Hedone zine

Page 1

he d o ne


Opening letter from Tshego

CONTEN

Definitions The Pleasure Conversation SECTION 1: The research Some of the statistics Zoom Session quotes SECTION 2: Pleasure found from online spaces Makgosi Content Piece Images: Chido Astrid Content Piece Profile: Lindi R Images: Lindi Astrid images SECTION 3: Online Gender-based violence Joyline Content Piece Profile: Indu Video: Amanda documentary Images: Documentary stills SECTION 4: Intersection of OGBV and pleasure Kyle malanda - SURREAL EROTICA images Kyle malanda profile Kyle malanda filters & images Profile: Tiffany Mugo Khensani content piece SECTION 5: Digital self care Leah images Profile: Nana Darkou Tshego Content Piece Sexy selfies: sending fire nudes piece Siphu images


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Editor’s It

note

took a pandemic for me to realise pleasure work is what I’ve been doing and wanting to expand on for the past few years.

I’m certain I am not the only person who has continuously been discovering what is and isn’t important to them in the past few months. I’ve been investing a lot of my time trying to figure out what my erotic energy is asking of me, and how I can honour it. As a person who does her work completely online, I have had to figure out how I should care for myself digitally while getting my work done. Working from home has meant that it is even more important to try and find a balance. Outside the home, global activism has also transformed into online practice. With all these messages now in front of our faces at all times of the day, I find we have to be a lot more conscious of how we prioritise care digitally, as well as physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. As we compiled this zine, I was astounded by how little I was taking care of myself, especially seeing as though this zine’s conversation rotates around concepts and understandings of pleasure and experiences of violence online. How is it that even as I was compiling the zine with my team and engaging with the material, it took me almost burning out for me to start thinking about the ways I was caring for myself? The ways I’ve lacked in caring for myself are deeply related to issues many of us have faced in a year of COVID-19. Many find themselves without work, income or homes. Many more have faced evictions and lost family and loved ones. There is a potent air of overwhelm about this year. The majority of us are struggling while holding it inside. Grieving while having to keep our heads above the water. Looking for work while being painfully aware of how many others have recently lost jobs. Organising online while facing massive amounts of violence in the same spaces. Sharing ourselves with others while others use our openness to harass us. Grieving in isolation while the world continues to spin, while others grieve in their cocoons too. Trying to care for ourselves while it feels as though the world around us is burning. It’s a difficult year. I don’t say this as a way to upset us further. I do it because I recognise value in facing the truth; it is the best way for me to begin my own continuous journey of mourning, reflection and healing. This is one of the reasons I’ve been so deeply grateful

for an opportunity to do this work this year. To have so many conversations about the truths of violence faced online, and how it exists right alongside some of the most affirming parts of pleasure this little world of ours can offer us. I found it important to start thinking about how online gender based violence (OGBV) intersects with pleasure because, while I have found some of my deepest pleasures in online spaces, I have also faced terrifying people who are horrifyingly sadistic. We compiled this zine as an addition to a conversation that has been happening globally, highlighting the real violations that women, femmes and queer people face for simply being online. We did it as a way to understand the intersectional impact of OGBV, questioning how many of these individuals face multiple forms of violence and have to resort to self-censorship and limiting their online mobility as a means to protect themselves. The Hedone e-zine will be a source of information and inspiration as it illustrates and discusses our findings from the research phase. Touching on issues of privacy, online anonymity, sexual rights, freedom of expression and creating a feminist internet in which OGBV is addressed, it is a project that aims to expand on what harm reduction work can look like when justice and liberation are combined with a politics of healing and pleasure. The objective of this project is to create and offer a space in which we can honestly and openly learn and discuss what the effects of OGBV are on our lived experiences. This is most specific to the way we interact with pleasure. This is an exercise of addressing OGBV head-on, creating a safe space in which its effects are minimised. It is a project that seeks to understand and create a feminist internet that ensures a digital ecosystem that is healthy and non-violent towards us. We aim to positively contribute to change by creating a space that is defiant and loud about our right to express ourselves holistically. We hope you relish in the pleasure that went into putting this work together.


masthead

Editor-in-chief: Tshegofatso Senne (she/her) Features editor: Nkhensani Manabe (she/her) Art director: Rendani Nemakhavhani (she/her) Research and coordination: Michel’le Donelly (she/her) Contributor: Joyline Maenzanise (they/she) Contributor: Makgosi Letimile (she/her) Contributor: kyle malanda (she/her) Contributor: Amanda Mimie Tayte-Tait (she/her) Contributor: Astrid Radermacher (she/they) Contributor: Khensani Mohlatlole (she/her) HUGE thanks, love and tender feels to: Deyo Adebiyi (she/her) Tiffany Mugo (she/her) Lindi Rasekoala (she/her) Indu Harikumar (she/her) Gorata Chengeta (she/her) Neema Iyer (she/her) Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah (she/her) Chido Muparutsa (she/her) Leah Jasmine Reed (she/they) Siphumeze Khundayi (she/her) All the loves who responded to our online questionnaire. All the loves who generously offered us their time for our Zoom sessions. All my loves who kept me from falling apart while we put this together.


definitions We have adopted Glitch’s definition of the below: Online Abuse may include a range of tactics and harmful behaviours ranging from sharing embarrassing or cruel content about a person to impersonation, doxing and stalking, to the non-consensual use of photography and violent threats. Online Gender-Based Violence is generally defined as harmful action, by one or more people, directed at others based on their sexual or gender identity or by enforcing harmful gender norms. These harmful acts of violence are committed, assisted or aggravated by the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), such as mobile phones, the internet, social media platforms or email. Both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls.

4 common consequences of OGBV:

1

Mental health: Causes harm to a person’s mental health and wellbeing, and has led to increases in stress, self-harm, anxiety, and suicide.

2

Limits speech and expression: Has a ‘silencing effect’ that prevents already marginalised communities from expressing themselves online and exercising their rights. It can also lead to Black LBTQ+ people hiding their identities in online spaces.

3

4

Makes domestic abuse worse: Perpetrators of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence often use online tools to abuse their victims. Some women, including those from Black communities, may be less likely to report abuse due to concerns about the impact on their wider family and feeling distrustful of statutory agencies due to structural racism. Underrepresentation in public life: Viewing online abuse of other people that have the same identities as them e.g. Black female politicians, can also make them rethink their career choices, which can lead to them being further underrepresented in certain professions e.g. politics.


Definitions of key terms: We have adopted Women’s Media Center definitions of tactics and malicious online behaviours.

Online Hate Speech Online hate speech has no uniform legal definition but can be found in different statutes. The baseline definition is expressions, whether that is written material, action and images of hatred toward someone on account of that person’s colour, race, disability, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation, disability or other traits, is forbidden. Trolling The act of causing problems on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people or by posting inflammatory messages. It is done with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response. Cyberstalking The use of the internet or other electronic means, to stalk or harass an individual, group or an organisation. Doxing The unauthorised retrieving and publishing, often by hacking, of a person’s personal information, including, but not limited to, full names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, spouse and children names, financial details. “Dox” is a slang version of “documents” or .doc. Causing fear, stress and panic is the objective of doxing, even when perpetrators think or say that their objective is “harmless.” Cyber-exploitation, Nonconsensual Photography or “Revenge Porn” The distribution of sexually graphic images without the consent of the subject of the images.


