sasha_feather: raoul bova in a blindfold (blindfold)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
[personal profile] j00j and I are doing idea generation for a proposed WisCon panel on kink. Please comment! We need to come up with a description, and possibly suggest people for the panel and things to discuss.

Being politically sex positive: Kink Bingo, Fandom, and understanding Kink through fiction

Points to indclude:
kink is a lens through which you can see the world
it can be an oppressed identity
No kink-bashing, everyone's kink is OK, kink as an umbrella that includes infinite things
define terms: squick, BDSM, others

ETA: Thank you for leaving comments; I may not respond to all comments. This panel is being planned partly in response to a disappointing panel at Think Galacticon entitled "Dangerous Sexuality".

Date: 2011-09-12 11:33 pm (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
Points I have so far:
Things I find interesting about kink_bingo:
- encourages exploration of a range of kinks. expands notions of the sexual and the sensual?
- all kinks can be written as consensual.
- content notes policy addresses issues of triggers and of kink denigration
- no kink bashing-- encourages mindfulness that kinks can be part of peoples' identities
- inclusion of asexuality
- kink wiki-- kink as a lens through which to view the world (in this case, the fannish world, as canon examples illustrate most kinks) . e.g. for collars we've got Kirk wearing a collar in a TOS episode

Broader questions:
What can this approach teach us about sexuality/sensuality?
What can this teach us about being sex positive?

Not sure how to get more specific with this. We may not need to be for the panel description, but... I feel like there's a lot of things we're interested in talking about, but I want to make the panel description accessible and interesting to people who haven't necessarily heard of kink_bingo.

Date: 2011-09-13 01:02 am (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
That sounds good. I'm sure laptop/projector setup is possible if requested in advance.

Date: 2011-09-14 01:11 pm (UTC)
kaz: "Kaz" written in cursive with a white quill that is dissolving into (badly drawn in Photoshop) butterflies. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kaz
I love the asexual kink thing! :) (also as, uh, an asexual person who's stopped calling zerself sex-positive because of the amount of ace-hating and otherwise anti-ace sentiments ze's encountered under that label. It's good to know that some people are getting it right.)

Date: 2011-09-12 11:52 pm (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I personally would love to see a discussion on how "everyone's kink is okay" fits with intersectionality and the broader social justice picture (I am personally not sure it can; I know I have not been able to reconcile my own political/social justice beliefs with "all kinks are okay," and I've yet to see any argument that will allow me to do that). I think that might be fodder for a panel topic all on its own, though, and maybe not for WisCon.

I would not be terribly surprised if someone brought that up as a question, though, in some form.

Date: 2011-09-13 12:03 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I have been chewing over it for years and I can't really figure out what I think, other that I am uncomfortable with kink-shaming AND uncomfortable with "all kinks are okay" and not sure what kind of middle ground there is.

I think most of the people I've seen bring up potential issues along those lines come at it from an anti-kink perspective (I feel, anyway, that there's a lot of pressure in kink circles NOT to examine too much), which could make for a very tricky discussion.

Date: 2011-09-13 01:01 am (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
This is a really good question. I'm fairly new to all this, and I certainly don't have any definite answers... I feel like informed consent is an issue in some cases (e.g. is everyone at a kink event ok with the guy who just showed up in an SS uniform? Or is that making people feel unsafe or triggered? How do you find that out?). But the political/social justice questions whether a particular kink is inherently ok... that's complicated.

Date: 2011-09-13 01:08 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
Yeah, "complicated." And there probably aren't any definite answers. :-/

Date: 2011-09-13 04:23 am (UTC)
futuransky: QUESTION EVERYTHING graffiti on a wall (question everything)
From: [personal profile] futuransky
I would be really interested in getting my teeth into a discussion of this too, maybe at WisCon maybe somewhere else...

The relationship between desire and politics is really complicated and personal and weird, and some of the best writing about it I've seen is in Samuel Delany's work––both sff, especially Tales of Neveryon, and his later work in what he calls 'pornotopias,' where he explores race and slavery as kinks. His take is basically that if there is a power structure, people will eroticize it, and that eroticizing fucked up things is part of how we negotiate being in the world and doesn't mean condoning them.

(But when it comes to 'all kinks are okay,' I think it is right but I can't even square it with my social justice commitments for my *own* kinks really...)

