Read(y), set, Kink! Kink and the Erotic 2020

2nd Annual
Kink Conference

photo: Jeremy Vaughan Photography

On the 7th and 8th of March 2020, Progressive Connexions organized a conference in Prague on Kink and the Erotic. And, as you can imagine, it was absolutely amazing. In this post, I will give you some of the highlights of this amazing weekend. Check out this page for all the abstracts.

One of my favorite things about the ProCon conferences is that there are always people with a fascinating combination of backgrounds. This year, like the last one, there were a lot of therapists. There were also researchers. Practitioners. Educators… You name it. And that is wonderful in the context of Kink and the Erotic, because theorists have the tendency to talk in a bubble. Here, however, they get the opportunity to test their theories with people who deal with the practical side of things. And therapists and practitioners are sometimes still dealing with problems that theorists resolved decades ago. So, to have these people sit down together and talk, can provide wonderful opportunities for everyone involved.

BDSM community issues

Many presentations this year focused on issues within the BDSM communities. Consent was a hot topic, with multiple people asking how we can deal with consent violations in the communities in a productive way. Especially enlightening was Kathy’s workshop on how these things are dealt with in the Burning Man festivals. In addition to the fact that it is always great to see other contexts in which the same issues emerge; the practical protocol she presented could indeed have major consequences if we find a way to adopt them in BDSM communities.

Lucie built on her dissertation research and talked about the changes in the DSM. She asked how the public opinion changes. We have the law, mainstream representations and the medical discourse that are all softening up on kinky desires and practices. But which one is the true hallmark of change? And in which order do they change? In terms of activism: what battle should we fight first?

Another issue was Kink and Trauma, which closely related to the paper on “Healing” I presented last year. (This paper will be a chapter in the “Kink” edited volume that comes out in 2021. If you are interested in reading a rough draft, just send me a message.)

Specific forms of Kink and the Erotic

And of course, there were some papers on specific forms of Kink and the Erotic. A beautiful example is Lorraine’s paper on Voyeurism in Victorian literature. (I know, awesome topic, right?) And then there is the workshop on Tantric BDSM. And there were some extremely thought-provoking papers on facets of the erotic. We heard about someone’s experiences as a female erotica editor in the 1980s. We saw a beautiful presentation on the erotic aspects of alchemical art. And that happens to be a topic I have wanted to work on for years. Alisha gave a workshop on teaching porn literacy to teens. (Yes, sexual literacy is also something I’ve been interested in.) My partner Jeremy argued that we should talk about kinks in the same way we talk about art: as something sensual and beautiful.

And little old me? Well, knowing there would be therapists, I took the opportunity to discuss the nature of “care” in the context of a BDSM relationship. I argued that though a whipping scene might not look like what most people think of as care, when we see caring as meeting the needs of others, it definitely can be. Care doesn’t have to be tender. And the context of BDSM practices can help define care in a more productive way.

As with all my projects, I would love to hear your thoughts. So if you want to read a draft for this conference paper, just send an e-mail to, find me on social media or use the contact form!