The Pleasure Conversation

How do you define pleasure for yourself? The conversation around pleasure often gets boxed into one that revolves around sexual pleasure. Take a second to think about it. Even as we called for submissions for Hedone, the pitches we received mainly focused on sexual pleasure. If you Google the term alongside whatever subject you’d like to investigate, you’ll probably get the same results. When did pleasure become synonymous with the sexual? I completely understand why this happened. In my own circles I know that when we speak of pleasure, it’s often with the lens of sex positive feminism. Before this year I was doing the same thing: using the word “pleasure” to refer to being spanked, receiving multiple orgasms, or enjoying a deep kiss with a partner. Very seldomly did I think of things like sitting out in the sun with some fruit, playing with my friends or taking a leisurely nap as pleasurable. I was fortunate enough to be a part of a convening this year that allowed me to start thinking critically about the ways I spoke about pleasure, and I hope to bring others into that conversation. My concept of pleasure is deeply rooted in my reading of Audre Lorde’s essay “The Uses of the Erotic”, which I will quote below: “When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.” Creative energy empowers. Creative energy that allows us access to infuse pleasure into every aspect of our lives, expands the ways in which we think about communal care and explores the shadows of pleasure work, pushing us to identify what works for us based on how it makes us feel. There is so much treasure contained within the erotic when we think about it outside of the sexual. I honestly don’t feel it would be a reach to say that if we were to place more importance on understanding asexual pleasure, it would make sexual pleasure more explosive for those who engage in it. The knowledge of the erotic empowers us and allows us to evaluate every aspect of our lives. We can ask: what activities, people, work, have we been engaging with that just does not spark any pleasure in us? This way of thinking can allow us to be grounded in so much more erotic energy, which will help us to know exactly what feels good so we can identify when things don’t align. This is how we begin a process of creating networks of communal care and pleasure that creates rich lives for ourselves.


Lorde’s words say exactly this and so much more. “When we look away from the importance of the erotic in the development and sustenance of our power, or when we look away from ourselves as we satisfy our erotic needs in concert with others, we use each other as objects of satisfaction rather than share our joy in the satisfying, rather than make connection with our similarities and our differences.”

I expand on my own understanding of pleasure via adrienne maree brown’s ‘Pleasure Activism’, in which the author speaks about mapping our destinies and desires via Lorde’s work and her own. Understanding the expansive power of pleasure is how brown allows herself constant opportunities to continue questioning the value of understanding what we find pleasurable and remaining rooted in that knowledge. “What would I be doing with my time and energy if I made decisions based on a feeling of deep, erotic, orgasmic yes? How do I find balance in the things that give me pleasure, especially the things that tend to be misunderstood and manipulated by racialized capitalism, such as drugs, sex, drink, sugar? How do we learn to harness the power and wisdom of pleasure, rather than trying to erase the body, the erotic, the connective tissue from society? How would we organize and move our communities if we shifted to focus on what we long for and love rather than what we are negatively reacting to? Is it possible for justice and pleasure to feel the same way in our collective body? Could we make justice and liberation the most pleasurable collective experiences we could have?” Answering some of these questions and more for myself has given me ample opportunity to do this work. Hedone is a huge pleasure project. It has allowed me and the various contributors to begin or continue our thinking about the room we make for pleasure in every aspect of our lives. You’ll see as you read through and interact with the work in this zine, that we still do speak about pleasure interchangeably with sexual pleasure. That wasn’t an oversight for us, it was part, ‘well, this work is interesting as fuck anyway so let’s go for it!’ and part, ‘Tshego, stop chasing perfection. This is just one part of the conversation.’ I think it’s incredibly important that we continue speaking about our sexual pleasure openly and publicly if that’s what we’d like to do. I also know that work that does its absolute best to discuss


the intersections of violence and pleasure and their impact on our lived experiences is necessary. With that being said, I hope you engage with this heart work generously. I am deeply grateful to have been able to do it, to have found expression for the work around pleasure that I have been chasing my whole life. To add to conversations that have been happening even before I was born and expand thinking for those who’ve been seeking it. In my discussions with friends while compiling this zine we talked about the pleasures many of us had taken for granted, many that had been taken away from us by other people or changing circumstances or the class we find ourselves in, how many more pleasures we deny ourselves waiting for the perfect day to access them, to explore, to understand. So many of us weren’t given the room to think deeply about our own relationships with pleasure and what pleasures we access and prioritise. Hell, many of us can barely articulate what pleasure even is to us. I hope you’ll see this as a challenge to start thinking about what you enjoy and how you can bring more of that into your daily life. I’ll leave you with more questions than answers. I know we can continue thinking of this as a Community. What does your individual pleasure look like? What does communal pleasure look like? How do we create and invest in ecosystems of pleasure? How do we hold violators and abusive people accountable? How do we care for ourselves and our communities in ways that prioritise pleasure and accountability equitably? How do we bring those of us who have existed on the margins all our lives to the centre of this thinking and into the designing of pleasure networks and spaces? How do we ensure that our pleasure is satisfactory and sustainable? How do we ensure that the work we do now, within understanding our relationships with pleasure, can become an intergenerational conversation and passed onto all those coming after us? Pleasure is not just for special occasions. It is not only for the able-bodied and wealthy. It can be found in any moment of most of our lives. As long as you allow yourself the time and space to determine what it is to you, and how you can infuse each of your days with the erotic energy we all deserve in our lives.


section

one The research


Some of the statistics

The research - compil

The research we did for this w but rather loosely done and co method approach by releasing random individuals, filled ou Zoom discussions with

Stats time! Median age: 25-34 = 29.5 (59 respondents fell into this age category) Median age: 35 – 54 = 44.5 (12 respondents fell into this age category) Media age: 18 – 24 = 21 (13 respondents fell into in this age category) The majority of respondents were from South Africa (53 = 63%) Other countries: The Gambia, Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, The United States, Namibia, Taiwan and India.

67/84 identified as Female (79.7%) 9/84 identified as Non-binary 6/84 identified as Male 1/84 Used she/her pronouns but “still figuring this shit out.”

The majority of respondents used Twitter (45/84) = 53.5% Almost all respondents have had to block another account on social media. Interesting to note that most respondents did use their real names – despite feeling targeted online. Of the 56 respondents who said YES to using their real names, 40 said they felt they were targeted due to their identity.

80/84 respondents have blocked someone on social media. 47/84 respondents have received any violence or threats of violence online. Types of threats and violence include: Harassment, Discrimination, Threats, malicious distribution of photos, hacking, stalking. When asked what actions they took in the face of these threats, a majority of respondents said they either reported the account or blocked the account. “Various ways, blocking, muting, reporting, fighting back,” “Blocked the person threatening me and shared screenshots of their abuse,” “I ignored it,” “Changed my social media handles, went offline for weeks and months, went private.” One responder shared about the effect the experience had on them: “Negatively, it was extremely triggering and affected my mental health.”


led by Michel’le Donelly

work was in no way academic, onversational. We used a mixed g a survey that was filled out by ut by 84 individuals and hosted h a group of individuals.

