Important questions and clarifications about KinkForAll

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maymay

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Dec 23, 2008, 12:40:33 PM12/23/08
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In a private conversation on FetLife, CableFlame (C4bl3Fl4m3) sent me
this message about KinkForAll. CableFlame asks some fantastic and very
important questions in this message, and so I wanted to cross-post it
to this list and answer them here. I've been granted permission to
publish the full message below:
> Honestly, I have to say, having watched plenty of friends pull
> together both sex and hacker cons, I think this March is too
> ambitious of a goal for a major unconference. I'd do something this
> March, a trial run on a much smaller scale, but shoot for the March
> after THAT as the main conference.
>
One of the very important tenets of making KinkForAll a success is
that it is relatively easy to reproduce the event again and again,
frequently and in geographically diverse locations. What that means is
that size is *not* a goal, it's a byproduct. To that end, ambitions of
holding a "major" unconference are wonderful, but need not be the
thrust of efforts. Moreover, because of these things, there is no such
thing as "the main conference."

Two things will help KinkForAll's size grow: time and demand. Since we
can do nothing about controlling time, the way to grow the event is to
grow the demand. The way to do that is by making things happen true to
concept. We're already doing that, so we just need to keep on keeping
on.

With that in mind, it's clear to see why the model of semi-regular or
annual large-scale events simply does not work for KinkForAll, just as
it does not work with BarCamp. (As an aside, who on this list has
attended a BarCamp?) Again, KinkForAll is based around the idea of
local communities coming together, and doing so all over the world.
Growth *must* be organic and that means it *must not* be a primary
focus of a single event. This is not unlike watching a pot; just let
it happen and, sure enough, it will.
> That being said, if the goal of KinkForAll is the spread of sexual
> information, esp. to communities not already reached by our
> traditional forms of reaching out, I think that talking about this
> on FetLife is a bit of preaching to the choir.
>
Oh, absolutely! I totally agree. There are many goals of KinkForAll,
and spreading sexual information to non-sex communities is one of
them, but so is cross-pollinating the various sexuality communities
with information from the others. Of course, we must start somewhere,
right? And what better place to start singing than in the choir? ;)
> I'm glad that we're getting kinky folks involved. (Someone has to
> teach) I agree that it will benefit the young folk who can't afford
> the cons and such (I'm one of them... I get comped volunteer
> positions whenever I can), but that being said, we want to spread
> WIITWD as well as other sexual information to society at large. So I
> think it's important to reach out to FLOSS, Creative Commons,
> DiYers, activists, hackers, and other non-sex communities who are
> sex positive.
>

Again, absolutely! Non-sex communities who are sex-positive have a
*crucially important* role in spreading sexuality information, so I am
all for getting them as interested as humanly possible in
participating in KinkForAlls all over the place. :) Also, many of
those non-sex communities have a lot to TEACH the sex communities
about, and so it's important to remain receptive to letting them
speak, too. In other words, it's not just the kinky people who are
expected to be leading sessions at these events.

Many of those non-sex communities can be reached already, but we can
always do more. For example, I'm involved in the FLOSS community,
which is not sex-positive per-se but many of the people with whom I
interact at technology conferences turn out to be very sex-positive.
Therefore, I talk about sexuality and the overlap between sex and
technology *A LOT,* and when I do I become a bridge on which the
people who are "FLOSS folk" can walk to also become "sex-positive
folk." Unfortunately, I am just one person and can only reach so many
people, even in the FLOSS community. That's why reaching out to
Creative Commons, DIYers, hackers, and others will be incredibly
valuable.

Further, KinkForAll as a concept and the sexuality communities at
large will benefit immensely from the diversity that inclusion of
these alternative non-sex communities will bring. Diversity like that
is the single most valuable factor for any social movement to succeed.
Incidentally, that's also how social movements grow, so focusing on
this diversity is a much better way to grow the size of all the
KinkForAll event and their derivations than to simply focus on
attracting a large crowd of kinky people.
> I think that the focus might be narrowed more to reach the "proper
> audience", as much as I LOVE the idea of the more broad focus and I
> hope it can be pulled off. IS this a kink unconvention? Is this a
> general sexuality unconvention? Who is our "audience"? Kinksters?
> Open society folks? All of the above?
>

In brief: all of the above. The fact of the matter is that cross-
communal events have failed time and time again in part because of a
narrow *sexuality* focus. I would know, as I've tried time and time
again to make them succeed. KinkForAll aims to be as open as possible
insofar as the sexuality topics addressed so that the benefits of
cross-pollination can be realized. (However, see below for an example
of how narrowing our focus *is* beneficial.)

