Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kink and Marginalization

Eva Rivera is a proud lesbian Chicana, daughter, sister and sex worker who can walk in 6 inch heels and twirl naked on a pole in front of total strangers but is still viciously afraid of moths. You can catch her more of her here

As a sex worker, I have a rare opportunity to view and to an extent participate in a large variety of sexuality and sexual behavior in a short amount of time. I am able to use my position to view kinks and fetishes from a very intimate vantage point without actually mentally engaging in them if I choose not to*. A good portion of my income is supplied by offering services that involve or completely surround kinks/fetishes. I've encountered more kinds of fetishes than I ever possibly imagined and am even grateful to have been able to experience some of them, as they have helped to inform my own boundaries. But too often I finish work and find that if I were ever to want to fulfill my own hypothetical kinks, I wouldn't have many places to turn.

Sexual liberation seems to be a goal only accessible for a few. While kinksters are still being heavily policed, there seems to be an even stronger force ensuring that sexual fantasy and inhibition are the mental and physical property of middle to upper class white men. It doesn't take that long to figure this one out. Stroll through the house of your neighborhood sex party and it quickly becomes apparent that (with few exceptions) POC are not only largely absent from the scenes, but if present, become objects of sexual fantasy that we may not have consented to representing.

This goes beyond just the club dynamic. This is also about what fetish/kinks get represented, who represents them, who writes the stories. There are spaces that are diverse and even POC specific but these are exceptions rather than rules. Scenes, or even the ability to simply act on your fantasy in your own home is dominated by Whiteness. Not only in terms of the physical white bodies that dominate a space, but the mental and emotional toll of white ownership over the ability and desire to fantasize. Too often I see and hear whiteness speaking of the sexual evolution and sophistication of their kink while fantasies expressed and acted on by POC are deemed wild, exotic, and simple. Then when challenged about this, the typical answer is that POC don't have time or money or simply aren't interested in sexual kinks/fetishes rather than taking a reflective and critical look inward at the dynamics that uphold those attitudes. I'm not saying that this is not true for any person. Everyone has their own reasons and desires for engaging or not. But why should access to kinky sex be limited by these standards?

I don't have answers. I am simply observing trends I see from sex work and my own personal experience. I think there are some important questions to start with:

How do we practice owning and exploring our sexuality without being victim to others interpretation of us as fetish object?

How can we act out our sexuality in spaces that won't work with us because of our race, class, gender, orientation, disability?

How can we disrupt the myth that kinky play is only for white men with money and that POC or working class people or women don't have opportunities or desires to fulfill their kinks/fetishes because we lack time, resources and sophistication?

* obviously we all internalize our experiences to some extent. By saying that I don't participate mentally if I choose not to, I mean that I don't give much thought to the performance and that I am simply going with my usual routine while focusing my attention on something unrelated. I'm mentally "checked out" and may process my experience later or ignore it and move on