Throughout the research period, I will post research findings in an academic format to show off my fancy knowledge. This Research Findings report details the amazing stuff I discovered about online sex education for queer women using my own brain to analyze the content.
The Internet, among offering queer kids a singular source for sex education, is also a valuable resource for alternative and kink communities and for young people looking for resources about anything beyond vanilla sexual activity. Both heterosexual and homosexual people miss out on the opportunity to learn about anything outside of traditional, missionary-position, vaginal intercourse in sex education when it is in the classroom. But because of the Internet, examples of kink, BDSM, and queer sex are no longer hidden, secret, or shameful. In fact, they’re pretty freakin’ popular.
The Sugarbutch Chronicles, for example, is a multi-dimensional website featuring erotica, instructional and informational resources, pornography, and helpful shopping guides for queers interested in BDSM via a blog format. Run by a “kinky queer butch top,” Sinclair Sexsmith, the website is truly unique and offers something no sex education class is going to touch with a thirty-foot pole: naked people, leather, and an array of stuff to fill the void in between (“Sugarbutch Chronicles”). Autostraddle has also embarked on multiple endeavors to represent the kink / BDSM community in their work, including a recent month-long feature in which one post per week purely devoted to kink was posted for all readers (Sugarbutch). Efforts like these allow people to broaden their perspectives and engage in open, honest, and educational dialogue about different forms of sexual activity – which is crucial to sexual development.
“Sugarbutch Chronicles is an online writing project (aka “blog”) which explores sovereignty, healing, and communication through the personal examinations of sex, gender, and relationships, while celebrating queer sexuality, gender, culture, and identity in ways that are expansive rather than restrictive, liberating rather than limiting.” (“Sugarbutch Chronicles”)
The set-up of Sugarbutch chronicles is also very focused on the interactive potential of social media: Sexsmith takes questions from anonymous submitters via an “Ask Me Anything” box, interact with readers in the comments, and posts about her own personal life experience in order to make the narrative of kinky queer women more personalized and perhaps even, to lend it a face. Or multiple faces. Social media has made it possible to humanize kinky sex and therefore normalize it, bringing it out of the shadows and onto your computer screen while you’re on your lunch break. Amazing.
Aside from providing queer women with a space to explore more queer kinds of sex (and for clarification, what I mean is sex that doesn’t mimic made-for-men lesbian porn, explores BDSM, and isn’t restricted to a masculine/feminine dichotomy), the website also provides something empowering and strangely educational – honest erotica written by queer women, for other queer women. Take, for example, “Handprints on the Hotel Window:”
“I didn’t come. I am still dressed, wearing the boxers and tank top I slept in. She barely touched me. But I’m as satisfied as if I came twice (a rarity), content and buzzing as I lay down next to her and gather her into my arms.
We kiss, curl into each other. When she gets her voice back, she takes a minute to tell me what she liked—”I liked it when you kicked me, made me crawl,” “I liked being against the window,” “I liked coming over and over for you,” “I like when you tell me what to do”—which she knows I like to hear as part of my aftercare. Lessens my top guilt. I hold her close and stroke her skin.
We lay together a while as our bodies quiet and calm, then I strip and get into the shower. Later in the day, doing one last sweep over the hotel room before we leave, I notice her handprints still on the window, and a lip print where her face was pressed up against it. Usually I hate leaving the oils of my hands in prints on glass, too aware of janitorial jobs that must clean up after carelessness, but this time, it’s so pretty, I can’t bring myself to wipe them away” (Kristen).
What stands out in the above selection is a number of things: the honest depiction of sex being about more than climax, the presence of kink and rough sex (which was more heavily and graphically described in the full segment), and a depiction of post-coital communication about what two partners liked about their sexual rendevous. Sound like your average, everyday “Lesbians Go Nude” porn video? Nope. And that’s exactly what’s so amazing about it.
Whereas the Internet is seen as somewhat of a vehicle for purely heterosexual porn, having access to free erotica describing toys, sex play, and communication between two women engaged in sex pushes the boundaries of a traditional sex education and allows queer women to view themselves more honestly as sexual beings. It allows them a space to feel less shameful about their indulgences, and perhaps more normalized within their community. By backing that up with shopping guides and other resources, this kind of educational method – which could only be achieved through a vehicle like a blog – is a revolutionary mechanism for teaching queer women how to have sex and giving them agency to really explore what kind of sex they like in the first place.
Images without credits are always found innocently via Tumblr. Please let me know if any are yours!
Sugarbutch. “NSFW Lesbosexy Sunday is Hogtied.” Autostraddle. 26 February 2012. Autostraddle.com.