goalposts

So I was browsing this afternoon on Fetlife and found a link to this article, called “Should I Work in Fetish Modeling?” As it was written by SLEPhotography, one of the loudest voices against this project, and as it was written a bit after this project began, I thought I would see what he said.

 Fetish modeling, like regular modeling, is heavily skewed (based on the buying market) towards females.  In some respects it’s more female-centric than the mainstream market.  A lot of straight men who approach this (as dominants or submissives) seem to have the idea there’s a huge need for them.  Much as in porn, they’re mistaken.  Unless they’re willing to do gay work (for which there is a much larger male market) the chances of becoming a regular well known fetish model are vanishingly small.  The same is true for the huge number of transsexual, transgendered, and gender queer models, all most all of whom (in my experience) are genetic males, who want to push in here.*  The small niche and limited opportunity factors both apply.  This is also true for genetic females in those groups, but their numbers are smaller (again, in my experience) and there are other factors that might get them a bit more work.  Race also falls in here.  While fetish people like to think of themselves as egalitarian, the vast number of successful fetish models are Caucasian (including Hispanics) or Asian.  Black fetish models are becoming somewhat more prominent, but it’s a slow process.  The straight market overwhelmingly favors Asian or Caucasian women (with a big preference there for traditionally pretty Playboy style looks) and the gay market white men.

The idea that people can just somehow magically “make” the markets change thru the force of their own personalities is no more realistic in fetish than it is in mainstream modeling.  Insisting it’s the photographers or producers enforcing their own standards is untrue, and is far less true in this market since it’s much easier for people to produce their own material than in mainstream modeling.  The truth is borne out by where the market votes with their money.

(emphasis mine)

*also AAAAAAAAAAAtransphobicbullshit!

So there we have it. There’s no images because there’s no market, and there’s no market because there’s no images. Same with people of colour, or fat bodies. I know Filament’s struggled with issues of diversity because people just tend to send in shoots with one particular type of man (granted, a type that did very well in our poll!):

I’ve certainly never declined a photoshoot on the basis of the fact that a model was fat or non-white, on the contrary — there have been a number of shoots that would have been published if the model hadn’t been a skinny, hairless white guy in his 20s with tattoos, piercings and unusual hair — for the sake of diversity. But we’re also currently at the point of publishing about 70% of the shoots we receive, so we don’t exactly have masses of choice. I highlight the issue of diversity in models to photographers who express an interest in contributing to Filament, and it’s been in our photography guidelines since ever.

I’ll be honest. I don’t know if this is a project that will “make money”. This is a social justice, gender awareness project instead of a “strike it rich” thing. I want to make change. And one of the first ways to do that is to make people conscious.

That said, SLEPhoto has promised me a bottle of Hendrick’s if this project is successful. He hasn’t yet told me what “successful” means, though, so I have no goalpost from him. I’ve thought a bit about what this project being successful means to me, though, so here’s what I’m going to try to accomplish in a year- Pride Weekend SF to Pride Weekend SF.

My goals:

-I want to have a logo created (possibility shown on this post, what do you think?) and make badges/teeshirts.

-I want to have at least 20 shoots put together, with a variety of male-identified models shown, in a variety of erotic ways, specifically *by and for female consumers*.

-I want to network between photographers taking pictures of erotic male nudes and forums where they can display/sell these images. I want us to band together to throw this “women aren’t visual” shite out the window where it belongs.

-I want to get to a point where male models can be safely compensated *at least* with $50 an hour because photographers working on this project know they have a market for the images.

-I want to create a situation where Filament can pick and choose shoots for publication because they have enough material.

-I want no less than 3 galleries displaying the work I’ve curated. Preferably, I want them to be kink/sex community spaces in particular.

Can we do it, you think? We’ll find out!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Discussion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to goalposts

  1. I think pandora Blake will be interested to hear more about the project. She is nicer than me, too!
    http://pandorablake.com/blog/

    • Hah! 😀 She’s been retweeting our posts.

