[KinkForAll] The "Spirit" of KFADEN [was: KFADEN: Lightning Quick Updates]

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Rebecca Crane

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Feb 1, 2012, 5:43:14 PM2/1/12
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On Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 2:28 PM, Isaac <i.w....@gmail.com> wrote:
Nice to "meet" you too.  I think we've been orbiting each others
social circles for quite some time. :)

Hehe. That tends to happen. It's a small town. :)
 
I hope you don't mind but I'd like to offer some constructive
criticism.  It might be worth while to put something in a much more
visible place that more clearly outlines exactly what the "spirit of
KFA" is.  

Hm. It's interesting to think about how to articulate that concisely... Which is kind of one of the problems. The "spirit of KFA" is, I suspect, a little bit illegible - which is this jargonny word we keep throwing around to describe a situation in which someone can't imagine that something exists, so that when they run up against it, they just read it as being something else.

You and many of the people reading this list probably already totally get this. But, for example, folks who don't know that genderqueerness is a possibility, rather than meeting a genderqueer person and thinking "huh, I don't know what this person's gender is", will often just automatically read them as being one of the binary genders and unthinkingly interact with them as such. This is a problem for a friend of mine who is applying for a job where, apparently, one of the hiring managers assumes he's male and the other one assumes he's female. This, as you can imagine, has lead to a lot of confusion. In that situation, my friend's gender is illegible - and that illegibility is, in certain ways, more of a pain in the ass than BOTH people thinking, "I don't know what this person's gender is."

One of the particular ways that illegibility sucks is that it makes it almost impossible to talk concisely about a thing to anyone who doesn't already know a lot about that thing. To anyone else, it sounds like a joke or a paradox.

The "spirit of KinkForAll", as I see it, is something like...see, it's hard for me to put into words even here, where everyone I'm talking to knows lots about what I'm talking about. It's an event about sexuality that's not about being sexual. Does that make sense? I don't know how to put that on a tagline that will be legible to people picking up a flyer in a coffeeshop. And, in fact, I think the pages and pages of discussion on this list about exactly how to communicate about KFA speak to this exact problem. We're trying to quickly tell people that something is happening which isn't even on their radar as a possibile thing that happens.

Most importantly, at least re: my personal agenda, is this: I want KFADEN to be unintimidating. Another way of saying this is that I want KFADEN to be welcoming. But I'm specifically concerned with trying to unravel the ways that events related to sexuality, gender, relationships, and any kind of "alternative" anything, can often feel intimidating to folks who are afraid they don't "belong" there when they absolutely do. Not because I want to do "charity" or outreach of some kind, but because I believe those are the people whose experiences and identities, whose position in the grey areas and self-questioning spaces, I'm most curious about and that I have the most to learn from.
 
Based on the material I'd seen both on the pbworks page,
promotional materials (posting on Fetlife, facebook, etc), and from
word of mouth (Siren, Evey, and Ben), I was thinking it was much less
structured topically, even if the format of the day was well
organized.  It seemed to me that it was quite open to skill demo and
sharing, live participation [...]

Yeah. Ben pointed that out to me too. We've been talking a little bit off-list about how words read to different people. Ben and maymay have both helped me understand that words like "skillshare" and "workshop" get read differently in BDSM discourse than the ways I'm intending them or that people generally understand them in wider society. This is the same problem with "Kink". It's misleading to BDSM folks - because it suggests that the space is about BDSM. "Workshop" and "skillshare" seem to suggest that the space is about, um, something like flogging demos, etc?

I think I'm resistant to writing our promotional copy based on how the BDSM scene traditionally interprets that jargon, for the same reason that the originators of KinkForAll were resistant to re-naming their event based on how the BDSM scene interprets the word "kink". To do otherwise feels like pandering. And I don't want to pander to one (fairly privileged) community's understanding of certain words at the expense of being able to communicate well widely and broadly.
But that does mean that it's going to be extra hard to communicate with the BDSM community about the character of this illegibly non-sexy sexuality event. And, thus, part of why I feel like I'd ideally like to keep promotion within the BDSM community to word-of-mouth between people who do have a strong sense of the "spirit" of KinkForAll and are good at communicating about it. But, as you pointed out, there's lots and lots of overlap (it's a small town!), so I realize that's kinda wishful thinking.

Still, for what it's worth, for anyone who does want to try and be a "translator" to the BDSM community - either by talking to your friends or by giving us better ideas for different words to use - this is what I'd ideally hope to communicate: KFADEN isn't about the BDSM community. Which is not to say that it can't be about BDSM, it just isn't about BDSM. Does that make sense? Probably not. Sorry.

What I'm trying to say is: I, personally (and this is just my own personal vision), would love it if people who are passionate about the role BDSM plays in the rest of their lives would come to the come KFADEN and talk about that. I would love it if they would talk about it (regardless of who else is actually there) with the presumption that most of their audience will not be people who are interested in BDSM. (Even though, regardless of who is actually there, they probably will be to some degree; the "kink" vs. "vanilla" false paradigm is bullshit and I believe that for people living and loving in an institutionally violent culture, the "BDSM" vs "not-BDSM" paradigm of intimacy is probably equally BS.) Still, what I personally want from people who want to talk about BDSM (and who want to talk about polyamory, and who want to talk about queerness, and who want to talk about physics, etc.) is for them to think, "What do I have to say about this that really matters, is important, interesting, exciting or empowering, to people who are not like me?"

