JEZEBEL: After Abuse Allegations in Porn, Introduces Consent Documents

Over the weekend, as sex workers marched for their rights on International Whores’ Day, the BDSM porn site released a set of documents intended to address consent during porn shoots. These forms, filled with lists of sex acts alongside checkboxes, might seem like simple paperwork, but they address a bigger upheaval in the adult industry. In recent years, a series of performers have come forward with on-set abuse allegations involving claims of misleading booking practices, excessive roughness, and boundary violations.Now Kink, which was named in some previous allegations, is sharing detailed consent checklists that it hopes will become industry standard.

“The documents we’ve published are not dictums, nor legal documents, but starting points for you to customize, adjust, and use to safely create adult content,” reads the new landing page, which is being shared with performers and producers.

As Kink spokesperson Mike Stabile tells it, these documents were necessitated by the reality of a rapidly changing adult industry that used to revolve around big studios and contract stars. Now, thanks to the democratizing powers of the internet and the rise of piracy-fueled tube sites, it’s a decentralized business with hundreds of independent producers without access to institutional knowledge. There has also been a rise in small-time productions making “rougher” content, without any experience with BDSM consent protocols, argues Stabile. Kink, on the other hand, has 20 years of experience shooting and distributing BDSM content.

Kink also has experience with abuse allegations. In 2015, Kink was named in three allegations against performer James Deen—in one case during a porn shoot, as well as in two alleged incidents at the company’s then-headquarters in San Francisco. (Deen denied the allegations.) “It’s not that we’re perfect,” said Stabile. “These are intensive sets. As you know, we have worked through issues before and, hopefully, evolved.”

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After abuse allegations in Porn, introduces consent documents by Tracy Clark-Flory

June 4th, 2019

CITY PAPER: Councilmembers, Sex Workers, and Allies Introduce Bill to Decriminalize Sex Work in D.C.

Tamika Spellman is happy to go out on the strip in the morning and pick up used condoms with her own two hands if that’s what it takes. She has been a commercial sex worker, by choice, for 36 years. She wants to see sex work decriminalized in D.C., and she’s spent nearly two years advocating for a bill that would do just that.

She’s not alone. Today a coalition of sex workers and their advocates unveiled their bill—co-introduced by At-Large Councilmembers Anita BondsDavid Grosso, and Robert White, and Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau—which would decriminalize both the sale and purchase of sex in D.C.

Those advocating for this bill, the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019, are part of a grassroots movement largely led by current and former sex workers. In collaboration with advocates, Grosso and White co-introduced a similar bill in 2017, but it didn’t even get a hearing. So the organizers regrouped, built a website, held events celebrating and talking about their position, went door knocking, wrote op-eds, and met with councilmembers.

This time around, the organizers would like a hearing.

“People need to come around to this at their own speed,” says Grosso. So I don't mind taking the time to get it right.”

The world of people who sell sex for money in D.C. is not a monolith with one blanket policy need. Among their ranks are those who sell sex by choice; those who sell sex to survive, feed their children, and stave off homelessness; and those who sell sex against their will because they’ve been trafficked.

Under the current law in D.C., police can arrest and charge anyone who sells sex. Often, the arrest goes like this: A plain-clothes officer pulls up to a strip and asks a suspected sex worker if she’d like a ride or wants to get in the car. When the sale advances, the officer makes an arrest. “And that's how it always happens,” says Spellman. “And then for you to cuff me, take me to jail. That's unconscionable. You criminalized me purposely. You picked me out of the crowd.”

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Council-members, Sex Workers, and Allies introduce bill to decriminalize Sex work in D.C. by Alexa Mills

June 3rd, 2019

BUSTLE: Mexico City Moves To Decriminalize Sex Work In An Effort To End Sex Trafficking

In an effort to curb sex trafficking, Mexico City has moved to decriminalize sex work. Lawmakers in the city's congress unanimously approved a bill Friday that will no longer allow sex workers or their clients to be arrested or fined, Reuters was among the first to report.

According to Reuters, Mexico City lawmakers voted 38-0 with eight abstentions to pass a bill that amends the Civic Culture Law to remove language that sanctions criminal punishments of fines and jail time against sex workers and their clients in cases where neighbors file complaints. Lawmakers are reportedly hoping the bill will help crack down on sex trafficking in the city.

"It's a first step that has to lead to regulation of sex work, to fight human trafficking and strengthen the rights of sex workers," Temistocles Villanueva, a Mexico City lawmaker from the ruling center-left Morena party, said of the bill, per Reuters. "Exercising sexuality in our country is still a taboo topic that few of us dare to talk about."

A 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. State Department listed Mexico as a Tier 2 country, meaning it "does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking" but "is making significant efforts to do so." According to the State Department, "Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor." The agency noted that "Mexican women and children, and to a lesser extent men and transgender individuals, are exploited in sex trafficking in Mexico and the United States."