Date: 2011-09-13 04:36 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
My general feeling is that while it doesn't mean condoning them, it doesn't mean *not* condoning them, either. I think my root problem with "all kinks are okay!" is that I feel like because kink-shaming is bad, there's been kind of a swing towards "don't think about our kinks, all kinks are always healthy." Which I can't agree with. Anything has the potential to be unhealthy, and kinks no less than anything else.

But I think that's about as much as I feel safe saying in public on this topic. It's something people have to figure out where they stand for themselves.

Date: 2011-09-13 05:47 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
Yeah, I've read stuff like that before, and I don't disagree with the broad strokes, but it doesn't really resolve my personal issues and tends to make me feel like I am a bad person for having complicated feelings that I don't fully understand about kink and ethics ("Your kink is okay; your triggers and feelings are not").

I have found self-examination useful, and the fact that it is usually uncomfortable at best does not make it less useful for me, and I don't feel my personal motivations for examination involve a) foregone conclusions that everyone must agree with me on, since I don't really know what I think about everything, or b) the assumption that kink is bad and intrinsically unfeminist, since I don't believe that.

I'm not telling or asking other people to examine; but I do feel that there's often a general pressure against it for people who want it, and I'm not comfortable with that.

And this is why I don't like talking about this stuff in public.

(And I find the implication in the first post that radfems are "the powerful" really...odd. I'd say radfems are marginalized by mainstream feminists as well as by mainstream society. While I certainly don't agree with many radfems on all topics, I do think they often have uncomfortable things to say--right or wrong--and that is generally not a popular thing with the mainstream.)

I do think #4 is something of a strawman: there's NEVER an ultimate arbiter in any social justice debate, but that doesn't mean we should stop talking about things and pretend everything is always awesome. People aren't going to agree on everything, of course, but...that's people?

...anyway, this has kind of wandered off-topic, but I wouldn't be surprised if these sorts of things come up at a panel discussion, depending on who's in the audience.

Date: 2011-09-13 04:52 am (UTC)
futuransky: socialist-realist style mural of Glasgow labor movement (Default)
From: [personal profile] futuransky
I see it not so much as 'all kinks are always healthy' as 'no desires are *in and of themselves* morally wrong or disgusting'.

But I respect your desire not to talk about it! It's certainly a thorny topic.

Date: 2011-09-14 02:04 pm (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
After mulling this over, I think I'm back at... self examination is important; understanding what we're doing or what we're writing about and being thoughtful about that is important. But I'm not comfortable saying someone's kink is inherently not ok. Their approach to it might be problematic, but that's different.

Date: 2011-09-13 05:57 am (UTC)
epershand: An ampersand (epershand)
From: [personal profile] epershand
This is definitely a subject that came up in "Your Fandom Is Ok" at WisCon last year, and the way we main thing we settled on there was what sasha_feather said downthread, it's important to draw the line between "your kink is ok" and "your expression of your kink is ok." To pick a relatively garden-variety kink, having a humiliation kink is totally fine; putting people in the position of indulging you in said kink without their consent is not.

Obviously there are shades upon shades of gray, but carrying around this distinction in my head has made navigating it a bit simpler.

Date: 2011-09-13 06:06 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I've mostly managed to frame like that, but it doesn't really resolve a lot of my issues. But I really need to stop discussing this in a public post; I've already said more than I like to attached to this journal name, and this whole topic fills me with anxiety and stress and I don't really have all my thoughts even remotely sorted out. So.

Date: 2011-09-13 06:33 am (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
I think this is a very important thing to talk about and I would be disappointed if it only came up in questions. There's been so much discussion about social justice and so much discussion about "everyone's kink is OK" and I've never seen a satisfactory discussion about how or if the two intersect. It's just so fraught but I don't think we can go on avoiding it forever.

Does "your kink is OK but you can't talk about it in this context" count as kink-shaming, do you think?

Date: 2011-09-13 06:43 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I don't know.

I've definitely seen some discussions I found satisfactory in pieces (I suspect there are no Answers as far as I am concerned) on kink blogs and whatnot, but they're hard to find, unless it's a googlefu issue. Anyway, I don't think everyone's avoiding the topic, and I don't mean to suggest that.

Argh, way past bedtime, apologies if I'm not making any sense.

Date: 2011-09-13 06:50 am (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
No worries!

See, I actually do think that fandom at least is avoiding the topic. But perhaps I'm not reading in the right places.

Date: 2011-09-13 07:08 am (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
As a random example, I'm thinking of the OH JOHN RINGO NO> thing. It seems like Ringo was putting a lot of his own kinks into the book and that this was what people were objecting to.

