What I Mean When I Say I’m Sex-Positive
- I think freedom of sexuality is something that we all need and very few of us have
- I think sexual pleasure is a legitimate thing to want and ethically pursue
- I do not judge people for the (consensual) sex that they have or want
- I will not tolerate slut-shaming
- I will not tolerate hatred of people based on gender or orientation (including asexual)
- I will not tolerate hatred of sex workers
- I believe comprehensive, honest, non-judgmental sex education is necessary for public health and happiness
- I think understanding of sexual consent—what it is, why it matters—is sorely lacking in society and crucially important
- I reject preconceptions of what kind of sexuality a person should have, whether these preconceptions are based on gender, age, culture, disability, survivor status, or basically anything else
- I value people’s individual freedom of choice in determining their sex lives (including the choices not to have sex)
What I Don’t Mean
- Everyone should have sex
- Everyone should have kinky, non-monogamous, exhibitionistic, pansexual sex
- Accepting someone’s sexuality means you have to participate in it, watch them engage in it, or hear about it in detail
- Nothing related to sex is ever hurtful for anyone
- Feminism should be all about sex
- Sex fixes everything
I like this. We need to be a lot more clear about what “sex-positive” does (or doesn’t) mean. This isn’t the last word, but it’s a good start.
So last year I presented “En/Forced Femme- Sex Workers and Social Media” at SXSW, and it was really a big step for me as a presenter and as someone moving into the social media field. I knew I wanted to go again, so I created two presentations focusing on sexuality, queerness, feminism and privilege this year, and I’d love to get your help voting them up!
Voting is open from August 13-August 31st, so please signal boost, blog, write articles, anything you can do to help us get there next March!
First up is “Principled Porn: Is DIY Changing the Industry?”, a panel I’ll be moderating featuring the geeky, sexy, and whipsmart Ned and Maggie Mayhem, the incredible and inspiring producer Shine Louise Houston, and the lovely and driven Kelly Shibari. I am so amazed and humbled to have such a great panel of people together, and they really need to be heard at SXSW Film. Here’s the summary of that presentation:Porn prohibitionists assert that pornography is inherently destructive for both the performer and the viewer. Yet some studies suggest that with decreased institutionalized sexism in a society comes increased variety of pornographic imagery available and the increase of positive limpact on relationships.In the age of internet video and conscientious consumption, independent porn is getting a leg up- direct access to consumers is increasing questions about how work standards being applied to the world of XXX. With the blogosphere reflecting an increasingly diverse audience for adult materials, how is this changing the perception of who is the exhibitionist and who is the voyeur? And is this impacting the way we interact with porn on a personal, professional and academic level?These panelists, some working within and some outside of the mainstream industry, will examine how porn is produced, marketed, and consumed, and if a fair trade option is in our erotic futures.
Secondly, I put together a solo presentation called “50 Shades of Complicated: The Web, Feminism, and Kink”. Here’s the description of that one:Kinky sex has always been a point of contention among feminists, with some arguing that it reflects and glamorizes patriarchal values and others that women should have the right to enjoy whatever sex they want. The internet has been a fierce battleground for this discussion, as women from all walks of life find themselves able to anonymously weigh in in front of a large audience.For the last year, “50 Shades of Grey”, a series born from fanfiction, has been tossed around as the greatest example of women openly being willing to admit to having kinky desires. But is this book the best gateway? Is it legitimizing submissive fantasies among women? Is that at the cost of delegitimizing other sexual preferences? And is that anti-feminist?Kitty Stryker, founder of Consent Culture, will disentangle how this popular novel, the internet, and multiple feminist theories have made women’s desire for kink 50 shades… of grey area.
I really need all the help I can get for both these panels to be accepted. There’s so many panels, and your vote really does make a difference! You have to log in to vote, but it takes just a second of your time, and would mean the world to us all!
Please tumble, tweet, FB share, etc!