I know there will probably be a lot of people at KFADEN, perhaps even most, who have some relationship to the BDSM scene or to some other intimidating, insular, heterogenous social universe or several. But I want to dream that we can all suspend our disbelief and show up in good faith that we're about to be surrounded by lots and lots of people who we're very different from, who don't understand what our lives are like, and who want to. And that if enough of us unorganize, talk to each other, and show up in that "spirit", that it will be infectious to anybody who showed up not knowing what to expect - or expecting something else.

I had actually come to this page from the Facebook event, and at a
quick glance I see a number of other people (who aren't on the signup
sheet) who have varying degrees of BDSM experience and exposure, and
given the degree of overlap between poly relationships and sex
positivism in many facets of the local 'scene' I wouldn't be surprised
if many attendees ended up being some flavor BDSM folks.  I mean, the
discrepancy between the dozen or so on the check in sheet and the 50
on the fb page is pretty drastic, which ties back into the more
visible communication point.

All that being said, you're totally right about this. And I appreciate you pointing it out - because I think I've had a bit of an "intentional blind spot" about it because I really want to believe KFADEN isn't just going to be a whole bunch of people who already know each other and think they know all about each other. But, again, I don't really have a good solution. Except to say, as I said earlier in a thread, that the best antidote to bad information is more information. So, y'know, I really hope people will go talk about this thread on Fetlife and on Facebook.

And I don't want to try and increase diversity by excluding people or ideas, which means I (and hopefully others!) will have to increase it by reaching out to people who aren't in any of the sexuality communities - and thinking about ways to make KFADEN relevant to them. Which is something we've been trying to do. I've made it a point to think about every friend I have who I would never consider inviting to a sex party or even a polyamory discussion group, and figuring out what might make KFADEN fun for them, and talking to them about it. For what it's worth, I'm actually considering inviting my Dad. :)

And now I should really, really get back to work.

Looking forward to meeting you in person. :)

