KinkForAll and Diverse Community Outreach

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Heliotrope

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Sep 8, 2009, 7:56:31 PM9/8/09
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Hey All -
I wanted to start up a conversation about what communities are
currently represented in the people interested in and active with
KinkForAll, and how we can make sure that these communities are as
diverse as possible. This may seem a bit off point in the middle of
our mad-dash scramble to find a new home for KFABos, but as we look to
a new venue, I think now is a better time than ever to make sure we
can include a wide variety of folks.

A lot of the earliest support for KinkForAll seems to me to have come
from the BDSM communities, in NYC and in Boston, specifically. It's
wonderful to have such a strong and coherent group working on the
project, to me especially wonderful because as a member of the BDSM
community, I have long been unhappy about the difficulty to come from
within that group and speak to people outside of it.

Recently, in the surge of e-mails around where to hold KFABos, a lot
of people have spoken up who seem to be coming from sex-positive
academic communities, and I would love to hear more from them -- In
fact, I'd love just to get a shout out from the people on this list of
what communities they identify themselves as being a part of, or in
contact with.

I would also love to hear who is doing what, off-list, to get in touch
with different sets of people. Personally, I try to talk up the KFA
idea and upcoming events, wherever I go, to whomever I speak to -
including my parents, to whom I am not out about my interest in BDSM.
Specifically, I have a friend group based in Boston that are mostly
students in various schools at Harvard, many of whom would not
actively think too much about sex if I didn't keep yarping at them
about it. But they are all open minded, and more than willing to come
to this KinkForAll thing I keep talking up to them.

I want to make sure that when they do, they feel comfortable and
welcomed. I attended the social meeting held last Thursday, September
3rd, and realized that, myself included, the only people present at
the event were representative of the BDSM community. A person from a
different background would have felt uncomfortable there, I think,
just by virtue of being the only odd-one-out, no matter how open and
welcoming the group had been. Indeed, I felt a little uncomfortable
just because I was bringing up the possibility of contacting one of my
non-BDSM Harvard student friends to see if she could help us host the
event; there seemed to be some confusion as to why she would want to.

But she does want to! Because KinkForAll is a great event for
everybody, from people who are just beginning to think about bringing
a vibrator into the bedroom to people who want to discuss why they
love bondage, or how to bring food into the bedroom safely, or how
fanfiction affects the sexuality of young women on the internet, or
when people should be allowed to decide to have gender confirming
surgery. Anybody open and willing to help is wanted, and I think
everybody agrees on that. So how can we best make sure that EVERYONE
open and willing to help knows about the event, and can come and
represent their own beautiful, glorious, unique point of view on sex,
and their own specific, glorious, not-necessarily-BDSM-centric Kinks?

Thanks to everybody for reading and thinking
And again and again to everybody pouring energy into finding KFABos a
new home,
Still hoping to see you all Saturday,
Emma

Philip

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Sep 8, 2009, 8:54:46 PM9/8/09
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Hi,

Emma brings up an excellent point. I seem to remember that maymay
wrote an article about how "kink is not bdsm." One of the things I
would be looking forward to at the next KFABos is to get a sense of
the wider kink community. I get glimpses of other communities at
things like the Flea, but rarely get to hear what's going on
elsewhere, and some communities are completely invisible to me.

I'll be at Bound in Boston (rope is my "home" community), so I'll be
missing this inaugural KFABos, but I'm looking forward to hearing and
reading about what happens.

iron rose

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Sep 8, 2009, 10:49:21 PM9/8/09
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One of the ideas I had today about diversity was that we could think about flyer-ing geographically rather than by-community.  This would definitely expose KfA to multiple different communities.  Making sure to poster in a variety of locations would gain people from many different walks of life.  (Gym? Libraries? various universities?)

The other half of this is to target our ads and literature for inclusiveness.  One thing that helps is having a prominent diversity statement.  The main point of a diversity statement is to explicitly welcome those minorities who are not usually by-default welcomed.  One example is: http://www.dreamwidth.org/legal/diversity (You can find more by googling.)

We could also target the ads to whatever particular group you are interested in attracting - this would mean having many different versions of the ads or flyers, so that they can speak to different sorts of people.  As an example of what I mean, if you want to target people whose primary language is spanish, you'd write a spanish ad.  What about something simple though: flyers that say something like:

"Have something to say about POLYAMORY?  KinkForAll [location/time]"
"Have something to say about FANFICTION?  KinkForAll [location/time]"

That seems almost too targeted though.  Maybe just ads that mix and match a whole bunch of things:

"Have something to say about POLYAMORY? FAN FICTION? SEX IN THE FUTURE?  COOKIES? KinkForAll [location/time]"

I think making sure our language is welcoming & inclusive, combined with flyering and advertising *outside* our communities (geographically) will help with the diversity thing.  In the emails I've been writing I try to list off a whole bunch of different identities/topics in the first sentence, to make people who may fit into any or all of them feel like there is a place for them in KfA.

-ironrose

On Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 7:56 PM, Heliotrope <helio...@followsthesun.com> wrote:

bostonpup

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Sep 8, 2009, 11:15:00 PM9/8/09
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I love this idea.  I volunteered with a peer counseling group in school and we had ENDLESS versions of the same basic template, just a poster with our logo and our hours/phone number, and then a big caption.  Since we were a general service stop we did captions running the whole gamut ("I had a bad day" "I hate my roommate" "I think may have been raped"), including just fun ones to send the message that we're friendly and accessible ("We have milk.  Also, cookies.").  Cookies were a frequent offering. :-)

I like a lot of the KFA ads that were done for New York (stick figures!  whipping each other!) but given that we have only had a small selection of Boston ads distributed (Zac's and DJPets) I'm really pleased that both are extremely inclusive.  If it weren't for the word "kink" in the event, I doubt most people would look at them and think BDSM or any one thing in particular.  (We obviously mean kink in a more broadly encompassing way but of course most people very understandably think "whips and chains").  It's hard without having a confirmed venue for the moment, but its worth throwing out as a reminder that anyone can make an ad, reach out to a community, poster away :-)  Getting the word out makes sure we get as much diversity as possible.

Joshua Pearce

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Sep 8, 2009, 11:23:12 PM9/8/09
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I should mention I know for a fact that the university does not allow
any food whatsoever for any event that they aren't hired to cater. Of
course personal food is fine and there is a cafeteria as well. Just so
you know any creative endeavors and promises will have to be non-food
related unless we pay for them to cater cookies. ( I know its lame,
but I wanted to get that out there before any good brainstorming
started). - 9

Heliotrope

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Sep 9, 2009, 12:52:04 AM9/9/09
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Iron Rose: I, as well, am totally on board with the idea of flyering all over the place. As soon as we have a venue, I plan on modifying Zac's flyers to fit the new venue and putting them up all over Providence - in the Library, on telephone polls, in the cafe, in the hipster bar down the street. I will even head up to Boston and do the same there, although I'd rather those in the area cover that. But generally, yeah, spot on! All for publicly placed flyers. 

Mike: I like a lot of the flyers that have been put together for the various KFAs that have and will happen, as well, but I have to own up to specifically not liking the stick-figures-whipping-each-other one. Given that even so far as there are a large number of people from the BDSM community involved in KFA the events are still always completely non-play, the depiction of whipping is simply not an accurate representation of the event. Short of a picture of one stick figure talking to some other stick figures, no representational image would be. That particular image appeals to only one group, and shows something that that group does only in spaces other than KFA, so I find it a little off-putting and not very useful. That said, so far we've got two GREAT flyers for the KFA Boston event, one of which can be modified to reflect whatever location and date we've got, one of which cannot, but may still be totally relevant should our UMass Boston venue come through after all. Both are lovely, and should be used as much as possible. 

As far as the name goes, I would caution you to be careful whom you're speaking for. I'm not sure that people outside of the BDSM scene necessarily associate the word "Kink" with BDSM. In fact, from the discussions I've been having, I'm getting the opposite view: people who are into BDSM believe the word applies solely to them, whereas others give it a much broader meaning, or simply don't assign it a particular meaning at all. I know that none of my "vanilla" friends have been turned off or driven away by the word, and in fact none of them have ever questioned whether the event might be all about "whips and chains," as it were. Nor, in fact, did my staid and sturdy parents (to whom, I will repeat, I am NOT OUT as interested in BDSM) bat an eye when I explained to them that the conferences I had been putting so much work into were called KinkForAlls. My dad said 'Kink? K-I-N-K? Ok." And that was that. No deep, in-depth conversation of my moral values needed. I think if we within the BDSM scene can expand the word to include everybody who belongs at the event (which is to say, everybody) then everybody else will have a perfectly easy time following suit. 

Best, 
Emma

maymay

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Sep 9, 2009, 1:06:10 AM9/9/09
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On Sep 8, 2009, at 10:49 PM, iron rose wrote:

One thing that helps is having a prominent diversity statement.  The main point of a diversity statement is to explicitly welcome those minorities who are not usually by-default welcomed.  One example is: http://www.dreamwidth.org/legal/diversity (You can find more by googling.)

Just yesterday, I began getting started on something similar:


I would love your input.

"Have something to say about POLYAMORY?  KinkForAll [location/time]"
"Have something to say about FANFICTION?  KinkForAll [location/time]"

That seems almost too targeted though.

Yeah, I agree. That sounds spammy to me. And moreover, I suspect that specific "targeting" of topics in this way will actually work against us: rather than invite diversity, such topical flyers actually reveal our own biases.

Cheers,

Little Black Dress

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Sep 9, 2009, 1:36:26 AM9/9/09
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Speaking of promotions/advertising/getting people interested...

Looking at the kinkforall.com website, I rather like the text: "A serendipitous, ad-hoc unconference about the intersection of sexuality with the rest of life." A lot. It makes me think of a Venn diagram with one circle saying "sexuality", another saying "life" and the intersection saying "KinkForAll". Or just focusing on the unconference aspect of it. "There are no spectators, only participants." Those are what stood out for me and made me interested in KFA. It also spoke to me by not being specific (and also made it less threatening to some degree). Make it feel like the person attending has something potentially interesting to say themselves. A person who helps out a little and attends presentations now will hopefully become a presenter later, especially when they learn that KFA is a place where *every* individual's experience/story is relevant.

