Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Maternity leave

Maternity leave isn’t something I’d given much thought to.  I know there is a debate raging, I know that my Swedish co-workers correct me and say “parental leave benefit” and I know my current benefit is competitive (16 weeks, full pay, regardless of gender of the parent or birth/adoption/guardianship of child).  I didn’t know how parental leave impacts retention of women in the workforce across all incomes and sectors, but I knew that Google increased their benefit in a pitch to retain female employees and it worked.

And then, seemingly overnight, this became a major consideration.  I became a 30 year old woman in a stable relationship with Plans.  Moreover, I became a 30 year old woman in a stable relationship with Plans and the good fortune to be desirable to people who occasionally show up and try to offer me new jobs.  And in looking at these, I discovered that my maternity benefit is very, very competitive.  Others I’ve seen have ranged from 8 weeks at full pay but no ability to take more than 8 weeks to 16 weeks at no pay.

And my first question is “do you people not want to retain female talent?!”  It costs about $10,000 to hire someone in my field when you think about time lost to interviews, money spent perking people up (recruiting), and various other activation costs.  I guess depending on the hire that’s only 1-2 months of paid leave, but I think I just found the leaky pipe everyone has been talking about.

My plan had been to work until it was baby time (in a year or two, relax folks), take my leave, then come back.  If I were in a job with one of these less generous leave policies my plan would be either 1) work until I though “ooh, baby next year” then look for a job with better benefits or 2) work until baby time, exhaust the benefit such as it is, then quit my job and find a new one 6ish months later.

There is a huge, glaring, major assumption in my plan: I am in a high demand, well paid field and I have options.  I assume that if I quit my job I will find a new one 6 months later.  I have enough padding to quit my job for 6 months.

Now imagine the average woman who at this point may or may not be partnered (40.6% of American babies were born out of wedlock in 2013 per the CDC) and whose income is probably in the $40k-$50k range (if she’s lucky).  What the hell does she do?  No, really, daycare is prohibitively expensive, her leave benefit might only allow 6-8 weeks, what does she do?

Parental leave is about so much more than individual families – it becomes a major concern in enabling women to have joint career and family goals. It enables men to take time off to spend with their families beyond a couple of days of PTO, and normalizes work-life balance regardless of gender.  Further it helps level the playing field between rich and poor moms and boosts retention of female employees across the income spectrum.

Written by kinkinexile

February 9, 2015 at 11:49 am

Posted in personal, politics, work

Reading list

Today I’m thinking about data literacy.

A couple of months ago, there was a Dutch study that seemed to suggest that BDSMers are happier than the general population.  It was widely celebrated by segments of my twitter feed…segments that maybe didn’t look too closely at what else the study said.

I’ve been meaning to break it down but then William Saletan did a breakdown of this and other studies on BDSM that actually makes a lot of sense to me.  So I could just link you there and be done.  However, that would be very lazy so I’ll also point out a couple of things you maybe missed in your excitement.

Potential for sampling bias – this hits most of the BDSM and Alt Sex studies I’ve seen.  If you recruit from within BDSM organizations you are getting people who both exhibit the behavior and have the group affiliation.  There is an important lesson to be learned from the history of “Men who have Sex with Men” (MSM) that is that behavior and identity are different animals and you need to know which you’re speaking of.  When you recruit from within BDSM organizations you also miss people who engage in BDSM activities outside of social/public settings and people who may have been involved in the past but left due to bad experiences.

You are also coming into a group that sees itself as marginalized as an outsider, which introduces all sorts of research concerns not least of which center on respondent honesty.

It also seems that the much cited well-being score was actually highest for dominants in the test group and lowest for submissives (and according to William’s synopsis it seems there was only a statistically significant bump from the vanilla control for dominants?).

As appealing as the headline may be, just remember, statistics don’t lie but analysis is a son of a bitch.


Written by kinkinexile

July 10, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Posted in work

Care & feeding: will not work for money, will not work for free

I recently had occasion to think about what I look for in the work I do, and relatedly, in my work relationships. I learned something surprising: I will not work for free. I suppose this isn’t surprising for most people, what with jobs usually involving a paycheck as at least one of the perks, but given my history of quitting jobs due to “bad cultural fit” it’s already established that I also won’t work for money (at least not just money).