17/84 respondents were not aware of OGBV. 52/84 respondents were aware of OGBV. (62%) 15/84 respondents were “kind of” aware of OGBV. Interesting to note that although the majority of respondents said they had reported or blocked an account online, a much smaller percentage said they reported their online experiences to local authorities. This speaks to the argument calling for more awareness and light to be given to OGBV. Only 20/84 respondents said they openly express your sexual pleasure online. Of those who said yes, most said they received positive responses to their posts. “Shock. Apprehension. Curiosity.” 2 respondents said they received negative responses. “I’m my country not well lol but it helps to be a part of safe communities that don’t judge you.” Interesting to note that 14/84 respondents said they felt safe to express their sexual pleasures online, only if they were using an anonymous account. Only 8/84 said “Yes”, they did feel safe to express their sexual pleasure online. 26/84 said they have faced some form of harassment or violence because of sharing their sexual expressions online. Of those who answered yes, many said they responded by wanting to stop sharing their sexual expressions online. “It drives home even further how unsafe the world is for people like me,” “Being an asian woman is sadly an expression on its own. It is depressing and makes me remove myself from social media for days,” “I stopped using social media to express my sexual interest and I haven’t felt free since,” “It led to a rape and feelings of shame and hopelessness.,” “It makes me want to hide, shy away from expressing my sexuality or even my sensuality because men will very often jump to violate you in the smallest gap they can find.”


Zoom Session quotes

These are short blurbs of the conversations we had in small groups over Zoom. Thank you so much to all those who volunteered their time to generously share their experiences and opinions on our topic. Themes that came up in these conversations included: Identity, Feminism, Community, Violence, Pleasure, Freedom. An artist living in Mumbai who started doing work online in 2016. She had travelled to Europe and began using Tinder. She found that she was very popular in Europe saying she had not known what sexual power was until she went to Europe. Finding Europe to be a different world, she didn’t know the rules so she started writing about it. In Mumbai no one was really writing about Tinder. When she returned to Mumbai she found that her “sexability” went down so she started writing about it and found a lot of support online. If she does experience any attacks she finds that she has a lot of support.

“The first thing the online space did for me was open me up to these topics and spaces. Growing up in a conservative town and background, it was good to encounter women who were openly talking about these things. I wasn’t feeling so ashamed about my desires. Online spaces allowed me to have the freedom to say what I liked.” Black feminist based in South Africa, found a sense of community on Twitter. She finds solace in connecting with women from other places and industries. However, she is no longer on the app because of OGBV. She shared her experience of assault, explaining how a group night out with a friend, whom she had known for years, ended up with her finding him between her legs trying to open them. This really affected her, she didn’t pass that semester of school. She eventually texted him and asked him to come visit. “As a feminist I had many questions about what justice looked like.” P1 wanted her rapist to face her and apologise. She then cut him out of her life. P1 then explained how this transpired to OGBV. In 2016 there was a movement on Twitter, but she witnessed her rapist’s following grow to tens of thousands. When her story was shared online, people came to her perpetrators defense. P1 failed another semester, and academically things took a nosedive. She now found herself having to tell her faculty and putting together a document - now she was forced to go public. Her perpetrator put out a statement denying the allegation ‘categorically’. He also said he put out an ultimatum saying she has a week to come forward. It’s clear P1 remembers this statement word for word.


“It felt like a public undressing.” Ziimbabwean woman who works within digital rights noted that OGBV is more geared towards Black women, Queer Black people in general. Found that Black men create these profiles of Black women and then use those accounts to attack other Black women and use it as an excuse or example of how Black women fight one another.

What drives violence online? Lack of empathy. This idea that you are deserving of this violence. It’s important to start thinking of how we undo these harmful structures online. How do we make a platform safe when it’s run by insults? Struggle of navigating the violence online. South African buyer in a corporate environment shares that online spaces gives her the language to navigate our experiences and that’s been very important for her. In the past she’s had the experience of downplaying what violence is and what she thought violence is, especially on Twitter. The same experience we have on Twitter is not necessarily experience on Facebook. She finds courage in being able to curate her Twitter feed. Being comfortable with the things she want to see in her space. It’s great to get on these tweets that are violent and people will then debunk the tweet but then there’s the aspect of re-traumatizing others by interacting with that tweet.

“In general, being able to curate my space has limited my exposure to violence on the Internet.” Queer white woman living in Cape Town is very private online, very careful about whom she allows on her profiles and is mindful of data mining. She had her own Tumblr account where she shared about kink and sexual pleasure, eventually taking it down because she was uncomfortable - but it was good. In terms of receiving OGBV, she noted it’s those people who don’t consider themselves as causing harm but they are. More and more she is trying to remove these aspects as much as she can. At the same time, she questions if she’s diminishing her responsibility of explaining or telling them that they’re wrong. Engaging with people and only engaging with those who think like you. Curating safe spaces and enabling, but one where not everyone agrees. Being private helps as not many people comment on her content.


Zoom Session quotes

“For us to find some semblance of pleasure online, we have to curate them.” African American living in South Africa is a part of an organising committee that uses storytelling as research, particularly focusing on how people experience data and systems of data capture. What it means to be targeted online. How algorithms are explicitly fat phobic and how sex workers are outed by algorithms online. How older Queer people can be manipulative online. Her first realization of OGBV was at university and the process of flagging abuse is just so useless. The OGBV she experienced was harassment on Facebook where she had people messaging her. “When I was first online, I was shocked at the normalisation of it.” Finds it to be just being another platform for white supremacist patriarchy to manifest itself. “When I think about this intersection, I thought a lot about young people getting online and knowing that this exists, esp. young Queer people. The realities of grooming and exploitation.”


section

two Pleasure found from online spaces


FIGHTING PATRIARCHY AND ABLEISM THROUGH PLEASURE WORK Makgosi Letimile

Patriarchy robs men from themselves and they in turn rob others, it’s a vicious cycle. The consequences are seen and felt in the stories that make the mainstream news and the ones we never hear about. It’s a reality we are suffering through every day as Black women in South Africa. During the lockdown, I have been open about my sex work on social media. Unfortunately this has meant experiencing online violence. From no basic respect to having to defend myself because I said no thank you, I have felt uncomfortable even when I was not explicitly discussing my work. Sex work is not a new thing. Yet it still surprises me that people will not afford the profession the respect it deserves. They will acknowledge that sometimes sex workers are forced by our economic situations to get into sex work, lament about the desperation that women and queer people experience within an exploitative economy, talk about how sex work is a bread and butter issue – and still turn around and try to bargain down. The suggestion that they pay me for my time and engagement receives pushback. How many other jobs out there don’t charge for time? Why does my being a sex worker make people unreasonably violent? I often wonder if I’m subjected to these experiences because I’m a Black, dark-skinned, disabled woman. We are all working under a capitalistic system that is coming apart at the seams because it never prepared itself for a virus that would need us to stay indoors. We are driven by the system to be productive even while staring death in the face. Disability has meant more expenses as ableism takes away whatever accessibility we thought we had. My work and my time matter more now than ever before. Black men being the most violent threat to me has not escaped me. It has broken my heart more times than I care to count because in their violence they are also depriving themselves of an opportunity to learn and possibly teach others about how to survive a patriarchal society. Online, their violence means I am cornered into an unsafe space which steals the joy and health from my work; it takes away the reason I started doing the work. I started talking about sex on social media when it was still taboo. Now, I often openly post about sex, sex toys and sex work – and I am also more aware