- R
 

On Feb 1, 1:30 pm, Rebecca Crane <rebeccacr...@gmail.com> wrote:
> P.S. Hello Isaac! It's nice to meet you. :-) Thanks for the expanding on
> your thoughts. I'm super excited to see what you end up presenting on.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM, Isaac <i.w.fl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Ok, I'm getting caught up a bit here, and while I'm not quite a total
> > stranger to Google Groups, I'm still fairly newbish, so please pardon
> > my dust.
>
> > Ben and I do know each personally, and we've talked about the
> > underlying ideas I've had rattling in my head.  Frankly, maymay is
> > absolutely correct, and the title I used as a descriptor: ("non-
> > sensual sadism" vs "sensual dominance") is yawn inspiring and also not
> > terribly clear.  They're terms that I've seen used particularly
> > locally in the Scene and come directly out of works like Loving
> > Dominant, SM101 and the pervasive sense of hetero-normative male led
> > relationships and sexuality that drips off of books like them and
> > their proponents become identifiable simply by that language.  If
> > anything maymay's reaction to the title shows just how thoroughly
> > entrenched the ideas of "sensual dominance" are in stereotypical BDSM
> > culture, and how much they deserve to be challenged. It's not merely a
> > feminist issue of male vs female dominance, but one that has aspects
> > of switch, queer, bisexual and trans invisibility behind it.  I meant
> > for the quotes to denote a certain air or irony in using those words,
> > but alas, using a wiki as a notepad does not lend well to that style
> > of communication.
>
> > I can say that for me personally, BDSM practices have a strong
> > intersection with my sexuality, and I'll be interested in
> > presentations and discussions which are BDSM focused or even just
> > tangentially related. That being said, I'm likely to avoid those that
> > sound like rehashing of the entry level materials that IMNSHO are
> > fostering this sense of classism, though as a rabble rouser I'm not
> > above using the language and mindset that it fosters as a form of
> > challenging those systems of ideas.  The idea of having this concept
> > of the loving, caring, sexually dominant who is invariably male and
> > his counterpart the strict, merciless disciplinarian who is simply
> > sadistic and appears asexual or uncaring, with no room for those who
> > engage otherwise is one that is no less close to me and I enjoy
> > challenging it on a personal level and when possible with the language
> > that's developed to reinforce it.  It leaves little room for those of
> > us who experience power exchanges more fluidly, or who play outside
> > that very small but very visible box, and that very thinking ends up
> > relegating women to either sex object and "toys" or sex workers for
> > men who are too weak/afraid/etc to embace the "loving dominant" within
> > them.  I'd be happy beyond belief, by the way, to have suggestions on
> > a title for a talk that ran along those lines.
>
> > Additionally, there are times when I incorporate religious themes into
> > my play, both as an act of worship and an act of sacrilege.  It's
> > roots are all over the place and it's been done for ages and ages.
> > Too often now, I see that expression of 'play' relegated to 'energy
> > work' or focused on as merely an eroticization of authority and the
> > like. Expressing sacred sexuality through kinky mediums is something
> > that I think is often over looked, or under utilized even by those who
> > find the need for genuine worship.  I may not be able to speak to all
> > spiritual frameworks but the goal of something like that presentation
> > would be to inspire those who're inclined to begin to think of
> > spiritual expression and sexual expression as things which are not by
> > necessity discrete. That one can inspire the other, and be used to
> > enrich them both simultaneously.
>
> > As far as designer flesh, that is by far the clearest.  This has a
> > number of expressions, though also overlooked.  Our bodies are pretty
> > malleable.  People alter them for beauty, some for their own concept
> > of beauty. Others chase after someone else's ideal sense of perfect
> > beauty.  Some see themselves as a canvas, and other simply alter their
> > body to reflect internal identities.  Even modification for enhanced
> > pleasure or sexual practices is possible, or those that alter
> > themselves in a way that limits or removes their ability to engage in
> > the more 'vanilla' concept of sex. The limitations here are bounded by
> > imagination, and the reasons for doing it are nearly as varied.  The
> > fact is that nearly every person sculpts themselves in some way and
> > it's more a matter of degree. With this class I'm aimed and helping
> > people become conscious of it, and intentional with it.
>
> > Speaking for Denver in my experience, I expect that most of the BDSM
> > overlap we're likely to see at KFA are likely to be more open to
> > expressions other than the "stereotypical bullshit" simply because of
> > the structure of the scene here and the personal involvements.  I
> > expect we may see some faux pas like assuming that kink is really
> > another term for BDSM, or that communication is just negotiating
> > better, but by and large I think these will be matters of exposure and
> > learning and that the educational experience KFA has the potential to
> > be is key in teaching others about that.  There may be a huge push to
> > be seen as and present yourself as an educator here in Denver in the
> > BDSM scene as a form of self promotion, but by and large I've seen
> > more people be open to alternate views here, than any other city I've
> > participated publicly with.
>
> > Isaac
>
> > On Feb 1, 11:32 am, maymay <bitetheappleb...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > On Feb 1, 2012, at 8:17 AM, Benjamin Kowalski wrote:
>
> > > > maymay, you wrote: "The Scene (ugh) is doing enough (legitimately
> > GOOD) work..."  Oh, the hell it is.
>
> > > All right, you caught me. :) I was being "nice." I don't think The Scene
> > is doing "good work," I think it's awful and I'm so fed up with it I'm
> > almost ready to burn it down.[0]
>
> > > > You seem to be saying that these particular BDSM-related talks don't
> > need to happen at KFA because they could happen instead in mainstream BDSM
> > venues, but I think you're being too optimistic there.  Let use Isaac as an
> > example, since I'm fairly sure he won't mind... he'd proposed talking about
> > how phrases like "sensual dominance" are deployed in the mainstream Scene,
> > and especially in its attempts at education/outreach, in a way that centers
> > middle-class hetero male-dom couples and renders everyone else (even more)
> > invisible.  I really, honestly don't think this would fly in a mainstream
> > BDSM conference, and not only because that culture is prone to gatekeeping
> > and privilege-blindness and so forth, but also because the conventional
> > class/conference model lends itself more, by its very economic structure,
> > to topics that are flashy and sexy and have broad appeal.
>
> > > Just to make sure we're on the same page, are we both talking about this
> > row in the sign up table on the Wiki?[1]
>
> > > > 11.        Isaac           i.w.fl...@gmail.com      Unorganize(tea
> > service, water pitchers, electrical cords & power strips), attend, maybe
> > present     Kink as worship/spirituality(?), "non-sensual sadism" vs
> > "sensual dominance" (?), Designer Flesh: Body Mod as Beauty
>
> > > If so, then you have information about Isaac's intentions that I do not.
> > Maybe you know Isaac personally? I do not.
>
> > > If what's behind the words "non-sensual sadism vs sensual dominance" is
> > an attempt to inspire conversation about the piss-poor way the BDSM Scene
> > does education and outreach while confronting its privilege-blindness, as
> > you describe, then I think you're totally right: that wouldn't fly in a
> > mainstream BDSM Scene conference. Moreover, like you, I'd also personally
> > encourage that kind of discussion happening at a KinkForAll, or anywhere
> > else for that matter. (It actually reminds me of prior KinkForAll sessions
> > such as "Yellow Fever: Being an Asian Woman in the West"[2] at KFANYC2 and
> > "The Dangers of Misrepresentation" from KFAPVD[3] which, IIRC, were both
> > run by people who identified as submissive women and touched on challenges
> > they face in mainstream BDSM Scene culture that I've rarely heard
> > articulated in The Scene's spaces for exactly the reasons you talk about,
> > Ben.)
>
> > > But a much-needed and relatively subversive topic was not what I "heard"
> > Isaac going for when I read the words "non-sensual sadism vs. sensual
> > dominance," though, so your understanding of what he'd proposed is vastly
> > different from mine.
>
> > > For someone like me (and I'd be willing to wager that for many people
> > who are trying to discern what KFADEN is going to be like) getting to your
> > interpretation would require a LOT of reading between the lines. While I'm
> > obviously hyper-vigilant about BDSM Scene bullshit that I'm ready to brace
> > against it whenever I see it, mainstream BDSM Scene-State members[4]
> > wouldn't be bracing, they'd be reading something like Isaac's topic and if
> > their interpretation is anything close to mine, they're likely thinking,
> > "Oh yay, another presentation about styles of sadism and dominance that I
> > can go to and pick up more tips and tricks about how to play with my new
> > toys."
>
> > > In other words, all these topics that sound "stereotypically
> > BDSM-related" to me remind me of the kind of prior KinkForAll sessions I've
> > been wanting to see less and less of, such as "Loving Violence: The Power
> > of Punching" at KFANYC2,[5] which sounds like it could be a really good
> > opener to talk about the way BDSM *is* violence even though the BDSM Scene
> > denies that fact,[6] or it could've been a way to talk about symbology of
> > violence and why so many activist symbols use fists in the air to signify
> > resistance, or it could've been a way to talk about a ton of fascinating
> > totally awesome topics.
>
> > > But instead it was yet another presentation about play punching
> > presented by one person who
>
> ...
>
> read more »