Frankly, this entire post can be summed up as “I am a millennial.” And then linking you to the many articles about working with millennials. But because I was thinking about it, perhaps I should add that I’m thinking here specifically about volunteer-based group work, and that while volunteering is often framed as free labor it turns out it’s not.

I actually won’t continually pour energy into someone else’s creative vision (I will into my own with intrinsic reward, but that’s different). To work on someone else’s vision a couple of other things need to exist:

I have to feel like my core competencies are being used, this is why despite understanding that someone has to stuff envelopes for a non-profit charity drive I won’t stay up late stuffing envelopes or infact stuff envelopes for more than a couple of hours without the promise of pizza and socialization. I will however sink hours and hours into data analysis of all sorts, into teaching others about my process, into cross checking someone else’s work or having someone explain interesting points of analysis or UX magic to me, etc.

I have to feel emotionally supported (and dare I say it, celebrated). There is no denying it, I am a millennial, we are the most cooperative generation, and probably the most needy in this regard. I don’t just want to work with you, I want to feel good with you, I want to feel like you care and like you actively want to work with me. This is why interpersonal fuss bleeds into work, why I leave jobs and projects with adversarial relationships. I will not work for free, but I will work for pats on the head, relationship cohesion, and interesting problems.

Oh yeah, you should have an interesting problem.

Somewhere along the line I’ve also absorbed a sense of deference toward other people’s contributions. Oddly this expresses differently in paid and unpaid work – I am much more likely to be shy about my own contribution in a volunteer environment than I am in a corporate environment. I don’t understand it except that perhaps in paid work everyone has agreed that I am a subject matter expert and they want me there (hence paying me) where as in volunteer work it is often unclear what others know of my background or expect of my work. Because my work usually results in other people having to do more stuff (design suggestions, for example, have to be implemented by engineers), I am also scared of imposing on fellow volunteers’ time.

I will work for shared meaning, and/or socializing. Remember the condition under which I will stuff envelops? Pizza and socialization. This is the barn raising of the non-profit sector, we’ll do this work and then we’ll party. And also, we share a vision of the world and its future, we will work together toward this vision and we will own the result together. This isn’t your project, or this groups project, it’s our project and by extension my project (see above for intrinsic reward).

So yeah, tl:dr: will work for interesting problems, strong relationships, personal fulfillment, and emotional validation. And while these don’t have to cost you money, I still won’t work for free.

Written by kinkinexile

June 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Posted in care&feeding, work

Create awesome or Create cliques, your choice

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending KinkForAll Denver.  I had been following the organizational efforts via the email list and so I knew that there was a bit of political chatter, but politics rarely bother me.  When it comes to speaking about sexuality, activism, or frankly most topics on a systemic scale I have a lot of faith in people’s desire to leave petty infighting behind and create awesome together.

KinkForAll Denver had a bit of pushback from the BDSM community.  Because KinkForAll is all ages and many sessions are recorded or live streamed this is not exactly unusual, however the nature of the clashes in Denver were perhaps different. I had hoped to find a gentler word, but honestly, I found the whole thing sophomoric.

KinkForAll is not a BDSM event, and given the sheer number of BDSM events already on the calendars of most metropolitan cities I have a hard time giving credence to cries of exclusion and oppression from within the BDSM scene. Furthermore, KinkForAll is a participant created event, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept it’s really quite simple: the people who do the work own the conference. Wanna own the conference and make it into your vision?  Do the work, book the space, fund raise, build relationships with sponsors, create the wiki and web presence, call community groups to invite them, get price quotes from printers, set up live streaming, beg borrow or steal graphic design and web templates, acquire and set up projectors, talk people into speaking, talk people out of speaking too much, be yelled at by everyone who thinks participant created means 5 dudes do all the work while everyone else critiques, support people who want to do shit but don’t know how to or need permission to through that and all the millions of other little things you may have been too busy throwing yourself a pity party to notice happened.