Ai
http://lilblackdress.livejournal.com/

Molly Crucible

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Sep 9, 2009, 1:52:34 AM9/9/09
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On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 12:52 AM, Heliotrope <helio...@followsthesun.com> wrote:
As far as the name goes, I would caution you to be careful whom you're speaking for. I'm not sure that people outside of the BDSM scene necessarily associate the word "Kink" with BDSM. In fact, from the discussions I've been having, I'm getting the opposite view: people who are into BDSM believe the word applies solely to them, whereas others give it a much broader meaning, or simply don't assign it a particular meaning at all. I know that none of my "vanilla" friends have been turned off or driven away by the word, and in fact none of them have ever questioned whether the event might be all about "whips and chains," as it were.

And when I polled a bunch of my vanilla friends, they all associated kink with BDSM. Perhaps there is a fascinating linguistic study in here. Clearly, some but not all people think kink is BDSM, and I think it's important to be aware of that when discussing outreach. 

I can't make it this weekend because of a wedding, but if it is rescheduled I plan to be there. 

Molly 

Stacy Cat

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Sep 9, 2009, 3:33:46 AM9/9/09
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How about this? http://bit.ly/KFAVenn (Yes, it is 3:30am, and I am bored.) :)

(Image attached if you can see attachments).
VennforKink.png

maymay

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Sep 9, 2009, 9:26:54 AM9/9/09
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Hi everyone,

I'm only responding to a few points in this email but I'm quoting lots
of people since this thread has been so awesome. That's why this email
looks long at first brush. :)

On Sep 8, 2009, at 11:15 PM, bostonpup wrote:
> I like a lot of the KFA ads that were done for New York (stick
> figures! whipping each other!)

On Sep 9, 2009, at 12:52 AM, Heliotrope wrote:

> Mike: I like a lot of the flyers that have been put together for the
> various KFAs that have and will happen, as well, but I have to own
> up to specifically not liking the stick-figures-whipping-each-other
> one. Given that even so far as there are a large number of people
> from the BDSM community involved in KFA the events are still always
> completely non-play, the depiction of whipping is simply not an
> accurate representation of the event.

I wholeheartedly agree. I'm actually really glad I never saw the stick
figures whipping one another image used in conjunction with a
KinkForAll promotion because it's basically false advertisement, and
therefore inappropriate. See also the FrequentlyAskedQuestions, which
actively discourages demos and play:

http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/FrequentlyAskedQuestions#IsthereaplayspaceatKinkForAllDungeonsexroomsetc

Quoted here: "No. KinkForAll is not a play event. Period."

http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/FrequentlyAskedQuestions#Whyarepresentationslotslimitedto20minutes

Quoted here: "strictly enforcing a 20 minute time limit on
presentations discourages people from getting into the mindset that
extended demos are possible. [Demo] activities are simply too involved
to squeeze into twenty minutes with a room full of participants."

On Sep 8, 2009, at 11:15 PM, bostonpup wrote:
>> If it weren't for the word "kink" in the event, I doubt most people
>> would look at them and think BDSM or any one thing in particular.
>> (We obviously mean kink in a more broadly encompassing way but of
>> course most people very understandably think "whips and chains").


On Sep 9, 2009, at 1:52 AM, Molly Crucible wrote:

> when I polled a bunch of my vanilla friends, they all associated
> kink with BDSM. Perhaps there is a fascinating linguistic study in
> here. Clearly, some but not all people think kink is BDSM, and I
> think it's important to be aware of that when discussing outreach.


On Sep 9, 2009, at 12:52 AM, Heliotrope wrote:
> As far as the name goes, I would caution you to be careful whom
> you're speaking for. I'm not sure that people outside of the BDSM
> scene necessarily associate the word "Kink" with BDSM.

I strongly agree, Emma.

Mike, Molly, my experiences don't match yours. Most people whom have
no prior engagement with any sexuality community or organization, sex-
positive movement or other latent, preexisting interest in BDSM tend
not to associate "kink" with "whips and chains". If I may pose a
question to the two of you: which "sexuality community" do you most
personally identify with?

I believe that the kink=BDSM misconception is, sadly, an association
that is often made for people in much the same way as forced-choice
questions[0] often appear in surveys and sully the possibility of an
unbiased answer[1].

I absolutely agree that it's important to be aware of any potential
miscommunication while discussing outreach, and as Emma's original
email in this thread points out, KinkForAll is experiencing a heavy
slant toward one particular subgroup of sexuality right now. In fact,
it always has, since when Sara and I originally promoted the idea back
in February, we had most influence in only this one group. A shame.
That's why I'm so happy to see this discussion going on right now—it's
very important.

On Sep 9, 2009, at 1:36 AM, Little Black Dress wrote:

> Speaking of promotions/advertising/getting people interested...
>
> Looking at the kinkforall.com website, I rather like the text: "A
> serendipitous, ad-hoc unconference about the intersection of

> sexuality with the rest of life." A lot. […] It also spoke to me by

> not being specific (and also made it less threatening to some degree).


Ai, I couldn't agree with you more. As many of you are aware, the
majority of the text on the web site is very succinct, and I have
tried hard to refine it to ensure that it stays very short, to-the-
point, and makes no mention of specific topical suggestions. That was
on purpose, and I'm glad to hear that the result for you, Ai, was
precisely what I intended it to be.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/213147/forced-choice-question
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipsative#Psychology

Trish Kitten

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Sep 9, 2009, 9:51:48 AM9/9/09
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On Tue, Sep 8, 2009 at 7:56 PM, Heliotrope <helio...@followsthesun.com> wrote:
> I attended the social meeting held last Thursday, September
> 3rd, and realized that, myself included, the only people present at
> the event were representative of the BDSM community.

Cool, I'm representative of the BDSM community now! :)

More seriously, it would be unfair to say I'm not part of that
community at all, but it's definitely not my primary identifier or
peer group, even in terms of alternate sexuality and sexual
expression; that would more be queer/genderqueer probably, or maybe
furry. While I think it is a telling and important issue that everyone
present was apparently involved in BDSM, I don't think the fact that I
own a pair of wrist cuffs means I no longer represent my other
communities, or might not have felt uncomfortable. I'm also curious
how you _knew_ that everyone present represented the BDSM community; I
certainly didn't.

Trish

Trish Kitten

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Sep 9, 2009, 10:06:17 AM9/9/09
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On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 9:26 AM, maymay <bitethea...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Mike, Molly, my experiences don't match yours. Most people whom have
> no prior engagement with any sexuality community or organization, sex-
> positive movement or other latent, preexisting interest in BDSM tend
> not to associate "kink" with "whips and chains". If I may pose a
> question to the two of you: which "sexuality community" do you most
> personally identify with?

The way you minimize other people's experiences and data collection
every time they bring this up is, frankly, kinda offensive. Are you
implying that other people aren't "outsiders" enough to collect
"accurate" data here? Also, are we actually trying to do outreach to
people with "no prior engagement with any sexuality community or
organization?" Everything I've read here, and everything I've done,
has been specifically doing outreach to people in _other sexuality
communities and organizations_, not random people on the street. Maybe
that's not what your model is, but as far as I can tell, it's what
we're doing... and so even if what you're saying here about tabula
rasa potential attendees is true, I'm not confident it's useful.

> I believe that the kink=BDSM misconception is, sadly, an association
> that is often made for people in much the same way as forced-choice
> questions[0] often appear in surveys and sully the possibility of an
> unbiased answer[1].

This is probably (at least somewhat) true! Of course, the first google
hit for "kink" is kink.com which has "BDSM" in the blue internal
search results. For some people, their first association with "kink"
is hair. We're not HairForAll either. It's a word in flux and with
multiple meanings, and in some ways that gives the name a lot of
power, and in other ways it makes the name problematic. That's
probably going to happen with most language surrounding sexuality; I'm
not saying we should change the name, at least in part because I think
anything we might change the name to would have similar issues.

> I absolutely agree that it's important to be aware of any potential
> miscommunication while discussing outreach, and as Emma's original
> email in this thread points out, KinkForAll is experiencing a heavy
> slant toward one particular subgroup of sexuality right now.

And when people suggest that this slant might intersect with the event
naming and you make that sound like we have a personal problem, you're
not actually encouraging open conversation about the topic. Is
"kink=BDSM" really a misconception if that's how most of the attendees
and people being recruited to attend are using the word? I mean, in
some ways, you're accusing people of using a "misconception" to label
themselves and their activities, and stepping on their identities, in
the way you're having this argument. Say there is more than one
meaning, sure. Say that it's a word in flux. But please don't say "Oh
the way you identify yourself is a misconception" or something forced
on us from the outside. We all get enough of that elsewhere.

Trish

iron rose

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Sep 9, 2009, 10:07:27 AM9/9/09
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Re: The "meaning" of "kink"

Let's stop arguing about whether or not "kink" has the connotation of "bdsm".  At least everyone seems to agree that *some* people have this connotation.  For *anyone* who find the word "kink" to be non-general, whether it's because they're into bdsm or not, this will be something we need to _overcome_ in our language and our advertising.  The only point we seem to disagree on is *who* has this connotation.  We don't need to agree on that, if we agree that people with the misconception that kinkforall = bdsm un-conference should be corrected.

Yes, it will take extra effort to explain that to someone who has the connotation of kink = bdsm.  So, our energies are better suited to figuring out *how* to do that.  The diagram StacyCat drew is a great example of something that can easily combat this connotation.  (Great diagram, by the way.)  We may want to be more explicit in listing a wide range of topics that are not just BDSM, in exactly the same way that a community which is seen as default-white may need a diversity statement (and more) to explicitly welcome minority groups, in order to combat peoples' misconceptions.

I would also like to say that I'm into bdsm. I'm also queer and poly, and a whole lot more than just those labels.  The current argument centering around what "bdsm people think vs what vanilla people think" makes me feel *very* targeted for my interest in bdsm.  If I weren't into bdsm I would be a somewhat different person, but that doesn't mean that my interest in bdsm *defines* who I am.  "What BDSM people think" is just as pointless as saying "What white people think".  I'm a lot more than just that.  Let's stop arguing in generalities like that and get back to the point, which is how to make KfA more inclusive.

