Dreams of Spanking: fairtrade spanking, corporal punishment and discipline fantasies by Pandora Blake. Join us »

 

Eye contact

I love good eye contact in spanking scenes. You know: that moment when the gazes of top and bottom meet and the air crackles between them. There might be fear, love, frustration, anticipation, or sexual tension in that look. One of the reasons I love spanking dramas is the range of emotions that are played out in them, and nothing reveals that emotion better than the expressions on the faces of the players. Spanking scenes where I can't see the face of the top, bottom (or even, sometimes, both) hold little appeal to me. I want to be able to read them, to glimpse an insight into how they're feeling. Body language is also important, but I don't want to look at headless figures. I want to see the whole person, and few things show that better than the look in someone's eyes.

   

I was thinking about this as I worked on the above scene with me and D, in which we play out a hot library fantasy. It's one of those scenes where the punishment far outweighs the crime, and the textbook is a flimsy excuse for the sequence of punishments that ensues. In this sort of scene it's not really the plot that's important, but the connection between the players. We're either seeing disproportionate cruelty or sizzling, semi-consensual eroticism, and either way what's important is the power dynamic between top and bottom and the energy that's exchanged between them.

There's another kind of eye contact in spanking photography: eye contact with the camera. Some people have a strong opinion on this sort of "glamour" style: it can break the immersion in a scene, and many viewers wish only to watch the players interact with each other. Personally I like to look at spanking photos in both styles, and I think each has its place. 

Some photographs are delightfully ambiguous: a look of conspiratorial excitement or nervous anticipation on a spankee's face could put you in the scene with them as a fellow victim, a voyeur or as their spanker-to-be. But at other times  eye contact with the camera makes assumptions about the viewer. A sexy, flirtatious glance from a female performer assumes that the viewer is attracted to women. If the camera takes the point of view of a spanker and captures the fearful glance of the spankee looking up at them, then that is an image aiming to appeal primarily to toppy viewers. Not that a fellow spankee couldn't empathise and identify with the spankee in the picture - but the implied interaction is between the spankee in the picture and an invisible top, whose place the viewer is invited to take.

This is pretty much what we mean when we talk about the concept of "gaze".

It's an age-old technique and it can result in some very powerful, engaging, direct imagery. Most usually, in F/F, M/M or M/F spanking photography, the camera is focussed on the spankee and it's the spankee making eye contact with the viewer. By contrast, in F/M photos you'll often see the camera focussed on the female top, who might flirt with the camera while their bottom ducks his head. So the unwritten rules seem to be that the viewer is probably interested in women, unless they're gay; they're probably a top; and if they're a sub, they're definitely male (and interested in women).

The above are generalisations, of course, and I'm always interested in digging out the exceptions. But that's the general pattern you'll see on most "mainstream", high-traffic blogs and websites.

Anyway, I like looking at that stuff or I wouldn't have got into spanking porn in the first place, but I also like variety, so I've been trying to create images here and there which buck the trend. For instance, in making F/M photography where the submissive man connects with the viewer while his top is wholly focussed on him:

Sounds like it shouldn't be radical, but images like this are surprisingly hard to find.

Or how about spankable men looking flirtatiously over their shoulders at the camera?

I don't know about you, but I can't look at this photo without wanting to pick up that tawse.

But the biggest missing piece in this jigsaw puzzle, for me, is photography of dominant men engaging with the camera as a submissive viewer. Which seems a shame, because eye contact is one of the hottest D/S tools a dom has at their disposal, and when I'm flirting with someone it's one of the first things I notice. My doms can turn me to a quivering submissive puddle with a glance, and I'd love to see some of that energy communicated in spanking photography.

So, assuming that some of my viewers are, like me, going to be subs or bottoms who like playing with men, I'm experimenting with showing male tops in all their power and beauty, just as the F/M photography tends to show off female tops. Spanking photos where the top has just noticed you, and has something to say. Whether that's:

Hey beautiful, why don't you join us?