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Rebecca Crane

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Feb 1, 2012, 7:29:19 PM2/1/12
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P.S. I just want to make it clear that I'm totally not the arbiter of what KFADEN is about. I know I went off on a bit of a rant back there. I do care about this event very much. And I will own that I have a particular (and probably unrealistically optimistic) vision for it. But a huge part of that vision is that it's a collaborative effort that's not all about me and my agenda. I really don't want to be so attached to my idea of KFADEN that it keeps KFADEN from becoming something awesome that I couldn't have imagined it being.

So, I apologize if that came off in any way as, "THIS IS HOW IT'S GOTTA BE!" :P  Despite my disproportionate posting on the list, there are a lot of great people involved, who are doing a lot of work, and who don't necessarily all agree with me - and it's gonna be the thing we're all making it together. :)

maymay

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Feb 1, 2012, 9:51:48 PM2/1/12
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
On Feb 1, 2012, at 2:43 PM, Rebecca Crane wrote:

The "spirit of KFA" is, I suspect, a little bit illegible - which is this jargonny word we keep throwing around to describe a situation in which someone can't imagine that something exists, so that when they run up against it, they just read it as being something else.
[…]

One of the particular ways that illegibility sucks is that it makes it almost impossible to talk concisely about a thing to anyone who doesn't already know a lot about that thing. To anyone else, it sounds like a joke or a paradox.

Oh, yes, *this.*[0] :(

The "spirit of KinkForAll", as I see it, is something like...see, it's hard for me to put into words even here, where everyone I'm talking to knows lots about what I'm talking about. It's an event about sexuality that's not about being sexual. Does that make sense? I don't know how to put that on a tagline that will be legible to people picking up a flyer in a coffeeshop. And, in fact, I think the pages and pages of discussion on this list about exactly how to communicate about KFA speak to this exact problem. We're trying to quickly tell people that something is happening which isn't even on their radar as a possibile thing that happens.

[…]

We've been talking a little bit off-list about how words read to different people. Ben and maymay have both helped me understand that words like "skillshare" and "workshop" get read differently in BDSM discourse than the ways I'm intending them or that people generally understand them in wider society. This is the same problem with "Kink". It's misleading to BDSM folks - because it suggests that the space is about BDSM. "Workshop" and "skillshare" seem to suggest that the space is about, um, something like flogging demos, etc? 

I think I'm resistant to writing our promotional copy based on how the BDSM scene traditionally interprets that jargon, for the same reason that the originators of KinkForAll were resistant to re-naming their event based on how the BDSM scene interprets the word "kink". To do otherwise feels like pandering. And I don't want to pander to one (fairly privileged) community's understanding of certain words at the expense of being able to communicate well widely and broadly.
But that does mean that it's going to be extra hard to communicate with the BDSM community about the character of this illegibly non-sexy sexuality event. And, thus, part of why I feel like I'd ideally like to keep promotion within the BDSM community to word-of-mouth between people who do have a strong sense of the "spirit" of KinkForAll and are good at communicating about it. But, as you pointed out, there's lots and lots of overlap (it's a small town!), so I realize that's kinda wishful thinking.

So, one of the things that I've been hoping this list could actually do is exactly what it's doing in all these (really great) discussions: making something illegible that seemed to exist only in my head for a long time and make it legible to the people who had the (privileged) power to change it. See also "influence the influencers."[1]

What that means, in practice, is that I've been hoping that as people got interested in KinkForAll, including but not limited to people in the BDSM community (which Isaac astutely pointed out is already a huge overlap of people who have RSVP'ed on the Facebook/FetLife/etc. pages but *not* on the wiki),[2] they would join the discussion list here and/or sign up on the wiki so that they would be exposed to the discussions here.