      • I’m in the process of building a site which will aim to market spanking porn to women as well as men, so I’ve been thinking a lot about female gaze, too. I’m really pleased to see more projects popping up that aim to create erotic images of male-bodies for women. I think we’re starting at differents from this one – you’re trying to do the pure social justice angle without making any money, whereas I want a sustainable (if not uber-profitable) business, so I need to balance the social goals with content that will sell. I’m also thinking a LOT about how to sell to new and cautious consumers, as a lot of women have never made a porn purchase before.

        I’m really pleased to see new projects like this popping up – I think we’re all fighting for the same aim, if in slightly different niches. The more of us encouraging women who are dissatisfied with porn/erotic imagery to pay for the change they want to see, the wider variety of producers will start catering to this market, and the higher chance there’ll be of each individual woman finding something that strikes her fancy.

  2. Thanks for the extra publicity, Kitty. This was written with an aim towards those currently thinking of entering the market. What you’re calling “bullshit” reflects the CURRENT market realities for where the money is. If it changes in 5 years, I’ll update it. My statement was absolutely correct, a MODEL on his or her own cannot individually shift the reality. A group of photographers & producers working together could create a new niche, and that might over time grow & become mainstream, tho. However, them not producing material for which there is no obvious demand WITH MONETARY BACKING is not the conspiracy to “maintain status quo” that some of you insist on. Most photographers & producers are BUSINESS PEOPLE and if you show them the money they’ll produce it.

    Tell me, would you honestly feel OK about giving someone asking “can I be a fetish model” false hope that s/he is likely to succeed based on the current market? Or would you say “Oh, the market will change so go for it & you’ll make money?” Ultimately that’s what this article is… Advice for those looking to enter the market NOW based on current realities of where the paid work lies. At this time the paid work is going to Asian and Caucasian females mostly fitting a few body types, or men doing gay focused work and usually fitting an even narrower set of body types.

    The commentary about non-genetic males was because of the sheer number of them on sites like FetLife who come in to it saying “I can’t find success as a model elsewhere because I’m not a genetic male, but fetish modeling is egalitarian so surely I can automatically make it HERE, right?” when the reality is that the mass of it is NOT egalitarian. It’s no different than a 5’2″ model saying “I can be THE ONE who CHANGES FASHION!”

    You & some of your friends need to recognize that rejecting reality and fighting with those who say “that’s the way things are” doesn’t CHANGE reality. Acknowledging how something IS doesn’t mean it’s right, or just, or OK, or even that the person who’s pointing it out agrees with it. It just means that it IS. The level of vitriol & personal attacks levied by some over this serves to actively alienate people who not only don’t disagree with your goals but who might be supporters.

    Of your criteria, this’s the main one that’d go towards some level of proof it’s working:
    “I want to get to a point where male models can be safely compensated *at least* with $50 an hour because photographers working on this project know they have a market for the images.”
    When you have the SAME NUMBER of male models being able to work in fetish and/or nude (and erotic and other similar fields) as women & being able to get that much an hour as often as their female counterparts then yes that’d definitely point to a market shift and proof of a change in peoples’ viewing habits. Your 20 person network might fit if you’d define some financial goals for it.

    If your overall point in our argument’s right, your last criteria’s self defeating since a mainstream gallery doing the displays would be a far stronger message.

    You say:
    “I’ll be honest. I don’t know if this is a project that will “make money”. This is a social justice, gender awareness project instead of a “strike it rich” thing. I want to make change. And one of the first ways to do that is to make people conscious.”
    The point to it making money is that money making, for better or worse, in our society is a sign of how widely accepted something is. It’s money that creates the reality of why most of us produce what we do & select the models we do, nothing more. Not some evil secret agenda, just money. I shoot male nudes. I rarely display them because they cause people not to work with me, galleries not to display my work, and shows to reject me. I quite enjoy shooting the male form & wish I could do more with it and make money. As others have noted in discussions about this, it’d be GREAT if your project works because the social change would mean more market opportunities for us. 🙂

    Truth is, tho, sure you can flood the web with images of men but if you can’t show evidence people see VALUE in consuming them OR find some other objective criteria (really, that’s what the dollars spent comes down to) that shows a mass audience interested in consuming it then it’s hard to show those images have changed anything.

