Kink Conference, Prague 2019

1st Annual
Kink Conference

Kink researchers, educators and therapists united in a luxurious Czech hotel on the 9th and 10th of March 2019, as the first annual Progressive Connexxions “Kinkconference took place in Prague. As far as I know, this was the first ever conference dedicated to this topic. So naturally, it was incredibly exciting that I could be there for such a momentus occassion!

Kink History

Local Kink-academic Lucie made the relevance of this location clear early on. She invited interested conference participants to a private BDSM club the night before the conference. The evening featured a showing of a “spank film” set in the communist era of Czech; as well as a tour of the thematic rooms (medical, industrial, classic and prison cell); and stimulating conversations between conference participants. The significance of the location became even clearer during Lucie’s talk on Sunday. Here, she gave an overview of the history of Kink in the Czech Republic. BDSM started gaining visibility during the Czech communist era, which brings up interesting questions about the relation between political tensions and power play. It reminded me of the African American slavery theme in US race play, and Nazi play in Western Europe.

The most interesting issue brought out in Lucie’s paper, was that between the “old” and “new” generations. According to her, the difference is found in a difference between SM and D/s. Whereas the older generations placed more value on the D/s dynamic between dominant and submissive; the younger generation seemed to focus on the performative and stimulation of the physical senses. With the common idea that we become more focused on individuality, this would hardly come as a surprise. However, the Kink community in Prague seems to be growing and evolving. Simply calling the younger generation individualistic would not account for this clustering of like-minded people.

The power of rope

Meanwhile, the likeminded people at the conference were quite literally united  through the power of rope during Noelle’s workshop. Her more physical and experiential contribution to this conference took the form of the workshop she gives to high school students. With it, her aim is to foster better communication among youths before, during and after sex. Inspired by the model of negotiation that is common in BDSM settings, she explains and visualizes both consent and the communication of personal preferences during this workshop.

By anonymously polling the participants, she questioned people’s preconceived notions. It was easy to see how this could be a valuable form of sex education. Furthermore, her presentation showed the potential value of BDSM practices for the vanilla world. Of course, this is a great project in and of itself. It might help improve the image of the kink communities, allowing people to more freely explore their own desires. Noelle rounded up the workshop with a bondage session. She paired everyone up and gave them rope and a how-to video, to play and experiment in the conference room. Apparently, academia and play sessions are not mutually exclusive!

Fetishes at the first ever Kink conference

A different though equally unique angle was introduced by Kylo-Patrick R. Hart, in his discussion of the often overlooked fat fetish. His analyses of the films Feed (2005) and City Island (2009) led the way to relevant discussions of mainstream representation; pathologization; and care. Contrasting fat fetishism as respectively horror (Feed) and cute (Paradise) threw new lights on and showed the relevance of this particular fetish. The issue his paper brought up was the difference between masochistic and submissive gainers. It’s the difference between enjoying the pain and immobilization of being too fat, and the Dominant-submissive relationship, where the Dominant controls not only your eating habits but the literal shape and form of your body. This is an extreme form of the D/s relationship, which does merit more research.

Shiny bodies

The same is true for Jeremy Vaughan’s discussion of Shiny Bodies. His methodology was decidedly different, choosing to focus on a phenomenological exploration of the attraction to “shiny bodies”. The much needed critical element he provided was a reflection on the Freudian and feminist views of fetish itself. Since Freud, we have accepted fetish as objectification. The most interesting point Jeremy made was his questioning of the (feminist) idea that objectifying people is necessarily a bad thing. And I think that this is a point that should also be discussed in relation to Kylo’s topic of fat fetish.

Jeremy stated that a lot of people desire being objectified. And if this is a genuine desire, why would we always construct objectification as a form of disrespect? He brought up these fascinating points in front of a slideshow full of shiny bodies: super heroes; leather- and latex clad kinksters; and stills from the movie Singing in the Rain all kept flashing past, showing the width and breadth of the Shiny Body. But I cannot help but wonder, are these shiny objects? Or just surfaces in which we can see our own reflection?

Turning Pro at a kink conference

Next to the theory and experience, there was plenty discussion about BDSM and professionality. It was there in Gemma’s reconceptualization of the Dominatrix as entrepreneur; the discussion directed by Colby and Sziga about the ethics of encountering your clients in BDSM spaces when you are a sex and relationship therapist; and the practical elements of organizing kinky events whilst associating with a University. However, nowhere were the levels of professionality more clear than in Teresa’s contribution to this kink conference.

Fantasy and Reality

This independent scholar (1) is working on a novel (2) about a detective (3) who’s undercover as a Dominatrix (4). I would say that’s plenty of levels of professionality to start with. Apart from her discussion of her personal experiences in the BDSM scenes, she discussed her role as an author in writing this character.

The question she raised related to the boundaries between fantasy and reality. “Does she simply write truth disguised as fiction?” The same relates to other forms of cultural products: are artists just performing themselves, and can they ever escape the genre of autobiography? And what does that tell you about the author himself? The most important question, however, seemed to be whether it can still be Kink when it is only on a page? I don’t know about you, but we weren’t able to figure that out in a twenty minute discussion. Maybe, with your help, we can resolve this question on this website?

This post was first published on Kinkstarter.