So Kink = bdsm for some people.  How do we overcome this?

-ironrose

On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 9:26 AM, maymay <bitethea...@gmail.com> wrote:

Syd Gottfried

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Sep 9, 2009, 10:38:16 AM9/9/09
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I mean, we're using the word "kink" as sort of a catch-all, right?  So why don't we just make a list, or a brief description of everything that we are using the word to represent (namely alternate sexualities and lifestyles of all stripes, right?).  BDSM would be included in the description, but it wouldn't be the only descriptor by far.  That way, even if some people associate the word "kink" with "bdsm" they'll know that that isn't the way we are using the word, and better understand the concept of kinkforall in general. 

Sara Eileen

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Sep 9, 2009, 11:01:51 AM9/9/09
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Great points, ironrose, and Syd, I think you're on the right track. KFA uses a few words in ways that may not be immediately clear to everyone - "kink" is one. "Unconference" is another. Similar to the ways in which we've let people know what an unconference entails, we can use advertising and conversation to give a view of what the event encompasses.

In my experience, labels and words are some of the most explosive topics discussed - within *every* community I've been a part of. Rather than try and bring everyone interested in KFA to the same definition of the words, why not acknowledge and encourage the questions in our advertising?

For example:

"Kink. Sex. Unconference. What do these words mean to you?"

Cheers,
Sara Eileen

Heliotrope

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Sep 9, 2009, 11:31:27 AM9/9/09
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Hey Trish:
Thank you SO much for this e-mail. You're right: I knew a most of the
faces at the gathering, and was introduced to a few more through
BDSMcentric means (fetlife, etc.), and I selected my data and
extrapolated from there. Thank you for letting me, and the list, know
that this is not how you primarily identify, and I apologize for
making assumptions. My view of the meeting was biased from where I
myself stand, and a few parts of the communication. Thank you for
speaking up about where you're coming from and your own interest in
the event - that's exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to get going
with this thread. So thanks again for speaking up and setting me
straight.

Best,
Emma

maymay

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Sep 9, 2009, 11:39:41 AM9/9/09
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On Sep 9, 2009, at 10:06 AM, Trish Kitten wrote:

> are we actually trying to do outreach to
> people with "no prior engagement with any sexuality community or
> organization?"

Yes, absolutely! Or at least, I certainly am, and I certainly hope
others are, too, since doing outreach to people with no prior
engagement with any sexuality community or organization isn't just a
nice-to-have, it was one of the motivations for KinkForAll's existence
in the first place[0][1]. KinkForAll was born, in my mind, out of a
need to help everyone "mix our sexuality lives with our non-sexuality
lives" and help people already in sexuality communities break out of
the "little ghettos of sexuality" that we're currently stuck in[2].

That's why I feel any focus on existing sexuality-specific communities
is not much better than a focus on any one specific sexuality
subgrouping itself.

Personally, I'll consider KinkForAll successful when it obsoletes
itself; when the world changes to a degree that the entire notion of a
"sexuality community" is silly, because the idea of cordoning off
sexuality in any single place as if it doesn't impact the way that we
live, work, and interact, is understood to be unrealistic, needlessly
restrictive, and actively damaging both to societal structures as a
whole and an individual's well-being. So yes, I *absolutely* hope we
are reaching out to people without any prior engagement with a
sexuality community!

Take a look at the list of "Who" on the KinkForAll page[3], quoted here:

> Everyone. No, really.
>
> KinkForAll is a free event open to the public featuring
> conversations about sexuality. If you are comfortable (or want to
> feel comfortable) being yourself in a public space, then this event
> is for you.
>
> KinkForAll’s theme is the convergence of sexuality and the rest of
> life, and participants from an astounding range of disciplines and
> interests come together to discuss the intersection of sexuality
> with their own passions at local events. People who have
> participated in KinkForAll events in the past have included folks of
> all descriptions including, but not limited to:
>
> • activist,
> • arts,
> • asexual,
> • BDSM,
> • bisexual,
> • feminist,
> • gay,
> • hacker,
> • legal industry,
> • lesbian,
> • maker/DIY,
> • queer,
> • raw foods,
> • sex magic,
> • sex worker,
> • sex-positive,
> • swinger,
> • tantra,
> • technology industry,
> • trans,
> • vegetarian,
> • and many others.


The list above was originally sourced from a document "Chris !"
created and is already obviously slanted toward sex-specific
communities, which in itself is a bias I am uncomfortable with. I
think this is worth pointing out in a discussion of diversity. How can
we improve that page and/or this list to more accurately reflect the
goal of involving everyone, regardless of their level of sexuality
awareness?

On Sep 9, 2009, at 10:38 AM, Syd Gottfried wrote:

> I mean, we're using the word "kink" as sort of a catch-all, right?
> So why don't we just make a list, or a brief description of
> everything that we are using the word to represent (namely alternate
> sexualities and lifestyles of all stripes, right?). BDSM would be
> included in the description, but it wouldn't be the only descriptor
> by far. That way, even if some people associate the word "kink"
> with "bdsm" they'll know that that isn't the way we are using the
> word, and better understand the concept of kinkforall in general.


Syd, "Chris !" did create a list like this. (See above.) One reason I
don't like this list very much is, as I stated in an earlier post to
this thread: "I suspect that specific 'targeting' of topics in this

way will actually work against us: rather than invite diversity, such

topical [texts] actually reveal our own biases."[4] Another reason I
don't like it is because it's long. In programmer-speak, it's an O(n)
operation[5], which is to say that the list needs to be expanded for
each group or group descriptor that we'd like to add, which becomes
unwieldy very quickly. I don't want any list or page to end up looking
like the Yay! Genderform page[6].

That being said, Chris's list is still up on the web site because I
don't have a better suggestion, and it's not inaccurate. I acknowledge
that sometimes the least-bad option (topical lists, IMHO) may be the
best choice.

On Sep 9, 2009, at 10:06 AM, Trish Kitten wrote:
> Everything I've read here, and everything I've done,
> has been specifically doing outreach to people in _other sexuality
> communities and organizations_, not random people on the street. Maybe
> that's not what your model is, but as far as I can tell, it's what
> we're doing... and so even if what you're saying here about tabula
> rasa potential attendees is true, I'm not confident it's useful.

I think it's great that you're reaching out to other people in other
sexuality communities in Boston. Reaching out to other people who are
not part of sexuality communities is at least equally important as
well. Who do you think are the people who that will need the most
support and encouragement to come to a KinkForAll event? Those are the
people I think we should be talking a lot about in a discussion about
diversity. I think many of these people will have no prior engagement
with a sexuality community.

Moreover, beyond people without active involvement in a sexuality
community, let's also remember that other important groups of people
include professions such as therapists, legal counselors, artists,
technologists, and doctors, to name a few. I'm talking about people
who make a living in the medical profession who are willing to discuss
the medical profession through the lens of alternative sexuality.
That's the sort of angle that encouraged presentations such as Stacy's
excellent "STIs and Stigma Reduction", and I hope to see more of such
things.

To summarize: This is not a conference about sex for the purpose of
sex, it's a conference about the world, and how people live in it,
through the lens of sexuality.

> This is probably (at least somewhat) true! Of course, the first google
> hit for "kink" is kink.com which has "BDSM" in the blue internal
> search results.

Yeah, I know…and how annoyed do you think I am at Kink.com for
that? :) So much![7]

> For some people, their first association with "kink"
> is hair. We're not HairForAll either. It's a word in flux and with
> multiple meanings, and in some ways that gives the name a lot of
> power, and in other ways it makes the name problematic. That's
> probably going to happen with most language surrounding sexuality; I'm
> not saying we should change the name, at least in part because I think
> anything we might change the name to would have similar issues.

Strongly agreed. You are spot on with this. The thing I remember Sara
and I spending the most time with in Sydney, when we came up with this
idea, was the name, and we threw out tons of ideas at one another and
nothing stuck. Every word we used had problems. Ultimately, we settled
on KinkForAll because kink does have an ambiguity that gives it power.
Plus, we liked the combination of "ForAll" since we wanted to drive
the diversity point home.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://maybemaimed.com/2008/12/18/introducing-kinkforall-a-no-limits-gender-and-sexuality-unconference/
[1] http://maybemaimed.com/2009/03/23/kinkforall-and-the-evolution-of-sexuality-communities/
[2] http://vimeo.com/3553527 <-- The first sentence of this video.
Just click play and watch.
[3] http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/KinkForAll
[4] http://groups.google.com/group/kinkforall/browse_thread/thread/2ae6551aadde16ce#msg_152d0532ee59db74
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_O_notation
[6] http://www.kreativekorp.com/miscpages/gender/gender.pl
[7] http://malesubmissionart.com/post/91994257/a-half-dressed-man-stares-across-a-room-at-a-woman

maymay

unread,
Sep 9, 2009, 11:40:52 AM9/9/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
On Sep 9, 2009, at 11:01 AM, Sara Eileen wrote:

> Rather than try and bring everyone interested in KFA to the same
> definition of the words, why not acknowledge and encourage the
> questions in our advertising?
>
> For example:
>
> "Kink. Sex. Unconference. What do these words mean to you?"
>
> Cheers,
> Sara Eileen

Sara, if we go in that direction, I would argue for "Kink.
Unconference. Sex," since the order you suggested immediately
associates sex with kink by proximity, at least to me.

Sara Eileen

unread,
Sep 9, 2009, 11:57:45 AM9/9/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Sure! That makes sense to me. Branding is always a work in progress.

I think I might try to create a short KFA video this week, when I have a moment, incorporating some of these ideas. I'll post it when it's done, of course! Maybe this will be an interesting way to supplement the current media that's been created?

Cheers,
Sara

maymay

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Sep 9, 2009, 12:31:21 PM9/9/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Sara, a video sounds great! Nikolas and I have also been discussing the idea of something like that. Nikolas, I think we recorded that discussion, didn't we?

I'm sitting on a huge amount of video from KFANYC 1 and 2 so please let me know if you think any might be useful. Also, I'd love to brainstorm/develop this further with you and with Nikolas, too (probably in a new thread).