Or:

Wipe that smile off your face, young lady: you're next.

Love Our Lurkers

Happy Love Our Lurkers day! Today is the day when spanking bloggers across the world invite their silent readers to pop their heads over the parapet* and leave a comment - long or short - to let them know they're there.

Although this blog hasn't been here for very long, we know you're out there. Several of you have left a comment already, and there have been some stimulating conversations as a result. Others have expressed interest in other ways - by signing up for a user account or to receive email updates - but not said hello directly. Well, now's your chance!

It may seem counter-intuitive to actually chat to a porn producer online. After all, the sort of material which turns you on is your business, and you might prefer to enjoy it in private rather than discuss it with all and sundry. But by making what we want to see, we're reaching out to others who share our tastes - and we really like the fact that we're not alone. We want to build a community of like-minded people, performers and viewers alike. We're interested in hearing your ideas about what you like to see (and what you don't like). What's guaranteed to make you hot and bothered? What spanking fantasies and scenes have you cherished for ages, but never seen enshrined in film?

Good porn should have at least one moment that makes you catch your breath, makes your tummy feel funny. It's a different moment for everyone, and that's one of the things that makes creating porn so interesting. As a spanko I know what triggers those moments for me, but it can be hard to anticipate what triggers them for other people. We love hearing about your turn ons and turn offs. Not only does it make our job easier, but it opens our minds and sparks our imagination.

As an extra special welcome, we promise that if a dozen of you say hello today, we'll post a hot, full-size photo from an entirely new photoset, which hasn't been previewed online before. We haven't quite made up our minds which one yet, so if you leave a comment, you can even influence the decision by letting us know what you want to see. :)

Maybe you post in lots of places online already, and don't need another spanko community. Maybe you look at lots of spanking blogs and websites, but never leave a comment. Well, we aren't asking you to move in (although it's quite nice here - we've got some big beanbags and I make an awesome cup of tea). Just say hi, let us know you're out there, give us a wave from across the room. It's great to have you here. Milk and sugar?

* I like the idea of my blog having a parapet.

A sound hairbrushing

Morning dreamers. Thanks so much to those of you who took me up on my offer yesterday and introduced yourselves. I'll reply to every comment individually, but it's given me a great big smile to hear from you all.

In return, as promised, here's a free spanking photo of me being soundly hairbrushed over Zoe Montana's knee.

Marqe proposed the hairbrushing theme, and while I wasn't quite able to fulfil his request for a punishment over white cotton knickers, hopefully this is the next best thing. A little while previously Zoe had spanked me with her hand over my knickers, but she pulled them down in order to administer the hairbrush on the bare. I like how the brush is moving so fast it's actually blurred!

AOL hates spanking porn

Those of you signed up to my mailing list will have been receiving emails from me every fortnight or so, containing advance previews of photo galleries and videos which the site will include at launch, and news and updates on the progress I'm making. All of you except the people who have AOL email addresses, that is. Why? Because AOL hates spanking porn.

When the first and second newsletters were sent out, I got a handful of failure notices from a small number of addresses. Fine: some people probably mistyped, others might have given a fake address, no way to tell. I emailed each address individually asking for confirmation, and received replies from some, but not all.

Two weeks later and my mailing list was growing. This time, when I sent the third newsletter out, the problem was immediately obvious: six failure notices appeared in my inbox instantly, all from AOL addresses. Clearly, something was going wrong between my email and AOL's server.

This time I noticed that the error messages contained a code and a link. I clicked through and read:

There is at least one URL or domain in your e-mail that is generating substantial complaints from AOL members. Resolution will require opening a support request.

Oh, boy. I instantly guessed what had happened. One of my 'recommended links' was on their blacklist. At a guess, it was one of the big sites - not a small, independently run spanking site, but one of the Kink.com sites.

Fine.

