This Week in Kink, March 10, 2018

If you’re in LA, today is your last day to catch an exhibition by the leathermen of Avatar Club Los Angeles. Showing at Highways Performance Space and Gallery, it celebrates 35 years of BDSM education and features erotic art by a variety of noted and new artists. The art is for sale, and supports the club. Avatar’s educational outreach includes public monthly meetings (presentations, panel discussions, samplers, or swap meets) Avatar Boot Camp workshops on varying BDSM topics. They also sponsor other public events and, occasionally, play parties.

You may have read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages and found it hard to pigeonhole yourself or your partner. Perhaps you straddle more than one, or it changes day to day, or you show love in ways that fall totally outside of his categories. Tim Lomas has a study, published in the Journal for the Theory of Social Analysis, that looked at nearly 1000 phrases used around the world. Many of the words are untranslatable, and he has categorised them into 14 different ways to show love (and counting). If you’ve ever felt love-at-first-sight, one of the categories is anánkē:

The spirit of anánkē is found in terms like the Japanese “koi no yokan”, which roughly means “premonition of love”, capturing the feeling on first meeting someone that falling in love will be inevitable. And likewise the Chinese term “yuán fèn” can be interpreted as a binding force of irresistible destiny.

You have probably seen Nobuyoshi Araki’s raw and sexy bondage photography, but without context you may not have considered his importance as a photographer or the way he presents bondage as art. To the casual observer, his work can look sleazy (and sometimes silly), and often it is mistaken for snapshots or street photography. Twisted and perverted he may be, but for nearly 50 years he has pushed societal boundaries to build an exciting body of work that explores the thin line between photographic art and pornography.

At the Museum of Sex on Fifth Avenue in New York until August 31st, you can catch a major retrospective of his work in The Incomplete Araki: Sex, Life, and Death in the Works of Nobuyoshi Araki. The museum says “over 400 books, 150 prints and 500 hundred Polaroids are on view–exploring concepts like obsession, ritual, kinbaku-bi, sentimentality, photographer and subject, and of course, controversy.”

There’s a nice review of the exhibition and discussion of Araki’s work in Paper Magazine, where the review says:

Araki believes that his photographs represent a suspended instance of intimacy, but it is still unclear whether the depicted scenes open up a space for intimacy when their context and signification are by definition related to control and domination… The Incomplete Araki feels like an important exploration of sexuality and the power dynamics that come to punctuate the intimate lives of couples. While some of the photographs will surely leave viewers uncomfortable, they are meticulous demonstrations of the body as a sexual and delicate instrument.

If you really want to learn a lot about his influences, Dazed Digital has an Ultimate Guide to Nobuyoshi Araki.

Author of Different Loving, Dr Gloria Brame, has launched Brame’s Educators Directory, with the mission of building a reliable, vetted directory of BDSM/Fetish/Leather educators and educational resources. It’s early days, but the site is administered by a 7-person team and is currently offering free listings to educators, organisations and volunteers. There is a vetting process, but the team aim to remain non-political by not ranking, rating or endorsing the entries. Their goal is to link seasoned educators and activists with membership groups, activists, organizers, and academic/media professionals who need reliable and health-aware dialogue about the realities of BDSM/Fetish/Leather life. By spreading rational thinking and learning opportunities, they hope it will lead to all consenting adults leading more rewarding, more fun, and safer lives.

While the UK may have moved along in modernising their laws, the legal systems they left in many of the countries they occupied during the Colonial era have been much slower to change. Many of the laws in the Indian Penal Code are still the work of Lord Thomas Macaulay, dating back to 1837.

That makes the selling of sex toys a tricky business in India. With a current market size of $227.8 million, growing at around 34.8 percent per year, demand is healthy and there are several major ecommerce sites for adult products, but the distribution, marketing, and sales of these products must be handled with great care. The three key challenges startups in this space face are legal restrictions, constraints on sales and marketing channels, and the “taboo” factor. Section 292 prohibits promotion or display of anything that can be considered obscene, but “obscene” is not defined, and one person’s definition of “obscene” is not necessarily another’s. Section 377, pertains to unnatural sex, and can be interpreted differently by authorities, which can lead to lot of challenges for businesses in adult industries. So, although sex toys are perfectly legal, online players get each toy checked by a legal team and err toward the conservative in how they present and sell them on their websites.

Image from Mel Magazine: Asian Condoms in Africa: When Two Dick Stereotypes Collide

The average erect penis is just over five inches long and 4.5 inches around, according to a 2015 U.K. study of more than 15,000 men across all races and nationalities. If you want to filter that a bit with some self-reported data (provided by two million men), the biggest are from Kenya and Nigeria—at an average length of 6.8 inches—and the smallest are from Asia (the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia) , with an average length of 5.5 inches.

Variety is the spice of life, but NewsDay Zimbabwe has reported that the Heath and Child Care minister there, David Parirenyatwa, has complained that imported condoms from China are too small, and that is harming the country’s fight against HIV.

Chinese manufacturers jumped quickly to protect their market share. Condom manufacturer Beijing Daxiang and His Friends Technology Co, told the South China Morning Post the firm was planning to make contraceptives in different sizes and is already analysing data to work on the product specs. They also noted that customers around the world have different requirements, with Chinese men choosing according to thinness rather than size, and customers in North America preferring a softer contraceptive.

New York, San Francisco, Berlin and Amsterdam have one. Now, celebrating the 50th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, London has announced that there will be an LGBQT+ Museum opening in 2021. Called Queer Britain, former editor of Gay Times Joseph Galliano, who is spearheading the project, said in an interview with Reuters: “Our nation’s family photo album is incomplete and the pages are scattered”. If everything goes to plan, it will be the largest LGBQT+ museum in the world and the team are currently planning a tour of the country to uncover and collate further material and artefacts and begin work on creating a social, oral recording of queer history and a range of immersive experiences.

Censorship affects us all, and it has been making headlines everywhere this week. It’s all too political (and in some cases, regional) for me to digest, but here are some of the stories:

Feature image: Nobuyoshi Araki from Marvelous Tales of Black Ink, 2007

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