SF Weekly Does Hit Job on Kink.Com's Training Funds
Stimulating the economy is big in the news these days. It seems like every second or third story in the news cycle tells you the newest scheme to prime the economic pump so that our businesses can stay afloat. One of the ways that California is doing this is the California Employment Training Panel, which reimburses contractors who train in-state workers so that jobs don't get exported to another state or someplace offshore. Until recently, one of the companies that received training reimbursement from the ETP was San Francisco's own Kink.com, which used the state funding to train staff in video techniques at the Bay Area Video Coalition. This seems to have really pissed off Matt Smith, of the SF Weekly. Smith wrote an article titled "Bound and Gagged," which starts off with the sinister assertion that "California's government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography" to the tune of $46,791. Smith's figures might be right, but his characterization of BDSM as morally equivalent to Abu Ghraib is far uglier than anthing that Kink.com has come out with.
Violet Blue takes Smith's article, and especially his description of BDSM as "torture porn" apart in an SFAppeal piece:
"Whipped and Gagged" is infused with... sensational anti-porn bias, with accusations that Kink is soaking up taxpayer dollars to create "torture based pornography" and "depicting sexualized torture". Despite the one-sided commentary and airtime Smith devoted to local anti-porn feminist Melissa Farley's two-year-old comments repulsively comparing Kink's product to Abu Ghraib, he certainly knew his way around Kink's websites and content enough to frill up the Fox News-style hit piece.
One consequence of Smith's piece is that when he filed a request with the state to find out how much money they had reimbursed Kink.com for training expenses, the ETP realized who they were funding, and said that they would cease funding for Cybernet, Kink.com's parent company. Smith seems quite happy for Kink to have been cut off; he favorably quotes radical feminist Melissa Farley, who characterizes porn as a form of economic coercion. Although Farley is popular with anti-porn activists, she has little credibility among her colleagues in the social sciences due to frequently criticized flaws in her methodology and conclusions.
In times like these, we need all the jobs and skills we can get, and it's certain that because the ETP pulled the training funds from Kink.com, people will either lose jobs or fail to get jobs that they might otherwise have been hired for. That's not anything to be proud of. And to paint consensual, carefully negotiated exchanges of power as "sexualized torture" gives Smith even less to be proud of. Violet Blue calls Smith's piece "unfair, unbalanced, malfeasant journalism." We might throw in "bigoted" as well.