    I’ll be nice & up the bet a bit tho, if we can come up with some good metrics we both agree on & you change things not only will I buy the Hendrick’s I’ll personally muddle the cucumbers & serve the martinis. You pick the outfit I wear to serve. 🙂 (I can provide my own heels, black or pink pumps, your choice.)

    • I haven’t disagreed that it “is”, I have disagreed that trying to move things in other directions is futile. I’ve also disagreed that focusing a project like this on heterosexual women as consumers won’t work, that women are less likely to objectify men. And that male bodies aren’t as nice to look at (you said it was a genetic thing, I believe, that women were just more attractive?)

      As for models in fashion, that took a while too but “plus size” models are not as rare as they used to be. Neither are models with skin tones other than white, or taller than average, or even shorter than average. And the more we see variety, the more accustomed to it we become, and the more normal it becomes.

      Asking for the same number of male models to get paid as female models is a bit beyond what one person can do, though, so let’s aim for reasonable goals that could begin to tip the scale and challenge these norms rather than suggesting without perfect equality immediately this project has failed. Activism is often a slow process with a lot of small steps.

      “I shoot male nudes. I rarely display them because they cause people not to work with me, galleries not to display my work, and shows to reject me. I quite enjoy shooting the male form & wish I could do more with it and make money.”

      AWESOME. Let’s both focus on making that happen then! It won’t be across the board (that’s a 20 year project) but I bet we can make an impact on things like BDSM/sex party flyers and dungeon art. Let’s challenge that reaction you get. Cause that’s sexist and lame!

      But you’ll have to travel to me. Maryland’s not my style. And god, no heels, I’d expect you to dress like a butler, except with chaps on. 😉

      • Fair enough, and I respect the fact that while you & I disagree you’re willing to discuss it with some degree of civility & humor. 😀

        Just a couple of notes:
        “I haven’t disagreed that it “is”, I have disagreed that trying to move things in other directions is futile. ”
        I didn’t say it’s futile. I said ONE MODEL saying “I’m not what the market wants but I, myself, am SO amazing I can SINGLE HANDEDLY change the market” is futile. In fact, as the droves of 5’2″ fashion wannabees show, even HERDS of models saying it won’t change it. You have to get producers, distributors, and consumers on board.

        “I’ve also disagreed that focusing a project like this on heterosexual women as consumers won’t work, that women are less likely to objectify men. ”
        I still disagree here. But I said “objectify men SEXUALLY.” Just to be clear. 🙂

        “And that male bodies aren’t as nice to look at (you said it was a genetic thing, I believe, that women were just more attractive?) ”
        I do not recall saying it was genetic, I’ve never seen or read anything to that effect. If I said so, I spoke in error. I also did not say male bodies weren’t “as nice to look at,” I said the preference when talking about nudity was for female over male, especially if the penis was included, and that there were cross gender (both in terms of genetic gender and actual gender) for the female form over all and that a wider range of female forms was apt to be found attractive than male forms.

        “Asking for the same number of male models to get paid as female models is a bit beyond what one person can do, though, so let’s aim for reasonable goals that could begin to tip the scale and challenge these norms rather than suggesting without perfect equality immediately this project has failed. Activism is often a slow process with a lot of small steps. ”
        Fair enough, I was mainly going off which of your statements I thought was valid. But if your project (and Filament & others similar to it would count in this metric too) can start making enough $ to consistently pay male models that’d certainly go a long way to proving your argument.

