Talking with TBK about the Future of Sex and The Internet
The night before it happened there was a storm. The St. Louis sky bruised dark, knocking out trees and windows. A sex blogger, known online as The Beautiful Kind was caught in the web of it, debris cracking her windshield.
The following Monday, she would go back to work and smile, trying to shake it off. She’d pin her long hair in a bun, put on her usual long skirt and glasses and level the dry scream in her throat to the warm “good morning!”
She got in to stillness. The boss tapped her. She needed to be seen in private immediately. “I was told to google you…It took me seconds to find your website. You know this means we are letting you go. How could you put that stuff out there? What were you thinking? I feel like I am talking to a 14-year-old. We are done”
“She didn’t even want to be in the same room as me. She just wanted me gone” The Beautiful Kind (TBK) says over video chat. I tell TBK that losing a job is always a self-esteem jab, but to lose it because of your sexuality must cut deeper. “I mean the slut shaming is what’s really bothering me. I’m running around painting people’s houses, pet sitting and figure modeling and doing all of those jobs because I’m a slut, so I don’t deserve to have a job.”
The Internet has forever changed sex. Anyone can now engage anonymously (or non-anonymously) in every kink, chat, turn-on or hook-up imaginable. We each have the opportunity to talk openly in endless spaces about our sexual curiosities, fears and beliefs.
“Now we have all of this information on the kinks and fetishes that are out there. I feel like it’s a runaway train that society’s not keeping up with.” says TBK.
TBK and the site that got her fired–which doesn’t reveal her “real” name or face– is proof that culture is not keeping up. Proof that sex remains repressed, taboo.
Being a sex-blogger contains a bit of activism, privacy is something to be weighed for the “greater good” of helping shatter sexual repression. TBK knew this too. “I think anything you put online becomes public knowledge. I’ve made that choice and I’m giving people ammunition everyday and not just employers but also my ex partners, my partner’s ex partners.”
It’s not just sex-writers weighing risks. Take, the Craigslist experiment. A guy set up an extreme Craigslist ad, acting as a submissive woman looking for a dominant man. After he was flooded with replies that included photos, phone numbers and real names, he posted all of this information to a website, with the idea that these careless people deserve to be exposed. It could be seen as a lesson in online safety, but it also couldn’t happen in a place where sex was not repressed.
“I think that I think everyone has fetishes and kinks, stuff things that turn them on that they’re not even aware of. So putting it out there, I hope, is helping people move on to realizing their own kinks and fetishes.”
When I tell TBK about the Craigslist experiment, she asks “Have you heard of expose a hoe? It’s a site where they track down escorts and johns to out them.” Apparently Carnal Nation ran an article about this and got a lot of heat for giving it more publicity. “People have been trying to keep it under wraps to protect sex workers” she explains.
But the problem of sexual safety for bloggers might be solved in one of two ways. Perhaps people who run social networking sites will actually lock down privacy, finding effective ways to separate our sexual, social and professional selves. If “Quit Facebook Day” showed anything, it is that we care about this.
Or, perhaps our generation will begin to effectively erase those old sexual stigmas. Just as employers are beginning to expect a social persona online, willing to dismiss keg-party photos, maybe we’ll become adjacently comfortable with sexuality in an online persona.
Really, it seems we will have to. There are so many facets of a human personality, and this is reflected in the avatar of ourselves. Projecting just one part of our personality feels pale . The Internet brings a level of honesty about who we are.
TBK agrees. “If we evolve and realize that people have value even if they like something stuck up their butt or whatever… I would just be so happy.”