In the lead column in this week's SFWeekly Matt Smith complains that Kink.com, the largest maker of fetish porn, has received close to $50,000 in state job training benefits, money Kink.com used to train editors, programmers, and video technicians. Smith is very proud that his research for the article resulted in Kink.com being kicked out of the program. His article states:
Some serious and credible people say it's worth considering whether it's legal to deny training to porn workers merely because they film naked, shackled women with live electrodes clipped to their genitals.
The article is heavily anti-porn, and anti-BDSM, focusing on women being dominated, avoiding mentioning Men In Pain, a kink.com site with women dominating men, or TS Seduction, where men are dominated by transexuals. Smith ends with this:
Yet its (Kink.com's) business plan is more medieval than modern, consisting, as it does, of giving people money if they'll agree to being on camera while being stripped, bound, impaled, beaten, and shocked.
Sex columnist Violet Blue (NSFW) responds in detail on SF Appeal, accusing Smith, among other things, of being uninterested in comments from Kink.com employees, including Lorelei Lee:
We expect our local reporters to have opinions; that's what makes them flavorful. And to see Smith write another yawn-worthy anti-Kink, anti-porn, anti-BDSM article about Kink just lumps him in with the rest of the unremarkable lot of mainstream media's lie of unbiased reporting when it comes to porn, and sex for that matter. Within that, it's not a shocker that Smith couldn't be bothered to get comments* from both sides of the unchallenged "women as victims" accusations, such as the articulate Kink performers (and writers, speakers and activists) Madison Young, Lorelei Lee or Princess Donna. That would be presenting a balanced picture of Kink's product, and we know that's really too much to ask of most mainstream media, and now disappointingly, the SF Weekly.
For instance, Lorelei Lee responded to Smith's accusations saying, "Mr. Smith's repeated use of the terms "torture" and "impalement" to describe BDSM and dildo play demonstrates a total lack of understanding for the respectful, consensual, pre-negotiated, intimate, and often-joyful interaction that is BDSM. Every staff member at Kink.com, from the talent department to the directors to the production assistants has been trained by the company to make the health and safety of their models a top priority. This policy of prioritizing worker health and safety is in obvious contrast to many other big employers in California. Further, I find Mr. Smith's implication that I, as a model and porn performer, have been coerced, victimized, or exploited by my job to be profoundly degrading and insulting. To imply that I have not exercised the same autonomous judgment as anyone else has in choosing a career, is to completely dismiss my will, intelligence and rational capability."
Smith responds to some comments on his blog. The Bay Guardian reached out to Matt Smith for an interview regarding his article, which Smith denied.
The Sword, a gay sex lifestyle site, probably puts it best:
While we're at it, we should probably also take away Kink employees' rights to unemployment benefits and healthcare protection. Because it's not like they are a legally recognized entity in California, and it's not like they pay payroll taxes or anything. Oh, wait--they are and they do. But it doesn't matter when you're a second-rate city paper trying to sell pitchforks and torches.
Stephen Elliott is the editor of The Rumpus.net