of how cishet men respond to my content. They are violent and they have no regard for my privacy; they refuse to pay me for my work while simultaneously making demands of my time and energy. In my time online, I have discovered that queer people don’t have these negative attitudes. Before I was diagnosed with meningitis, I did not consider cishet men’s behaviour a threat – I knew that I could trust my body and I could run away, make a quick exit. Since the disease affected my spine function and my mobility, I have had to think more deeply about my mortality and my vulnerability. This has changed my sex work practice in various ways, making me more aware of what I post and the message it sends about myself and my needs. I have also realised that being able to block people from all platforms is a life saver. I think my shock also comes from my naivete. I was under the impression that if I emphasised enough times that I was documenting my experiences of pleasure as a disabled woman for health reasons, that would buy me respect. I fell into the old-fashioned respectability trap. It soon became clear tha it didn’t matter to the world that I was having orgasms so I can stop being incontinent; so I could be seen as something other than “disgusting”. I thought if I bargained with the patriarchy that I was doing sex work for the greater good it might respect my humanity. It’s awkward to be considered a feminist and still find myself playing by the rules as if I don’t

know that the patriarchy has its own rules and we are trying to dismantle it. I don’t know if I would have worked openly as a sex worker if there was no pandemic. The false sense of security of knowing that random strangers don’t have a chance to be in close physical proximity to me has assured me temporary safety for now. I know that the world will be a different story when the vaccine is found. My only hope is that by then I have made enough noise about decriminalisation and the protection of all sex workers. It’s an ongoing call that I have made over the years: I am aware that all sex workers, regardless of orientation or ability, need to be protected. I stand for all of us. Posting about my disability challenges, such as living with incontinence and having embarrassing accidents because I couldn’t always control my body, raises awareness. Sharing information and making sure my followers know about inclusivity in the pleasure space creates a safe space for me online. Sharing with other women and gender non-conforming people how to give themselves guilt-free orgasms has been an affirming experience in my healing. Learning to use toys on myself helped me to work through trauma and helped me to love myself. In the process, I have opened the minds of all who follow and engage with my work. As the virus took hold, I was reminded that the disabled are considered disposable: the speed at which we were offered up as the first should there be no other option but death


was horrible to witness. While the world boldly declared how we are not needed anyway, I realised that I’m trying to negotiate my humanity with ableism. I hoped I would be seen as more than a disabled woman but it turns out there is no playing nice with the forces in this world. I decided to be as loud as I could be about sex work. If the world were to end tomorrow I want whoever is disabled and comes across my work to understand that it was out of love for myself and all the unknown and forgotten disabled that I filled my social media with this important content. I’m proud of my work. I tell anybody who is willing to listen how life-changing it is. The senseless violence that comes with it is worth it, I think. I’m counting on time being kind to me and my words and my pictures. I hope that when it opens outside I can still loudly and proudly do my work with equitable pay and limited threats. I dream of a violence free existence, but I’m also not in the game of deceiving myself. Life has not given me enough breaks for me to even consider that a possibility. My plea, as useless as I know it is, is for cishet men in particular to respect and pay sex workers their dues in cash. They claim to care about Black people, so they owe us our money at the very least.


Full Name: Makgosi Letimile Country: SA Pronouns: She/Her Short Bio: I’m a reluctant Disabled activist with a penchant for Mary Jane and Sex toys


Chido




Being kinky, queer and vulnerable online Desire Lines (@_desire_lines) Photography by Lauren Brits (@laurenbrits) with assistance by Kayo-Fay (@hjuiuii) and Allas du Plooy (@hey_look_its_allas)

A guy sends me a dick pic. He gets horny looking at my Instagram pictures and at 11:47 pm sends me a picture of his wholly unimpressive thing with some misspelled, all lowercase words of desire. At this exact moment, your boi is happily curled up to her wife and snoozing in bed. The message only hits my eyeballs the next day, at work, after some shitty meeting that went on far too long. I sigh. I screengrab the message, block him and share this disgrace in my stories with the caption “ew”, his thing blurred but his name still visible. He gets horny and spends maybe two minutes of his life interacting with the idea of me, the little bits that I express online: bits of my sexuality not intended for his gaze, but consumed by him nonetheless. The real me spends fraught moments in the hours that follow trying to understand what the fuck he was thinking. Trying to understand his stupidity, entitlement, disrespect, arrogance, and loneliness. Trying to see his humanity. Did I deserve this for being so visible online? I wish I could just let it go and move on with my day. Mental real estate, so precious to me and so tenuous, is unwillingly and brutally occupied. I created my Instagram account to be a place to document and share my journey with my body, sexuality and vulnerability through the lens of rope bondage. I chose the name @_desire_lines very deliberately: desire lines are those well-worn paths in fields, parks and public spaces, where people have opted not to use the paved path set for them by the authorities, but have created their own, organic path that better suits their purpose and the environment itself. The creation of this account was a deliberate carving out of a space for myself, publicly, where there was to be no other person in control of my sexual expression. After a lifetime of censoring my sexual expression, this account was a means for me to truly own my kinks, desires and image. A way to plant my flag in the heart of shame. Through posting on this account, I have been blessed to develop my skills as a bondage practitioner, and as a photographer and collaborator. I have used this account to connect to varying degrees with so many people. I have had the honour of being many people’s “first” in terms of being tied. I have created and collaborated on images I am really proud of. I have been a safe harbour and willing ear for many humans trying to find community in sex positivity. I have created spaces for learning and sharing rope skills. So much good has come from being visible and showing up. With my image and what I am putting out into the world, I try to be very conscious about how my white, cis and mostly able body is presented. I try to have nuanced conversations about rope bondage and what it means to me. Images are presented alongside text that adds context. Often this text describes the vulnerability I experience in sharing an image. Being naked and kinky on the internet is not easy, especially for fat, queer bodies like my own. It is fulfilling, joyful and liberating to have people see my body taking up space,


