My job allows me the ability to learn about some pretty amazing things.
At Pride this last June, I met a member from the Kink Community and I have agreed to collaborate with his organization and do some advanced consent and healthy relationships presentations for them.
Like any good researcher, I asked for a book list and I think I've read 7 or 8 different kink-related manuals in the last month or so. And honestly.....if you want a way to spice up some rather boring reading on corporate accounting, interspersing that with reading breaks on how to be an loving dominant will fit that bill.
In prepping for work with this community.... and we're planning some awesome stuff beyond these two trainings being scheduled.... I find that I'm learning alot about myself. And no... it isn't that I'm discovering some new found kinky-side and that I'm gonna start wearing leather and carrying a riding crop around. It has more to do with discovering this capacity that I have to learn about something and have little to no judgement about it. In fact, I've come across some instances where I was very much opposed to a particular act and found the very idea of it degrading and abusive. But after reading an essay about fisting, yes... fisting, I could see the beauty in it. It is not on my list of things to ever do or have done to me....but I could understand the appeal. I keep discovering these moments over and over again.
The Kink community in general has to deal with a ton of criticism and bias due strictly to the general community not understanding what they are about and western society's general tendency to freak out about anyone openly talking about sex. But the people I've met so far have been amazing! And it's been nice to hang out with people who aren't going to be shocked by something that I say, and take things like consent and rape culture seriously. I'm definitely learning more from them then they are from me at the moment. I'm astounded by this community's ability to support each other. I read on FetLife earlier this week of a woman who shared her story about being violently raped by someone she met in the community. When I commented on her post over 400 people had already reached out to her.... and ALL of the comments were supportive of her. It was beautiful and still makes me tear up a bit. She had an awful experience with reporting her assault and was blamed for the attack because of her kink lifestyle. I know that this happens in Utah as well.... so I am really excited to be focusing attention on this community to help address gaps in services.
As I would with any community that I am starting out working with, I've been going to some of their events. I went to a rope workshop a couple of weeks ago. At workshops you can interrupt and ask questions about what people are doing. It is a place to learn skills first before you go out and try to do stuff. It was fascinating! And....all right...a touch titillating....but definitely more on the fascinating side. I discovered that if I see a woman's bare breasts, I want to know the woman's name because nameless boobs bother me a bit. It just seems impolite not to introduce myself. That being said, I was so nervous that I really didn't talk to anyone, but I brought blueberry muffins for everyone to snack on as a concession. There were a couple of people there who I loved just to sit and watch what they were doing. The knot-work was so skillful and imaginative, and you really had the feeling that you were watching a master honing their craft. I also got to see some moments of profound intimacy that I just wanted to go up and hug the people afterwards and thank them for letting me witness that. Like speaking to people, this was also something that I did not do.... I was just the silent wide-eyed person in the room..... rather than the creeper that I wanted to be introducing myself to topless women and hugging strangers. I was going to go back to another workshop this weekend, but I had a migraine yesterday and I wasn't gonna try to deal with it. Instead I tried to learn some of the knots and practiced on myself. My skills at making friendship bracelets is not helpful AT ALL in this endeavor. My crappy attempt is the photo in this post. So I need someone to teach me, or (perhaps the better option) I'll just continue to be a spectator or let people practice on me so I can watch.
My first presentation on Consent is going to be in September. I'm preemptively nervous.... but I will get to be extra mean during the pen skit which I use to demonstrate coercion... so I have that to look forward to.