Last week, i stated my disgust at the image Marc Canter used to advertise his party at Etech. Since then, there’s been plenty of blogging conversation, speculation about my views, and dismissal by strangers who don’t know me. It’s a clear reminder of how reading my blog is not indicative of knowing me, my views or my philosophy on life. So, let me clarify a few things.
First, just because i spend a bulk of my life fighting to end violence against women does not mean that i abhor BDSM. In fact, anyone who knows me knows that i’m one of the most ardent supportors of consensual BDSM out there. I don’t believe that it’s violence and i have always supported the BDSM community both inside of and outside of V-Day. I am completely supportive of others’ sexual preferences; that’s not the point here.
Second, i believe in social mores and social decorum. It is outright inappropriate to advertise a professional party in the way that one would advertise a play party. Different social contexts require different social norms. Images set expectations, intentions. Certainly, people have the right to offend, just as i have the right to be offended and state that offense. The point of my frustration is that offensive adverts are not the way to build community or encourage proper decorum that is inclusive.
I view Etech as a professional activity. Of course i enjoy parties. Duh; i’m a trancer! But the roles that i play in my personal life are different than those that i play in my professional life. At a professional activity, i want to go to a professional event, not one that is advertising itself as a sex party, offering up images of the expected roles of men and women. As professionals, we’re working towards gender equality; sexualizing a professional event does not continue that commitment. Parties can be fun without sexualized imagery.
It is certainly a woman’s right to do whatever she wants in front of a camera. I’m not arguing against that. That doesn’t contradict the significance of social norms. If you want a party to be welcoming, you advertise it as inclusive. For example, there were children there. Thus, explicit sexual behavior or drug use is just outright unacceptable. This is common sense when it comes to social norms.
Perhaps i should take a Californian stand and clearly state my boundaries with regard to my professional/personal life. Note, these are *my* boundaries. As a professional colleague of mine:
1) It is unacceptable to ask me to participate in threesomes with your wife via email or any social network software. In fact, it is inappropriate to ask me for any sexual favors period.
2) It is unacceptable to corner me and try to get me to kiss you or go home with you, regardless of whether or not we were drinking.
3) It is unacceptable to treat me as a sexual object or token.
4) It is uncool for professional events to be held in environments that blur the lines between sexual and professional boundaries.
This isn’t about me being a prude; this is about me wanting a professional life that is not sexualized. I spent many years of my life trying to be just one of the boys. I’m finally accepting my femininity, enjoying playing with fashion and willing to be a female. This is not an invitation for sexual advances; it’s about me being me.
The fact is that i have friends who are also colleagues. Yes, i’m far more likely to be affectionate with them, even in a professional domain. That’s not about sex; that’s about friendship. The friends that i’m most flirtatious and goofy with are the ones who i am certain understand that there is no sexual innuendo involved; i don’t cuddle with people who don’t get me. Cuddling for me comes from the raver world where cuddle piles are about friends not sexual advances.
My friend group is not about cliquishness, but there are a lot of underlying social commonalities between us that bind us together both on and offline. For example, when it comes to the discussion about the image, the fact of the matter is that most of my close friends are feminists, as were their parents. They get it; of course, they understand why i’m upset and they have their own reasons beyond mine.
I do have a hang-up in this community that is tangentially related to that image. My hang-up is that i want to be accepted not because i’m a potential sex toy but because i have intellectually stimulating ideas to offer.