This Week in Kink, March 17, 2018

image from the Broadway musical “Waitress”

If you’ve never thought about the secret, sadomasochistic erotics of food service, I urge you to click over to Dazed to read Brittany Newell’s recollection of working the bakery floor, and how she found much to turn her on in her work.

The sadomasochistic kicks of food service are not really about pain. They’re about submission, structure, the private pleasures of subordination. I submit so hard to my job that I enter a trance state. Every interaction feels like an experiment. I like having a role to play, that of smiley helpful femme. “What can I do for you?” I ask total strangers. What an odd and intimate question.

If you’ve seen RuPaul’s Drag Race you’ll know that “throwing shade” is a thing. RuPaul himself is not immune, and much shade has been thrown at him over his comments last week about trans contestants being allowed on the show:

You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.

Does it make a difference how trans people are treated by a show like that? Yes it does. Drag is political performance, but its history and trans history is interwoven. There was a time when the political reality was that it was one of the only voices, or at least public voices, that trans people had. To say that a certain level of transitioning disqualifies you from drag is akin to saying a certain degree of skin colour bars you from the club.

In this case, celebrity amplifies his words, and I think part of the deal you make when you rely on celebrity for your millions of dollars is that social consciousness is part of your job description and you’ll make well-advised decisions on what that means. I don’t think Ru Paul’s current comments were well-advised, though hopefully he will do damage control now, the damage control will get lots of media, and the net effect will be positive.

“Outreach” is a topic that divides the kink community.  Should we, as a set of leather and kink communities, be actively promoting through outreach into non-kinky communities with the hopes of attracting more kink community members, or should we instead simply allow attraction to bring people into the fold by them finding us through their active explorations of their own sexualities?

Ask two kinky people and you’ll get two different answers. Some people feel that outreach is a step towards greater acceptance of BDSM, while others feel that an insular approach works best and that kink information that comes outside of an understandable context potentially does more harm than good.

Race Bannon has penned a recent article where he (cautiously) comes down on the side of attraction rather than outreach:

I’d like to make the case that our scene should generally err on the side of attraction and not promotion. I think there can absolutely be some value and benefit to being visible, out, and claiming our rightful space amid other sexualities or identities. But in what way does active promotion beyond that really benefit our scene? I contend little. And not only may it not add to our scene, it might indeed detract.

Another discussion that has been happening for decades and will probably never be resolved is the relationship between BDSM and Feminism. If you like to be submissive in your relationship, can you still call yourself a feminist?

Erotica author Zak Jane Keir doesn’t see any conflict, and has found that the BDSM scene is full of strong, smart, open-minded women who pursue what they want and relish their sexual autonomy, whether their preferences involve giving or receiving pain, pleasure or power.

So, she asked around to see what other kinky feminists thought. Fellow erotica author Sonni de Soto not only thinks there is no conflict, but feels that there is a positive relationship between kink and feminism, saying:

Stats tell you, kinky people tend to be more educated, thoughtful, and engaged. And history shows that sex-positive feminism has helped make kink better, safer, and more socially acceptable than it was before, in the same way, that kink has helped make feminism more thoughtful, nuanced, and inclusive. The two owe a lot to each other. And, from my own experience, it’s hard to be in the kink community and to find kink partners if you are not, at some level, a feminist.

Juliette Toma

If you’re in L.A., get yourself down to the very sexy L.A. Book and Zine Fair this weekend. You’ll find work by Homocats, Tom of Finland, Jamison Karon, Jeromy Velasco, Mixed Greens, Joel Parsons and many more. It’s at MaRS Gallery, and it’s a celebration of the esoteric and queer communities of L.A. by underground, queer and unheard-of local artists and creators.

image: Wear Your Voice – Why Social Media Sites Soft-Banning Sex Workers Matters

Sex-work directory sites were once common, but are increasingly few and far between, as more and more are taken offline. Wired reports that the natural shift has been to social media, where sex workers skirt social media platform rules to remain online.

“Sex workers have to be hyper, hyper social-media-literate,” says PJ Sage, a cam model and sex work researcher. “At least 50 percent of your time is spent promoting and marketing.” All of which means that a sex worker’s social-media account doesn’t look that different than the average millennial’s: posing open-armed on the Great Wall of China, sipping Bellinis on balconies, pouting in bikinis.

But as social media has become more popular than ever for sex work—which encompasses everything from paid nude photos to webcam modeling to high-end escort services—all of it is strictly against platforms’ rules regarding sexual content, which are loosely based on United States prostitution law … workers’ accounts are often shut down without warning or explanation, even when their content never ventures into explicit territory. So they’re feeling more than a little betrayed by the platforms they feel they helped create.

The platforms are hostile, but sex workers can’t live without them if they want the largest audience. And the relationship is, in some ways, symbiotic. Platforms often have a certain reliance on sex workers too.

From a startup’s perspective, the logic makes sense: Sex drives massive engagement numbers, but once a platform scales to a certain level, it seeks to rid itself of anything that can be considered unseemly. Social media companies are trying to transcend their reliance on sex work in the same way sex workers are trying to parlay their social-media followings into a more conventional form of celebrity. “Despite their ostensible libertarian ideas,” Sage says. “They’ll make a profit-based decision.”

Seth Fornea, one of the models on OnlyFans

In QUEERTY’s article Is everyone an adult film star now? ‘OnlyFans’ and the mainstreaming of gay sex, they offer up the idea that with male nudity everywhere these days, the term “porn star” is antiquated. OnlyFans is a Twitter app that allows you, for a fee, to see your favorite studs in compromising positions–video and otherwise. There’s been a steady crossover of models to the platform, where for $15 or so per month you can subscribe to raunchy behind-the-scenes and below-the-clothes content.

Most of the models they interviewed don’t see it as being much of a taboo anymore, and just another way they can make money with their hard-earned physiques.

For better or for worse, OnlyFans is making quite an impact on the branding of sex. Whether that means porn has lost its luster, or that we’re headed to a world where it actually becomes more competitive, where bigger, better stars pop up without the hassle of the middleman, depends on whom you ask and you’re own crystal-ball vision.

Feature image: You can see a lot more of Adam Coussins on OnlyFans

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