I submitted a support request with AOL, emphasising that my newsletter was opt-in and each person had willingly subscribed to be sent these mails. Then I emailled each AOL user and explained the situation. I sent them the link to the online version of the newsletter so they wouldn't miss out, and waited to hear back from AOL.

They replied the next day... and yep, it turned out my suspicions were correct: Kink.com was indeed the culprit. The block had been placed on MeninPain.com, but the AOL technician informed me that it had now been removed. Cool - I was pretty happy with their quick response. I wrote again to my AOL subscribers to tell them that the problem had been fixed and that they should recieve newsletter #4 to their inbox with no trouble.

Sadly, I spoke too soon.

Two weeks later: newsletter goes out; a dozen AOL failure notices appear in my inbox. The error message was the same: another blocked URL. This time I was seriously unimpressed. I wrote a firmly worded email to AOL support filling them in on the history, asking why the second blocked URL wasn't picked up on the first time, requesting that they remove the block, and asking what I can do to avoid this happening again. In the meantime I have to send yet another round of emails to my AOL subscribers apologising for the trouble we're having. This time, I ask if they have any alternative email addresses which I can add to the mailing list instead of their AOL one.

It took AOL support a few days to get back to me. When they did, they informed me that:

The domain spankingtube.com which is listed in your email is blocked due to high spam complaints.

HVU:B2 is generated if any URL present in the body of the email has been blocked by AOL for complaints.

Please remove that domain from your email and then try sending, it should go through.

In other words, this time they aren't willing to remove the block; nor are they willing to notify me of more than one blocked URL at a time. I could be going round this loop for months and still not hit all the blocked URLs. In the meantime, AOL users aren't getting my emails.

Is it me, or is putting these blanket blocks on URLs like SpankingTube and MeninPain coming perilously close to censorship? Especially when you then refuse to remove that block in order to allow AOL users to receive emails they have asked for and want to receive. Am I being targeted because this is sent out to a mailing list, or would an individual email sent to an AOL user containing a SpankingTube link be blocked too?

I don't see a way I can strip my newsletters down so as not to contain any 'risky; URLs. My video trailers are hosted using SpankingTube. I could self-host those, but I like the embedded player provided by SpankingTube (and the extra exposure for my trailers doesn't hurt). As for the recommended links ... I guess, to be safe, I could remove that section completely - but at that point the censors have won.

Fuck censorship, frankly. If you have an AOL address and like spanking porn, I'd seriously consider signing up for a second email address with another provider in order to get round the censors. And if you want to sign up for the Dreams of Spanking mailing list (and please, do - a lot of work goes into each issue, it's the first place I release advance preview content and between now and launch it's the only place I'll be sharing new free photogalleries!), I'd strongly advise you to do so with a non-AOL email address.

A Taste of their Own Medicine

This film is one of my favourites of the scenes we're launching with. It's a reprise of a F/F scene which I filmed for a site of Zoe Montana's that sadly never came to anything, but when we revisited it we had the benefit of Jimmy Holloway on his first CP film shoot as a bottom. I think that the addition improved the scenario significantly, turning it into a definitive "boy and girl punished together" schoolroom fantasy.

The Head Girl is shocked to discover that two of her prefects have been conducting a reign of terror under her nose for two whole terms. Prefects are allowed to dish out lines and detentions to younger pupils they catch flouting the school rules, but only the Head Girl and Boy, the teachers and the Headmaster are allowed to administer corporal punishment. Nonetheless, this terrible twosome have been doing exactly that. The Head Girl strips them of their prefect privileges, and decides that the only fair response is to give them a taste of their own medicine.

She punishes them with each of the implements which she has discovered they have used on younger pupils. With each implement, she drags the story out of them. Despite their protests and excuses, they have no choice but to bend over and endure what they have so irresponsibly handed out. 