So would it be OK to say "you know, it's OK for you to have this kinks and to write them down but maybe you don't want to put them into a published book"? Or were hradzka and others wrong to comment and say "wow, some of the stuff in this book is really fucked up"? Or what?

That's the sort of thing I'm thinking about. Maybe John Ringo isn't the best example but I can also think of other male SF authors who have been critiqued for their whole rape-fantasy vibe.

Date: 2011-09-14 02:13 pm (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
Yeah, if the discussion were "John Ringo wrote about his personal kinks and that's gross," or "John Ringo's kinks are gross," that would be problematic (mind you, I wouldn't be surprised if that had come up at some point; I haven't read the OH JOHN RINGO NO post recently, so I can't recall if it does there). I think we can critique problematic tropes in John Ringo's work (or Stephanie Meyer's or Anne Bishop's or Mercedes Lackey's, to come up with a few writers who may be writing some personal kinks into narratives which contain some problematic tropes) without criticizing personal kinks. Sometimes it is hard for commenters not do do this, or for writers not to view criticism as criticism of their personal kinks, though.

Date: 2011-09-12 11:58 pm (UTC)
wintercreek: A stack of books, the top one open. ([misc] addicted to the written word)
From: [personal profile] wintercreek
This may be only tangential, but I would love to see some discussion of "content notes" vs "warnings" - content notes being informative and assisting people to make informed reading decisions, warnings having the potential to feel shaming/not be taken seriously (such as people using the "warnings" field to write things like "abuse of commas").

Also, this is a comment to say that I would definitely attend this panel!

Date: 2011-09-13 12:36 am (UTC)
amadi: A bouquet of dark purple roses (Default)
From: [personal profile] amadi
Also within that discussion: if the "content notes" field is specifically limited to mentions of potentially problematic content, then doesn't "content notes" just become a euphemism for "warnings" and within the specific fannish context of KB, tie author's hands in their efforts to be more, rather than less, forthcoming about the nature of what they've written? (This is one of my many issues with KB which have led me to eschew it.)

Also: What makes kink kink? Does the label have a meaning when the most basic acts can be said to be kinks based upon the context or the participants or their intent?

Date: 2011-09-13 01:10 am (UTC)
wrdnrd: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wrdnrd
Speaking purely as someone involved in other difficult discussions at Wiscon:

Yes! Definitions!! At least lay out the boundaries so everyone has a general idea of what everyone else is talking about. How can we talk about something if we don't even know what we're talking about??

Date: 2011-09-13 01:11 am (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
These are all good questions. Defining kink is hard! Re content notes: Personally, I also find "content notes" to be helpful in its neutrality. But possibly I am missing something?

Date: 2011-09-13 01:12 am (UTC)
amadi: A bouquet of dark purple roses (Default)
From: [personal profile] amadi
My understanding (per my last participation) is that putting "pon farr fic" in your content notes for KB is not permitted, that field is specifically only about problematic content or the lack thereof. (Or so I interpreted the scolding I got from the mods in my last post when I had other information in the "content notes" field.) Thus my concern that it's a euphemism; the wording may be different, and put in less negatively declarative terms, but if it's only for specific notes, and not whatever an author wants to advertise about their story, or their process or what have you, it's tantamount to the same thing.
Edited Date: 2011-09-13 01:15 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-13 01:55 am (UTC)
chagrined: Marvel comics: zombie!Spider-Man, holding playing cards, saying "Brains?" (brains?)
From: [personal profile] chagrined
From the KB rules post for content notes: After you've include the required information, you can also include any other information in this space that seems appropriate.

Date: 2011-09-13 02:52 am (UTC)
amadi: A bouquet of dark purple roses (Default)
From: [personal profile] amadi
So now I need to go back and figure out why I was publicly dressed down. Or has this rule changed from last round?

Date: 2011-09-13 04:33 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: a lady from the twenties, half naked with a hand mirror (queer - other victorians)
From: [personal profile] thingswithwings
I've been trying to write a comment to this post for hours now. I don't know if I can get it right, but I feel like my need to speak a bit about the issues raised in comments now outweighs the difficulty of saying some things in public.