This is what's so powerful about the BarCamp-style "only participants"
idea: the audience ARE the participants. This makes the whole idea of
"you get what you bring" so explicit it can't not slap you in the
face. Narrowing a KinkForAll's focus to particular sexuality audiences
breaks this fundamental principle. Keeping it open means that it's
allowed to evolve (and grow) organically, potentially with different
areas of focus in different geographic localities or at different
instances of events and, at the same time, receptive to people who
want to bring something new and different into the space. Again,
narrowing the focus is the same as closing a door, and KinkForAll is
specifically about opening all the doors that it possibly can.

So to directly answer the "who is this for?" question, the answer is:
Everyone and anyone who has anything at all to say about sex. Defining
the concept as a whole as a "BDSM unconference" is missing the point,
as is defining it as a "general sexuality unconference." Individual
events may skew in one direction or another, but the concept as a
whole really needs to be left open to proliferate.

See also, "Is there any specific sexuality focus at KinkForAll, such
as, say, kinky sex?" on the FAQ page:
http://kinkforall.pbwiki.com/FrequentlyAskedQuestions#IsthereanyspecificsexualityfocusatKinkForAllsuchassaykinkysex
> If it's a kink thing, will there be a dungeon? If there's a dungeon
> but it's open for non-kinksters, how will we stop "gawking tourist"
> syndrome? How will we ensure that everyone plays by the rules
> (doesn't interfere with others scenes, etc) and that everyone plays
> in a safe or risk aware way? DMs? Also, we are at risk at running
> into legal problems teaching these issues or having a dungeon open
> to people of certain ages. As well, if this happens in NYC, you
> can't have penetration in a dungeon (I found this out attending
> Paddles, one of the BDSM clubs there.) So will there be a separate
> place for sex? Will that cover the legalities? Or will there have to
> be no penetration period?
>

KinkForAll is not a play event. No play happens at KinkForAll.

This is in part because allowing play is exactly the kind of thing
that will make the concept completely inaccessible to a wide array of
people for one reason or another. Also, taking on the challenge of
allowing play will cause so much overhead that the concept no longer
becomes viable since it's no longer easy-to-reproduce. Moreover, there
are literally dozens upon dozens of play events across America and the
rest of the world. If you had the money and the time, you could be at
a play event every month of the year. There is simply no need to
create yet another play event—even and perhaps especially not for the
socioeconomically challenged.

I explicitly want to focus away from play and onto other things that
all the conferences and events today are not focusing on because
that's the only way to create something truly different. Again,
playing is also a huge barrier to entry for many people (especially
people not from the sex communities), and that's just not the case
with talking. I'd much rather people meet at a KinkForAll and then go
home to play together than worry about providing a place for them to
play at the event itself. Of course, if people want to organize play
events to coincide with KinkForAll, I'd happily support that, as long
as the separation of church and state, as it were, is maintained.

To quote from the wiki, "KinkForAll is about talking with one another,
not playing with one another."

See also, "Is there a play space at KinkForAll? (Dungeon, sex rooms,
etc.?)" on the FAQ page:
http://kinkforall.pbwiki.com/FrequentlyAskedQuestions#IsthereaplayspaceatKinkForAllDungeonsexroomsetc
> I love the idea and I want this thing to happen, but there's a LOT
> to be worked out and a LOT of issues that need to be addressed.
>

Yup, I'm with you on that: this mailing list is the place to hash
everything out. Bear in mind that KinkForAll is not about competing
with or mimicking larger sex conferences or events on a smaller or
cheaper scale. This unconference fills a very different need and it's
critical to keep that other need locked in our sights at all times.
Rigid organization is the enemy of fluidity and a barrier to
spontaneous cooperation. We don't want that.

Everything we do should therefore be done in the simplest, most
inexpensive, and fastest way possible. To borrow a phrase: YAGNI! That
stands for You Ain't Gonna Need It[0]! It means: "Always implement
things when you actually need them, never when you just foresee that
you need them."

For example, we don't need registration because people can just show
up and grab a name tag. We don't need a programming committee because
people will schedule their own presentations by using a sticky note
and markers on a piece of paper with a schedule grid. We don't need
caterers because people will be responsible for their own lunch, or
will bring food to share with others. And so on and so forth. We *do*
need a venue, and we may need other infrastructure, and we already
know we need markers, sticky notes, name tags, and large pieces of
paper, so it's those things we know we need—and only those things—that
we should be focusing on getting.

I hope all of this more clearly articulates what my ideas of the
concept look like. Naturally, I want to hear what you guys think about
this. Agree or disagree, please let me know either way about what and
why. One thing I will ask of you ahead of time, though, is to trust me
at least a little bit: we *can* do this, and we *don't* need a lot of
money, or a lawyer, to do it. I promise.