-M
(Terse email sent from my iPod.)

iron rose

unread,
Sep 9, 2009, 1:50:13 PM9/9/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
What about a video montage of clips from all different kinds of people, each describing what they think KinkForAll means to them and what they find exciting about it?  This sort of thing can be very easily "crowdsourced" - ask people to send in video clips (30 seconds long or less) and then select a subset to send the message of diversity & inclusion?  The entire clip can be something like 5-10 minutes long.

-ironrose

Philip

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Sep 9, 2009, 2:39:52 PM9/9/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
The video montage idea is good. I don't remember who did it (Audacia Ray springs to mind) did a  similar 30sec PSA of sex workers. 

HotShot315

unread,
Sep 10, 2009, 7:38:20 PM9/10/09
to KinkForAll
Hey, I think it's fabulous to talk about diversity in this space.
Sorry to be a Johnny-come-lately to the discussion; I just found out
about this and joined the group. Anyway, this thread has been
fascinating to read.

When I read the topic line at first, I thought the thread was going to
be about racial and cultural diversity. The discussion we're having
is crucial and important, and I feel a little silly for not having
expected it. Still, it might be interesting to add the dimensions of
race and culture. I've been to perhaps 15-20 kinky events -- mostly
not in Boston -- and my experience has been that all genders are
represented, the LGBTQ community is well represented or perhaps even
overrepresented, but almost everybody in a given room is Caucasian and
grew up speaking English. I haven't been to a KFA event so I await
this weekend with anticipation, and I don't want to be seen as
complaining about any particular event. Still, I think based on my
own experience that the LGBT community (I'm bi) and the BDSM community
(I'm a switch) need to do a better job addressing cultural and racial
barriers. I suspect the same is true for the kink community in the
broad sense of "kink" that's been discussed on this thread, but some
of the people commenting here may know better than I. I think there
are an awful lot of people who identify with racial and cultural
minority groups who'd love to be part of an event like this if only
they knew about it and felt comfortable attending. But I don't have
any great answer, and I also don't know to what extent this applies to
KFA's situation. I'd love to listen to some other people's views who
know this community better than I do.




On Sep 9, 2:39 pm, Philip <septimus1...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The video montage idea is good. I don't remember who did it (Audacia  
> Ray springs to mind) did a  similar 30sec PSA of sex workers.
>
> On Sep 9, 2009, at 1:50 PM, iron rose <ironrose...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> > What about a video montage of clips from all different kinds of  
> > people, each describing what they think KinkForAll means to them and  
> > what they find exciting about it?  This sort of thing can be very  
> > easily "crowdsourced" - ask people to send in video clips (30  
> > seconds long or less) and then select a subset to send the message  
> > of diversity & inclusion?  The entire clip can be something like  
> > 5-10 minutes long.
>
> > -ironrose
>
> > On Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 12:31 PM, maymay <bitetheappleb...@gmail.com>  
> > wrote:
> > Sara, a video sounds great! Nikolas and I have also been discussing  
> > the idea of something like that. Nikolas, I think we recorded that  
> > discussion, didn't we?
>
> > I'm sitting on a huge amount of video from KFANYC 1 and 2 so please  
> > let me know if you think any might be useful. Also, I'd love to  
> > brainstorm/develop this further with you and with Nikolas, too  
> > (probably in a new thread).
>
> > -M
> > (Terse email sent from my iPod.)
>
> >> Volunteering:http://ConversioVirium.org/author/maymay- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Joshua Pearce

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Sep 10, 2009, 7:48:35 PM9/10/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Hotshot,
I really hope you come and present on this topic on Saturday. I for
one will defiantly attend something on this topic. - 9

maymay

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Sep 10, 2009, 8:12:16 PM9/10/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
On Sep 10, 2009, at 7:48 PM, Joshua Pearce wrote:

> Hotshot,
> I really hope you come and present on this topic on Saturday. I for
> one will defiantly attend something on this topic. - 9

Seconded. ;) Although I won't be defiant about this topic.

On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 7:38 PM, HotShot315 <hot_sh...@yahoo.com>
wrote:

> When I read the topic line at first, I thought the thread was going to
> be about racial and cultural diversity. The discussion we're having
> is crucial and important, and I feel a little silly for not having
> expected it. Still, it might be interesting to add the dimensions of
> race and culture.


I wholeheartedly agree. This was a topic that Clarisse Thorn presented
on at KinkForAll New York City (the first). You might be interested to
hear the recording of her "Outreach Strategies" discussion[0], in
which she specifically addresses the fact that (and I quote) "the sex-
positive movement is overwhelmingly white and middle- to upper-middle-
class; how can we make the information we offer accessible to other
demographics?"[1]. I think this topic is very important, and Clarisse
has some very good points to make about the issues.

> I think there
> are an awful lot of people who identify with racial and cultural
> minority groups who'd love to be part of an event like this if only
> they knew about it and felt comfortable attending.


Agreed; and I'd emphasize the "and felt comfortable attending" part of
that sentence. It's very hard to be the only minority in a room,
regardless of what axis of "minority" (race, age, socioeconomic
standing, sexual orientation, gender, and so on and so forth) you're
talking about. This is precisely why I am constantly so adamant that
barriers of any kind, including "rules" such as age limits, or social
environments such as a skew toward any particular group, needs to be
avoided, even at heavy costs.

>> But I don't have
>> any great answer, and I also don't know to what extent this applies
>> to
>> KFA's situation. I'd love to listen to some other people's views who
>> know this community better than I do.


I think that KinkForAll's situation is actually not unlike the
situation faced by any other community group. What I hope is that the
people in this community will treat diversity in all its forms, as
discussed in this thread so far, with the priority it deserves. On
that note, Hotshot, if you have any ideas you'd like to draft, we
started a Diversity page[2] on our wiki that I'd love to see become a
resource for everyone in this community (and maybe even in others).
Take a look at it and tell us what you think.

Cheers,
-maymay
Blog: http://maybemaimed.com
Community: http://KinkForAll.org

Volunteering: http://ConversioVirium.org/author/maymay

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://download287.mediafire.com/mvwy0bbytblg/yzmy1iztjwm/ClarisseThorn.mp3
[1] http://clarissethorn.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/my-kinkforall-nyc-presentation/
[2] http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/Diversity

Joshua Pearce

unread,
Sep 10, 2009, 8:35:45 PM9/10/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Alas spell check how ye have wronged me. *definitely not defiantly

While we are on the subject though, is there anything anyone can think
of (places to post, orgs to contact, etc) so we might get more ethnic
diversity for this event Saturday? - 9

bostonpup

unread,
Sep 10, 2009, 8:51:41 PM9/10/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Kaleidoscope Munch is a BDSM group in Boston that is specifically geared toward racial/cultural diversity, I was planning on going to their last munch (its on a particular Thursday each month at Copley Sq., I can't remember which one).  Work kept me late and I missed it but they might have a mailing list or Fetlife group?

This doesn't help much in creating non-BDSM diversity but it gets to the other kinds ;-) 

HotShot315

unread,
Sep 11, 2009, 7:31:50 AM9/11/09
to KinkForAll
Hi Joshua, thank you! I was going to present on something else, but
maybe we could find time for a discussion on this as well. Maybe I'll
change my presentation idea, I don't know.
> >> >> Volunteering:http://ConversioVirium.org/author/maymay-Hide quoted text -
>
> >> - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Syd Gottfried

unread,
Sep 11, 2009, 7:45:39 AM9/11/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Or you could do both!

Joshua Pearce

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Sep 11, 2009, 8:23:39 AM9/11/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
If you'd like Hotshot maybe we could run an additional presentation on
it together. We could make it more of a discussion group situation
where people postulate theories, share there experiences, and discuss
ways to change this situation? Anyway, just a thought. -9

The Distinguished ...

unread,
Sep 11, 2009, 9:34:06 AM9/11/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Greetings, folks.

A couple of notes:

1) I talked to several people yesterday, and they were all of the
opinion that KFABoston was canceled. (Even a certain young lady close to
a puppy's heart ...) we have to get the word out, faster, better,
farther, that it's still going on.

2) In the same vein, I was talking to both the NELA board and the folks
who run Kaleidoscope, letting them know it's happening and getting them
interested in it. If there is some electronic (aka text only) piece
that I could hand to people to spread far and wide, it would probably be
a good thing. Or should I just mail around the text of the KFABoston
page from the wiki-wiki?



On Thu, 2009-09-10 at 20:51 -0400, bostonpup wrote:
> Kaleidoscope Munch is a BDSM group in Boston that is specifically
> geared toward racial/cultural diversity, I was planning on going to
> their last munch (its on a particular Thursday each month at Copley
> Sq., I can't remember which one). Work kept me late and I missed it
> but they might have a mailing list or Fetlife group?

They have a mailing list. I can send to that, as well.

> This doesn't help much in creating non-BDSM diversity but it gets to
> the other kinds ;-)

Perhaps, we can convince the Spontaneous Celebrations folks to also send
it out to their list? I know their list is _very_ cross-cultural.
Heck, I'm on it. *grin*

In the words of my dear grandmother, Maka da Noise!
Percival


maymay

unread,
Sep 11, 2009, 9:46:57 AM9/11/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
On Sep 11, 2009, at 9:34 AM, "The Distinguished ..." <percy...@gmail.com
> wrote:

> Greetings, folks.
>
> A couple of notes:
>
> 1) I talked to several people yesterday, and they were all of the
> opinion that KFABoston was canceled. (Even a certain young lady
> close to
> a puppy's heart ...) we have to get the word out, faster, better,
> farther, that it's still going on.
>
> 2) In the same vein, I was talking to both the NELA board and the
> folks
> who run Kaleidoscope, letting them know it's happening and getting
> them
> interested in it. If there is some electronic (aka text only) piece
> that I could hand to people to spread far and wide, it would
> probably be
> a good thing. Or should I just mail around the text of the KFABoston
> page from the wiki-wiki?

Try printing the KinkForAll Boston Facebook event page?

http://google.com/search?q=kinkforall+Boston+Facebook

Thanks for helping to spread the word.

Cheers,

maymay

unread,
Sep 11, 2009, 9:57:27 AM9/11/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com

I really like your diversity idea and, taking a look at the
Presentation Topic column in our sign up page, it looks like a
diversity topic might be very appropriate. :)

On Sep 11, 2009, at 7:45 AM, Syd Gottfried wrote:

> Or you could do both!

