Virginity: Update

I got into porn because I wanted to change it. Sexual diversity has always amazed me and my journey with it has been exciting. I’ve had the highs of working with some of the most talented people in the world. I’ve had the lows of scathing judgment from people very close to me in my life. One thing that has remained the same throughout all of my experience is my support of porn. I am pro-porn when the models are busty, blonde, and tan. I am pro-porn when the models are pierced, inked, and sporting technicolor hair. I am pro-porn when it features acts that I am not particularly interested in myself. I am pro-porn when its queer. I am pro-porn when its straight. I am pro-porn when people are so turned on that they throw those boxes out the window and get down and dirty and have fun.

Watching movies on Kink.Com was one of the first places I began exploring my sexuality. I was and still am astonished at the creativity that goes into every single shoot. Behind the scenes, people are working in the basement of the armory to design sets, lighting, and equipment and it doesn’t take an experienced eye to recognize how talented these folks are. The talent department makes you feel welcome. The hair and makeup team make you feel like the sexiest thing to walk the earth. When you look at some of the stills from shoots you can see that there is a thin line between art and pornography. Maybe there isn’t a line at all. I started following their websites simply because they looked so good. I was also fascinated by the pre- and post- shoot interviews with the models and the directors. Unlike other websites, I heard models speak openly about elements of a shoot that they didn’t enjoy. I also noticed that shoots that didn’t go according to plan were still added to the site as a bonus update. That kind of transparency made me respect them because nothing in life always goes according to plan 100% of the time. That’s what makes it so exciting.

The more I explored, the more I realized that Kink.Com was invested in creating porn that was not only sexy as hell, but also created under a strict code of ethics and values. BDSM can certainly look scary to people. It is the Id at work. It also operates under a framework of consent. I have always felt infinitely safer naked in a dungeon than I have felt in jeans and a sweatshirt walking on a city street. BDSM communities have rules, standards, and a lot of discussion about what makes a safe space. A lot of people get annoyed by the continuous and open nature of these conversations. “Why do we have to talk about touching people without their permission again?” We have these conversations because sexuality is fluid. Sexuality does not have a five year plan. Sexuality has a five second plan. Biologically and psychologically we are experiencing rapid change without warning. Someone whispers something into our ears and our eyes dilate, our skin flushes, our genitals become engorged with blood. Someone whispers something else and all of these responses can immediately retreat. Sexuality is in a state of constant change and so it is vital that we talk about it consistently.

As my career as a model began to develop, I noticed that everyone had their eyes on Kink.Com. Here was this company that began with a futon rack, some rope, and an English business man with a vision. Now Kink.Com operates, literally, out of a castle. The armory was once used as a place to teach people how to kill. Once upon a time there was a firing range; now it is a place where footage of orgasms are edited. Once upon a time, people arrived at its steps with the knowledge that they could be called upon to end the lives of other human beings in war. Now, people arrive at the armory steps to explore and expand sexuality. Moreover, everyone knows that Kink.Com has a mission statement that is central to everything that they do. Whenever I would engage in a debate about porn, Kink.Com would inevitably come up. When you listen to the experiences of the models, the directors, and the staff the only thing someone adamantly opposed to porn could argue is that the act of filming sex is inherently exploitative. Kink.Com never operated like the rest of the industry. The tired arguments about greasy men with cigars, women crying in the shower out of shame and fear, or horrific onset abuses never stood up when people talked about Kink.Com.

I do hold Kink.Com to a high standard and I have received some criticism for this. This is because it is my mission statement to change porn. I am not content with a company simply being better than others. That isn’t how social justice operates. Social justice is about always moving forward, always fighting for equality, always working towards a better world. No one can rest upon their laurels, they must continue forward. No, we may never achieve a perfect world but it is our obligation to keep fighting for one. Cynicism (often referred to as ‘realism’) does not improve working conditions, it does not eliminate exploitation, it does not elevate us as a species. I have seen the momentum that hate has and the consequences it places on the lives of all people. Acts of inequality do not occur in a vacuum. They start out small; they are a comment here, a comment there and then they grow until a monster manifests itself before our very eyes. It is vital to be vigilant about the potential for darkness that resides in all of us because it is so very easy to fall into and so dreadfully hard to overcome once it has a stronghold. It is born out of silence.

