphasize the appeal of golden showers can include trust, comfort with your partner and even sexual power dynamics, Dr. Stubbs notes. “There’s a lot you can play with around this,” she says. “It stems from being taboo and kinky, but it can also be a fun thing.”

Is Pee Play Safe?

Though pee is often considered to be sterile, that doesn’t mean swigging your partner’s urine is healthy for you. In fact, on the contrary to what wilderness survival shows taught all of us, pee isn’t actually sterile because it still contains natural bacteria from your body.

Though recent studies have yet to prove whether pee, poop or semen can carry COVID-19 or not, ingesting urine can lead to other health issues like infections, dehydration, irritation of wounds in the mouth or throat and more. However, Dr. Stubbs does note that like many other fetishes (scat, vomit play, etc.), risks somewhat come with the territory.

“Everything we do is dangerous,” she says. “There’s some risk in place, but knowing those factors of their health and what you’re comfortable with can make this a safer practice.”

In order to stay as safe as possible, Dr. Stubbs recommends talking to your partner about getting tested for the coronavirus prior to any pee play, knowing your partner’s overall health status and disclosing any conditions or medical concerns well in advance of getting it on.

Read the Full Article Here:

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Golden Showers by Jennifer Hussein

Feb 27, 2021


CNET: Thanks to US laws, sex workers are fighting to stay online

In August, sex worker Lucie Bee was having serious issues with her OnlyFans account. First the site slowed to a crawl, then she couldn't log on.

Almost immediately, she freaked out.

A 30-year-old, high-profile escort with over 40,000 followers on Twitter, Bee sometimes incorporates cosplay into her sex work, once sewing a costume from scratch when she couldn't find just the right one to please a client. Living in Australia, Bee works as an escort, but around $2,000 of her monthly earnings come from $10 fees and tips from paid followers on OnlyFans, a subscription-based social media platform that lets creators sell their original content -- photos, videos -- as well as host one-on-one interactions.

And Bee thought she was going to lose her OnlyFans income. All of it. Because when she was logged out of her account, she leaped to what she believed was the most obvious conclusion: She'd become the latest escort to be banned from the site.

To blame for Bee's tenuous position? FOSTA-SESTA, a one-two punch of bills signed into law in 2018 in Washington DC, 9,500 miles away. Until these laws change, escorts like Lucie Bee are entirely at their mercy.

Sex work is banned in every US state outside of Nevada, but if you are an escort in Australia -- where Bee works legally --  your online presence is bound by stringent US laws giving authorities the power to shut down any website that advertises escort services. In 2021, sites like OnlyFans, Twitter and Instagram will quickly remove any accounts for even the barest mention of escorting, without explanation.

These deletions pose a major problem for workers like Bee, who risks potential financial ruin as a result of escort work, which, where she lives, is perfectly legal and above board.

"At any moment, it can all be taken away," Bee says.

Granting federal authorities in the US the broad power to shut down any website where escort services are advertised, FOSTA-SESTA is a bill designed to curb sex trafficking on sites like Backstage. Despite good intentions, the bill's passing inspired broad debate online. The Electronic Frontier Foundation claimed it would "silence online speech," calling it a "dark day for the internet."

But supporters of the bill, including Marian Hatcher -- a victim advocate and policy analyst -- believe freedom of speech is low on the priority list. "Our primary objective must be to end exploitation and prevent the harm that is inherent to those in the sex trade," she said in an interview with Feminist Current.

Yet the mistake, escorts claim, is assuming all sex workers are being exploited.

Some embrace the profession out of hardship, but many find the work empowering. Above all, sex work is work. FOSTA-SESTA is designed to protect victims involved in nonconsensual trafficking, but overlooks those like Bee involved in consensual, legal sex work.

Read the Full Article Here:

Thanks to US laws, sex workers are fighting to stay online by Mark Serrels

Feb. 26 2021


BIG THINK: BDSM therapy: Are There Therapeutic and Relational Benefits to Being Submissive?

  • BDSM is an acronym encompassing a variety of sexual practices that include: bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism. The practice of BDSM usually consists of partners taking on specific roles in which one partner is dominant and the other is submissive.
  • BDSM practitioners (individuals who frequently engage in BDSM play) can experience various mental health benefits from engaging in their scenes.
  • According to the research, subspace is often characterized by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the release of epinephrine and endorphins, and a subsequent period of non-verbal, deep relaxation.