to see a body experiencing and creating pleasure. But it is also fraught in a way: there is fear of judgment and being misunderstood. It takes emotional labour to be visible, but I do it because I simply will not live in a world where fear stops me from being seen. Sometimes I share photos of myself where it is very clear that my body is not conforming to the ideal beauty standard of my culture. I do this because I want to be okay with my fat rolls, my cellulite, my sagging breasts, my “imperfections”. Displaying them publicly disarms some of the control these perceived imperfections have over my life. Taking and giving pleasure in my fat, queer body and taking pleasure in publicly sharing these things... is audacious. Outrageous! The world tells us our pleasure is to be hidden, or that it doesn’t exist for female bodies, fat bodies, queer bodies. My visibility has been a hard-won battle with myself. But I won, and I continue winning every day. Of course, all this context is completely invisible to random internet fappers who just see flesh. As disappointing as this is, it is not surprising: in my experience, the context and fullness of my sexuality was invisible during intimacy with cis men. There was a time before I fully accepted my queerness and made the decision to pursue it, that I would mostly have sex with cis men. I have had sex with many, many cis men and all except a precious handful were unable to see and understand the nuances, inherent emotionality, full humanity, and beauty of my sexuality. It was completely beyond most of them. Sex with cis men was hollow for me, not because I did not try to be vulnerable and seen, but because they were unable to open their eyes. My vulnerability was not seen as valuable - it was seen as a liability. It took a lot of reflecting, questioning and healing to come to an understanding of my sexuality as inextricably linked with my emotions. That understanding only really came when I gave myself hard-won permission to have sex with a woman for the first time. This in itself was a process: having been raised in a conservative Christian environment, queerness wasn’t an option for me. The shame was deeply rooted. A few cautious and wary years of figuring things out followed and I am blessed to report that I have never had sex with a queer person that felt invalidating in any way. I am grateful that today I am able to have sex that is more fulfilling than I ever thought possible. I truly did not believe that sex where I came every. single. time. was possible for me. Queer sex is totally unscripted. I have learnt from my lover and wife that the person you have sex with is not responsible for your orgasms. They are rather a witness, facilitator and holder of space. Together we have created a beautiful, unscripted rhythm wherein cumming is a natural outpouring of love, acceptance and trust. I am fully seen by her, as she is by me. We don’t pretend we are okay when we are uncomfortable with something. We let each other know when we feel internal pressure and performance anxiety. Often, the simple act of expressing our fear to one another dissipates the fear entirely.


For me, this kind of radically honest sex has been a revelation. Real, self-aware intimacy has given me so much confidence in other areas of life. Knowing that I am loved just as I am, without needing to change anything about myself, without having to present myself as an idea to be accepted, gives me power. It is through this relationship, and the ever-deepening sexual relationship I have with myself, that I have come to understand my sexuality as an ever-shifting universe. I am turned on by a few simple things, many complex things and some deep taboos. I have found that there are many ways I am able to cum, and many ways that these orgasms manifest. I have found a deep trust in my own body. Acceptance of myself as an emotional being was the crucial missing piece. Sharing bits of my erotic and kinky world online is about accepting myself and being proud of this journey. I wish I could say that being deeply seen within my relationship has made being fetishised by poor bastards online feel irrelevant. The truth is that receiving unsolicited attention from people is triggering, whether it happens online or in person. Sometimes it feels like an abusive act wherein I am deliberately reduced to a sex object in order to be shamed and silenced. Sometimes it feels like a horny idiot’s unfiltered emissions. Sometimes it feels like a sad and lonely person longing to be seen. I understand more than anything the need to be seen. I just wish they would find ways of being seen that don’t include violating strangers online. But that would require being vulnerable themselves. What I create is not for their gaze and never will be. I have long since chosen to tune out of the needs and desires of cis men. Now I am choosing instead to tune into the pleasure all around me, within me and of me. Be that the pleasure of nature, of laughter, of conversation, of taboo, of sexuality, or of just being. Pleasure is conscious enjoyment. Presence and openness. Showing up honestly. And my pleasure is something impenetrable - it is mine and only mine.


Full name: Desire Lines Country: South Africa Pronouns: She/her Short Description: Desire is a sex- and body-positive, pleasure-centric, nerdy human who goes by @_desire_ lines on the internet. A scientist by day and a bondage practitioner by night, she enjoys experimenting with the human experience in myriad ways. She is also a passionate educator, and co-founder of RopeyThings, a collective fostering inclusive bondage education in South Africa. She believes that pleasure is political, and expressions of pleasure to be expressions of freedom.

L


Lindiwe Rasekoala

South Africa, She/Her

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and the work you do online? I am a sexual wellness coach and online content creator. I use unconventional ways, digitally, to bridge the gap around sexual topics/education. Through my own experiences as well as a lot of research, I provide information that generally isn’t spoken about and is seen as “taboo”, especially for a black woman in Africa. I use my social media platforms, to disseminate this information for others to access and learn from. I am also a sexual worker as I have an Onlyfans account.

Definitely, daily. The verbal abuse received, especially from men, is something that I deal with regularly. 8. Would you be comfortable sharing examples of the OGBV you’ve experienced and on which platforms? Most men on Instagram are quite demanding. They always want exclusive nudes and are extremely rude or start to blackmail me with threats of hacking my account, if they don’t get what they demand. The words “bitch” “Fuck you hoe” “your fucking pussy is...” are a few of the things that get said when they don’t get their way.

2.Why did you start this account and what has the experience been like?

9. How did it affect you? Did any of your online behaviour change as a result?

I started my YouTube channel (my main platform to provide information) due to the lack of accessible information around sexual topics. The response has been great, especially internationally which highlights the need and value of the work I do. I started my Onlyfans account mostly out of interest and curiosity and to make money. The response on Onlyfans has been great, except from South African men. They’re very entitled, rude and demanding.

Yes. I have since been more cautious of my security, and have more “protection” in order to protect my profiles from an online perspective. I also have a lot more consultants that I work with in order to protect myself and the integrity of my brand.

3. How do you define pleasure for yourself? I define pleasure for myself as satisfaction from how I look, feel and feel myself. Hence documenting it. 4. What pleasures do you access online? I don’t generally access pleasure online, unless it’s me watching me. I turn myself on as it’s a reminder of the feeling in the moment, and is realistic to me 5. Do you feel safe expressing your pleasure online? Not always. I understand that the kind of pleasure I express online has repurchasing as I am in a very vulnerable position. However, it’s generally safer for me, as it’s online and I have more control over my physical space. It’s my emotional and mental well being that I find I need to safeguard. 6. What has been your experience of online sex work, if any? At first it was empowering as I had autonomy over what I do with my body, in the comfort of my home. But now it feels like a job and the empowerment and fun has gone. This is based on the expectations and pressures from consumers.. 7. Have you experienced online gender based violence?