I describe myself as a moderate, and in most situations I am, but when I hear the BDSM community talk about feeling unwelcomed at KinkForAll, and after speaking with some members of Denver’s BDSM community, all I can say is “good.” BDSM practitioners did attend KinkForAll Denver, I’m one of them, but the noise created by a few people having an emotional reaction to not having their privilege card stamped at the door, a rare experience I gather, wasted time and energy that could have been better spent building, dreaming, creating, and sharing together.

Outside of KinkForAll I listened to members of Denver’s BDSM scene tell me how special and different Denver is.  The same way I’ve heard members of the NY, Boston, DC, and SF scenes tell me how special and different their scenes were.  Right now, I’m too disenchanted with The Scene to imagine a scene that’s not steeped in its own dogma, I haven’t heard it described yet.   But I learned something else, something that starts a glimmer of hope, it’s not BDSM that I’m finding hurtful and convoluted, it’s the scene.  And this makes sense, the scene is a structure, an organization that will, perhaps by necessity,  be bound to organizational maintenance, cliques, and egos.  BDSM, I am learning, doesn’t require dealing with the leather and latex crowd, it’s about having the sex you want with the people you love in the ways you enjoy.

So fuck the scene and the strife, forget the cliques, instead, take a look at these amazing KinkForAll Denver presenters and create more awesome!

Written by kinkinexile

February 27, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Posted in community, politics, work

Tagged with ,

Why I don’t do sex worker activism

When I moved to San Francisco I spent a few months as a pro-domme.  It was fun, but I just didn’t have the personality and business sense to make it financially viable.  For many of the people I know the decision to do sex work and/or their feelings about sex work are deeply personal and polarizing.  For me, it’s just a crazy thing I did in my early 20s because it seemed like fun.  I took from it what I wanted, not least of which was rent money, and I don’t think too hard about what didn’t work.

I understand that this stance comes from a place of power – I’m white, female, conventionally attractive, well educated.  I can discus the evolution of Baroque music and the evolution of vibrator technology with equal literacy.  In short, I not only had an easy way into being a sex worker, I had plentiful options when I decided it wasn’t working.  If I had the opportunity to become a pro-domme again today I wouldn’t go for it; it is hard emotional labor in an industry not known for being kind to its employees and I’m pretty sure I command a higher hourly rate at my day job.  That said, I was sorry to leave the house I was working in. I was just starting to establish regular clients, I had explored a number of kinks I was previously to0 timid to try, and I had a really good relationship with the women I worked with most of whom I found to be interesting people and dedicated to improving their craft.  I was also truly fascinated by the clients and their varied stories.

People frequently ask if I felt as though I was being topped from the bottom by my clients.  My answer is, well, no.  Frequently, I felt as though I was in a service industry not unlike a flight attendant or waitress because I was, in fact, in a service industry.  Often, I felt as though I was bringing water to the desert.  Occasionally, a client would break my heart with how much shame he would drag in and lay at my feet, and then I felt utterly unqualified to do anything and desperate to embrace his fantasy and make it ok and to dispel the fear of whoever told him this was wrong.  I don’t know if I ever succeeded, given the size of the tips those men gave me, I suspect not. (People pay more, a lot more, for what they are ashamed of.)

So why am I adamantly apolitical about sex work? Well, in large part because I am a radical moderate in most things not concerned with child abuse (bad, duh) and free and fair elections (good and super exciting in the Congo right now).  But also because I realize that while my experience was positive and no more oppressive than most jobs with a schedule and a boss, many people are exploited by the sex industry (and I don’t just mean trafficked sex workers here).  Saying its all good or all bad is too simplistic and fails to acknowledge either the benefits or drawbacks.