Yeah, you could absolutely do both. We have a whole 6 hours for this
event and there's been a lot of confusion about whether it's even
happening, so we may not have a lot of in-person participation in the
end. On the other hand, we might get lots of people to show up thanks
to all the great outreach efforts people are doing, so if we do have a
really busy event, remember the guidelines written on the Rules page
[0], particularly this one:

> At busy events, give one and only one presentation. You probably
> have mountains of valuable experience to share, but you can often do
> this just as successfully (if not more successfully) by being part
> of an engaged audience as you can by giving a presentation. Be
> generous and prepared to give others the floor, especially to
> someone who has not lead a session yet that day, or ever. ("Step up,
> and step back." That is, step up to take the floor, and step back if
> you hear only yourself speaking.)

Cheers,
-maymay
Blog: http://maybemaimed.com
Community: http://KinkForAll.org

Volunteering: http://ConversioVirium.org/author/maymay

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/TheRulesOfKinkForAll

HotShot315

unread,
Sep 11, 2009, 11:52:06 PM9/11/09
to KinkForAll
Hi Joshua, I'd cofacilitate something with you. Or maybe, per the
rules, I could be an interested participant in a discussion if you
want to facilitate it. I prepared something else that might also be
fun (the $6 shackle and other fun bdsm on a budget) but frankly I
think the diversity topic is a lot more important.



On Sep 10, 8:35 pm, Joshua Pearce <ninewat...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Alas spell check how ye have wronged me. *definitely not defiantly
>
> While we are on the subject though, is there anything anyone can think
> of (places to post, orgs to contact, etc) so we might get more ethnic
> diversity for this event Saturday? - 9
>
> On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 8:12 PM, maymay <bitetheappleb...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > On Sep 10, 2009, at 7:48 PM, Joshua Pearce wrote:
>
> >> Hotshot,
> >> I really hope you come and present on this topic on Saturday. I for
> >> one will defiantly attend something on this topic. - 9
>
> > Seconded. ;) Although I won't be defiant about this topic.
>
> > On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 7:38 PM, HotShot315 <hot_shot_...@yahoo.com>
> > [0]http://download287.mediafire.com/mvwy0bbytblg/yzmy1iztjwm/ClarisseTho...
> > [1]http://clarissethorn.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/my-kinkforall-nyc-prese...
> > [2]http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/Diversity

Bitsy

unread,
Sep 20, 2009, 11:06:32 AM9/20/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
To go on a different tangent on an old topic,

One of my partner is my test for how does this play outside the BDSM-affiliated community, as he, despite being in a poly relationship with someone who has many friends in it, doesn't often feel comfortable there. When he came at the begining of KFA and saw the event board he all most immediately left, as all the thinks posted seemed (to him) to be on BDSM topics, Chaos in Kink, Assault, Battery and You, The $6 Shackle: How To Navigate Home Depot for Budget Bondage, etc. Not that these weren't great presentations, but I think its important to think about who they invite. Luckily, I was able to convince hime to come back latter, and presentations such as Gender Theory and Why You Should Care, Sex Worker Q&A, Diversity Discusion from the Mailing List convinced him to stay.

Or, how KFA persents itself when people do show up is importiont too!

Something to think about,

Bitsy



maymay

unread,
Sep 20, 2009, 4:44:06 PM9/20/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com

I think this is a fantastic point and precisely why I am so concerned
with a skew towards BDSM-centric presentations. The fact that your
partner almost immediately left is exactly the kind of thing I know
happens time and time again at almost every specific-sex-centric group
I've been a part of and it's precisely what I want KinkForAll to
avoid. It's precisely why, despite my ability to do a BDSM-centric
presentation with ease (I've got a stereotypical "class list" and have
given BDSM workshops in NYC at groups and conferences, and even some
in Sydney), I refused to do one of those at KinkForAll Boston.

I've been very loud about my dislike for this skew so I won't rant
again, but I did want to say that I appreciate your sharing this
experience with the list, Bitsy. It's important that these things are
raised here, because clearly your partner—who if he almost left at the
event itself within minutes of arriving—would not come onto this list
to explain why he did that of his own volition. We need to be careful
to avoid the tunnel-vision that would come from that. (This is the
same argument I have about why people who are put off by the notion of
recording being an opt-in thing are not going to speak up about it
here of their own volition.)

I believe one of the best ways to avoid that impulse reaction from
people is to make sure that a local KinkForAll event is not overrun
with people in one specific community and simultaneously encouraging
people to step outside their usual presentation ideas mode. Case in
point: I really don't like the sign ups on event homepages where
people just say they have a "class list" and will pick one to do at
the event. That's so missing the point. Ugh.

Syd Gottfried

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Sep 21, 2009, 5:54:45 PM9/21/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
I tried to get people from around Boston, who I knew were involved specifically in the GLBT community, to come to KFABOS, and while none of them really talked to me about it, I suspect that after I showed them the schedule grids from the two KFANYC's they were a little put off by the almost completely kink-centric presentations.  None of them showed.  I also tried to get purely straight, vanilla friends who aren't involved in any sexual communities to attend (because I think thats another aspect of diversity that we need), but I'm pretty sure that (despite being open-minded people) the BDSM majority made them feel just as out-of-place and awkward as people from other sexual communities. The only way I can think of to make KFA less BDSM oriented is to have more people from other communities participate and present, but since they seem to be intimidated by the kinky-skew, they aren't attending in large numbers and not participating, and so the event remains intimidating for other communities. 

Tonight, I am attending my school's GLBT group's meeting, despite not being a member of that community and only an interested party.  Part of their groups goal is to bring the GLBT and straight communities together to educate one another and build tolerence and understanding, but no one who isn't gay, lesbian, bi, or trans attends their meetings because its the gay group, and its for gay people and what would a straight person do at a meeting?  Wouldn't attending just make it seem like they are gay?  And its likely that if word gets out that I attended a GLBT meeting, people at school will start to think that I am gay.  My schools group hasn't spent enough time on outrach, and hasn't even tried to make an environment where everybody would be comfortable attending to discuss GLBT issues, despite that being one of their professed goals.

This is a trap that KFA is falling into, and one that we need to avoid at all costs.  KFA is still young, and we need to try and make it as clear as possible that this really is an event for EVERYONE now, before its image as a BDSM event in cemented throught the sexual  communities.

Unfortunately, I can't think of any very good way to do this.   The only thing I can think of is to make it even more painfully clear (than it already is) on the KFA website, wiki, fliers, twitter, and every other place that KFA has a presence, that this is not a specifically BDSM event, that it is an event for everybody, and that everybody is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Sorry I can't think of any better idea, but as soon as I think of one, I'll post it.

Syd

James Richard Sheldon

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Sep 23, 2009, 5:13:41 PM9/23/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Is anyone familiar with open space technology? In OST, participants set the agenda at the beginning of the day. Using a model like that might help to address these concerns of some attendees finding nothing of interest...

Google "open space technology" for more info...

@james



From: Syd Gottfried <syds...@gmail.com>
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2009 2:54 PM
To: kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Subject: [KinkForAll] Re: KinkForAll and Diverse Community Outreach

maymay

unread,
Sep 23, 2009, 5:54:26 PM9/23/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
On Sep 23, 2009, at 2:13 PM, James Richard Sheldon wrote:

> Is anyone familiar with open space technology? In OST, participants
> set the agenda at the beginning of the day. Using a model like that
> might help to address these concerns of some attendees finding
> nothing of interest...
>
> Google "open space technology" for more info...
>
> @james

Hi James!

I'm not familiar with the specifics of open space technology, but what
you describe is already the model that KinkForAll uses. At a
KinkForAll event, an empty schedule grid is presented, and
participants fill it in with the topics they would like to discuss,
present upon, or lead sessions about. :)

I think this model has absolutely done great things for fostering
diverse topics of discussion at KinkForAll events, however the points
that Syd raises are extremely good ones and worth thinking through
very carefully. The notion of having an open schedule grid keeps the
topics *open to* diversity, but does not guarantee that the resulting
grid will be diverse, as both Syd, Bitsy, and I have noted.

With an open grid, it is a social, not technical or methodical,
challenge to bring diversity to the event. Syd's absolutely correct
when she said that "The only way…to make KFA [more diverse] is to have
more people from other communities participate and present", and that
KinkForAll needs to avoid falling into the trap of being too BDSM-
centric at all costs.

Personally, I believe that the issues of white-centricness (lack of
racial diversity), and even to some although perhaps a lesser extent
the issues of youth- and geek-centricity that KinkForAll has faced so
far is a result of the perception that it's a BDSM event. The BDSM and
Fetish community is notoriously geeky, notoriously white, notoriously
upper-middle class, and I believe it is the misconception that
Kink=BDSM=KinkForAll that is the single most important priority to
dispel. The only reason I think we've been able to successfully bring
a (comparatively) more diverse participating group on the age axis is
because KinkForAll is free, which attracts youth for socioeconomic
reasons, and it's being recorded, which discourages people who have
built a lifetime of reputation around a job, or something else that
the slightest association with sexual rights advocacy would tarnish.

So anyway, all that being said, James, do you have any suggestions of
how "open space technology" can help foster additional diversity?

I'm glad that more of us are beginning to think about these things and
are acknowledging the problems of skewing towards a BDSM-centric or
any specific sexuality focus. And so the question remains…what to do
about that?

* How do we dispel the myth that KinkForAll is a BDSM event?
* How do we encourage racial diversity?

It's worth noting we're not the only people or group dealing with
these problems, so I'm going to be doing a lot of research over the
next weeks (and probably extending to months) about what people not in
this group think about these challenges, and I would encourage
everyone else to do the same. After all, what is KinkForAll about if
it's not about pooling lots of different people's information from
different sources into one place to do something amazing? :)

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://groups.google.com/group/kinkforall/browse_thread/thread/2ae6551aadde16ce/633bedd27d7e72dd#msg_b14a20211c03197f

iron rose

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Sep 23, 2009, 9:32:00 PM9/23/09
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 * How do we dispel the myth that KinkForAll is a BDSM event?
 * How do we encourage racial diversity?