10. What ‘digital self care’ do you do, if any? (Blocking preemptively, digital detoxes, etc) I block/restrict immediately. Unfortunately I can’t do detoxes as much as I would like, as it affects my consistency and therefore affects my income. However, I do ensure that I don’t put pressure on myself to post unwillingly. That way, the content is quality as it is at my own pace, so as to not break my momentum and ownership. 11. What does would a feminist internet look, feel and function like to you? Men and women would equally be represented online. The discrimination and sexualisation of women, would be eradicated and not just from and online point of view, but from a social, economic, psychological and mental point of view. 12. What guidance would you offer young women and queer people looking to access knowledge around or experiences of pleasure online? Don’t only believe one source of information. Look for credible sources, research further and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 13. Three tips that you think make for a good nude? 1. Obviously confidence 2. An oiled up/moisturized clean body 3. Explore your body’s angles till you get the ones you enjoy the most.














section

three Online Gender-based violence


ONLINE VIOLENCE WILL NOT STOP ME FROM EMBRACING MY QUEER IDENTITY Joyline Maenzanise Coming out to my family — or as Niecy Nash put it, coming into myself — and deciding to navigate society as an openly queer person set me on the path to create an identity that isn’t constrained by cisheteronormative patriarchy. The choice to determine how I wanted to present myself to the world was ultimately mine to make. Anyone who pays close attention to my posts on Twitter posts knows that they range from intellectually stimulating and politically conscious to just downright raunchy. I’m loud. And yes, I’m a bit wild. But I wasn’t always this vocal maverick. As I built my network of Facebook friends several years ago, I sought to connect with people who knew about dismantling white supremacy; feminism and intersectionality; deconstructing gender and so on. I too wanted to learn about these concepts. I wanted to be part of an online community that would make me feel safe as a queer person. Even though I wasn’t openly queer at that time, I still wanted the comfort of seeing people who looked like me. I wanted the fabulously constant reminder that there was nothing wrong with queerness and everything wrong with a society that failed to embrace the diversity of humans. Soon, I was connecting with several feminists and LGBT+ people who would play a key role in my own journey of owning and disowning, of becoming and unbecoming. Along that journey, I’d also sadly learn that some feminists were/are queerphobic and some LGBT+ individuals weren’t/

aren’t feminist. It was clear that sharing a marginalised identity isn’t tantamount to sharing the same politics. Still, I witnessed the carefree manner in which my acquaintances shared parts of themselves with the online community. Some were sex workers. Some loved sex and valued their sexual pleasure. Some embraced being queer. These feminists shared perspectives and experiences on issues including living with HIV, African spirituality, reproductive rights, queerness, sexuality and asexuality and mental illnesses. They were unashamed. That was their superpower. I found my own voice and began to use my platforms to share my opinions and experiences on issues that had been so stigmatised that many of us were uncomfortable talking about them. Along with my connections, I was queering — going against — society’s rules. It’s true that our very existence as LGBT+ folks is an act of queering. However, anyone — regardless of their gender or sexual orientation — can queer societal expectations. The women reclaiming power over their bodies or sexuality and even openly expressing their desires are queering conventions that served to strip them of their bodily autonomy and reduce them to objects of male gratification. In fact, anyone embracing and presenting themselves in a particular way that can be seen by most as defying society’s rules queers those rules.


The beauty of queering societal expectations is that we can devise our own ways of relating to ourselves and each other. We are able to give more empowering and less denigrating meaning to our behaviours or languages. On the other hand, queering sets us up for “punishment” by those who take offense when we not only choose to live our lives on our own terms but are vocal about this and even advocate for the right of others to do so. It’s no surprise then that those of us choosing to disregard society’s “code of conduct” are often targets of harassment from individuals who benefit from those rules or have accepted them as a static part of life. We experience ostracism and are often denied access to certain spaces. We are passed up for job opportunities. We are violated in many ways, or even killed. Those of us using our online platforms to express ourselves to the world in a manner that ruffles so many feathers open ourselves up to violation. The violence we endure or risk enduring is rooted in and seeks to perpetuate the unequal power dynamics existing among the different genders. Women and LGBT+ individuals are often targets of this genderbased violence. Reclaiming power by resisting society’s laws is often seen as grounds to punish the targeted groups. With widespread access to the internet, this violence has only become prevalent online. The Association for Progressive Communication (APC) defines genderbased violence occurring online as “acts of violence committed, abetted, or aggravated, in part or fully, by the use of information and communication

technologies (ICTs), such as mobile phones, social media platforms, and email.” In an interview with UN Women, Cecilia M. Maundu, a Kenya-based journalist and specialist in gender digital safety, said that online violence includes bullying, trolling, cyberstalking, defamation and hate speech, public shaming, and identity theft and hacking. Online violence, much like offline violence, is often perpetrated by men who, while they can also face the repercussions of defying gendered expectations, are the beneficiaries of systems and beliefs that many of us are standing up against. Jordan, an openly transsexual Zimbabwean woman, uses her online platforms to speak up on various socio-political injustices including the marginalisation of Zimbabwe’s LGBT community. As a result, she draws attention from overt transphobes and those who fetishise our bodies. Jordan regularly receives sexually charged messages which quickly descend into threats of rape or physical violence when she doesn’t entertain those men who simply want to use transgender folks to fulfil their sexual desires. “These online engagements make me feel unsafe both offline and online,” the activist adds. Many of us have had to devise ways to deal with online violence and reduce the harm inflicted upon us. Jordan says she doesn’t engage with anyone she feels may have ulterior motives. Having had offline experiences where suspicious strangers were following her, Jordan also ensures she never publicises her location in case some people might track her down. Some people decide not to engage in online conversations that might expose them to online gender-based violence (OGBV). Grace, a 21-year-old queer South African woman, says sharing the same space with violent men sees her avoid posting or engaging with content that draws their attention as it often shakes


The beauty of queering societal expectations is that we can devise our own ways of relating to ourselves and each other. We are able to give more empowering and less denigrating meaning to our behaviours or languages. On the other hand, queering sets us up for “punishment” by those who take offense when we not only choose to live our lives on our own terms but are vocal about this and even advocate for the right of others to do so. It’s no surprise then that those of us choosing to disregard society’s “code of conduct” are often targets of harassment from individuals who benefit from those rules or have accepted them as a static part of life. We experience ostracism and are often denied access to certain spaces. We are passed up for job opportunities. We are violated in many ways, or even killed. Those of us using our online platforms to express ourselves to the world in a manner that ruffles so many feathers open ourselves up to violation. The violence we endure or risk enduring is rooted in and seeks to perpetuate the unequal power dynamics existing among the different genders. Women and LGBT+ individuals are often targets of this genderbased violence. Reclaiming power by resisting society’s laws is often seen as grounds to punish the targeted groups. With widespread access to the internet, this violence has only become prevalent online. The Association for Progressive Communication (APC) defines genderbased violence occurring online as “acts of violence committed, abetted, or aggravated, in part or fully, by the use of information and communication

technologies (ICTs), such as mobile phones, social media platforms, and email.” In an interview with UN Women, Cecilia M. Maundu, a Kenya-based journalist and specialist in gender digital safety, said that online violence includes bullying, trolling, cyberstalking, defamation and hate speech, public shaming, and identity theft and hacking. Online violence, much like offline violence, is often perpetrated by men who, while they can also face the repercussions of defying gendered expectations, are the beneficiaries of systems and beliefs that many of us are standing up against. Jordan, an openly transsexual Zimbabwean woman, uses her online platforms to speak up on various socio-political injustices including the marginalisation of Zimbabwe’s LGBT community. As a result, she draws attention from overt transphobes and those who fetishise our bodies. Jordan regularly


Name: Jo Maenzanise Pronouns: They Nationality: Zimbabwean Short description: Jo is a queer non-binary writer with a keen interest in mental health; sexual health; LGBT rights and experiences. Their words have found a home on various publications like HOLAA, Adventures From, This Is Africa, Daily Vox, No Strings NG, Pink News, Wear Your Voice Mag and Black Youth Project. Check out their Twitter profile and take a peek into their wild mind.