This scene - and the others we filmed that day - went down very well when I first previewed it after the shoot, and I hope that the finished film turns out to be just as popular. With a number of different implements - hand, ruler, tawse, paddle, slipper and cane - and a story attached to each one, "A taste of their own medicine" ended up being half an hour of intense F/M and F/F action. Zoe was a formidable, no-nonsense Head Girl and Jimmy and I had great fun playing defensive bullies trying to wriggle out of the trouble they know they deserve. But don't take my word for it, watch the trailer:

Kaelah's shoot report: The Taxman Cometh

Kaelah has written an in-depth shoot report about filming for Dreams of Spanking with her partner Ludwig earlier this year. She gives the behind-the-scenes scoop on our F/F scene 'The Taxman Cometh', in which she played my long-suffering accountant who despairs of my poor organisation, and eventually takes me over the knee for a hairbrush spanking.

     

This was Kaelah's first ever appearance on video as a top, and she did an absolutely fantastic job. In the post she talks about her nerves beforehand, her character, and dealing with the unexpected.

Ludwig was behind the camera for the scene. Since we had only one camera, every break meant that he had to change the camera angle. So it was clear that there should be as few breaks as possible. Pandora and I had just started our conversation when a special guest turned up, though. Fatface, Pandora's cat, must have followed us. Where it had come in, I don't know.

But Fatface was obviously determined to become a porn star! Without hesitation the cat walked past Ludwig and into the scene. For a second Ludwig thought about grabbing the cat by its tail, but he decided against it because he didn't want to hurt Fatface. Pandora and I were a bit stunned for a second but then simply went on like the cat was supposed to be there. Obviously the tax accountant owned a cat...

     

Kaelah was immensely dedicated to her work, very professional in her attitude and I loved shooting with her. I knew she was a bit nervous about the improvisation in English, but I thought she did a great job with the script and made the scene very convincing. As for her first time dishing out an OTK spanking on camera:

I had never spanked anyone OTK before and was a bit scared at first that I might not be able to hold and support Pandora safely with my knees. But it worked perfectly and I have to say that it was a wonderful feeling when Pandora put her weight on me and trusted me to hold her.

It was lovely reading this from her perspective, as I remember feeling a similar sense of trust and relief when Kaelah got into her stride with the spanking. At first, as befitted her character, she started out somewhat careful, as if unsure how hard she could go. That moment when she realised she wasn't going to damage me and really started whaling on my bottom with the brush as hard and fast as she could - that was a wonderful moment from my point of view. Finally, my producer/director head turned off and I could just let go and experience the spanking.

Oh, and I have to give her props for her dexterity with that brush, too. It's a slippery little thing once your palms start sweating and while using it on previous occasions I have known it to fly out of my hand across the room. It eluded Kaelah's grip twice, but on both occasions she caught it one handed, flipped it back over and carried on without missing a beat. What a star!

I made a short trailer for this scene so that Kaelah could include a video preview with her post. Take a look - and then head over to Kaelah's blog and let her know what a good job she did!

Radical porn: complicity and the status quo

"I'm not intolerant but my customers might be"

"I'm not racist but my customers might be so I won't hire black people" #transsummer paraphrased from staff at gorgeousbrides.co.uk

This tweet is exactly how it sounds to me when porn producers and website owners refuse to hire male spankees, or feature M/M scenes. The excuses blur into each other after a while; they all start to sound the same. "I don't mind looking at male bottoms, but my customers might." "I don't mind if people want to play M/M scenes in private, but my customers might be put off, so I can't include them on my public tube site/paysite/blog/event flyer." If your customers were put off by people of colour, would you feel this comfortable catering to their prejudice?

My emotional reaction to statements like this is increasingly, perhaps irrationally, strong. But despite my frustration and disappointment, I know that a comparison between the gender of porn performers and their skin colour is not a straightforward one. Most porn producers inhabit a gendered niche - for instance, either heterosexual or gay - and even "pansexual" queer porn producers tend to feature far more female bodies than male ones, with porn that treats cis male bodies as equal objects of sexual desire still very much in a minority. Sexuality is, for most people, gendered; is staying within the boundaries of a gender niche really comparable to racism? Sexual taste is, by its very definition, highly subjective and discriminating for each individual. And this goes beyond gender: I'm already operating within a tiny niche by producing spanking porn. If I criticise those currently producing /F for not including /M, could the same argument be turned round to suggest that I should broaden my scope and, for instance, cater to all fetishes other than spanking?