Why is it more ethical for someone to tell all their friends (who presumably tell all their friends, etc.) that Mr. Bad Top is bad news, v. posting a journal entry saying “Mr. Bad Top is bad news”? As far as I can see, if Mr. Bad Top is innocent, he’s in a better position in the second case — he’s more likely to find out that he’s being accused, and he can then speak up with his side of the story.
This snippet is good enough, but then I went and read the post it was commenting on, which I’ma repost here before it gets fucking disappeared:
Note | 646 Comments · 594 Love It |4 days agoHi there,I’m a caretaker with the FetLife team. Recently we had a report about your writing, and after review, your writing has been edited and we are writing to let you know. Basically, it’s really not cool to post something that accuses another member of FetLife of a crime. So, we’re giving you a heads up that this behavior is discouraged on our site.Please know that continued posts like this will result in a warning, and continued warnings can get you removed from FetLife. We really hate to do that, so we hope you’ll avoid any inappropriate comments in the future.If you’re having a problem or conflict with another user – we want to help! Please let us know what’s going on, so that we can get involved and help to resolve the issue. We’d much rather do that, than play the bad guy :) We hope you understand, and if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to get back to us.Christopher
This Caretaker edited my journal entry to remove the names of MATTHEW, who is not a user of the site anymore and another dominant member of the New York City scene who sexually penetrated me without my consent. He also removed a comment on the journal entry by @Cashmere, who stated that that same site user had similarly sexually penetrated her after she had explicitly told him not to interact with her genitals or penetrate her in any way.
I’m going to say that again: CHRISTOPHER EDITED MY JOURNAL ENTRY TO DELETE A REFERENCE TO TWO PEOPLE WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ME AND ANOTHER PERSON.
>Dear yandy,What you’ve gone through is terrible, and no one should ever have to go through it. As we’ve told you before, we’re totally fine with you talking about your experiences here on FetLife.Unfortunately making criminal accusations is not currently allowed on FetLife, as you very well know. And now we’ve received another report of you making criminal accusations. Accordingly, we have edited out that part of that post as well, and are now giving you an official FetLife warning.Please note – we are trying to make as minor of changes as we can to your posts, to preserve their integrity as much as we can while still keeping them within our rules. If there is anything we can help you with, please let us knowChristopher
EDITDear yandy,What has happened to you is terrible. No one is trying to deny that – not anyone that I have seen in that thread or elsewhere. And people who do that sort of thing to any other human beings should pay. They should have to pay for what they did to you. No matter what price they pay, that won’t restore you to the person you were before this occurred. But they damn well should have to pay to make it as close as possible!Unfortunately, what you are trying to do doesn’t make that happen. Making criminal accusations is currently against FetLife rules, as you are very aware of. And those we will delete, but try to do so in such a manner as to change your writing or comments as little as possible.I realize that you don’t agree with this policy. I wish that we could move forward together, to foster awareness of the problem within the community, to try to minimize the mindset among some who don’t seem to realize how wrong this is, and to help victims of sexual assault within our community in particular. Those things we stand ready to help foster and assist.Christopher
Then thispost, as a response.
Journal Entry | 410 Comments · 503 Love It |4 days ago
I’ve been on this site since the year it started and have paid to support it since. I love how it brings together even the farthest corners of the bdsm world, and it’s played an integral role in my career as a bdsm professional and businesswoman.
My support subscription ran out a week or so ago. At one point, I was certain that I was going my renewal would be as a lifetime supporter. Lately, I’ve been ambivalent, and THIS just clinches it.
Seriously Fet, WHAT THE FUCK. You silence victims and survivors while giving abusers a fucking megaphone. You want my money? Not until we’re able to talk freely about our own abuse and violation without censorship. And to anyone invested in establishing a consent culture in the bdsm world… well, money talks.
Notice that the protest event above has been deleted by Fet, with no explanation or warning given to any of us. I guess it was working! Two more protest events have now taken its place.