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Mexico City moves to decriminalize Sex Work in an effort to end sex trafficking by Morgan Brinlee

June 1st, 2019

NPR: How To Talk About Sex (And Consent): 4 Lessons From The Kink Community

I don't remember when the concept of consent as it relates to sex became part of my vocabulary, but it shapes how I approach my personal relationships and affects the way I move through the world. I was shaken when the #MeToo movement exploded, not only by the stories of sexual assault and harassment but also by the stories of women who had felt pressured or coerced into having sex they didn't want.

I flashed back to my own similarly uncomfortable experiences, when I was single and new to D.C. I remembered times on dates when I had expressed my discomfort by simply pulling away or turning my head when a guy tried to kiss or touch me when I didn't want to be kissed or touched. I was familiar with the sickening feeling of being distressed by something that was happening, while also feeling unable or hesitant to speak up for myself.

It has been on my mind a lot recently, how I, like so many people, have been socialized not to talk about sex because it's uncomfortable or awkward or it might kill the mood. I thought about how that hesitancy to speak can muddy the waters of consent, and I wanted to explore that idea with people who talk about sex a lot: the kink community, or kinksters, as they're known.

Merriam-Webster's definition of kink is "unconventional sexual taste or behavior" and includes a wide variety of behaviors and preferences. That includes BDSM — a subset of kink — which stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. Being tied up or handcuffed (bondage), spanked (discipline) and role-playing all fall under BDSM.

To make sure each partner is on the same page, kinksters have to talk about sex in a way that vanilla people — those who don't participate in kinky activities — often don't. Julie, a kinkster and sociologist in the Washington, D.C., area, believes that the communication kinksters have with one another distinguishes them from "vanillas."

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How to talk about Sex (and Consent): 4 Lessons from the Kink community by Mallory Yu

June 1st, 2019

DAZED: Why it’s bizarre to try ban kinks and fetishes at Pride

Yesterday, as happens often, someone wrote a tweet which sent the internet into meltdown. A list of statements about Pride, it began so promisingly:

“1. large corporations just want your money” – Well, quite!

Eagerly anticipating the serving of more scalding hot tea, I read on:

“2. Lesbian exclusion is ugly. 3. Trans woc are the ones that lead the fight for our rights” – by this point, I was punching the air and cheering in agreement. But then... instead of being served more tea, I found myself spitting out my own, all over my laptop:

“4. Please don’t bring your k*nks/fet*shes to pride, there are minors @ pride and this can sexualise the event”.

It’s worth saying that the person who wrote this tweet seems well-intentioned, as proven by their previous three excellent points, and attacking them personally would be both unkind and pointless. But the attitude the tweet embodies is worthy of critique, and I’d like to unpack the ideas being suggested: that children need to be protected from displays of kink (whether that’s rubber, leather, BDSM, animal roleplay... I could go on), and that Pride shouldn’t be sexualised.

In the furore which followed this tweet going viral (at the time of writing, it has been liked a disturbing 30,000 times), many people suggested in response that children shouldn’t even be at Pride in the first place. Others argued, more mildly, that the essence of Pride shouldn’t have to change to accommodate them. I’m sympathetic to the latter point, but a ‘no kids at Pride!’ rule risks excluding queer parents who can’t afford childcare, the children of queer parents (who have every right to celebrate their own families), and the many children who will grow up to be queer themselves, and are perhaps beginning to realise this themselves.

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Why it's bizarre to try to ban kinks and fetishes at Pride by James Greig

May 29th, 2019

ENGADGET: Sex, lies, and surveillance

Silicon Valley's biggest companies have partnered with a single organization to fight sex trafficking -- one that maintains a data collection pipeline, is partnered with Palantir, and helps law enforcement profile and track sex workers without their consent. Major websites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others are working with a nonprofit called Thorn("digital defenders of children") and, perhaps predictably, its methods are dubious.

Thorn offers internet companies its content moderation tool "Safer," and for law enforcement, its separate data-mining and user-profiling tool "Spotlight." Both use data sources and AI to automate policing of sex content. Of Thorn's 31 nonprofit partners, 27 target adults and vow to abolish consensual sex work under the banner of saving children from sex trafficking.

"With our work on child sex trafficking, we recognize that this crime often presents itself within the broader field of sex work which does include consensual adult sex work," Thorn CEO Julie Cordua told Engadget via email. "We also realize that the reasons why people have sex for money are complex and varied. This is a complex field with a lot of nuance. Our programs are designed specifically to channel very limited resources on the recovery of children who are being exploited through sex trafficking, not on consenting adults."

Before Engadget reached Thorn for comment on this article, its website listed partnerships with data dealers, web scrapers and identity brokers including ConnotateTrusonaTrade DeskLaxdaela, and 41st Parameter(Experian). When asked about Thorn's relationships with the now-removed partners, Cordua told Engadget that our queries reminded Thorn its "Partnerships" page "is outdated."

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Sex, lies, and surveillance by Violet Blue

May 31, 2019

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Could Prostitution Be Next to Be Decriminalized?