I am also aware that change comes in steps. Those steps can also be maddeningly small. When I was first exposed to the theory of harm reduction, I realized immediately that it was effective in all areas of my life. Moving the mountain is such a difficult task that most of us will abandon it before long. Moving one rock at a time, however, that can be done. I try to be pro-active in my quest to move the mountain that is porn and that has taken many forms in my life. I work as an educator, I support sex positive projects, I volunteer and contribute to sex positive projects. I try to utilize as many avenues as I can. I prefer not to dwell on the negative; getting on set making sex positive porn is much more fun and exciting than getting up on a soap box can ever be. There is nothing “fun” about openly criticizing people that you hope will continue to hire you for work.

When I saw the marketing campaign around the upcoming “virginity” shoot at Kink.Com it didn’t feel right in my gut. It did not match the hearts and minds of the people that I have come to know. It did not represent the mission statement and values that have been so important to me and have influenced people all over the world. This troubled me because I found so many parts of it incredibly fucking hot. Nicki Blue is a sexy girl and when she’s on camera you can tell that she’s having a great time. It’s incredible that she has been so creative and assertive about her body. I think all of these things are incredibly sex positive. The marketing did not reflect that. It contradicted so many things about the way that Kink.Com has operated in the past. I read that press release many times over to try and articulate what bothered me so much about it. I noticed that it was not biologically accurate and it was setting the audience up for false expectations. Kink.Com exceeds expectations. I also saw one hell of a golden opportunity to educate people about what’s really happening with the vagina because there are far, far, far too few opportunities to do so in such an up close an explicit manner. Given the shame that so many of us have about our bodies,  porn is often the only place that many people will ever get to see the human body up close.

For anyone who thinks that education is boring, I highly suggest you check out the many free videos on Behind Kink that have been educational in nature. It was sexy as hell to watch Princess Donna and other awesome models talk about fisting. It was really hot to watch Claire Adams talk about the way she can climax from different types of SM play. Maitresse Madeline and Dragon Lily steamed up the screen when they explained foot fetish play. They even included a multi-part series on strap-on fucking with the sexy Isis Love. They’ve covered puppy play, why some people like marks from BDSM, negotiating boundaries, sex and (dis)ability, and so many more. Not only do they provide education, they offer in a way that is a lot of fun to watch. When Kink.Com decides to expose people to new ideas and concepts, they do it well. You’ll also notice that they include information about what it is they featuring on some of their sites. The Upper Floor has information about 24/7 dominance and submission. Divine Bitches illuminates aspects of female domination. The website forums are active with people asking questions about everything from production, sex toys, and desire. The press release seemed incredibly out of place in this context and that is why it stood out to me so strongly.

My mouth and my legs have something in common: they’re both usually open. Not too long ago, I went to the Kink.Com offices with some other concerns that I was having and I was so pleased to see that they were addressed. It meant so much to me that those doors were open and that people were listening. These were not the kind of concerns that I felt were appropriate for my blog. When I wrote about the press release here, it was because it included misinformation that was being distributed to the public and I felt compelled to address some of the issues it brought up. I was astounded by the response. It indicated that we still have a lot to talk about in regards to our bodies and what virginity really means. Thank you to everyone who joined in on the conversation, even those of you who completely disagreed with me. Your voice is important, too. It was hard for me to balance my feelings, my commitment to making sex positive porn, my love of kinky sex, and fears about speaking up. When I hit the publish button the other day I was worried that Kink.Com was never going to have anything to do with me ever again because I was openly criticizing them.

I was wrong about that.