It's tricky. All porn is niche, and that's why it works. Branch out beyond the boundaries of that niche and you'll lose the audience that has come to rely on you to represent their interests. By and large, your sexuality is not something you can change. But should we tolerate kinks which exclude on race or gender lines? Imagine a website owner or event organiser excluding people of colour, saying, "I'm not racist, but I don't want to watch brown bottoms get spanked - that's just not my kink". Would that be okay? I don't think so. And if that's not okay for race, why is it okay for gender?

If we accept that gender preference is inherent in most people's sexuality (in a way that race is not) then we can perhaps accept the choice of an individual producer to discriminate on gender lines. Diversity issues then arise when the majority of producers happens to make the same choice as a result of ingrained cultural prejudice. I wouldn't blame a straight individual for the oppression of LGBT people; but I would hold them to account for homophobic behaviour. There's a gap between personal taste and oppressive behaviour, and that's the one I'm interested in exploring. It's the gap between not watching porn which doesn't interest you, and insisting that your favourite websites exactly cater to your tastes to make sure you never have to scroll past.

I certainly don't believe that every kink producer has a social responsibility to cater to any kink they don't want to for the sake of diversity. And yet I do feel that a society with truly healthy attitudes towards sexuality would support diversity across the porn industry as a whole. I would like to see producers who primarily present young, white, slender women as sexy to acknowledge that this is a preference as niche as any other; it's not representative of human sexuality as a whole. I'd like producers and site owners not to advertise themselves as general representatives of, for instance, spanking porn, unless they weren't willing to discriminate on gender lines.

In particular, in creating Dreams of Spanking I want to be as inclusive as possible (albeit within the highly specific genre of spanking) in terms of race, gender, sexuality, body: because not only thin, white, young, cisgendered, able-bodied women like being spanked, so why the hell should they be the only ones to get spanked in porn?

Actually, for me personally, it goes further than that. As a feminist I speak out for my right to choose sexual submission rather than deny my sexuality. The flip side of that is defending the right of any woman who is not sexually submissive, and any man who is, to follow their own desires just as freely. I'm deeply uncomfortable with a sex industry which values female submissives more than male submissives, because implicit in that is the idea that submission suits women better than it does men. If we - men and women - want to fight for our right to choose sexual power dynamics on our own terms, we have to resist that idea wherever we encounter it.

I'm starting to get tired of nearly every producer I talk to saying "Oh, I'd like to include X, but my customers won't like it" when challenged on gender and body inclusivity. Not because I think that particular individual is responsible for the whole tedious trend catering to this perceived "male gaze" that can only see one type of body as sexy (whereas we all know perfectly well that most men are far broader than that in their taste in real life partners; never mind that not only straight men look at porn!), but because if everyone stopped making that excuse, the whole fallacy would collapse.

Still, it's a thought-provoking question. To what extent can we hold individual producers (or indeed individual consumers) responsible for a large scale cultural inequality? On the face of it, the answer seems to be that of course no single person can be blamed for an ongoing pattern writ large. We're all born into this screwed up society and we're all taught to go along with it from a young age. It starts with "women are just nicer to look at than men", or even "boys will be boys", and it ends with a porn industry where skinny white women in plot-free 'insert girl here' scenarios sell best, and everyone else can go hang.

If you try to suggest that perhaps we can do better than this, you're told that you're naive and that market forces will win over good intentions.

"Market forces"

I'm always a bit sceptical of this resort to "market forces" as a way to silence and deter people seeking greater creativity and inclusivity in our media. As if the lowest common denominator was all we were capable of aspiring to; as if society never changed and evolved.

