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Digital kink obscurity: A sexual politics beyond visibility and comprehension
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Gender Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6047-4369
2023 (English)In: Sexualities, ISSN 1363-4607, E-ISSN 1461-7382Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Based on an interview-driven ethnographic study of the Swedish digital BDSM, fetish and kink platform Darkside, this article explores digital kink expressions at a moment when kink communities are both marginalized and seemingly mainstream, navigating a tricky balance between visibility and invisibility, intelligibility and unintelligibility. Across queer, postcolonial, and digital media theorizing, "opacity" provides a way of rethinking these tensions, challenging the idea of public visibility and identification as that which legitimizes sexual otherness. Building on this work, I suggest the term "kink obscurity" as a way of conceptualizing a set of tactics for sexually marginalized groups to exist, resist, and transgress without becoming fully visible or graspable. To these ends, I foreground a "closet positive" analysis of Darkside, not primarily of shame, secrecy, and isolation, but of shared spaces of vulnerability and intensity, a temporary safe house which partly protects against normative regulation. Although the platform activist ethos speaks to the value of openness and outness for the sake of sexual justice, the users are quite invested in anonymous and pseudonymous online presence and sexual expression. Opacity implies a lack of clarity; something opaque may be both difficult to see clearly as well as to understand. Drawing on edouard Glissant's idea of opacity as a form resistance to surveillance and imperial domination, a digital sexual politics of obscurity could help provide recognition without a demand to fully understand sexual otherness, opening up for new modes of obscure and pleasurable sexual expressions and transgressions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2023.
Keywords [en]
BDSM, digital kink communities, edouard Glissant, kink obscurity, queer opacity
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-50999DOI: 10.1177/13634607221124401ISI: 000910676400001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-50999DiVA, id: diva2:1736722
Part of project
Rethinking sexuality: A geopolitics of digital sexual cultures in Estonia, Sweden and Finland, The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 10/2019Available from: 2023-02-14 Created: 2023-02-14 Last updated: 2023-02-17Bibliographically approved

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Sundén, Jenny

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • harvard-anglia-ruskin-university
  • apa-old-doi-prefix.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-harvard.csl
  • sodertorns-hogskola-oxford.csl
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
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  • asciidoc
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