Two suggestions:

* Mentoring: This works for improving diversity in other organizations.  I'm not sure how to apply it to us in particular, but perhaps several people could volunteer to be "Mentors", perhaps to under-represented groups.  Like, for instance, I could agree to be listed as a mentor for non-monogamy.  I would agree to answer any questions people might have, help with putting together and practicing presentations about non-monogamy or a specific aspect of polyamory, and generally be a friendly face to be someone you know who is "on your side" to help you feel more comfortable at the event. 

One way to implement this might be to have a "Mentor" page where people would put up a little profile about their interests / background and their email address, so anyone who wants the extra help could have people to contact.  Another way to implement this might be to have a few people who were willing to be in charge of matching up mentors and mentees.   We would have to talk about how to be a good mentor, and what that would mean.

(We probably want to call it something else, but you get the idea.  "Friendly Guides"?)

I also want to note that you do NOT need to be the same race/background/subculture as the person you are mentoring.  It can be helpful, but a lot of the success of mentoring has more to do with whether you work well together personality-wise than what your personal choice of identity is.

* Some of what I'm hearing is that people look at previous presentation grid to get an idea of what to expect to see at a kfa.  To avoid reinforcing previous trends, perhaps we should have like a brainstorm page, of presentations people might want to give, or of presentations people might like to see.  That might help spark ideas for other people, or someone might see a presentation topic listed there and suddenly realize, "hey, I could give a presentation on that!" where before they might think that no one would be interested in what they have to see.  We can also use this to avoid a particular skew, because we can always add topics on things that we haven't seen in prior kfa's to encourage a more diverse topic set.


Finally, I would like to reframe this discussion in terms of a *positive* question ("How do we increase the participation of under-represented groups") instead of continuing to frame it in terms of a *negative* question ("How can we fix the over-representation of the bdsm community").  I think we all realize that the two questions are really the same, but the latter means that a lot of our conversation on-list has focused on the bdsm community to the exclusion of any other community.  If we want to welcome other communities let's at least start talking to them (well, us), as a first step.  I'm part of multiple communities, as I expect many of you are as well, but on this list I feel like the focus is on how I relate to the bdsm community, rather than any of my other "labels".

In a similar way, let's not assume this group is made up of white, middle class, geeky people.  This erases the existence of those of us who do not fit into that category (like me) and perpetuates the cycle.  When I hear something like that I think that no one wants to hear about my experience (or maybe even my existence) as a non-white person.  It tells me that the default assumption on this list is that everyone is white, middle-class, and geeky unless otherwise explicitly contradicted.  This is where language is very important, and there is a distinct difference in saying "This community is white" and in saying "There are many white people in this community."  The former erases my existence.  The latter does not.  Even so, why do we assume this list and this community is majority white, or middle class, or even geeky?  On the internet, you have no idea what race or economic class I am.  The Boston KinkForAll did in fact end up being full of white people, which does seem to suggest that the list is similarly biased, but we do not actually have data and the list includes much much more than just Boston.

I also see some places in the wiki where it looks like the language is addressed to the bdsm community in specific.  For instance, under "what to expect", there's a link "KinkForAll is not a play event".  That's a phrase that's relavent to the bdsm scene but not necessarily to all other communities.  (I don't think that's relavent to the poly community, for instance...)  A more general way of phrasing that might help.  Perhaps "There is no sex at KinkForAll."  Using language that addresses a specific community reinforces the impression that that community is the main audience.

-ironrose

PS: I feel like I need to explicitly note that I'm not attacking or addressing anyone personally.  None of us are completely free from bias, no matter what our background is.  What's important is how willing we are to change and improve.

maymay

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Sep 23, 2009, 9:37:47 PM9/23/09
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I have't had time to read all of this email, but I did notice this
when I skimmed it:

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:

> I also see some places in the wiki where it looks like the language
> is addressed to the bdsm community in specific. For instance, under
> "what to expect", there's a link "KinkForAll is not a play event".
> That's a phrase that's relavent to the bdsm scene but not
> necessarily to all other communities. (I don't think that's
> relavent to the poly community, for instance...) A more general way
> of phrasing that might help. Perhaps "There is no sex at
> KinkForAll." Using language that addresses a specific community
> reinforces the impression that that community is the main audience.
>
> -ironrose

That's a really, *really* good point, ironrose. I do know that "play"
is used in a number of other sexuality communities, but you're right
in saying that such language presupposes a certain degree of knowledge
that's inappropriate for the context. Can you make some edits to that
page along the lines you suggested to improve the text there? If
someone contests the changes you make we can always discuss the edits
in the wiki page comments or back on this list. But I really like that
point and would love to see those changes implemented.

Syd Gottfried

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Sep 23, 2009, 9:42:03 PM9/23/09
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Just wanted to pop in really quickly and say that I LOVE the mentor idea. 

But I'm thinking of it a little more like ambassadors from each specific community.  I like the idea of there being a page on the KFA site that's like "KFA Ambassadors" with a small photo and profile of all the different ambassadors, which could include, among other things, the various communities that they are involved in.  This would instantly show a diverse community to new comers, and help make non-BDSM people feel like they have an alli, or at least somebody who they can relate to, in the KFA community.  There could also be a small blurb about how if you are interested in KFA, please don't hesitate to contact any of the ambassadors, etc etc.  And then people could choose the person they would feel most comfortable talking to, who would then assure them that they are, of course, welcome and encouraged to come to a KFA.

Of course those are just some quick thoughts of mine, and of course the idea needs work, but I think its an idea with real potential!  Yay for good ideas!

iron rose

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Sep 23, 2009, 9:59:10 PM9/23/09
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I personally find that "ambassador" has the wrong connotations here.  An ambassador is someone who leaves zir own country to talk to people in a different, foreign country.  Where in this case the other communities aren't really "foreign" communities at all; they're our own communities and we are part of the same communities already. 

I also prefer a less formal word for something as informal as KFA.

Brainstorming:  "Welcomers"?  "KFA Buddies"?  "Guides"?  "Greeters"?

-ironrose

Syd Gottfried

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Sep 23, 2009, 10:16:19 PM9/23/09
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Hmm good point.  I don't like the idea of "Mentors" or "Buddies" or anything that sounds too reminiscent of a high school big sib, little sib program.  Maybe "Greeters," but isn't that what they are called at Wal Mart?

Syd

James Richard Sheldon

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Sep 23, 2009, 10:24:01 PM9/23/09
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They use ambassador in some of the groups here as the title for the person that does newcomer orientation..


From: iron rose <ironr...@gmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:59 PM

To: kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Subject: [KinkForAll] Re: KinkForAll and Diverse Community Outreach

I personally find that "ambassador" has the wrong connotations here.  An ambassador is someone who leaves zir own country to talk to people in a different, foreign country.  Where in this case the other communities aren't really "foreign" communities at all; they're our own communities and we are part of the same communities already. 

I also prefer a less formal word for something as informal as KFA.

Brainstorming:  "Welcomers"?  "KFA Buddies"?  "Guides"?  "Greeters"?

-ironrose

On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 9:42 PM, Syd Gottfried <syds...@gmail.com> wrote:
Just wanted to pop in really quickly and say that I LOVE the mentor idea. 

But I'm thinking of it a little more like ambassadors from each specific community.  I like the idea of there being a page on the KFA site that's like "KFA Ambassadors" with a small photo and profile of all the different ambassadors, which could include, among other things, the various communities that they are involved in.  This would instantly show a diverse community to new comers, and help make non-BDSM people feel like they have an alli, or at least somebody who they can relate to, in the KFA community.  There could also be a small blurb about how if you are interested in KFA, please don't hesitate to contact any of the ambassadors, etc etc.  And then people could choose the person they would feel most comfortable talking to, who would then assure them that they are, of course, welcome and encouraged to come to a KFA.

Of course those are just some quick thoughts of mine, and of course the idea needs work, but I think its a


[The entire original message is not included]

maymay

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Sep 23, 2009, 10:46:58 PM9/23/09
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Having had a chance to read this over, some more thoughts are below:

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:42 PM, Syd Gottfried wrote:

> Just wanted to pop in really quickly and say that I LOVE the mentor
> idea.

Having "mentors" or "ambassadors" is absolutely cool. Win for all, I
think. It's also a little tricky. One of the neat things about
KinkForAll is the lack of organizational hierarchy. Formal mentorship
feels very much hierarchical, and it doesn't sit well with me.

I think ironrose was on the right track when she said,

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:

> I'm not sure how to apply it to us in particular, but perhaps
> several people could volunteer to be "Mentors", perhaps to under-
> represented groups.

I think this is absolutely in-line with the great points that were
made at the Diversity Discussion at KFABOS, where Maja (I think?) made
said that we can all be "ambassadors of KinkForAll to our friends".

Which is why I'm concerned with the way this idea seemed to be
developing in both ironrose's and Syd's last emails:

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:

> I could agree to be listed as a mentor for non-monogamy. I would
> agree to answer any questions people might have, help with putting
> together and practicing presentations about non-monogamy or a
> specific aspect of polyamory, and generally be a friendly face to be
> someone you know who is "on your side" to help you feel more
> comfortable at the event.
>
> One way to implement this might be to have a "Mentor" page where
> people would put up a little profile about their interests /
> background and their email address, so anyone who wants the extra
> help could have people to contact. Another way to implement this
> might be to have a few people who were willing to be in charge of
> matching up mentors and mentees. We would have to talk about how
> to be a good mentor, and what that would mean.

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:42 PM, Syd Gottfried wrote:

> I like the idea of there being a page on the KFA site that's like
> "KFA Ambassadors" with a small photo and profile of all the
> different ambassadors, which could include, among other things, the
> various communities that they are involved in.

I love the idea that people who want to be one can be an ally to
people in other communities, but I dislike the idea of singling these
people out. *Everyone* should be doing this. Rather than appoint
people to the task or have people volunteer for it "special", I think
this is something that we should build in to the community resources
like our web presence at a much more fundamental level.

Any page that lists names and faces on the KinkForAll wiki is, in my
opinion, not in keeping with the ad-hoc nature of the thing. I may
have created 99% of the content on the wiki right now, but I sure
don't want my name on the content itself, and I don't want other
people's names there either. As an analogy, and I'm sorry for its
technical nature (I can't think of something better), this is the same
principle behind why my favorite open source software projects
actively disallow author names in source code files. :)

So while the motivation for such a welcoming face is wonderful, I
don't think the implementation where individuals are singled out is
appropriate at all.