Marijuana has gone mainstream, casino gambling is everywhere and sports wagering is spreading. Could prostitution be next?

Lawmakers across the country are beginning to reconsider how to handle prostitution, as calls for decriminalization are slowly gaining momentum.

Decriminalization bills have been introduced in Maine and Massachusetts; a similar bill is expected to be introduced to the City Council in Washington D.C. in June; and lawmakers in Rhode Island held hearings in April on a proposal to study the impact of decriminalizing prostitution.

New York may be next: Some Democratic lawmakers are about to propose a comprehensive decriminalization bill that would eliminate penalties for both women and men engaged in prostitution, as well as the johns whom they service.

“This is about the oldest profession, and understanding that we haven’t been able to deter or end it, in millennia,” said Senator Jessica Ramos, a Democrat from Queens who is one of the plan’s backers. “So I think it’s time to confront reality.”

The New York legislation appears unlikely to pass in the coming months, but the idea of decriminalization has already amassed a growing coterie of prominent supporters, suggesting that it might continue to gain traction.

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Could Prostitution be next to be decriminalize? by Jesse McKinley

May 31st, 2019

i-D: 5 dominatrices explain the rules of consent

Stigmas surrounding sex work persevere in nearly every corner of the globe. As a result, the sexualized power dynamics in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) practices are often misunderstood. At the end of the day BDSM is not about control like many people think — it’s about exploring the boundaries of pleasure in a safe and consensual way.

“People can learn a lot from the BDSM and sex work community about consent and talking about sex in an open and supportive way without judgement,” said Lucy Sweetkill, a dominatrix based in New York.

Consent plays a huge role in any BDSM scene, whether it’s between two romantic partners or a dominatrix and a client. Not only do clients and professionals consent to the specifics of any session before it begins through both dialogue and paperwork, BDSM sessions require constant communication and the reestablishing of boundaries and safety. BDSM professionals use safe words, check-ins, and reading of facial expressions, and body language to ensure that their clients are safe and comfortable for the duration of the session.

i-D spoke with 5 dominatrices from around the globe about consent in the BDSM scene and their thoughts on empowering women through sex.

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5 Dominatrices explain the rules of consent by Mary Retta

May 30th, 2019

HUFFPOST: Dear White Guys - Your Asian Fetish is Showing

Lillian, a 20-something who lives in New York and Boston, is a single Asian American woman who actively dates. Needless to say, her Tinder inbox is a hot mess.

There are the inevitable “What is your nationality? and “What are you?” messages. And there are a ton of racially charged thirsty DMs: “I’ll eat your pussy like shrimp fried rice,” one says. “I want to try my first Asian woman.”

Sure, sexually explicit messages and unsolicited dick pics are par for the course for women on dating apps, but for women of color, including Asian women, it’s almost always significantly worse.

“Most of my single white friends receive only a taste of what I get on Tinder,” said Lillian, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons.

“No man has ever opened with how white women are so ‘exotic’ or opened with an assumption about how white vaginas are different from other vaginas,” she told HuffPost. “None of these messages have the same intense preoccupation with race.”

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Dear White Guys: Your Asian Fetish is Showing by Brittany Wong

May 29, 2019

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: Sexual Satisfaction in BDSM

BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance/submission, sadism-masochism) seems to be a topic of immense fascination for laypeople and social scientists alike. Although in the past the practice has been stigmatized as deviant, and a reflection of psychopathology, there is growing evidence that consensual BDSM practices may actually be a healthy way that many people express their inner sexual desires and fantasies. A recent study (Botta, Nimbi, Tripodi, Silvaggi, & Simonelli, 2019) examined sexual satisfaction and functioning among BDSM practitioners and found that not only do practitioners appear to be well-adjusted, some, particularly those who prefer the dominant role, appear to be more satisfied with their sexuality than non-practitioners. The reasons are not yet known, but it may be because those in the dominant role may have personality traits that are particularly conducive to good mental health.

A growing body of research has explored the psychological aspects of BDSM. I have reviewed a few of the relevant studies in previous posts (hereand here). BDSM encompasses a wide range of practices typically associated with control, humiliation, physical restriction, and role playing (Botta et al., 2019). Typically, practitioners adopt particular roles during their activities, most commonly either as a “dominant” who exerts control over others, or a “submissive” who consents to being controlled. Some people have a fixed preference for either role, while some people are “switches” who prefer to alternate between these roles. The actual practices people may engage in are extraordinarily diverse, and while some practitioners may only engage in a few preferred activities, others may experiment flexibly with a wide array of scenarios. Although there seems to be a popular idea that BDSM is something only a few odd individuals engage in, surveys have shown that it is far more common: Between 10 and 50% of people surveyed have admitted to engaging in some form of it and many more at least fantasize about it (Coppens, Brink, Huys, Fransen, & Morrens, 2019).

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Sexual Satisfaction in BDSM by Scott A. McGreal MSc.

May 29th, 2019