        Hmmm, guess I need to call Amy & order some new custom chaps, just in case. Ruined my last pair a few years back after I got pinned at The Long Island Eagle. Caught them on the bar rail when I hopped down & tore them. 😀

        • “The 800 pound gorilla in this room that no one likes to talk about or admit is that MOST (not all, but MOST) people, both men and women, prefer looking at nude females to nude males. This even crosses gender preference lines to a point, it’s part of our programming in evolutionary biology (see some of the “ideal face” studies that show even babies look for certain sets of features) which dictates that the female form is more aesthetically pleasing.” You said that (and similar stuff) here– that’s what I was referring to.

          It made my ovaries sad. 😦

          Also, obv, you’re not the only person I’ve been disagreeing with so when I say I disagree with a statement, it may or may not be specifically something you said- rather the general tide of thought which I feel you fed into some.

          But I’m all for turning that bus around. 🙂

    • Oh, and can we discuss what guidelines are for creating images for a female audience (there will be a blog post on just that)? Then you can help me out by submitting work! ::Grin::

    • I think James should read Metrosexy too! http://www.marksimpson.com/metrosexy/

      Because the real big fat pink bulging elephant in the room is the fact that *everyone* not only likes to, but does look at objectified images of men, ALL the time.

  3. I am interested in your conception of a ‘female audience’ too Kitty. Especially as, as a ‘female’ (apparently) I never ever seem to fit the mould of what is considered to be a ‘female consumer’ of pornography.

    • Just quickly before I go to bed:

      My intention won’t be to speak to all women all the time- nothing manages to do that! I *am* interested in what trends there are in women’s erotic imagery- both what they see and like, and what they wish they saw and don’t. Just because it’s not something *for you* doesn’t mean that it’s not wildly popular among a larger scope of “women”.

      Written “erotica” doesn’t do it for me, for example. I get off on badly written, poorly edited smut with garish covers and loads of printing errors. But I recognize that there are many women for whom erotica is really, really sexy, and I wouldn’t stand in the way of that, y’know? It’s just not really my thing.

      • Who said anything about ‘poorly written’?? 😀 I get off on good writing whatever the subject matter.

        I know you won’t speak to all women all the time. But you are not speaking to me *at all* at the moment therefore I find the concept of ‘female audience’ a little bit unsatisfactory. Really I may as well be a gay man in terms of what I enjoy. And that does not mean I am ‘catered for’ by gay porn. Like most porn, most of it is terrible and/or commercialised stereotypes.

        I look forwards to the definition of the ‘female audience’

        • Well, honestly, when I hear the word “feminist” it’s often being used in a way that doesn’t include me, as a sex worker, but I am open to the fact that there’s many types of feminist. This project may not speak to you, but as it apparent already in the comments on here and the interest discussed elsewhere, it does speak to some women! I’m ok with the idea of doing this for them.

          And seriously, I tried for so long to get off to well-written, brain-engaging written stuff. Nope. Give me the horror of Kristen Archives any day. ::laughs::

  4. And I do think here, as James is stressing the issue of ‘audience’ and ‘consumer’ is vital. As you are talking in general about a commercial context.

    One reason I am not considered a very valid female consumer of porn is that I hardly spend any money on the stuff. I know how to get my kicks (and my dick pics )for free, largely!

  5. maybe a lot of women don’t ‘come out’ as porn consumers by buying porn but they watch it more surreptitiously? Which is not much use to the producers from a financial point of view.

    I agree that women do objectify men just as men do women, and each other. But whether or not they do so in a way that is valuable to the porn industry I do not know.

  6. msnaughty says:

    If I may sidestep the various political issues (I’ve been busy, haven’t been following this blog as much as I should)… if you are organising male models and photographers who want to sell their images (re point 3), well, For The Girls is a paying market 🙂

  7. Ok, just some quick thoughts…
    Quiet Riot Girl, what interests me about what you’re writing is that it could very easily have been written by someone of any gender, as many people feel that they are not ‘the’ porn audience. I notice this a lot with the criticism that Filament gets too: women seem very eager to point out that there is no universal female audience or female taste, or that they do not ‘fit’ with what /is/ the perceived universal female taste, and yet much the same could be said of male porn consumers too; they’re no universal standard for them and they’re all different, yet the market still thrives.