1) I think it's important to define what you mean by "kink," especially when you're talking about fandom and real-life practice in the same breath; if you look at any kink meme you'll see the broad fandom definition of kinks that includes "narrative kinks" - "Jensen and Jared hold hands and have a picnic." This broad definition is sometimes useful (it can de-familiarize things that are normative kinks, like heterosexual courting rituals) and sometimes extremely troubling (de-familiarize all you want, but having a kink for picnics is not the same as having a kink for humiliation; people treat you differently). So, this adds a lot of stickiness to the issue, I think. Especially when you factor in some fans' occasional use of the word "kink" to defend historically fannish narrative practices that can be critiqued for their problematic roots (my kink is for h/c where the disabled person gets better, my kink is for pretty white boys kissing each other, my kink is for killing off the women characters). So I think that at all stages of discussion people have to be clear about what they mean by kink; while anything can be a kink and kink can be an umbrella that includes infinite things, that is not how people use the word eg while writing exchange-fest letters and specifying that they don't want any kink fic.

2) I sometimes balk at the way we have to examine and come to terms with our obviously incredibly problematic kinks, but this is apparently the kind of discussion you ONLY have to have in relation to what you call a kink. In other words, why is the immediate question "omg how can I reconcile social justice goals and inclusive kinkiness!" but not "omg how can I reconcile social justice goals and watching [any given problematic tv show]!" or "omg how I can reconcile social justice goals and my desire to only write fic about the young able-bodied white men!" - - - this is not to say that no one struggles with those latter kinds of questions; I do, and I know lots of people who do! And it's not to say "oh, no one does it for X, why should we bother for Y?" It's more to say, I think it's important to recognize that this question comes up with kink practices (especially what is 'traditionally' meant by kink, especially in non-kink circles - bdsm, play with power dynamics, play with identity categories, edgeplay) much more quickly, much more frequently, and much more urgently than it ever does for other potentially problematic aspects of fandom. And that there is a historical and political reason for that frequency and urgency.

3) Free kink is like free speech; it can be used to do bad things; it can be used to reinforce kyriarchy and oppress individuals. It can also be used to lift us up, make us joyful, make us free, parody the kyriarchy and take some of its power. The key is not to restrict or question types of kink, any more than it is to restrict types of speech, but to react to specific incidences of kink, or incidences of speech, that do harm. A kink is a medium, a language, a mode of expression; to say that any given kink is always harmful, or never liberatory, or never a source of harmless pleasure, is like saying that you can't write poetry in English because it is a language of colonial and imperialist oppression.

How you determine what incident is doing harm is the difficult part; as with other forms of harmful actions, or harmful speech, or harmful fanfiction, it's difficult and there will always be dissent. When I see a piece of fanfiction that I find racist or misogynist or homophobic, I sometimes email the author or leave a comment or talk to my friends about it, trying to have a conversation about it. I don't know why the process ought to be different with kink fic, or with kink practice.

There is no type of kink, none, none whatsoever, that cannot be practiced in a positive or harmless way, that cannot be used to make people more free. I know people who write rape fic as catharsis because they live in a rape culture or have been raped themselves; I know people who create stories about erotic children as a way of working through their own childhood traumas, memories, abuses, or desires (my favourite is the Todd Haynes film Dottie Gets Spanked, a partly-autobiographical short film about a boy fascinated with spanking; it is my favourite text on kinkiness of all time); a friend told me yesterday about a woman she knows who uses necrophiliac-fantasies as a way of eroticizing her own terminal diagnosis. Mollena is brilliant on the subject of raceplay and slaveplay as ways of eroticizing and reclaiming the oppressions inherent in being a Black American woman. People always want to have conversations about what kinks are problematic, but a kink is only a tool, a lens, a language; to do social justice within kink communities has often meant, and I think should continue to mean in fandom, talking about what actions or approaches or specific stories are problematic, and why.