I want to highlight a comment left on my virginity post by Peter Acworth himself:


Dear Maggie,

I appreciate your thoughtful response to what I admit was a misguided marketing effort on our part. You are entirely right that the way we framed our fulfillment of Nicki’s fantasy was not in line with our values as a company and our commitment to demystify and celebrate alternative sexualities, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by our mishandling of the topic. We’ve taken your feedback to heart revisited our entire marketing effort around this event.

When Nicki approached us several months ago with her fantasy of losing her virginity on camera in front of a live online audience, we were very honored and gave a lot of thought to whether this kind of event really fit within our mission. As you know, Nicki is not new to sex – she has explored her sexually via anal and oral play many times in the past – and after many discussions with her in which she explained what virginity meant to her personally and how central her hymen is to that fantasy, we felt that we could help her live out this desire in a way that would be exciting and pleasurable for everyone involved: Nicki, her co-stars and our members.

I regret how the press release was worded. It did not convey our gratitude that Nicki feels that Kink is the place where she can best live out a fantasy she’s had for many years – to break her hymen during her first vaginal sex experience in front of thousands of fans – and I thank you for pointing that out.

Like you, I truly hope this will be a rewarding experience for Nicki. In fact, I think she would benefit tremendously from having supportive individuals like you in the audience. If you are amenable, I would like to personally invite you to attend the event on Saturday to participate what I hope will be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Best wishes,
Peter Acworth
CEO, Kink.com

Not only did Peter address me here on my website, he also left comments on many others where people voiced their concerns. I am impressed by his dedication and I want to openly thank him for listening and responding. It is laudable that he would take these concerns to heart and change the direction that things were heading.

Furthermore, Kink.Com has revamped their marketing efforts around this shoot. The banners on the website have been changed, the press release has new copy, and the the Behind Kink special about Nicki Blue and her fantasy has been revamped.

Before...

After

While this might seem small, it is rare for a multi-million dollar corporation to respond so quickly to criticism. They are balancing the desire to have a successful and popular shoot, the unique components of Ms. Blue’s fantasy, and the concerns of the community. It is an unenviable position to be in and not only do I hope that more porn companies will look at the way Kink has addressed all of these concerns, I hope that more companies and businesses in general would also take note. Ethics and profit are not mutually exclusive. That is the very building block that Kink.Com developed an empire around.

It is also a reminder that speaking up can affect real change in the world. It doesn’t matter who you are and what you do to live, thrive, and survive you are going to face issues that make you uncomfortable. Yes, there are problems in the world of porn. There are also problems in our city councils, local branches of the PTA, religious organizations, grocery stores, you name it. Calling out racist comments when you hear them is what helps prevent genocide. Reminding people that it isn’t acceptable to touch others without their permission helps prevent sexual assault. Teaching people about the differences between sex and gender in our schools will reduce the violence that people experience when they’re just trying to pee in peace. Coming out of the closet to friends and family will make it possible for people to be able to marry the person that they love. Regardless of how I or anyone else defines virginity, I hope that by talking about something as seemingly little as a press release that people will have conversations about virginity and that the layers of shame, guilt, and oppression over women’s bodies will begin to lift.

I believe this because I see it happen all the time. No one is insignificant in the battle for social justice. We all have the power to shape our communities.

Thank you for reading my thoughts whether you agreed and passed them on, wrote me an angry email, blocked me on a social networking site, or jumped in on the conversation. For all of my new readers I am sorry to say that I am not usually this interesting and be prepared for a lot of nerdy posts. I hope that all of you will keep coming back and call me out when my words and actions don’t match my mission statement. No one likes to hear that sort of thing, but we’re all going to make mistakes in our lives. Hopefully I have many more years of making horrifically embarrassing mistakes and that I will have the integrity to address them.

18 Comments

Filed under About me, culture, events, feminisms, Kink.com

18 responses to “Virginity: Update

  1. Amy

    Way to go, Maggie! You are amazing! <3

  2. Kristin

    Thank you for these two posts, it’s a joy to read something so eloquent, where I’m cheering “YES! YES!” in my head the entire time, and then to read that Kink.com actually listened. Gives me hope for the human race :)

  3. icontendu

    you rock!