Instead, I suggest that we take the best ideas from what ironrose and
Syd have discussed and apply them to pure content only, not people. So
rather than a page with guides highlighting *people*, perhaps we could
start thinking of a page on the wiki geared towards describing various
in-roads to "the KinkForAll community" or highlight particular things
about this community (and past presentations) that might broaden the
scope for interested parties.

For example, could a page like the HowToParticipate page that we
already have[0] be expanded to include, or perhaps link to, content
that highlights a particularly diverse set of past presentation media?
Maybe constructing something like that and using that as a landing
page to point newcomers to might do a better job of highlighting our
desired diversity instead of sending them to previous schedule grid
archive pages. What do you think?

I believe focusing on content, over people, is going to be far more
successful with regards to *engaging* people. Like Syd so wonderfully
said here, I think the goal of:

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:42 PM, Syd Gottfried wrote:

> make non-BDSM people feel like they have an alli, or at least
> somebody who they can relate to, in the KFA community.

could be accomplished that way, too.

So that's some of my ideas on the notion of mentorship/ambassadoring/
etc.

Another great suggestion from iron rose was:

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:

> * Some of what I'm hearing is that people look at previous
> presentation grid to get an idea of what to expect to see at a kfa.
> To avoid reinforcing previous trends, perhaps we should have like a
> brainstorm page, of presentations people might want to give, or of
> presentations people might like to see. That might help spark ideas
> for other people, or someone might see a presentation topic listed
> there and suddenly realize, "hey, I could give a presentation on
> that!" where before they might think that no one would be interested
> in what they have to see. We can also use this to avoid a particular
> skew, because we can always add topics on things that we haven't
> seen in prior kfa's to encourage a more diverse topic set.

This is a really strong concept, and it's a great idea. In fact, some
of this already exists in the form of the pre-registration signup table.

The rightmost column of every signup table on each wiki homepage (and
in the templates for new ones) includes a column with the heading
"Presentation Topic". As you already probably know, since there is no
set agenda at KinkForAll and since there are no prescheduled
presentations, this presentation topic column has no purpose except to
brainstorm. It does not guarantee anyone a slot to make a
presentation, and even if someone signs up with one presentation topic
they may end up doing another (like I did, actually…).

So the sole purpose of this presentation topic column is to provide a
community whiteboard, if you will, for each event where people can get
and give presentation ideas before the event itself. (This is also one
reason why it's so damn helpful to get people signing up ahead of the
event itself.[1]) So this piece of ironrose's suggestion already
exists! :D

One of the things I've been trying to do is whenever I see someone
list a topic that sounds cool to me for a KinkForAll I'm planning to
be at, I send them a personal email (since they often list some form
of contact info in one of the other columns as well), telling them how
cool I think their presentation topic is. (There have been some pretty
rad presentation topics.) Doing stuff like that is what I consider
"being a KinkForAll ambassador/mentor." I don't wait for people who
already feel uncomfortable to come to me, I go out to them. Otherwise
I'm not an ambassador or a mentor, I'm just a receptionist.

Sadly, the issue with these brainstorm topic columns is that they show
the same skew as the schedule grid archive pages, and so they have the
same problem of intimidating people who don't align with the sexuality-
specific skew they show. Therefore, I think we should really think
through suggestions of adding more of these. They serve a really
important purpose, and so do the schedule archive pages, but both of
these tools can also backfire on us.

The point I want to make very clear about all these thoughts is that
it's difficult to use any tool to showcase diversity if that diversity
isn't reflected in the people who are using the tool. Iron rose says
that "We can also use this to avoid a particular skew, because we can

always add topics on things that we haven't seen in prior kfa's to

encourage a more diverse topic set.", but I wonder: who will think up
the diverse topics? I know I can't do that all by myself, and I doubt
any group of people more closely bound by similarity rather than
diversity will successfully do so, either.

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:

> Finally, I would like to reframe this discussion in terms of a
> *positive* question ("How do we increase the participation of under-
> represented groups")

Yes! +1. I've been trying my best to do exactly that in the situations
where the topic is general enough to be phrased that way. Please do
call me out whenever I fail to do that. :) I appreciate having
hundreds of eyes looking at what I write and keeping me on target!

> a lot of our conversation on-list has focused on the bdsm community

That's true, but I don't think that's necessarily an inappropriate
thing for us to focus on. After all, talking about things solely in
generalities is usually more confusing than helpful. Specifics and
examples sourced from the reality that people are experiencing is an
absolutely essential component of making things better and more diverse.

> why do we assume this list and this community is majority white, or
> middle class, or even geeky? On the internet, you have no idea what
> race or economic class I am. The Boston KinkForAll did in fact end
> up being full of white people, which does seem to suggest that the
> list is similarly biased, but we do not actually have data and the
> list includes much much more than just Boston.

I think this is another argument entirely, but briefly, although I
don't think we have something like census data on the topic, we do
actually have significant data about how overwhelmingly white and
upper-middle-class the majority of public sexuality spheres are (at
least in America, which is the only country where a KinkForAll has
happened so far), and most of that data has actually come from people
like Mollena Williams in SF and Sir Guy in NYC (both African-American
people involved in public sexuality communities), with whom I've had
personal conversations in which they describe public sexuality spheres
as lacking African-American members, and whom have written and spoken
about this in public many times.

I would love to get hard numbers for this sort of thing, but that's
obviously got it's own set of challenges. :) In the absence of hard
numbers though, I think it's just as important that we don't dismiss
the statements and experiences of people like Mollena or Sir Guy.
Claiming to be significantly racially diverse when we're not is, IMHO,
worse than not even trying to be inclusive of diverse races in the
first place.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://wiki.kinkforall.org/HowToParticipate
[1] http://wiki.kinkforall.org/GuideToPre-eventActivities#BuildingInterest

iron rose

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Sep 24, 2009, 12:41:38 AM9/24/09
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Having "mentors" or "ambassadors" is absolutely cool. Win for all, I
think. It's also a little tricky. One of the neat things about
KinkForAll is the lack of organizational hierarchy. Formal mentorship
feels very much hierarchical, and it doesn't sit well with me.

I think ironrose was on the right track when she said,

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:

> I'm not sure how to apply it to us in particular, but perhaps
> several people could volunteer to be "Mentors", perhaps to under-
> represented groups.

I think this is absolutely in-line with the great points that were
made at the Diversity Discussion at KFABOS, where Maja (I think?) made
said that we can all be "ambassadors of KinkForAll to our friends".


My point is, what about people who don't already have friends as part of our community?  Who will be the friends to them, to answer their questions and to help them figure out this kfa thing and to reassure them that this is for them too?  Most people easily make friends with others who are like them, with whom they have common ground.  This perpetuates a cycle in which a majority remains the majority.  Mentors are necessary to provide the "friend" relationship in a way that does *not* develop naturally, because of broader societal effects.  If I hadn't been friends with someone in the group already, who helped reassure me and answer my questions, I would never have gotten involved.  I hear similar things from other people.

The personal aspect of this is important here.  Especially when faced with a group in which you do not feel like you belong, knowing just one person who makes you feel welcome and who you feel like is "on your side" helps a lot.  This is not something that can be replaced by a web page. 

The core of mentoring is in connecting two people, one of which already has some "belonging" to a group, and the other of which is searching for that belonging.  We can fiddle with everything else about the idea, but if we remove the aspect of connecting two people, we remove the whole point.  There are people who do not have friends who are already part of KfA, and those are the people who are probably the most different from us and who in the interests of diversity we would like to attract. 

I'm not sure what you're thinking when you think about mentoring, but here's one example of a very simple self-organized mentoring program which we could implement:  Have a link on the main website which reads "Have questions?  We can help." (or something).  The link goes to a separate page called "Ambassadors" or "Friends" or "Mentors" or whatever the heck we end up calling it.  At the top there's a little blurb about what being on the list means.  Then there's a list of names & email addresses, where people can add themselves if they want to be on the list.  I think we want a bit more than this, but this is the core of what mentoring is.  The mentoring is about addressing the mentee's needs, not the mentor's - think of the mentor more as customer-support than as a teacher.

It's late now, I'll respond to the rest later.  I just think that you are getting the wrong idea about what mentoring is about so I want to correct it.  It doesn't have to be hierarchial at all.  (The word "Mentor" does have formal and hierchial connotations, but we already know we want a different name.)  If you still don't like mentoring, well, I still think we should implement it.  This is a very powerful tool for increasing diversity and representation, and it'd be a shame not to find some way we can adapt it to work for us.

-ironrose

maymay

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Sep 24, 2009, 2:19:55 AM9/24/09
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On Sep 23, 2009, at 9:41 PM, iron rose wrote:

> My point is, what about people who don't already have friends as
> part of our community? Who will be the friends to them, to answer
> their questions and to help them figure out this kfa thing and to
> reassure them that this is for them too?

Like I said in my previous email, I think that's *everyone's* task.
Appointing specific people or highlighting specific volunteers to do a
task that is so central to a community that everyone should be doing
it makes no sense to me.

> Most people easily make friends with others who are like them, with
> whom they have common ground. This perpetuates a cycle in which a
> majority remains the majority. Mentors are necessary to provide the
> "friend" relationship in a way that does *not* develop naturally,
> because of broader societal effects. If I hadn't been friends with
> someone in the group already, who helped reassure me and answer my
> questions, I would never have gotten involved. I hear similar
> things from other people.

What you describe has certainly happened, but so has other things.

TTBOMK, Jack Stratton is a good example of someone who learned about
KinkForAll through the grapevine and turned out to really like it.
Avatar Koo is another example of someone who had no friends in the
community, reached out to me, and now has a recording up at KFANYC2's
Vimeo page. I like to think that I did a pretty good job of
"mentoring" her and reassuring her that she was welcome and wanted and
needed, and I'm pretty confident that other people can do what I did
to help others like her become a participant just as well if not
better than I did.

