I’m thrilled to announce that this Monday I’m starting a new engineering job with Kink.com, a BDSM pornography company based in San Francisco. (don’t click that link if you’re at work!)
I’ve been interested in getting involved with the porn industry for a while, and Kink is, in my opinion, the best porn company out there in terms of their approach to their product and contributions to the community. Their website features a values statement, one that aligns with many of my beliefs. I’m not going to be pulling a Facebook-level salary or eating free Google-quality food for lunch, but I will be contributing to something I believe is the right direction for society, something I’ve found I require in a job more than salary or perks. Also, I do get free porn. ;)
I expect some of you are a little bewildered right now, so I’ve composed a FAQ with answers to common responses I’ve gotten.
Q: I thought you were a feminist. How can you work in an industry that is so harmful to women?
A: It’s my belief that pornography as a concept isn’t harmful to women at all – in fact, it can be a very important part of anyone’s sexual education, development, and enjoyment.
Unfortunately the vast majority of what exists today is absolute crap and has little similarity to any real sexual relationships. (for example, positions in porn are often chosen because they show off the genital coupling to the camera, not because they are pleasurable or even comfortable, and don’t even get me started on unrealistic shaving expectations)
I like Kink because they value authenticity and pleasure in their products. They call the performers ‘models’ instead of ‘actors’ because they’re not acting, it’s all real BDSM scenes. They even host educational classes on bondage and other kinky sex out of the Upper Floor, and safety information is a very important component to these. It’s not real ‘every day’ sex, but it is real, making it a damn site better than, say, Pirates in terms of authentic human sexuality. (to be fair, I own a copy of Pirates – that kind of ridiculous hyper-fantastical production has its own kind of appeal)
I agree that the current state of mainstream pornography isn’t doing anyone, male or female, gay or straight, much good, but I’d like to change that someday. This seemed like a good way to start.
Q: Kink’s videos often feature women getting tied up, whipped, electrocuted and ‘raped.’ Are you really ok with that?
A: On an intellectual level, yes. Human sexuality is a complex and many faceted thing, and as long as whatever you’re into doesn’t hurt anyone else I’m ok with it.
On a personal level rape-fantasies make me very uncomfortable and the thought of nipple torture makes me curl into a ball and clutch my chest in fear. But I can’t handle my coffee without sugar or milk in it either, and I’m not about to denounce someone because they like their coffee black or their sex with a little bit of fake non-consent.
Also, it’s not just women – Kink has plenty of sites where men act as submissives, either in gay male situations or female-dominant situations. Those guys get tied up just as tight and whipped just as hard as their female counterparts, but I have yet to hear anyone express concern on their behalf.
Q: So you don’t think that porn in general (and BDSM porn in particular) encourages violence against women?
A: I think the current state of porn is a symptom, not the problem. A lot of it reinforces the general systemic issue of women being seen as objects for men’s sexual pleasure instead of human beings with sexuality of their own, not to mention the fucked up beauty ‘standards’ that encourage teenage girls to starve themselves and women with perfectly beautiful breasts to get implants.
So does rape-fantasy porn ‘encourage’ rape? Maybe. I’d like to think not, but I’m not that naive. What I do know is that removing all violent porn from the world wouldn’t stop rape, and the motivations behind sexual assault are way more complicated than seeing a video and copying it.
Q: What do you mean when you say BDSM pornography is the right direction for society?
A: I think Kink.com is going in the right direction – a sex-positive porn company that engages its community and promotes acceptance of healthy alternative sexuality instead of peddling its goods as dirty smut to be shamefully enjoyed in secret.
On its own, BDSM porn is a general concept that is inherently neither bad nor good.
Q: Aren’t you worried about this burning bridges or shutting doors in your future career?
A: The glib answer is: I’m a highly skilled developer in San Francisco, I will never be unable to find employment.
The full answer is: Yes, but it’s worth it. I’ve already had to turn down an offer to give the keynote speech at a conference for 8th & 9th grade girls interested in STEM because it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so while my active employment is at a porn company. (they were much more understanding about it than I expected, and said they’d love to have me in future years if I was no longer in the porn industry)
I didn’t take this job on a whim and I’m fully aware of the possible repercussions. But this is something I believe in, and it’s worth the possible sacrifice.
(Also, this discussion has mostly focused around heavy moral issues, but another reason I took this job is because the company looks extremely fun to work for. We make porn, for chrissake. I have a feeling I’m going to love my job and the people I work with.)
Q: What about your previous job at Hattery? You seemed so excited about what you were doing there.
A: I was! I wasn’t actively searching for another job when I stumbled across Kink’s posting. I’ve been stalking their job list for almost a year now and when a position I was qualified for appeared I jumped on it. (jeez, innuendo is too easy with this) If Kink hadn’t made me an offer I would have stayed at Hattery.
Coincidentally, Hattery is looking for a new lead engineer! They don’t have the job posting up as of this post, but if you’re an engineer looking for a job you should check them out. If I know you personally, you’re also welcome to hit me up for a recommendation/introduction.
Q: How’d your parents take it?
A: Like champs. My mom and I had some awkward talks about porn and its effects on society, but she understood my position and has always been supportive of me doing things I believe in.
Thanks mum, I love you! :)
Q: Is all this infatuation with pornography and progressive sexuality mumbo jumbo just a front for your incredibly frustrated libido and/or sexual confusion?
A: Probably a little bit. It has been a looong while since I got laid. I’ve been thinking about all this stuff for years though, so if anything my current sex-less state provided the final activation energy to kick me into gear. One could say I’ve been doing a lot of “research” into pornography lately. ;)
Q: Sounds awesome! Can I come by and get a tour of the office/studio?
A: I highly recommend the official tour of the Armory. Their tour guides know all the great stories that go along with the building and can provide much more entertainment than I could.
If you’ve got other questions, I’d love to answer them in the comments or through email!