Evey has been a wonderful case-in-point of someone who undoubtedly has SO MUCH to add to the discussions that could happen at KFADEN that *wouldn't* happen in the "mainstream" BDSM community, and also as someone whose expectations and preconceptions have changed based on their (apologies if that isn't an acceptable gender pronoun for you, Evey, let me know what pronoun you use and I'll change my language in reference to you from now on) participation on this list PRE-event.

That is part of why it's so, so, so important to me that we continue to encourage people to sign up on this list and to actually sign-up for KFADEN on the wiki, not just on Facebook/FetLife. That's even stressed over and over again in the wiki,[3] it is so important. (Read the "Encouraging wiki sign-ups is important for many reasons" section.)

Still, for what it's worth, for anyone who does want to try and be a "translator" to the BDSM community - either by talking to your friends or by giving us better ideas for different words to use - this is what I'd ideally hope to communicate: KFADEN isn't about the BDSM community. Which is not to say that it can't be about BDSM, it just isn't about BDSM. Does that make sense? Probably not. Sorry.

Actually, that does make sense, at least to me. It's similar, in my mind, to issues of "gaze." To use a BDSM-centric example (since, fuck it, why not?) saying that something is "about *X*,  but not *about* X" mirrors the way I talk about the distinction between "male submission" and "femdom," and why I feel so damned illegible when http://MaleSubmissionArt.com gets listed under "femdom" in porn directories.

What I'm trying to say is: I, personally (and this is just my own personal vision), would love it if people who are passionate about the role BDSM plays in the rest of their lives would come to the come KFADEN and talk about that. I would love it if they would talk about it (regardless of who else is actually there) with the presumption that most of their audience will not be people who are interested in BDSM. (Even though, regardless of who is actually there, they probably will be to some degree; the "kink" vs. "vanilla" false paradigm is bullshit and I believe that for people living and loving in an institutionally violent culture, the "BDSM" vs "not-BDSM" paradigm of intimacy is probably equally BS.) Still, what I personally want from people who want to talk about BDSM (and who want to talk about polyamory, and who want to talk about queerness, and who want to talk about physics, etc.) is for them to think, "What do I have to say about this that really matters, is important, interesting, exciting or empowering, to people who are not like me?"

I know there will probably be a lot of people at KFADEN, perhaps even most, who have some relationship to the BDSM scene or to some other intimidating, insular, heterogenous social universe or several. But I want to dream that we can all suspend our disbelief and show up in good faith that we're about to be surrounded by lots and lots of people who we're very different from, who don't understand what our lives are like, and who want to. And that if enough of us unorganize, talk to each other, and show up in that "spirit", that it will be infectious to anybody who showed up not knowing what to expect - or expecting something else.

Yes. *Nodding soooo much.*

So, what you have called a "translator," above, we (as in, "the people who have participated in discussions like this with regards to KinkForAll in the past") have termed "community ambassadors" in the past.

There was even a session at KinkForAll Boston entirely devoted to this topic, called "Diversity Discussion from the Mailing List."[4]

I had actually come to this page from the Facebook event, and at a
quick glance I see a number of other people (who aren't on the signup
sheet) who have varying degrees of BDSM experience and exposure, and
given the degree of overlap between poly relationships and sex
positivism in many facets of the local 'scene' I wouldn't be surprised
if many attendees ended up being some flavor BDSM folks.  I mean, the
discrepancy between the dozen or so on the check in sheet and the 50
on the fb page is pretty drastic, which ties back into the more
visible communication point.

All that being said, you're totally right about this. And I appreciate you pointing it out - because I think I've had a bit of an "intentional blind spot" about it because I really want to believe KFADEN isn't just going to be a whole bunch of people who already know each other and think they know all about each other. But, again, I don't really have a good solution. Except to say, as I said earlier in a thread, that the best antidote to bad information is more information. So, y'know, I really hope people will go talk about this thread on Fetlife and on Facebook.

And I don't want to try and increase diversity by excluding people or ideas, which means I (and hopefully others!) will have to increase it by reaching out to people who aren't in any of the sexuality communities - and thinking about ways to make KFADEN relevant to them. Which is something we've been trying to do. I've made it a point to think about every friend I have who I would never consider inviting to a sex party or even a polyamory discussion group, and figuring out what might make KFADEN fun for them, and talking to them about it. For what it's worth, I'm actually considering inviting my Dad. :)

And now I should really, really get back to work.

Looking forward to meeting you in person. :)

- R

Yeah. So, really, this shit is HARD. And I can't thank you, Rebecca, and you, Ben, and you, Isaac, and you, Evey, and everyone else who's been participating in this discussion because I think it's really important and really valuable.

For what it's worth, you are absolutely correct, Rebecca, in pointing out that one reason I have been resistant to modifying the language that I've been using in order to attempt to preempt much of the confusion coming from the BDSM community's response to this (admittedly illegible-to-many-of-them) event is to avoid pandering. I don't want to let *opposition* to the mainstream BDSM community's reading/interpretation of KinkForAll, or even "kink" for that matter, *define* what this is.

That being said, I have become hyper-sensitive to that kind of misreading and Isaac correctly points out the disparity in people-who-have-expressed-interest-who-also-hail-at-least-in-part-from-the-BDSM-community versus those who have expressed interest who are not already familiar with that social context and subculture.