Just in case anyone is curious, THIS is the reason I don’t hang out on FetLife. But wait, there’s more…
From the man himself, John Baku, site founder:
Clueless Response #1In response to your “Edited again”:
Rape is one of the worse crimes anyone can commit. Words can’t describe how disgusting rape is and how much hate I have for anyone who has in any way shape or form sexually assaulted another person.
And the only way to protect others from a sexual offender is by putting them behind bars. Not talking about them on FetLife, Facebook, writing a blog post on the interwebs… etc. It does not prevent this person from doing what they did again to someone else.
Agreed… the legal system has failed many a person… but all this energy should be spent improving the system and not allowing other to name their abusers on a site that is not setup, nor has the resources, to give a fair trial to both parties.
So let’s put our energy towards locking up the rapists and throwing away the keys! This way those who have raped can’t do it again and those who would ever consider rape would be so scared shitless of the consequences they would never even consider it.@yandy Once again I apologize for the way Christopher handled the case. The case was mishandled and we’ve spoken to him about it.
The overall health of FetLife’s community is by far our number one priority and that is why all of us spend so much time reading what people are saying.
I’ve read suggestion 429 and I’ve also read a lot of other discussions on the topic. From what I’ve read, the community is split on what direction FetLife should take so as a community we need to continue to push our ideas further until we find something that the community, overwhelmingly, can get behind.
Hence, we will continue to iterate over our policies and procedures as we discover new ways to make them better for the community.
Let me just stop for a second and say something I definitely would not be allowed to say on FetLife regarding thischoice bit:Words can’t describe how disgusting rape is and how much hate I have for anyone who has in any way shape or form sexually assaulted another person. - John Baku
John Baku sexually assaulted me. Drunk. At a kink party. In front of many others. I have pictures, which he has personally asked me not to post.
In that I had met him before and was sort of fond of him and he sort of reminded me of another drunk misbehaving dumbass I once loved, I laughed it off. But let it be clear - the reason John sees no problem with any of this rape apologist bullshit is because he has a foggy ass notion of consent and acceptable behavior himself.
And because HE PERSONALLY benefits from people like me staying silent.
About the policy itself, from other members:
It’s not that Facebook permits criminal accusations because they’re sympathetic to potential rape victims and what the hey, we’re a massive company, who cares if we get sued. Every company out to make a profit doesn’t want to get sued. Facebook in fact, does permit criminal accusations to be made via Facebook before they are decided by a trial, sometimes with unusual results. Facebook doesn’t take a stance on criminal accusations because it’s not their fucking problem. The second they try to control it, they create a precedent for deciding that it is their fucking problem - and then they’re going to have to answer the question of why they didn’t comb through a seriously gigantic amount of data to find all the shit that a judge or a jury thinks they ought to have found. That’s not how Facebook’s going to roll. If you have a problem with something someone said on Facebook, Facebook will cheerfully direct you to your local law enforcement.
Take a look at that. That’s how a company with a legit team on counsel handles their business, as opposed to John Baku and whatever dinky mail-order law-school drop-out he picked up at the local bar five years ago or whatever the fuck he did instead of trying to run his business like something other than a clueless fuckhead. If you’re going to cover your ass, cover your ass fucking properly.
Right. So. FetLife is Canadian, so oh noes we cannot name the rapists. Yes, Canada does have much stronger privacy laws than the United States. I wonder if that’s why they’re running this shit out of Dallas. John Baku is based out of Vancouver, but his staff is scattered all over North America. Honestly, we don’t even know to what extent FetLife “is” a Canadian company. According to what I just linked to, they registered their domain in Arizona. I think that complicates the “oh no we’re Canadian” defense a wee bit.
