It's been an odd year for writing about anything sex-related. I haven't seen any articles or controversies that have caught my eye in the last few months. No savage on-line warfare about conversations in elevators, no MRA gunmen, no efforts to have magazines shut down... There was the GamerGate affair, true, but that seems to have died down. The on-line anger inside the BDSM community about "50 Shades" was brief-lived.
If there's an ongoing set of polemics, it's over the trans* issue, about TERFs and the nature of identity. I don't want to go there, really. I'll only get in trouble. It's possible to be in favor of trans* rights and still think that being trans* is not the same as being "really" a male or a female. It's possible, and that's where I'd come down. But I can't risk going there. If I have any interest in the debates, it's only to laugh at the level of sputtering rage on both sides and to be interested in the whole question of identity. My grad school days were spent on issues of national identity, on markers of identity, and so I find the arguments over identity in the trans* debates vaguely interesting. I will just note that the accusation of "biological essentialism" comes oddly from a side that seems to believe that there's some innate, almost spiritual, quality of being male or female that's separate from the body--- an essentialism all its own.
So, then... what is there to write about tonight? Last night I saw James Franco's documentary "Kink", which I rather enjoyed. Well-made film, with good interviews. You might guess that I developed an immediate crush on Maitresse Madeline at Kink.com, but that could hardly be a surprise. I suppose I wish that the film had been longer, and that they'd covered some of the social scene at the Kink.com headquarters--- its converted armory building in San Francisco. There was an article about that a few years ago in something like N + 1, I think. I may have copy somewhere (I'm notorious for printing off articles to save for my archives--- something I learned all those years ago at grad school), but if you can find it out somewhere on the web, it's worth reading.
I liked what the film had to say about issues of submission and consent, and about the process of filming S/M scenes. I liked the discussion of how the filmmakers deal with the arbitrary restrictions put on content by the credit-card billing services that handle Kink.com's on line sales. I suppose, though, that I found the film a bit depressing. I watched the camera move through the offices and spaces in the armory and understood that if those spaces were used for social activities and sex parties, I'd never be welcome there. I'd be as unwelcome there as I would at a Killing Kittens party in London or New York.
The writer who did one of the articles on the first KK party in New York was Chelsea G. Summers--- she's written about sex work and erotica at a number of places these last several years, including AdultMag. I know she's older than the usual age for venues like AdultMag (its editor, Sarah Nicole Prickett, is notorious for arguing that no one male over thirty should be allowed to write) and that she abandoned a doctoral thesis somewhere to become a writer about sex. I know nothing else--- I haven't seen a photo of her. The article on the KK party was very, very depressing. The party itself was described as something deserving of mockery, as were the male attendees. Her latest article for Vice.com is all about the vileness of any older males' efforts at flirtation with young--- say, undergraduate age ---females. I don't think you'll be surprised to know that I regard Ms. Summers as a member of the party of my enemies.
I suppose I must write about her last article. After all, it is a call to expel all those like me from the world of sex and seductions. The KK article confirmed my own belief that the KK parties would be depressing, but then its mockery of the male participants made my depression much worse, and on a very different level. And now...the Vice.com article. I suppose I must write about it, must offer up my own views, my very different views.
It's now May, and it's a year when I need topics. If anyone reading this has topics to suggest, you're more than welcome to pass ideas on to me. You're invited to do that, really. I need things to write about, and I need to hear from anyone who might be reading this.