Friday, April 13, 2012 - 1:15pm - 2:45pm
Cecilia Tan - Erotic Authors Association/Circlet Press/SFWA
Just as popular culture as a whole has seen greater representation of diverse sexualities and lifestyle choices than before, so it goes with the romance novel. Once largely the domain of entirely heteronormative representations, in which the goal and happiest ending is a heterosexual wedding, now one finds entire sub-genres of romance dedicated to gay men, lesbians, threesomes of every combination, and so on. One even finds romances that explore bondage, domination, and power exchange play between lovers. These "scene-aware" romances are a far cry from the "bondage" books of old, in which heroines were kidnapped and sold into harems (for example). "Scene-aware" novels use the existing BDSM lifestyle and the existence of the consensual community as a backdrop for the romance to unfold.
In these novels, which include the newly published "Story of L" by Debra Hyde as well as the "modern classic" book "Exit to Eden" by Anne Rice (writing as Anne Rampling), the central issues that often arise between principles in a romance novel are magnified and codified by the fetishes represented. Many romance novels contain conflict hinging on the compatibility or seeming incompatibility of the two lovers. In a BDSM romance, these elements may be represented literally or metaphorically by a panoply of activities like bondage, spanking, corporal punishment, et cetera. And no more central issue exists in a romance than the question of True Love. Is he Mr. Right or just Mr. Right Now? In a BDSM romance this manifests itself as something beyond "mere" love, a near-mystical, spiritual bond, often described as the master/slave bond (or mistress/slave, or owner/owned; it is not gender-specific).
This paper will relate the way in which the tropes of the romance genre are transformed and represented in the BDSM romance via the ways this different form of loving adds hues to the erotic and relationship color palettes.
The Purple Circle: Confluences of Kink and Geek Cultures
Claire Dalmyn - York University
The first part of Staci Newmahr's ethnographic study of the culture of BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadomasochism) rests on her analysis of participants' sexual identities as intimately connected with their status and self-perception as 'outsiders', different from others, and many of the people she observed and interviewed identify themselves as "geeky" as well as kinky. In this paper I will critically unpack and explore some of Newmahr's conclusions and assumptions regarding the dual or linked marginal subject positions of participants who identify as both kinky and geeky. I will ground this analysis in my personal experience as a kink practitioner engaged in study of, with, and among my perverted peers, drawing also on my concurrent experience as a participant in online media fan culture. I will additionally hold Newmahr's assertions and my own participant observation in kink and fan cultures together in tension with representations in mainstream popular culture of characters who are explicitly or subtextually marginalized in multiple ways including sexual deviance, citing examples of tropes such as sadistic outcast villains, doomed masochists, and comic grotesques and buffoons of a fetishistic bent, as well as a potentially emerging figure in the contemporary "Age of the Geek": the new pervert hero.
Newmahr, Staci. 2011. Playing on the Edge: Sadomasochism, Risk, and Intimacy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Kink as Context
[This paper may now have been cancelled.]
All criticism is done from a point of view. For many people, their kink is an essential part of their sexual and personal identity. How does being part of a sexual minority, specifically a practitioner of BDSM, contextualize one’s experience and engagement with popular media? Is there a kink lens or gaze that affects the way we see and understand certain characters and their relationships? How true to the real-life experiences of kinky people are the depictions we see in popular culture? How do these depictions make us feel? What characters/moments/media are embraced and celebrated by the BDSM/kink/leather communities as being particularly meaningful or representative of our identities?
How does this perspective intersect with other ways of engaging with or critiquing media (feminist theory, Marxist theory, queer theory, etc)?
Popular media likely to be discussed: Secretary, White Collar, CSI, Law & Order: SVU, Farscape, Rhianna’s “S&M” and many, many others.
BDSM Romance Fiction: Positive Introduction to BDSM Identity, Practice, and Lifestyle
Sarah Frantz - Fayetteville State University
I will examine BDSM Romance Fiction, positing it as a generally positive introduction for its readers to BDSM identity, culture, practice, and lifestyle. I will discuss the importance of the positive exposure to BDSM in popular culture, its normatizing function, and possible drawbacks of bad BDSM fiction.