On that note, I'd like to direct everyone's attention, yet again, to these two pages on the KinkForAll wiki:

* "Principles of KinkForAll" was an attempt to succinctly articulate the purpose and, for lack of a better word, "spirit" of KinkForAll events without falling into the trap of defining ourselves *against* BDSM misinterpretation, while also using language that is broad enough to include other perspectives:


* As a supplement to that, the "Principles and Methods" page is a table showing where WHAT we do aligns with WHY we do it:


I hope this helps.

And again, thanks for everyone's thoughts. This is super valuable and I'm sure will get referenced in the future, so thanks for having this discussion in an archivable format. *THIS* is as much "the spirit of KinkForAll" as the actual event, no matter what the event turns out to look or feel like.

Cheers,

Isaac

unread,
Feb 1, 2012, 11:11:20 PM2/1/12
to KinkForAll
Ever have that moment where you've heard some amazing things and are
all but chomping at the bit to get something out? That's me, now. I
had actually started a reply to Rebecca earlier which is now gutted
though there a couple salient points I want to squeeze in. Before
that though, I want to say that I've never been this excited about an
internet discussion that was this open and expressive.

I think if I were to aim for the super concise version of what you're
describing KFA as, it's about the nature of sexuality without it being
a practical demonstration of sexuality. Now for the population at
large I'd also specifically outline things like sexual identity and
all the varying intersections, though for those of us here (at least
so far) I think that suffices. I want to make sure I'm understanding
you correctly. I'm guilty of feeling a bit like I hit the jackpot
with one of my topics more out of luck than intention. I personally
tailor any kind of information I present to the anticipated crowd and
expectations for the space, so when I have my material edited and
shaped, I want to be respectful to both the listeners as well as the
intention of the space. That being said, I'm also guilty of only just
now becoming aware that the Principles pages existed. Now I have a
much better target in mind and can shape my words appropriately.

As far as language choices, I'd say that to my eyes, workshop probably
does more to indicate practical demonstration than skillshare to me,
not merely for BDSM language but the idea that it's somehow a hands on
kind of instructional format. That is to say that were I to go to a
writing workshop, I'd have some expectation that I'd be writing. This
sounds much sharper than I really mean it, but I think that the idea
of a sexuality workshop in that wording would be intimidating to most
laypeople as well. Believe me I fully support the idea of taking a
stance on wording as a mechanism I think that there's a difference
between pandering to the BDSM community and being open to them and
it's important to be aware which it is that we're doing and what the
perception is as well as the intention.

We have in front of us a massive opportunity here to participate in a
huge amount of outreach to EVERY sub-community of kink aware and sex
positive cultures in Denver and I'm of the opinion that it'd be an
enormous waste of that opportunity if we didn't utilize it as a way of
opening up the eyes of those who's gaze is either lazy, uniformed,
unexposed or just uncaring. This has the potential to be an enormous
outreach and instructional opportunity and I am afraid that we'll lose
the ability to accomplish great things because of a fear of being
overwhelmed by the homogeneous mindset. What you, Rebecca say about
enough of us being there and contributing well allows us to be
infectious is SO apt, because we can be part of the wave that helps to
"reclaim" BDSM from some of the insular and pervasive ideas that've
persisted because *no one has challenged them effectively or
persistently*.

I'm going to own something right here, because it's incredibly apt. I
have a foot in the local gay community, the queer community, the poly
community, occasionally the swinging community, and am rather heavily
invested in the BDSM community. I have my own blind spots many of
which are unintentional, some are more me being critical. I typically
refer to relationships casually as being Femdom or Maledom or some
variant thereof, regardless of whether the relationship is M/m, F/f, F/
m or M/f. That's my habitual use of BDSM jargon which has become more
or less ingrained in me and I never stopped to think more fully about
the submission labels and how they define the relationship. maymay
has challenged me on that use of words, and I find myself wanting to
change how I use that language.

Also, I'm now incredibly excited about KFA and meeting those of you I
haven't yet. I'm looking at you, Rebecca and you, maymay. :D