Indu Harikumar India, She/Her

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and the work you do online? I am Indu Harikumar, I am an artist and storyteller. I mostly take my problems to Instagram and try to find solidarity. Sometimes I turn them into people powered projects. They are all mostly on subjects that are taboo, sex, sexuality, gender, abuse, abortion, pleasure, etc. 2. Why did you start this account and what has the experience been like? I started my Instagram because I was going to teach in the Himalayas and I felt the Himalayas needed an Instagram a/c. My Instgaram has my full name and my pictures, I was quite vulnerable on instagram talking about hurt and depression. In 2016, I asked people to share their experiences on Tinder, it was a personal project called #100IndianTinderTales, I wanted to know if I was the only one meeting creeps. I illustrated it. I think drawing my first nude took a lot of courage for the project but this tiny window into people’s inner lives changed me. It changed how I felt about my body, it helped me deal with shame, most importantly it made me feel like I was not alone. Over the past few years, I have done other people powered projects where people have sent me nudes of their breasts and I have drawn them, I have opned up my platform for stories about abortion and masturbation and the other complexities of human life which doesn’t get talked about enough.

5. Do you feel safe expressing your pleasure online? It hasn’t been easy for me to express pleasure / sexual pleasure in offline or online mediums but my work has changed a lot for me. It has given me a vocabulary, it has helped me get over shame, it has given me acceptance, so it is becoming more and more possible for me to talk about pleasure online and also seek pleasure. 6. Have you experienced online gender based violence? I do have a lot of support online but that doesn’t mean that I don’t face abuse online. One is that every time I get press and my projects are often positioned as bold and powerful, someone always tries to change my gmail password. Other than that when I was doing this project drawing beasts, I have got messages saying, “Will you draw my dick.” I usually just ignore and block people. Now that I am doing something on intimate partner violence and the internet, men have told me that I am making up the stories. 7. Would you be comfortable sharing examples of the OGBV you’ve experienced and on which platforms? I primarily use Instagram for my work and press always leads to lots of people following me, I always archive my selfies because it will be full of sexist comments.

3. How do you define pleasure for yourself?

8. What ‘digital self care’ do you do, if any? (Blocking preemptively, digital detoxes, etc) I block most right wing seeming profiles.

Pleasure for me would be freedom, to belong yet not be bound.

9. What does would a feminist internet look, feel and function like to you?

4. What pleasures do you access online?

I look at the internet as a public space, I feel everyone should have equal access and where unlike in other public spaces womxn try to make themselves seem invisible to keep themselves safe from the aggressiveness of cis het men, everyone feels safe to express and own space. That’s what my vision of feminist internet is.

The Internet itself is a source of great pleasure for me, the varied connections it offers, the jokes, the sexygifs, the new worlds that you get a window to watch and be a part of. The pleasure of friendships and bonds, thee pleasure of phone sex, sexting, ooooh the pleasures of singing to somoenone through a voice note, the pleasure of knowlege and enteratinment. The Internet is my real love.


Link to documentary


LINK TO DOCUMENTARY


Name: Amanda Marufu Country: Zimbabwe Pronouns: She/Her Short Description: Amanda Marufu is a Feminist, Tech-Entrepreneur, TV Producer, Blogger, Author. She is a coFounder of Ed-Tech company SMBLO and founder of blogging platform It’s A Feminist Thing and CEO of Media Company Visual Sensation. She is dedicated to using media and tech to spread awareness and change lives.


section

four Intersection of OGBV and pleasure









About the Artist kyle malanda (b. 1994) is a Malawian photographer and filmmaker whose work explores the intersections of racial & ethnic identity, queerness, and indigenous spirituality in an increasingly globalised digital world. Her works seek to interpret Black history into her ideals for the present and imaginations for Black futures. She regularly incorporates fashion design, set design, and augmented reality into her visual works. Using her multi-cultural and transcontinental experiences as a queer Black woman, kyle’s work is an autobiographical reflection of both society and the self/ ves. She is based in Lilongwe, Malawi but is often found elsewhere. About the Work BODY | SUIT is in response to my earlier work SURREAL EROTICA (2020), which explores how anonymity and depersonalisation can be tools for safer sexual expression online. We are currently in the throes of the biggest privacy crisis in the history of humankind. Online spaces are especially dangerous for women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, or otherwise marginalised people. BODY | SUIT was created for users who want to have greater control over their sexual content online while engaging in three distinct ways to remain hidden. What does it mean to wear a body in online spaces?

Links to Unpublished Filters Instagram BODY | SUIT I: https://www.instagram.com/ ar/364153651450473/?ch=ZDlmMTdhMDQ4YTRhYTM5NjVlYzQ1OThjYTUwOTU0OWQ%3D BODY | SUIT II: https://www.instagram.com/ ar/341009027182963/?ch=NWY4NGQ3NzRkNjQyYWYwNDY0NTZiZGZkZWJhNTg1OWQ%3D BODY | SUIT III: https://www.instagram.com/ ar/2649214638725614/?ch=ZTg3NjJiNzExZDExMzA2NTBlMDExOTQ4OTEyOGE2OWM%3D Facebook Camera BODY | SUIT I: https://www.facebook.com/fbcameraeffects/testit/836452040464155/ MzBjNzNkZGJiMzUxZGZhNTdlMDA0OTY2NDUxMTYxMjg=/ BODY | SUIT II: BODY | SUIT III:


kyle malanda interview Tell me a bit about how this work came to be?

platform?

So when I made Surreal Erotica I was heavily inspired, first of all, by sex workers who blur their faces and have clever cool little tricks. Escorts in particular and full service sex workers who advertise on the internet and also blur their identifying features, which I thought was a really interesting way to subvert surveillance and facial recognition. And then thinking about women in general and the rules that we have for sending nudes, making sure your face isn’t there and that you’re posing in a way that doesn’t show off your tattoos. That’s why I created this work.

It’s always really strange to me because these platforms are very specifically anti-sex worker and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand that because these platforms are anti-sex worker, all the women who may behave or post in ways that sex workers do, will be treated just as badly. Nobody is free until sex workers are free.