But what really complicates the “oh noes they’re naming the rapists” argument is the whole “oh noes they’re talking about pedophilia and bestiality and whatnot but oh hey watch us not give a shit” argument. If FetLife really had legal reasons for covering their ass, they’d do a much better job. That means that, yeah, John Baku needs to step up and tell us why he supports a self-admitted abuser’s right to not have his old username besmirched over the right of a human being to talk about some devastating shit that happened to them. Shit that they might’ve not had to go through if people could use FetLife to warn each other about people on FetLife. Which is all we’re asking.
tl;dr Fuck you, FetLife. Fuck you raw.
If another person who has had no fucking experience reporting a kink scene related sexual assault to the police says to report an incident to the police, I swear I am going to burn the fucking Internet down.
If one more goddamn person says “Go to the cops”, I’m firebombing.
LIke the cops are going to do fuck-all. Seriously.
This is so fucked up.
See also: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/theres-a-war-on-part-4-just-us/
Mad_Patter:Honestly, if someone’s advice is to go to the police or the courts, then that should be the same standard applied to libel and false accusations. If someone makes a false accusation against you, go to the police. Stop expecting fetlife to police people for you. Oh wait, now we see why that response is just a derail.
Leading Fetish Company Responds to “50 Shades Fever,” Advising Clients on Safe Fantasy Fulfillment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Los Angeles, CA
June 4, 2012
SUMMARY: Stockroom.com, the world’s largest bondage gear manufacturer, finds the surprise success of E.L. James’s S&M-themed romance, Fifty Shades of Grey, generating a remarkable surge in inquiries and sales as hundreds of women call for advice on recreating the passionate experiences described in the book.
Layla Ross, Distribution Director
German Lopez, Marketing Manager
2807 W. Sunset Blvd
(213) 484-3882 or (800)755-8697
Available for contact via:
Thanks to E.L. James, for many people in the twenty-first century, ropes and whips may be what flowers and chocolates were to previous generations. James’s best-selling first novel, Fifty Shades of Grey, has become an international phenomenon with an explicitly kinky romance about a young female college student who finds true love in sexual submission to a wealthy businessman.
Many of James’s readers want to go beyond words on the page. Mike Herman, president of “The Stockroom,” a 24-year-old fetish clothing and equipment company that was the first of its kind on the internet, reports that his company has seen a surge in business inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey. “In recent weeks, we’ve received literally hundreds of calls thanks to this book,” he says. “About 90% of them are middle-aged ‘soccer mom’ types who never imagined themselves calling a fetish sex toy company.” For these callers, BDSM is a brave new world; they know little beyond what they’ve read in Fifty Shades, and want to know where to start.
As with any full-contact sport, BDSM can involve some risk. Newcomers soon learn to draw a line between fantasy and reality. The Fifty Shades trilogy offers a stimulating read, but it’s not a handbook on how to have kinky sex for the first time. The fictional affair between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele is based on a contract Anastasia signs, giving Christian complete control over her life. “There are people in BDSM who have that sort of 24/7 relationship,” Herman says. “But it requires sophisticated negotiation and detailed consent between both parties. In real life, it’s not something you should jump into without considerable experience, with BDSM and with your partner.”
For curious callers wanting to dip their toes into the pool, The Stockroom’s first recommendation is to try something relatively simple and non-threatening such as a blindfold. Blindfolds, Herman says, are a safe, simple, yet profound way to begin. “Take away that one sense, and others are immediately heightened.” For clients venturing further into bondage or discipline, Stockroom offers a wide range of restraints and implements designed to do the job safely and in style.
Often, calling Stockroom is the first time the client has openly discussed these newfound interests with someone who understands. Often the floodgates open quickly. “We are happy to see how brave and eager many women are to try some more advanced toys and deeper experiences,” Herman says. “We start out discussing blindfolds, and within minutes we’re talking about more esoteric topics, like bondage gear, whips, electrical stimulation, and chastity play.”
Until recently, acting out these kinds of fantasies seemed more taboo. Fifty Shades of Grey has inspired much more open discussion among women as a component of romantic, caring relationships. One of Stockroom’s new customers said, “I didn’t understand BDSM before reading this book. Fifty Shades put it in such a beautiful light, showing this type of relationship as actually really loving. The give and take between the lovers is so romantic.”