  4. Me

    Has the fact she did not approach Kink first and two other companies turned her down because 3 men would testify that she is not a vaginal virgin escaped everyones notice?

  5. Elizabeth

    Thanks so much for the update Maggie. Good stuff.

  6. Pardon my soap box, you’re probably correct that it’s not as much fun as your porn shoot. That said, I suppose you didn’t feel compelled to dispel the misinformation in Mr. Acworth’s apology, just his press release?

    …Nicki feels that Kink is the place where she can best live out a fantasy she’s had for many years – to break her hymen during her first vaginal sex experience…

    Or did we all just uncritically read past that little slip?

    So, sure, why don’t we all go back to sucking on our little Kink, Inc. pacifiers. Or maybe I’ve just already gone mad by trying to push you people onto the next small steps towards actual social justice for so many fucking years.

    Augh. Still totally disgusted.

    • Lamentation

      Seems to me at that point, he wasn’t spreading misinformation so much as describing Ms Blue’s fantasy. Yes, that fantasy is based on bad info, but calling him out on her words doesn’t seem as useful as reminding ourselves once again how pervasive those myths are.

      • I think one way to remind ourselves how pervasive those myths are are to stop calling a fantasy based on bad info “a fantasy,” and start calling it by its more appropriate name: a delusion.

        From my vantage point, the sex-positive community is unwilling or unable to confront its own axiomatic assumptions. That is apparently too hard for us. More comfortable merely to insulate ourselves from the muggles and capitalize (literally) on their ignorance? How wonderfully progressive, indeed. ::eyeroll::

        And for what it’s worth, unless she’s playing up the fantasy angle with the expertise and commitment of someone like Stephen Colbert, the more I read of Ms. Blue (who seems as barely literate now as she may once have been “barely legal”), the less trusting I become of Kink, Inc.’s “serious, in-depth” conversations about consent and so forth with her.

    • Tess

      AFAIC that’s the best awensr so far!

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  9. Both articles were great to read and very well articulated.

    I think it was worthwhile to discuss, how we as women and men want to be depicted and experienced in our lives, sexuality, our porn and our kink. The time now is to change porn. The industry is changing rapidly with it’s economic challenges and so many great young performers and producers like you and others in the bay area and beyond.

    I hope that we can go on to teach all little girls and boys about the analogous tissue we both have and that we are more similar then we are different. I hope we also teach about lovemaking, foreplay and feeling safe. All things that can make a vagina open up and pour her love and not hurt during the first penetration.

    I do take question sometimes the with way Kink.com showcases the extreme but now is not the time or place to get into it, so it didn’t surprise me. It is commendable for Peter Acworth to publicly address these issues and at least consider critiques from highly intelligent and thoughtful people like yourself.

    I do notice clicking on the banner it does still read that her hymen is intact. I guess now is not the time to start saying corona..and hence loose the fantasy and the money. Which is I guess what they do at Kink.com is to play with many antiquated fantasies in our psyches.

    • As always a wofdernul insight into the mind of DG .:)Thanks for sharing this .gonna post something on my FB wall which is along these lines.Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this.Wonderful!! x

  10. As a first time reader to your blog (directed from furry girls blogpost), I was really impressed by the way that you handled such a sensitive issue in such depth.
    As a Brit, I am fascinated by what I see as an American obsession with virginity – the concept of pureness in young women seems to be overtly sexualised and celebrated – I could never imagine the idea of a family throwing a party to celebrate their daughters virginity here in the UK. Maybe we are still too prudish, or maybe we do not view virginity a acceptable subject for society to openly champion or even debate.

    Whilst I think that all forms of sexual debate should be encouraged, the fact is that hot topics in American sexuality seem to be much more polarised than they are here, so thankyou for bringing them to my attention in such an enlightening fashion.

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