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

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YAGNI

Clarisse Thorn

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Dec 23, 2008, 7:24:51 PM12/23/08
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
The amount of work you're putting into this is inspiring, Maymay!


On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:40 AM, maymay <bitethea...@gmail.com> wrote:
Oh, absolutely! I totally agree. There are many goals of KinkForAll,
and spreading sexual information to non-sex communities is one of
them, but so is cross-pollinating the various sexuality communities
with information from the others. Of course, we must start somewhere,
right? And what better place to start singing than in the choir? ;)

I am very interested in the question of trying to build a "generally sex-positive audience", because that's part of what I'm trying to do in Chicago.  Who are you talking to besides the kink community?  Where are you promoting?  Personally I have been trying to get in touch with gender studies and sexuality professors; harm reduction advocates; AIDS activists; and free speech groups, on top of LGBTQ and kink groups.
 
As a side note, to go back to the camera thing.  I understand what you're saying about wanting everyone in attendance to understand that they may be recorded even if they are wearing those nametags.  I worry, however, that this will strongly discourage attendance.  In particular, I suspect that people who identify with sexualities even more marginalized than kink (arguably furries, for instance, or water sports) will write off KinkForAll if they think that going means a chance of being photographed even if they ask not to be.

This isn't to say that I think recording should be disallowed, because I do believe recording is a noble goal.  But I think it will encourage attendance if there is a more effective way to demonstrate one's unwillingness to be recorded -- you know, better than wearing an easily-missed nametag.  For instance, maybe certain areas of the venue should be specifically designated as recording-free.

Clarisse
clarissethorn.wordpress.com

maymay

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Dec 23, 2008, 9:41:43 PM12/23/08
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On Dec 24, 2008, at 11:24 AM, Clarisse Thorn wrote:

The amount of work you're putting into this is inspiring, Maymay!

Thanks, Clarisse. :) I might just be one of those crazy people who believes that, with a little help from his friends, the world can be better.

On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:40 AM, maymay <bitethea...@gmail.com> wrote:
Oh, absolutely! I totally agree. There are many goals of KinkForAll,
and spreading sexual information to non-sex communities is one of
them, but so is cross-pollinating the various sexuality communities
with information from the others. Of course, we must start somewhere,
right? And what better place to start singing than in the choir? ;)

I am very interested in the question of trying to build a "generally sex-positive audience", because that's part of what I'm trying to do in Chicago.  Who are you talking to besides the kink community?  Where are you promoting?  Personally I have been trying to get in touch with gender studies and sexuality professors; harm reduction advocates; AIDS activists; and free speech groups, on top of LGBTQ and kink groups.

I'm personally talking it up to everyone I know and anyone who I don't know that shows interest in talking about sexuality topics. I'm not actively going too far out of my way, so I haven't gotten in touch with academics, although that is surely a worthwhile thing to do. I've personally been involved with a number of different sexuality communities for almost a decade now, which means I do have a bit of a reach, but no one can reach everyone.

Like all the other things about KinkForAll, I'm doing this in a very "YAGNI" sort of way. That means that instead of focusing on building a marketing department, I'm just doing marketing as part of normal conversation. Obviously, this is working, because it's gotten you wonderful people interested and involved. As I have already done, you can now talk to your friends and peers and do whatever sorts of promotion you think will be valuable (such as contacting sexuality professors, harm reduction activists, AIDS activists, and all the other groups you mentioned—very valuable indeed).

Personally, I've talked KinkForAll up at the recent Open Source Developer's Conference[0], I've mentioned it at WebBlast, and I've obviously been promoting the idea in and around BDSM-centric circles. The technology and BDSM communities are the two communities where I have the most influence, so naturally that's where my promoting the idea has the most impact. I don't have a lot of influence in the other communities, so I haven't been able to reach them as much as I want. But make no mistake: I very much want them to be inspired and take part in this as well!

I hope that makes sense, and is helpful…? :)

As a side note, to go back to the camera thing.  I understand what you're saying about wanting everyone in attendance to understand that they may be recorded even if they are wearing those nametags.  I worry, however, that this will strongly discourage attendance.  In particular, I suspect that people who identify with sexualities even more marginalized than kink (arguably furries, for instance, or water sports) will write off KinkForAll if they think that going means a chance of being photographed even if they ask not to be.

This isn't to say that I think recording should be disallowed, because I do believe recording is a noble goal.  But I think it will encourage attendance if there is a more effective way to demonstrate one's unwillingness to be recorded -- you know, better than wearing an easily-missed nametag.  For instance, maybe certain areas of the venue should be specifically designated as recording-free.

This note about the camera thing is something I'll answer in a second email because, as its a distinct topic, I don't want to mix up the email threads with one another. (Pet peeve of mine.)
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