    SLEP & Kitty, I’m immediately reminded of a Bitchy Jones post (that I can’t seem to find right now) where she posited exactly this: how does it make sense to say that there’s no market because there’s no product but also no product because there’s no market? Ultimately, you seem to be approaching this from two very different sides, especially as, Kitty, I think you’re much less concerned about the money/harsh pragmatic side of things (you gutterpunk, you :p ).

  8. I think porn thrives as does any consumer industry Michael. Because people want ‘something’ and they will buy what is on offer. Do you think we all love starbucks coffee? No but that is what has been pumped into our high streets and our systems.

    The fact that most of the current paying consumers of porn are men, I am not sure is relevant to the ‘quality’ of porn. I mean most of the paying customers of lifestyle magazines are women, and they tend to be shit too.

    • “Because people want ‘something’ and they will buy what is on offer.”

      EXACTLY. 😀 So this project is to increase what is on offer!

      • Sure that is well and good. But I do not think that what is on offer is specifically an issue for ‘female’ consumers. Hell I don’t even use the term female to describe myself unless I have to. I think you are reinforcing that goddamned gender binary by your whole terms of reference and ethos.

        • I see gender as a spectrum, first off, and recognize a lot of people identify as women, including trans people. That’s ok, in my opinion. I make a point pretty often on here of saying “female-identified people” and “male-identified bodies”, including adding “I prefer non-cisgendered male bodies, myself” onto our poll. I personally identify as femme, gender-wise, not female, but I refuse to make “woman” as a gender invisible when it so clearly exists for a lot of people!

          I’ve been very vocal about queer porn existing for people with other tastes- Queer Porn TV, the Female POV, CrashPad, Heavenly Spire, No Fauxxx, Cyberdyke… I think these are doing a great job of catering to queer people in a variety of ways, so I don’t feel the need to cover it myself. I’d much rather support places already doing it.

  9. I think having a distinction between ‘queer’ and ‘heterosexual’ is part of the problem. I find it difficult to understand as I know you are aware of the ‘spectrum’ of identities except as soon as it comes to viewers of porn suddenly there is this group ‘women’ who are supposed to have things in common. And even ‘heterosexual’ women at that. I am heterosexual in that I only really ever want to (be done by) men, but I have probably less in common with most hetero women in all other respects than any other ‘group’ of people.

  10. “Sure that is well and good. But I do not think that what is on offer is specifically an issue for ‘female’ consumers. Hell I don’t even use the term female to describe myself unless I have to. I think you are reinforcing that goddamned gender binary by your whole terms of reference and ethos.”

    A lot of people still see that binary and rely on it, and a lot of queer people seem blind to the problems that come with ignoring that a lot of people /do/ identify as male or female (whether they “choose” to or not is another question) and actively want to see things that cater to them and their identities as men/women.

    An anecdote: I was recently asked by a female-bodied queer-identified friend of mine to go to an event. However, as I perceived the event in question as being very much aimed towards sex-politics-aware women – and women alone – I declined, explaining that, even though I might have wanted to go, as an evident cis-man, I would feel like I was – or would potentially be perceived as – invading a female-only space, and might make the women there feel uncomfortable with my presence. “Don’t worry,” my friend reassured me, “I don’t identify as a woman either, you know, and I’m going!” I was frankly stunned by this response and what it implied. Could she not see that, even though she may have identified as a non-woman, as I do, essentially all of the people at the event who could potentially observe us would clearly see us as a man and a woman? Her experience would not end up being the same as mine, regardless of her own identity.