When Star Trek showed the first interracial kiss on TV, NBC executives expected an outcry (and only released the kiss because the actors deliberately sabotaged the non-kiss takes). But in fact, the reception to the episode was widely positive. The risk paid off.

Defence of the status quo in the face of proposed improvements is a recognised cognitive bias - called, unsurprisingly, the status quo bias. It's related to system justification. The status quo bias describes the tendency of people "not to change an established behavior unless the incentive to change is compelling". (My response: well, those of us who want to change the world and our media for the better will simply have to provide compelling incentives!) System justification refers to the social psychology behind this tendency. People tend to defend systems which oppress them because, on average, people need and want to see prevailing social systems as fair and just. Opening your eyes to injustice and inequality, especially where it negatively affects you, can be deeply troubling, and many people prefer not to go there. But that doesn't mean change can't be for the better; and it doesn't mean what's radical today can't become normal or popular tomorrow.

The other reason market forces aren't a static, fixed thing is twofold: who is actually buying within a given industry, and what is available for them to buy. If an industry alienates a subsection of society, that doesn't mean they'll never contribute to "market forces": it means they'll only start doing so once they no longer feel alienated. Historically, women have not bought a lot of porn. Does that mean there's no market for woman-targeted porn? Increasing numbers of successful producers think not. Submissive men have been told by entertainment media their whole life that male submission isn't worth looking at and actually, their fetish is "femdom". Does that mean that's what all submissive men want at heart, or does it mean that's all they've believed they could get?

In the porn industry, "the market" consists of the overlap between three circles of the Venn diagram:

  • people who are currently comfortable with a porn-buying identity;
  • people who are sufficiently well off to be able to afford occasional luxury goods;
  • people to whom the industry currently caters.

Beyond the existing market is a whole world of potential consumers who are, at present, not buying the products which are available for whatever reason. If the products change, the market may change. If society changes (to make porn-buying more widely acceptable, and more people affluent enough to consider it), the market may change. If technology changes to make porn-buying easier or improve the quality of products, the market may change. The market is not fixed in stone.

This is why, if you have opinions about what you'd like to see in porn and are financially able to do so, you should buy from producers who are making changes in the right direction. They don't have to be perfect. Boycotting the whole industry because it makes you feel alienated is not how change is achieved. The way to change the industry is to vote with your pocket: support the people who are taking steps in the right direction; write to them and tell them the things you'd still like to be improved. If you're financially able to buy porn and you don't do these things, you don't get to complain about how no-one's making the kind of porn you'd like to see. Well, not and have producers take you seriously, anyway.

This is the first half of a two-part article; part ii  can be read here.

Radical porn: privilege and balancing risks

This is part ii of a two-part article: the first half can be read here.

Balancing risks

I had an interesting chat with Leia Ann Woods (who has produced spanking porn herself, although doesn't do so currently) about this issue recently on Twitter. She pointed out that the owners of membership sites will inevitably care about, and feel a loyalty to, the preferences of their members and supporters. If all their members complain about something, chances are the website owners won't show it again - or at least not often. This is the "market forces" argument writ small, and it's interesting.

The first factor I see here is that any start-up attracts a specific audience. Your market, your personal audience as a producer, is not the whole wide world: it depends on who you promote your work to, how you do it, what aspects of your product you feature in your marketing, your personality, your tone. And yes, it depends on where you are in the world, what you look like, what you sound like. Online businesses have increasing control over this process, as social networking makes it easier to reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your work. So I don't believe that a website owner is purely at the whim of fate when it comes to the tastes of their membership. To some extent, producers select their audience.

Once you have your audience, either you can stick with it and indulge their whims come what may, or if you want to change your product, you can take the risk of alienating them and attracting a new audience. I have no doubt that evolving your product or approach, particularly towards greater diversity, does carry risks. It's also understandable that few business owners consider this a risk worth taking in our failing economy. The result is that producers, on average, shore up the status quo even if they'd like to be doing something different, because they aren't able to take risks with their livelihood.