4) Therefore, if you really want to have a conversation about kink and social justice, if you want to be serious about the intersection of these two things, you have to start by recognizing that social justice as it works in kink communities may not always look like social justice as it works elsewhere. Social justice can happen through slut-shaming and humiliation, forced feminization and slave fantasies. To have that conversation you also have to recognize the conversations that go on within kink communities, polarizations between things like "safe/sane/consensual" and "risk-aware consensual kink," discussions around potential for psychological harm (resulting from things like identity-play) as well as physical harm, as well as the extremely nuanced discussions of informed, enthusiastic consent and what it looks like. What bothers me sometimes is people who come to kink spaces from social justice spaces, often being pro-kink and well-meaning, who don't realise the decades of discussion that have already gone on in regards to, for example, negotiating consensual non-consent and 24/7 D/s relationships. The idea that these discussions aren't already vibrant and in progress is one that I'd like to dispel. This is good news, really: we don't have to start from scratch! I'm not saying that kink communities have already had all the discussion and it's done, yay! - but rather that there are already lots of discussions going on that we can join in with. Check out my link to Mollena above, for example, if you want to get a flavour of how discussions about raceplay are happening, especially within various communities of Black kinksters. Obviously there are different issues of voice and appropriation in fandom vs in fleshspace or even online kink spaces (for me, while I would never want to ask someone to self-identify, the author's self-identity does make a difference in how I feel about their use of particular tropes or kinks in a story, which can lead to some awkward moments - "but what if so-and-so IS a person with an amputation, writing this amputation-fetish story that seems appropriative or exploitative?") but I think we already have starting points from which to develop those nuances of conversation.

5) I have a near-visceral reaction to the idea that everyone in fandom avoids this subject (kink+social justice) or that it's forbidden in mainstream fandom spaces to be kink-negative. I see people complain all the time that you just can't talk about how problematic kink is these days in fandom because the mainstream kink police will shut you down and shun you, but - to give just one example - the amount of work it takes to keep kink bingo relatively safe from the most blatant kink shaming practices demonstrates otherwise. The fact that so many people complain about how you can't complain about it demonstrates otherwise. It feels to me, and I know I am far from objective on this issue, but it feels to me like there are now some safer spaces for kinky people in fandom, and the existence of those safer spaces makes people who aren't relieved by their existence feel like something has been taken away, some basic freedom to critique kink that can now only happen in 90% of fandom spaces, not 99%. I get the feeling that there's an idea that "safer space for kinky people" reads to some as "you can't do social justice in this space, you can't bring up issues in this space, this is a discussion-of-marginalized-identity-free-space" - not recognizing that a safer space for kinky people is in itself a kind of social justice, just as any safer space for any marginalized identity is in itself a kind of social justice. And "safer space for kinky people" doesn't mean "don't bring up problems of intersectionality" or whatever, at least that's not what it means to me. But, as with many safer spaces, for us at kink bingo it means "educate yourself about this discussion before coming in; recognize if what seems to you like a genius original point is actually something commonly used to oppress and silence people; basically, be respectful, don't ask folks here to educate you, etc." I don't have a lot of patience for people who show up on our comm to say "BUT SECOND-WAVE FEMINISM: ISN'T ALL BDSM AND HUMILIATION INHERENTLY HARMFUL???", but that doesn't mean that "safer space" = "shut down discussion"; it just means that "safer space" = "you don't get to reiterate the shame that caused oppression and ptsd for many kinky people on our dime."

Date: 2011-09-14 01:59 pm (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
Yes, thank you so much for this.

Yeah, I have no idea how much work it takes to keep kink bingo relatively safe (and I thank you for doing it as a regular k_b reader), but I see enough anti-kink comments here and there in other parts of fandom (thinking of a certain fanfic flamingo post, or all the "I don't like [kink] but I like your fic" type comments, both of which are probably pretty mild compared to some of the stuff you see) that I can only imagine how difficult it is.

"People always want to have conversations about what kinks are problematic, but a kink is only a tool, a lens, a language; to do social justice within kink communities has often meant, and I think should continue to mean in fandom, talking about what actions or approaches or specific stories are problematic, and why." I think that's what I've been heading towards and totally failing to articulate. Again, thank you.

Maybe one of the questions we should be discussing on the panel (if we still feel we can do this. I am intimidated as hell) is what does it mean to be politically sex positive? And framing what safer space might look like? Ground rules for this panel would be really important-- I've seen the "ISN'T ALL BDSM INHERENTLY HARMFUL???" argument come up once in awhile at Wiscon before, and I'd rather start with some principles in place than stop to do 101 stuff.

Date: 2011-09-14 02:44 pm (UTC)
j00j: rainbow over east berlin plattenbau apartments (Default)
From: [personal profile] j00j
Also, still mulling over defining kink. Discussing fandom and real-life practice (where real life practice= kink in peoples' actual lives in physical space or online space, rather than an online space vs physical space distinction, I assume) together do make things complex. Narrative kinks is an interesting discussion, but perhaps beyond the scope of where this panel may be headed? Would using the kink_bingo list of kinks be helpful in defining? Later I will look for helpful definitions.


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