Isaac


On Feb 1, 7:51 pm, maymay <bitetheappleb...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Feb 1, 2012, at 2:43 PM, Rebecca Crane wrote:
>
> > The "spirit of KFA" is, I suspect, a little bit illegible - which is this jargonny word we keep throwing around to describe a situation in which someone can't imagine that something exists, so that when they run up against it, they just read it as being something else.
> > […]
> > One of the particular ways that illegibility sucks is that it makes it almost impossible to talk concisely about a thing to anyone who doesn't already know a lot about that thing. To anyone else, it sounds like a joke or a paradox.
>
> Oh, yes, *this.*[0] :(
>
> > The "spirit of KinkForAll", as I see it, is something like...see, it's hard for me to put into words even here, where everyone I'm talking to knows lots about what I'm talking about. It's an event about sexuality that's not about being sexual. Does that make sense? I don't know how to put that on a tagline that will be legible to people picking up a flyer in a coffeeshop. And, in fact, I think the pages and pages of discussion on this list about exactly how to communicate about KFA speak to this exact problem. We're trying to quickly tell people that something is happening which isn't even on their radar as a possibile thing that happens.
>
> > […]
>
> > We've been talking a little bit off-list about how words read to different people. Ben and maymay have both helped me understand that words like "skillshare" and "workshop" get read differently in BDSM discourse than the ways I'm intending them or that people generally understand them in wider society. This is the same problem with "Kink". It's misleading to BDSM folks - because it suggests that the space is about BDSM. "Workshop" and "skillshare" seem to suggest that the space is about, um, something like flogging demos, etc?
>
> > I think I'm resistant to writing our promotional copy based on how the BDSM scene traditionally interprets that jargon, for the same reason that the originators of KinkForAll were resistant to re-naming their event based on how the BDSM scene interprets the word "kink". To do otherwise feels like pandering. And I don't want to pander to one (fairly privileged) community's understanding of certain words at the expense of being able to communicate well widely and broadly.
> > But that does mean that it's going to be extra hard to communicate with the BDSM community about the character of this illegibly non-sexy sexuality event. And, thus, part of why I feel like I'd ideally like to keep promotion within the BDSM community to word-of-mouth between people who do have a strong sense of the "spirit" of KinkForAll and are good at communicating about it. But, as you pointed out, there's lots and lots of overlap (it's a small town!), so I realize that's kinda wishful thinking.
>
> So, one of the things that I've been hoping this list could actually do is exactly what it's doing in all these (really great) discussions: making something illegible that seemed to exist only in my head for a long time and make it legible to the people who had the (privileged) power to change it. See also "influence the influencers."[1]
>
> What that means, in practice, is that I've been hoping that as people got interested in KinkForAll, including but not limited to people in the BDSM community (which Isaac astutely pointed out is already a huge overlap of people who have RSVP'ed on the Facebook/FetLife/etc. pages but *not* on the wiki),[2] they would join the discussion list here and/or sign up on the wiki so that they would be exposed to the discussions here.
>
> Evey has been a wonderful case-in-point of someone who undoubtedly has SO MUCH to add to the discussions that could happen at KFADEN that *wouldn't* happen in the "mainstream" BDSM community, and also as someone whose expectations and preconceptions have changed based on their (apologies if that isn't an acceptable gender pronoun for you, Evey, let me know what pronoun you use and I'll change my language in reference to you from now on) participation on this list PRE-event.
>
> That is part of why it's so, so, so important to me that we continue to encourage people to sign up on this list and to actually sign-up for KFADEN on the wiki, not just on Facebook/FetLife. That's even stressed over and over again in the wiki,[3] it is so important. (Read the "Encouraging wiki sign-ups is important for many reasons" section.)
>
> > Still, for what it's worth, for anyone who does want to try and be a "translator" to the BDSM community - either by talking to your friends or by giving us better ideas for different words to use - this is what I'd ideally hope to communicate: KFADEN isn't about the BDSM community. Which is not to say that it can't be about BDSM, it just isn't about BDSM. Does that make sense? Probably not. Sorry.
>
> Actually, that does make sense, at least to me. It's similar, in my mind, to issues of "gaze." To use a BDSM-centric example (since, fuck it, why not?) saying that something is "about *X*,  but not *about* X" mirrors the way I talk about the distinction between "male submission" and "femdom," and why I feel so damned illegible whenhttp://MaleSubmissionArt.comgets listed under "femdom" in porn directories.
>
> > What I'm trying to say is: I, personally (and this is just my own personal vision), would love it if people who are passionate about the role BDSM plays in the rest of their lives would come to the come KFADEN and talk about that. I would love it if they would talk about it (regardless of who else is actually there) with the presumption that most of their audience will not be people who are interested in BDSM. (Even though, regardless of who is actually there, they probably will be to some degree; the "kink" vs. "vanilla" false paradigm is bullshit and I believe that for people living and loving in an institutionally violent culture, the "BDSM" vs "not-BDSM" paradigm of intimacy is probably equally BS.) Still, what I personally want from people who want to talk about BDSM (and who want to talk about polyamory, and who want to talk about queerness, and who want to talk about physics, etc.) is for them to think, "What do I have to say about this that really matters, is important, interesting, exciting or empowering, to people who are not like me?"
>