This idea of taking and balancing risks struck me as important and interesting. It's something every producer has to confront during the life of their business, and also applies beyond the porn industry. Here are some initial thoughts:

  • Anyone working in any creative industry needs to strike a balance between what they want to create and what will sell. I've learned this as a fine artist and as a graphic designer; musicians and writers understand how this goes. It is just as true for porn.
  • All of us have some sort of intuitive understanding of what sort of thing is 'popular' or 'mainstream' (although the definition will differ from person to person); what will bring in the highest profit. Often this isn't just about how well a certain product sells but how much it costs to produce; the cheapest products tend to have higher profit margins. Economies of scale also contribute. Think about the difference between a one-off, hand-knitted cardigan and a similar garment produced on a factory line in China. By and large, we can visualise a creative spectrum with large-scale industry cheaply producing popular products at one end, and small-scale, individually crafted, unique or original products at the other.
  • Every producer has a creative streak, a vision of what they like: they wouldn't be doing this otherwise. Every producer also has to position themselves on this spectrum of production, striking a balance between the quality and originality they would like to produce, and the budget and practicalities within which they have to operate. Economic privilege plays a part: if you're independently wealthy you're able to take far more risks with being 'original' and 'creative' than if you depend on your work for your livelihood and need to produce what sells, even if it's not the sort of thing you'd buy yourself.

Therefore: if I criticise producers for being at the mercy of market forces, I'm to some extent showing my privilege. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to take risks with their product. If you choose to cater to a small minority of consumers, either your product needs to be very expensive (and if that small minority tends not to be wealthy, you don't have a workable business plan) or you need to accept you won't make much money. If that doesn't amount to a living wage, you'll need access to other income or assets.

Cards on table: personally speaking, I have no savings after investing them all in this website, and my family are not wealthy, but I do have earning potential in other industries. While I hope Dreams of Spanking will earn enough to repay my investment, I fully expect to have to use freelance work to bolster my income from it in the first few years. Partly because realistically, I expect it'll take time until the website is in profit, and partly because this gives me a little more independence to produce the porn I want to see. If I'm not wholly dependent on the site for my livelihood, I can take more risks. Being able to do that is a privilege: not everyone has the skills or opportunity to earn decent daily rates as a freelancer.

If your product meets expectations of what is 'popular' in some ways, this frees you up to take risks in others. If your product is already risky, you may not have the leeway to take on any additional risk. For instance, if you run an M/F and F/F spanking site that is already creating imaginative, detailed storylines and investing a lot of money and effort in costumes and props and so forth, many would say you're compromising your profitability for the sake of artistic satisfaction. Do you then also have the leeway to add in something as 'risky' as male spankees? There's certainly a case to be made that highly profitable, big corporate porn sites have more flexibility to try new things than independent producers barely covering their costs.

Let's scale this down to the level I'm operating at: a site centred around a single performer. Most porn performers (and this is a tricky thing to talk about, so apologies if it comes across oddly) have personal attributes which combine to give a good impression on video. In my case, for example, I'd say I'm fairly well-spoken, intelligent, well-educated. None of these things I claim particular credit for: they're accidents of birth and opportunity. Additionally I'm female, cisgendered, not fat, able-bodied, primarily a bottom/submissive, I can take a lot of pain, and nature has given me a rounded bottom. The combination results, I'm told, in a certain sex appeal. None of these attributes are chosen or earned (I guess I'd be fatter if I didn't exercise and watch my nutrition, but my genes incline towards a middling sort of body type, rather than a naturally thin or fat one). Of course, there are many ways in which I don't fit the Playboy type of 'sexy', and I couldn't be a mainstream glamour model, but within our little scene I seem, by chance, to have attributes which are considered appealing.