Consensual, loving BDSM may be a new concept to many new mainstream readers, but 24-year-old Stockroom has tended that flame since the 1980s. The company built its reputation not only on whips, restraints, and fetish clothing, but also on education and community building. The “Stockroom University” series of workshops and lectures covers such topics as “Bondage 101,” “Flogging,” or “Electrical Play.” According to Midori, a prominent sex educator who teaches Stockroom University classes, many newcomers turn to the Internet for instruction, but “there’s such a glut, including some terrible information.” To spot the bad advice, Midori lists the basic things to watch for: “Does it seem like practical, reality-based information for people who lead actual lives in the real world? If it seems too absolute or too rigid, or lacks compassion, then it’s probably garbage. And always remember that this is about pleasure and play, and everybody must respect everybody’s humanity.”
Stockroom also fulfills its commitment to education and community building via contributions to assorted organizations and causes, and its stewardship of Daedalus Publishing, which specializes primarily in non-fiction books by authors who address the philosophies, ethics, and how-to aspects of alternative sexuality.
Stockroom founder Joel Tucker started the company in 1988 as a 21-year-old college student with a somewhat countercultural yet idealistic vision. “Regardless of the taboos,” Tucker says, “I knew that an otherwise normal, sane person could be attracted to this form of eroticism, because I had these interests myself. I found a small community of people in Los Angeles who pursued these interests in safe, healthy ways. I saw a need for a company that could provide quality, affordable gear with intelligence and discretion, and so I created it.”
The recent surge of popular interest in its area of specialization has not caught the company unprepared. “This is a trend I foresaw when I started the company, and we have tried to stay current with it all along” Tucker says. In 2005, the company created a new brand, Kinklab, specifically designed and packaged to bring kinky gear to the mass market, now carried by countless distributors and retail outlets worldwide.
Top-selling items from the Kinklab line include affordable basic restraint designs, its “Mandible Body Clamps,” and a whimsically sweet ball gag using a jumbo candy jawbreaker for the ball. Kinklab’s latest runaway hit, the Neon Wand, is a higher-tech device that produces sensual stimulation with colorful electric shocks and assorted electrode attachments. “Dedicated kinksters have been playing with specialized electrical toys such as these for decades,” Herman notes. “But previously these kits were hard to find, and cost $400 – 600 or more. We knew that if we could produce a more affordable kit, include an informative manual, and package it for the mainstream adult market, there would be demand for it.” The Neon Wand retails for a much more affordable $150, and demand has exceeded the company’s expectations. “Fifty Shades fever fuels that trend. Stores around the world are carrying the Neon Wand. We are ramping up production as fast as we can to meet the demand.”
The Stockroom catalog has grown to over 4000 items, and only a small portion of its kink offerings have been targeted for mainstream crossover so far. Meanwhile, the company continues to innovate with edgy new offerings in its specialized niche, such as “Mike’s Spikes,” a locking ring exclusively for use on the male equipment, lined on the inside with dozens of devious-looking, adjustable spikes. “Believe it or not, that product is another bestseller,” Mike Herman says. Was “Mike’s Spikes” named after Mr. Herman? “I was involved in the design and oversaw its production,” Herman explains. When asked if he has actually used this device, or had it used on him, Mr. Herman declined comment.
E.L. James may have unleashed something that’s here to stay. Today, the Fifty Shades trilogy occupies the top four spots in Amazon’s Top 100 (the three books, plus an omnibus edition), and Universal has already picked up the movie rights. Meanwhile, The Stockroom is planning its 25th anniversary year in 2013. “This may have been an underground interest years ago,” Herman comments, “but as mainstream catches on to it, we are ready for them and welcoming their inquiries with open arms.” The Stockroom staff is always happy to respond to questions about how to say “I love you” with a blindfold, a paddle, a set of leather cuffs, or a real electric spark.