    My point is, even though I consider myself very queer-aware I still recognise a need and value for spaces and media that respect people who choose not to identify as queer. If I’d have turned up to the event above, only to say “oh don’t worry ladies, I don’t identify as male,” would that really have quieted those who felt that I was intruding on a female-only space? Would I have elicited the same reaction as my queer-but-female-bodied friend? The same applies here, I feel, as – arguments about the value of gender divisions/spectra aside – women who do identify as straight women (or, in this case bi or otherwise interested in men in some way) still want to feel that something is being made that caters to them and their specific needs. It may be a community defined by specific (and arguably problematic) ideas about gender, but the women’s community – and here the potentially porn-consuming women’s community – is a community nonetheless, and I don’t see the harm in catering to a group in desperate need of feeling like there is perhaps porn being produced just for them and their group’s needs.

    • yeah well ‘female only spaces’ are like hell on earth for me. I think Kitty should define ‘female audience’.

      I also think this whole queer/non-queer binary is ridiculous.

      Jeez. we all live in the SAME world.

      • Ok, ok, we get it! In summary- you don’t identify with most heterosexual women, you don’t like female only spaces. This project is obviously NOT FOR YOU. Which is ok. As can be seen by the the buzz not just surrounding this project but other projects listed in Link Love, it IS FOR OTHER WOMEN. Let them have it!

        I’ll admit it’s frustrating that you do tend to stick to the same point and repeat it over and over again. I can see that this isn’t really a project that will appeal to you but it has value outside of you. If the premise doesn’t work for you, fine, ok- make your own project if there’s something you’re not getting but want to. My project is for exploring the variety in female gazes (not to say there isn’t variety in male gazes, but that’s not what this is about, and not to say there’s not variety in queer gazes or genderfluid gazes, but that’s not what this is about).

        A lot of queers would feel pretty resentful if everyone started identifying as queer, for a start. And also, why do you get to tell other people how they ought to identify? More people identify as straight than don’t, and just as I would be furious if someone told me how to identify, I don’t think you have a right to tell straight women that they should have a queer gaze because the “queer/non-queer binary is ridiculous”.

        I’d really prefer you sum up your feelings about why a female gaze shouldn’t be explored or discussed, why something made for het women isn’t for you, why you hate this project, in one blog post. I do know that you have intimidated other commentators and if you’re not going to say something new I will have to start moderating. You have a blog for this. I’ll happily link to it.

  11. “I can see that this isn’t really a project that will appeal to you but it has value outside of you.”
    “As can be seen by the the buzz not just surrounding this project but other projects listed in Link Love, it IS FOR OTHER WOMEN. Let them have it!”

    Agreed. I’m always amazed when things like Filament (which you’ve mentioned on here) gets comments like “but you don’t consider the gay male/lesbian female/queer gaze at all!” These comments completely ignore that Filament is pretty clearly something aimed very specifically at straight (or otherwise man-appreciating) women, and that media for gay men, lesbian women and queer people already exist elsewhere, outside of it.

  12. Kitty. The day I intimidate you will be a very strange day indeed! I have been aware of your work and impressed by you for a long time. But there is no way I will accept the role of ‘intimidating’ in this context!

    Feel free to moderate as much as you like. I don’t make the rules on your blog. But don’t make out it is because I am intimidating anyone. Annoying, may be. But gender is nothing if not annoying.

    I have blogged a lot about the ‘gaze’ . You are free to read my work but I will put a post up linking to my posts on it. And maybe one or two of Mark’s too. He is very approachable and would explain his theories if you have any issues with them, once you have read Metrosexy.

    • *I’m* not intimidated! 🙂 I like to debate.

      But I have gotten more than one email in my personal inbox saying “I support what you’re doing but don’t want to get into a debate about or feel like I have to justify my desires to QRG”. And, while some debate is awesome, I do think that it doesn’t feel so much like we’re getting anywhere, we just fundamentally disagree, and you won’t support this project, and that’s ok.

      Still, I’m working on reading Metrosexy, though I lack an e-reader so reading on my phone isn’t the easiest going.

  13. Here is my initial response Kitty. I have referred to a few key articles by me and Mark Simpson. Let me know if you need a word doc of the Metrosexy intro

    http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/gazing-at-men-gazing/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s