I worry about the commodification of sexuality, but I also believe in a free market, and I realize that while sex work is used by some men (and women) to gain access to sex they otherwise can’t have, it is also a fee for service enterprise that may be utilized for convenience as easily as wish-fulfillment.  Which is to say, sometimes you don’t want to be able to share your deepest darkest fantasies with your lover, sometimes you don’t need to or want to concern yourself with building a world where sex is openly embraced, sometimes you just want to pay someone to deliver a nice experience to your doorstep on your schedule.  The fact that sexually submissive men do have to struggle to carve out a space for themselves and that sexually dominant women don’t get recognized as such unless they fit a leather clad dominatrix stereotype is a problem, I just don’t see how sex work is at the root of this problem.  Maybe at most a symptom, but frankly the answer to bad speech is more speech and the answer, in my mind, to bad representation of female dominance is more and more diverse representations of female dominance.

You can’t be what you don’t see, I get that, but I guess if anything I am advocating for guerrilla acts of female dominance in blue jeans and crowd sourced images of such (hell, I’d pay to see that).  Because while you can’t be what you don’t see, getting rid of what is out there does not inherently make space for what isn’t.

Written by kinkinexile

October 24, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Package design and a review

Maybe because I was visiting a printing press yesterday, maybe it’s just because I’m a dork, but the first thing I noticed about the Bliss 3 is the packaging. The outside cardboard sleeve has a really nice use of embossing that makes it look like a fancy DVD box set. The outside sleeve also has half circle cuts at the outside edge so you can easily grip the inside box and pull it out. The inside box, a purple two part pull-open, is less impressive but still nice. The inside is clearly inspired by a mac book box though, complete with branded tab that lets you pull up the top toy holding tray to reveal the batteries, storage baggie, and manual bellow.

Why do I mention all of this? Because packaging adds a lot to the perceived value of a product, and it seems to be on the forefront of the sex toy revolution. Think about it. Put the same vibrator in a transparent plastic blister-pack with a picture of a porn star on the front and you have a different product. Make it beige and put it in a brown paper bag and you have a different product. I’m not saying that the qualities of the vibrator aren’t important, they are, and we’ll get to them shortly. What I’m saying, however, is that the care and attention paid to the packaging of high-end sex toys highlights the engineering and design that went into the actual toy and changes our opinions of who should buy this product, where, and for how much.

I guess non-geeks out there might want to know about the actual toy though, right? The Bliss 3 is about 5 inches long and over an inch in diameter. It is made out of silicon, and powered by AAA batteries (which are included with the toy in the little sub toy compartment that looks oh so much like a mac book box). The toy claims to be super quiet using “whisper-quiet” technology but I didn’t think it was any more or less quiet than the bulk of high-end vibrators I have seen. The 9 vibration patterns range from 3 levels of continuous vibration to more exotic pulsing patterns and are very, very nice (try #4!) These are all controlled through one power button at the base. I like the simplicity of just one button, but it would actually be nice to be able to go forward and backward instead of having to cycle through all 9 patterns if you miss the one you wanted.

Long story short: Nice vibrator with plenty of options to choose from and a very pretty presentation that makes this a great spoil-yourself-silly kind of toy.

Written by kinkinexile

April 24, 2010 at 12:15 am

Domme in a business suit?

I don’t think so. Ok, so I’m particularly in work-head today having dressed up like a grown up for a meeting with my creative director, but this post isn’t really about dress code. This is a post, one of many, about being so many other things before I’m a domme. In this post Advo discusses his real estate agent as a possible domme, and you know, it bothers me. Not that he is attracted to her all together but that what draws his attention and fuels the post is not the introduction of a competent and experienced agent but rather that of the possibility of a dominant woman. I’ve seen this elsewhere too — the appraising post, the idle chatter on a submissive man’s blog about whether the grumpy bus driver/lady at the cafe/secretary is secretly dominant.

It makes me wonder if people think this way about me? If they hear “human computer interaction…” and tune out to thoughts of being beaten with looped optical fiber. I hope not. I can’t imagine that an interaction with anyone who doesn’t see me as a complete holistic being and is not paying for the privilege of seeing only what they want to see will go far. The bottom line is that it’s downright offensive and if you are going presume to be submissive you could start with a little bit of respect of the kind you afford any other business contact.

Written by kinkinexile

October 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Posted in blogging, headspace, work