The psychology of BDSM

Many experts have weighed in on the significant mental and physical health benefits of sex:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stronger immune system
  • Better heart health
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Better sleep routines

However, there is an increasing interest in studies that explore the specific mental and physical health benefits of BDSM practices. BDSM practitioners (individuals who frequently engage in BDSM play) can experience various mental health benefits from engaging in their scenes. For example, one study suggests that being dominant in the bedroom can boost your work ethic. Other research in this area has suggested engaging in BDSM activities can boost your mental well-being and increase awareness of your attachment style in partnerships, which can ultimately lead to healthier relationships. Additionally, unhealthy stereotypes and misconceptions about BDSM have also been addressed by experts.

A natural starting point for more research surrounding the mental health impact of BDSM practices is to explore what happens in a person's mind and body when they experience intense sexual activity. While physical reactions (such as arousal and climax) are quite typical, there is something unique that happens to individuals who participate in intense BDSM scenes.

February 16th, 2021

Read The Full Article Here: BIG THINK; BDSM therapy: Are there therapeutic and relational benefits to being submissive? by Jaimee Bell

 


THE CUT: The Willful Misunderstanding of Kink What does it mean to conflate a sexual practice with abuse?

The word “kink” is a slippery term, and depending on whom you ask, it can have varying, even competing, definitions. But while speaking in the aggregate about all kink practices can be difficult, I don’t think I’m overgeneralizing when I say that consent is central to kink, so much so that it is very often foregrounded, explicit, and detailed, with clearly established, agreed-upon protocols for withdrawing or adjusting one’s consent. It isn’t at all unusual for sexual partners to write out physical contracts about what is allowed and what is not.

Earlier this month, Garth Greenwell and I published Kink, an anthology of fifteen writers’ short stories centered around kink, desire, power, sex, and bodies. Garth and I started dreaming up this anthology in 2017, with the central hope of creating a book that might stand in opposition to the widespread tendency to reduce kink communities and practices to pathologies, jokes, or caricatures. Such reductive tendencies can seem especially odd given that one shared characteristic of kink practices is that they don’t take for granted what sex can look like. Given those pathologies, jokes, and caricatures, I’d steeled myself for the ignorance that would surely attend the book’s publication, so I shouldn’t have been surprised (though I always am, no amount of preparation ever being enough) when ignorant people made themselves heard on Garth’s and my social-media feeds.

Some abusers, these people claimed, deployed kink as a cover for harming others; therefore, they said, kink itself was bad and dangerous. It’s possible the conversation was especially heated because the performer Marilyn Manson has been in the news recently following allegations that he terribly abused former sexual partners, including actors Esmé Bianco and Evan Rachel Wood. The actor Armie Hammer has been in the news recently for similar reasons, with multiple former partners alleging that Hammer abused them. (Manson has denied the allegations. Earlier this month, he was dropped by his talent agent and booking label. He is currently under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for alleged domestic-violence incidents. Hammer has also denied the allegations against him and has also been dropped by his talent agent and publicist.)

Bianco says that during what was supposed to be a music-video shoot, Manson turned violent: He tied her with cables, repeatedly hit her with a whip, and applied electric shocks to her wounds. Some have claimed that Bianco’s story is evidence that kink is harmful, because it describes how one common manifestation of kink, BDSM — an umbrella term which includes bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism — could be used to hurt women.

But what Manson allegedly did to Bianco, as Bianco herself has noted, wasn’t BDSM. What Hammer allegedly did to his partners wasn’t BDSM either. As the Cut reported, Manson and Bianco “hadn’t discussed consent or safe words, which she knew from both personal experience and the fetish performers in her circle were crucial for safe power dynamics.” Consent is both the foundation of kink and its front door: The fastest way to be expelled from a kink space is to violate someone’s consent. This often extends to actions elsewhere thought acceptable, like touching another person without clear consent.

As a result, a lot of people — women very much included — have found that kink spaces and kink communities can feel markedly safer than other, less consent-prioritizing spaces. Consider, for instance, the consent violations that could (and often did) take place in a single evening in a predominantly heterosexual sports bar, back when we could go to bars. Consider the reality that many people who take part in submissive roles find that, with consent made so explicit, they can have even more control in a kinky sexual encounter than they otherwise would. Accordingly, many kinky people feel that the person truly in control in such encounters is the submissive.

Read the Full Article Here:

The Willful Misunderstanding of Kink What does it mean to conflate a sexual practice with abuse? by R.O. Kwon

Feb. 22 2021