There are other examples I could cite, like Bitsy, whom I met at Sex
2.0, saw for the second time ever at KinkForAll Boston, but who ended
up saving the day for KinkForAll Boston, as you know. Then there's
Sigrid, who donated $200 to KFANYC1 from across the continent just
'cuz she thought KFA was a good idea, and I'd consider that a pretty
strong vote of involvement. No one reached out to her personally,
AFAIK. Let's see…there's also Adrian, who did a presentation at
KFANYC2 and KFABOS, who'd heard about KinkForAll through the Internet
(my MaleSubmissionArt.com blog, actually). There's HotShot315, who
heard about KinkForAll 3 *days* before attending and leading 2
presentations at KFABOS, and who was responsible for the awesome
projector KFABOS had.

And all this happened without any KFA mentorship programs. :)

Basically, I think it's wonderful that people are hearing about
KinkForAll through all sorts of different ways, and I'm getting an
impression that you're making an incorrect assumption about the ways
in which people are involving themselves (or not involving themselves)
based upon your own experience.

> The personal aspect of this is important here. Especially when
> faced with a group in which you do not feel like you belong, knowing
> just one person who makes you feel welcome and who you feel like is
> "on your side" helps a lot. This is not something that can be
> replaced by a web page.

There's absolutely no question the personal aspect is important! You
couldn't be more right about that! That's precisely why I responded so
positively when Avatar Koo reached out to me when I was promoting
KinkForAll. If the personal connection she was trying to make with me
got a less-than-glowing reply, she may have never wanted to go to a
KinkForAll in the first place and would have been turned off by the
whole idea. Thankfully I assured her that "vanilla-covered boots" (her
words) were not just welcome but necessary, and the rest is happy
history.

You bring up the good point that the real problem is that some people
feel as though they do not belong. That's what this diversity thread
is designed to address. It's good to see that we're in agreement about
needing to find a way to make people feel like they really do have a
place here, regardless of who they are or what kind of sex they're
"into."

That's why spotlighting individual human beings seems a really
inappropriate way to do that in a flat unconference structure like
KinkForAll. To put it technically, doing so changes the topology of
the communication network and it's a flat-out mistake.

One idea that comes to mind reading your thoughts, however, is that
back in November 16, 2008, when I was just beginning to compose
TheRulesOfKinkForAll wiki page, I've been hoping that people would
write what I called "ThankYouLetters"[0] (I didn't want to use the
word "testimonial" because it was icky-corporate-sounding). Somewhere
along the way that got moved from TheRulesOfKinkForAll and
incorporated into Chris's "HowToParticipate" page[1] but changed so it
now reads:

> Other ways to show your support
>
> • Send thank you emails to the (public) discussion list.


I remember that early on, Sara pushed people who were on this list and
participated in KFANYC1 to do this, too. Sadly, no one seems to have
done this. Perhaps now's the time to re-encourage people who have had
good experiences to share them either on this list or elsewhere and
begin to aggregate quotes and other testimonial-like "thank you"s on a
wiki page?

I'm thinking that this would be more helpful than highlighting
mentorship in the way you've proposed since it addresses the need for
people who have "no friends" in this community to believe that they
will make some while at the same time passing all the goodness on by
keeping the community's communication flat and open and public at all
times. What do you think of this?

> The core of mentoring is in connecting two people, one of which
> already has some "belonging" to a group, and the other of which is
> searching for that belonging. We can fiddle with everything else
> about the idea, but if we remove the aspect of connecting two
> people, we remove the whole point.

I think we're both talking about connecting people, aren't we…? Not
sure where you got the impression that I didn't think making
connections between folks is a good idea…. Maybe you can help me
understand that part?

> There are people who do not have friends who are already part of
> KfA, and those are the people who are probably the most different
> from us and who in the interests of diversity we would like to
> attract.

You seem very focused on this idea of friends. I would like to
understand why that's so. It seems backwards to suggest that people
who do not have friends in a community they are not yet a part of need
to have a friend in it in order to become one. That's plain as day.
The solution is not to make them believe they have a friend, but to
show them that they can make friends. The way to do that is never to
tell them who they should befriend first. If that were how I was
approached by KinkForAll, I would feel it was…disrespectful. Let's not
do that to people; let's let them make their own informed choices with
*all* the information at their disposal.

> I'm not sure what you're thinking when you think about mentoring,
> but here's one example of a very simple self-organized mentoring
> program which we could implement: Have a link on the main website
> which reads "Have questions? We can help." (or something). The
> link goes to a separate page called "Ambassadors" or "Friends" or
> "Mentors" or whatever the heck we end up calling it. At the top
> there's a little blurb about what being on the list means. Then
> there's a list of names & email addresses, where people can add
> themselves if they want to be on the list. I think we want a bit
> more than this, but this is the core of what mentoring is. The
> mentoring is about addressing the mentee's needs, not the mentor's -
> think of the mentor more as customer-support than as a teacher.

That all sounds great except for the customer support part, which
sounds repulsive to me. I wonder, in your experience, has your
participation in KinkForAll been similar to interacting with a company
who has a support department? If so, please tell us about that.

The text on this hypothetical page you're describing sounds like what
we already have on the wiki's home page:

> New here? Learn HowToParticipate. Read our Diversity page. Join the
> KinkForAll Mailing List,[…]


It sounds like you're suggesting a tweak to that wording, so it reads
perhaps something like:

> "New here? Learn HowToParticipate. Ask questions on the KinkForAll
> Mailing List. Have a look at our Diversity page,[…]


In fact, that's a pretty good edit, I think. I'll go make that change
now. Cool. Done. :) Thanks for the idea! I think that's an
improvement! :D

So anyway, the concept I'm trying to get across here is that rather
than linking to individual email addresses on a new page like the one
you suggest, I think a link from a page like that should at least be
to *this mailing list* and should not make recommendations about who
in this community to contact for what. There's already a gigantic list
of member names and email addresses on this Google Group, plus a list
of "top posters",[2] which by definition lists the most active people
on this list and thus the people most likely to respond when someone
sends an email here. In fact, ironrose, you're currently "top poster"
#4. Cool! :)

> It's late now, I'll respond to the rest later. I just think that
> you are getting the wrong idea about what mentoring is about so I
> want to correct it. It doesn't have to be hierarchial at all. (The
> word "Mentor" does have formal and hierchial connotations, but we
> already know we want a different name.) If you still don't like
> mentoring, well, I still think we should implement it. This is a
> very powerful tool for increasing diversity and representation, and
> it'd be a shame not to find some way we can adapt it to work for us.
>
> -ironrose

I think we should totally "implement mentoring" and I think that the
way to do that is by actively going out to other communities in person
and online and finding people who we think would be interested in
joining the KinkForAll community or who we would like to see join the
KinkForAll community and talking to them and then answering their
questions when they come back to you with them. *That's* "implementing
mentoring" as it applies to this community. That's what this entire
diversity thread is trying to encourage us to do, isn't it? What
you're describing sounds like shuffling text around and hoping people
you haven't reached out to yet show up and send you an email.

I can tell you from experience that actually reaching out to folks is
going to have a bigger impact. Waiting around for emails after putting
your name on a web page will mostly just get you spam. ;)

As a followup question:

On Sep 23, 2009, at 6:32 PM, iron rose wrote:[3]

> * Mentoring: This works for improving diversity in other
> organizations.


Can you provide some examples and references for the situations in
which "mentoring" has worked? Perhaps looking at the specifics of what
other organizations have done, along with what their organizational
goals were (beyond just "improving diversity"—what did that mean to
the organizations for whom "mentoring worked") and the specific
circumstances that surrounded the success these other organizations
had can give us some more insight into what we should consider doing.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/TheRulesOfKinkForAll.2008-11-16-12-13-13
[1] http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/HowToParticipate
[2] http://groups.google.com/group/kinkforall/about
[3] http://groups.google.com/group/kinkforall/browse_thread/thread/2ae6551aadde16ce/633bedd27d7e72dd#msg_018f2753bcc30c8e

The Distinguished ...

unread,
Sep 24, 2009, 4:51:48 PM9/24/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
Greetings,

In the SCA we use "Gold Key" or "Chatelaine" (holder of the keys). It
might be different enough to cause people to stop and have to build new
associations, which is often a good thing at a learning conference.

Percival

On Wed, 2009-09-23 at 19:24 -0700, James Richard Sheldon wrote:
> They use ambassador in some of the groups here as the title for the
> person that does newcomer orientation..
>
>
> ______________________________________________________________________

Bitsy

unread,
Sep 26, 2009, 6:51:47 PM9/26/09
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
My partner wanted me to post this for him, so:

On Sep 20, 4:44 pm, maymay <bitetheappleb...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I've been very loud about my dislike for this skew so I won't rant
> again, but I did want to say that I appreciate your sharing this
> experience with the list, Bitsy. It's important that these things are
> raised here, because clearly your partner—who if he almost left at the
> event itself within minutes of arriving—would not come onto this list
> to explain why he did that of his own volition.

As Bitsy’s partner in question, let me try to shed a little light. I am a bi man in a poly relationship entering one of the white-shoe professions. As I have a (future) professional reputation built on my name, I am very shy with fully revealing myself to any non-mainstream group (e.g. no pictures, asking Bitsy to send this rather than doing so myself). While certain aspects of kink (defined broadly) have some appeal to me, I have found the (literally) violent nature of most kink events I’ve been to somewhat unsettling. I suppose some of it flys in the face of my nurturing instinct.

That said, as bi and poly I do not fit in. I’ve been to various GLBT communities, and feel that I’ve been schluffed off to the side rather immediately – I’m dating a woman and so don’t belong. It seems to me that any majority has a way of asserting it’s prominence and sidelining or suppressing its minorities (e.g. treatment of transfolk in the GLBT community, particularly with respect to proposed federal legislation).

I think Bitsy summed it up well. I have essentially zero interest in the whips and chains aspect of kink, and was simply not interested in attending classes focused on that aspect. Exploration is all well and good, but, being in grad school, my homework competes for time with the rest of my life and I have to be careful to balance the two. Given the schedule when the classes started, I stayed for one session that seemed promising, looked at the schedule again, decided nothing for the next hour or two would likely hold my interest well enough to justify putting off my work, and so I left.



Bitsy

unread,
Sep 26, 2009, 6:57:13 PM9/26/09