I'm not saying this because I have a big ego, because I think sex appeal is generally an important attribute, or to imply that I consider myself better than anyone else. Hopefully, it should be clear that I consider the collections of personal attributes which are considered attractive within different social groups to be fairly arbitrary. I by no means think that being cis female, able-bodied etc makes me innately sexier than anyone who isn't. What I'm doing is deconstructing how we as a social group define 'sexy', and thinking critically about where I stand in relation to that.

What it comes down to is this: all of the attributes I listed above have given me an advantage when it comes to performing in, and producing, kinky porn. Collectively, they get me access to play, and access to paid work as a performer. Yes, of course I've worked hard and had big ideas and all the rest of it. But if I were a male spankee, trans, fat, disabled, didn't have well-educated parents, or even wasn't able to or inclined to play hard, then starting my own website would be a very different proposition. Without my privileged educational background, I would probably have had less confidence in my abilities, and found it less easy to teach myself the skills I needed to set up a business as a producer. If enough of my personal attributes didn't match what we're used to seeing in porn, I would probably have to work entirely with hired performers rather than appearing in my films myself.

If I was a male bottom - even if I were beautiful, deeply submissive and could take a lot of pain - I'd have found it very difficult to build a career as a porn performer*, let alone a producer. Men may have many social privileges, but equal representation as sex objects isn't one of them; and this is even more true of male submissives.

* The spanking porn industry is pretty small. I don't know any fulltime spanking models: most people either have vanilla jobs alongside, or they earn money from private sessions. Even a female bottom needs to start her own website if she wants to make spanking videos more than a handful of times a year. A male bottom has even fewer performance options than that.

Privilege, and what you do with it

So it comes down to privilege, and what you do with it. Privilege is multifaceted: as a woman I deal with a lot of stuff men don't have to; but overall, thanks to my class background and so on, I think I'm pretty fortunate, and especially so in this particular context. Although being female and a bottom is a social disadvantage in some ways, as a porn performer and aspiring producer, it definitely makes some things easier.

The way I see it, however much I dislike the screwed up social system that means I have more access to play and more access to paid work because of my gender, body type and role orientation, I can't change that fact. What I can change is how I respond to it. As far as I'm concerned, having this specific porn-performer-privilege gives me two responsibilities. Firstly, not to judge others for not taking the same risks as me. I can't assess the potential impact of taking a creative risk for anyone else; only an individual producer can do that. If you could take risks, want to, but are maintaining the status quo out of a fear of change, that's a matter for your own conscience.

Secondly, since I seem been granted some advantages, I should use them to help fix the broken system.

It would be very easy for me to launch a F/F and M/F site featuring me and perhaps other (young, white, slender, cisgendered, able-bodied) women getting spanked and leave it at that. It would probably be popular. And the status quo would be maintained. People who looked like my performers would continue to have advantages (in finding play partners, in finding porn which represents them, in being able to find work in porn if they wanted) over people who didn't. The kinky social hierarchy would remain intact.

Isn't the decent thing, once you become aware of having privilege, to use it to help close the gap between those with, and those without? Could any reasonable person come to an awareness of inequality and not want to work towards levelling the playing field? I don't think it's fair that my partners Tom and D, my dear friend Jimmy Holloway have fewer work opportunities as a performer than me because they're male. Seeking greater diversity in porn isn't just about appealing to a wider audience: it's also about making it more accessible.

Anyway, I sort of have this personal rule: if there's something you can do to fix it, and you don't, you should stop complaining. For years now I've been griping about the lack of hot male tops in spanking porn; the lack of hot male spankees; the fact men often aren't paid; the persistent online commercial segregation between male and female, fat and thin, trans and cis, /F and /M; the fact that most kinky porn caters to this fallacious "male gaze" that only likes looking at one type of body; the fact that no straight male webmasters are willing to feature M/M on their site.

I started producing partly because I had this nagging feeling that I should put my money where my mouth is. So that's what I'm doing. And actually, I don't mind taking a few risks to do it.

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