> > I know there will probably be a lot of people at KFADEN, perhaps even most, who have some relationship to the BDSM scene or to some other intimidating, insular, heterogenous social universe or several. But I want to dream that we can all suspend our disbelief and show up in good faith that we're about to be surrounded by lots and lots of people who we're very different from, who don't understand what our lives are like, and who want to. And that if enough of us unorganize, talk to each other, and show up in that "spirit", that it will be infectious to anybody who showed up not knowing what to expect - or expecting something else.
>
> Yes. *Nodding soooo much.*
>
> So, what you have called a "translator," above, we (as in, "the people who have participated in discussions like this with regards to KinkForAll in the past") have termed "community ambassadors" in the past.
>
> There was even a session at KinkForAll Boston entirely devoted to this topic, called "Diversity Discussion from the Mailing List."[4]
>
> > I had actually come to this page from the Facebook event, and at a
> > quick glance I see a number of other people (who aren't on the signup
> > sheet) who have varying degrees of BDSM experience and exposure, and
> > given the degree of overlap between poly relationships and sex
> > positivism in many facets of the local 'scene' I wouldn't be surprised
> > if many attendees ended up being some flavor BDSM folks.  I mean, the
> > discrepancy between the dozen or so on the check in sheet and the 50
> > on the fb page is pretty drastic, which ties back into the more
> > visible communication point.
>
> > All that being said, you're totally right about this. And I appreciate you pointing it out - because I think I've had a bit of an "intentional blind spot" about it because I really want to believe KFADEN isn't just going to be a whole bunch of people who already know each other and think they know all about each other. But, again, I don't really have a good solution. Except to say, as I said earlier in a thread, that the best antidote to bad information is more information. So, y'know, I really hope people will go talk about this thread on Fetlife and on Facebook.
>
> > And I don't want to try and increase diversity by excluding people or ideas, which means I (and hopefully others!) will have to increase it by reaching out to people who aren't in any of the sexuality communities - and thinking about ways to make KFADEN relevant to them. Which is something we've been trying to do. I've made it a point to think about every friend I have who I would never consider inviting to a sex party or even a polyamory discussion group, and figuring out what might make KFADEN fun for them, and talking to them about it. For what it's worth, I'm actually considering inviting my Dad. :)
>
> > And now I should really, really get back to work.
>
> > Looking forward to meeting you in person. :)
>
> > - R
>
> Yeah. So, really, this shit is HARD. And I can't thank you, Rebecca, and you, Ben, and you, Isaac, and you, Evey, and everyone else who's been participating in this discussion because I think it's really important and really valuable.
>
> For what it's worth, you are absolutely correct, Rebecca, in pointing out that one reason I have been resistant to modifying the language that I've been using in order to attempt to preempt much of the confusion coming from the BDSM community's response to this (admittedly illegible-to-many-of-them) event is to avoid pandering. I don't want to let *opposition* to the mainstream BDSM community's reading/interpretation of KinkForAll, or even "kink" for that matter, *define* what this is.
>
> That being said, I have become hyper-sensitive to that kind of misreading and Isaac correctly points out the disparity in people-who-have-expressed-interest-who-also-hail-at-least-in-part-from-the- BDSM-community versus those who have expressed interest who are not already familiar with that social context and subculture.
>
> On that note, I'd like to direct everyone's attention, yet again, to these two pages on the KinkForAll wiki:
>
> * "Principles of KinkForAll" was an attempt to succinctly articulate the purpose and, for lack of a better word, "spirit" of KinkForAll events without falling into the trap of defining ourselves *against* BDSM misinterpretation, while also using language that is broad enough to include other perspectives:
>
> http://wiki.kinkforall.org/ThePrinciplesOfKinkForAll
>
> * As a supplement to that, the "Principles and Methods" page is a table showing where WHAT we do aligns with WHY we do it:
>
> http://wiki.KinkForAll.org/PrinciplesAndMethods
>
> I hope this helps.
>
> And again, thanks for everyone's thoughts. This is super valuable and I'm sure will get referenced in the future, so thanks for having this discussion in an archivable format. *THIS* is as much "the spirit of KinkForAll" as the actual event, no matter what the event turns out to look or feel like.
>
>
>
> Cheers,
> -maymay
> Blog:http://maybemaimed.com
> Talk show:http://KinkOnTap.com
> Community:http://KinkForAll.org
>
> EXTERNAL REFERENCES:
>
> [0]https://twitter.com/maymaym/status/159759416881709056
> [1]https://www.google.com/search?q="influence+the+influencers"
> [2]https://groups.google.com/group/kinkforall/browse_thread/thread/bc982...
> [3]http://kinkforall.pbworks.com/w/page/11154889/GuideToPre-eventActivit...
> [4]http://wiki.kinkforall.org/KinkForAllBostonSchedule

maymay

unread,
Feb 3, 2012, 10:57:01 PM2/3/12
to kinkf...@googlegroups.com
On Feb 1, 2012, at 8:11 PM, Isaac wrote:

> Ever have that moment where you've heard some amazing things and are
> all but chomping at the bit to get something out? That's me, now.
>

> […]


>
> Also, I'm now incredibly excited about KFA and meeting those of you I
> haven't yet. I'm looking at you, Rebecca and you, maymay. :D
>
> Isaac

In deference to both my own time, the many, MANY tasks that still need doing for KFADEN, and the rest of the list readers who are feeling overwhelmed by the massive amount of political-y talk around this topic at the moment, suffice it to say that I am smiling from ear-to-ear reading your email, Isaac, and I can't wait to meet you, too! :)

As of today, my itinerary[0] for arriving in Denver is finally nailed down: I'll be there on February 13th shortly after 12 noon, and I'll make my way to Boulder to meet with Rebecca first thing. I'd love to kick it with you ASAP, too, so we can continue this conversation.

'Til then, thanks again for your input so far!

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

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:

[0] http://maybemaimed.com/about/cyberbusking/#shelter

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