I was thinking about all this and how people have lost income, are home more and have had to find new ways to generate income. One of the ways that this manifests is people finding their way to adult content. All of these platforms have seen a massive increase in users, not only in terms of consumers but also content producers. And why is that? You have a lot of people coming into online sex work and trying to figure it out, realising that there is a lot of shame attached to their jobs, a lot of societal push back and so they are also trying to figure out how to protect their own government identities. So this is something that’s been very interesting to me for a while now, thinking about all of that is what essentially brought Surreal Erotica to life. I found it very interesting that you’re using Instagram to share your work and that’s a platform where sexuality has been policed at so many levels, especially for Black women. Was this an intentional choice? I honestly just used it because that’s where I share my work. With all my posts I have my nipples blurred out. Honestly, Instagram just needs to get with the program, because if we remove the sexual content and in the loosest sense of the word. This could be someone at the beach posing in a bikini - anything that can elicit a sexual response, if we did that how many people would still be interested in the

A lot of women in New York last year had a massive reckoning when this bar in Manhattan randomly decided that single women can’t sit at the bar anymore. They know that sex workers do this so now every woman on their own is considered one. The goal posts are always shifting. Michelle Obama was the most respectable person and people still treated her terribly. You can’t be a respectable woman. There is no true respectability under patriarchy, only the constant erosion of the self and the constant erosion of our freedoms. You keep making concessions, each time you chip off a little bit more of yourself and that’s when you realise that you’re the only one making compromises. Patriarchy doesn’t compromise. There is no appeasing, there is only dismantling.

In terms of Surreal Erotica, when you speak on it, do you speak of your own history as a sex worker? Or do you speak about it in terms of your inspirations and the sort of work and things sex workers have to do to remain safe online? I think this is one of those things that are an open secret, at least for people who’ve followed me for a while. I just think about it in terms of inspiration loosely. I think that more people are influenced by sex workers than they would care to admit. Especially Black trans sex workers, strippers in clubs in Atlanta these people are literally defining fashion, technology, how we subvert all of these surveillance systems; these people are doing that. I think a lot of the time you look at the Instagram aesthetics and you’re like, okay but where are they coming from? Even the Kim Kardashian body, where is that coming from? It’s always from Black trans sex workers. You don’t even know that what you’re aspiring to is the very thing


that you’re trying to shun. I love how inspired you are by sex workers in your work. What was the process of then deciding, this is how I’m going to make this work look, this is how I want the feeling to be like? I wasn’t really sure what things were going to look like until the first image. My partner helped me take the first image and we went to this little hill in my neighborhood and it was rattlesnake season so we were also trying not to get bit by them, trying to be quick about everything. [laughing] I just knew that I wanted to start talking about depersonalisation and making it really surreal by using something so typically feminine. It’s all flowers because I wanted to talk about how, anatomically, things are referred to as these delicate, flowery things and retaining that femininity, some of that identity that’s being lost in the depersonalisation. For example, keeping my tattoos there, which I don’t really show much during my daily life because I wear very loose things and long sleeves most of the time. Or having one of the pieces being me wearing a headwrap and thinking about the ways we can retain some of our identity while going through the process of depersonalisation. I do think that a lot of people would have reinforced and reasserted their identity, saying that this is me, this is who I am. But I also, and this is a super valid response and I’ve had moments where I’ve done that, reasserted my identity. But I also think that in terms of protecting yourself depersonalisation does play a key role in keeping people safe and that’s not something that is the most ideal but it is necessary. Yes, people should be able to express who they are at all times, with their identities laid out to bear, being sexual beings and have no repercussions but that’s not the world we live in. Even OnlyFans got hacked earlier this year and had this massive data dump of all of this sensitive content that people had put up behind paywalls. So we know that even these platforms aren’t doing the necessary work to protect the content

creators but we also know that people face real repercussions. Women in particular face really real consequences for sexual expression, so how do we create an environment or create a culture or create tools that continue to allow people to depersonalise as a way of expressing themselves sexually? Humans are sexual beings and we enjoy expressing ourselves sexually but we haven’t really created a society where sexual expression is equitable. Thinking about how depersonalisation is a valid tool in response especially if you are unable at the time to really deal with the risk that comes with expressing yourself with your identity attached to it, because that means loss of employment, losing family, losing housing, and you can even face immigration problems and be deported or banned from countries. I know so many people who’ve been banned from different countries because of sexually expressing themselves online. So there are very tangible, real consequences to this. Also just like thinking about how we have lived, and are living through the biggest privacy crisis in the history of humanity. I think sometimes we don’t even realise that we’re in the midst of this surveillance state and we’ve done it so cleverly that it’s mostly in the hands of corporations. We’ve done this as a way to survey each other and ourselves. It’s a way that people make money, it’s how they interact with people, community, support groups. You have all of these things, a lot of validation and very tangible positive consequences of participating in this surveillance culture: what are you wearing? What are you using on your skin? Where did you eat last night? Where do you go to school? Who is your employer? All of these things, all of these details that people are putting online. I think we need to depersonalise more, personally. Someone will post a group picture on Facebook and it will know that that’s your face in it. These algorithms just keep getting better and better and better until we have no sense of privacy or ownership anymore. Where we rent everything. It’s ridiculous to me to think about this world that we’re living in is making sure that people have no privacy, are observed 24/7 and it’s very expensive to even own things. It’s now wildly expensive to own anything - you can’t own music, all you do is stream. You can buy music but they push streaming, ten different services for TV, for


music, there’s so much that we’re renting. Even sof the whole thing on a CD and you owned it forever paying for Photoshop, all of these things that you u decided that their services are so valuable that the make money from you for the rest of your life.

No one has privacy, all our data - we don’t get to k

So what thoughts do you have around us deperso point where we’re creating an internet culture that ever create some sort of protective internet?

I think it depends, maybe we need to redefine inte culture first. Everyone wants to be famous so we’ll question to answer.

I think it’s possible for people with some tech know Facebook groups are the most relevant example fo online where they have guidelines on how they c isn’t acceptable in our community, in our space an this is my group of people that I want to know, am Carving little spaces that are just for you and your for us and it’s safe here, we can share what we wa Close Friends list on Instagram or whatever. We ca

I’m going towards a direction where I want as little a life where I can be by myself and be self-sustaini from society, which is actually really expensive. So without money so I have to participate to get mon

Even your withdrawal from society is made as exp

I saw this GoFundMe on Twitter that I think is perfe trying to buy land and are raising money to buy it ourselves. A lot of people don’t realise just how im from us, they robbed us of land so we don’t have a we have no access, we have to rent everything, w our own homes, can’t do anything so you’re forced It’s all connected. I do think that my vision for the communities on that land. Not using what society That’s my dream.

This conversation between kyle malanda and Tshe interview.


ftware, remember when you could buy Microsoft Office, r? Now you pay $300 a year. Every single year you’re used to be able to own before but now corporations ey can just do this and no one owns anything and they

keep anything.

onalising ourselves more but also how do we get to the t allows us to protect each other? Do you think we could

ernet culture. Maybe we need to get rid of celebrity l always end up with some sort of hierarchy. It’s a difficult

w-how. It’s weird to think about and to answer. I think for what I have in mind. People have these communities care about each other. These spaces that say that this is and nd I think that’s the one thing that we can do today. Say that m interested in and saying okay you can come in, or not. little community and saying this is the space that is made ant. There are different features and apps for this, like the an start by creating small communities.

e internet as possible. I’m sort of like trying to head towards ing. I’m very much trying to withdraw my participation o I have to think about that. I can’t withdraw from society ney so I can withdraw. [laughs]

pensive as possible so that not many people can access it.

ect. A group of Southerners who might be queer, they’re because they say we need a space that’s ours, for mportant this is. It’s what slavery and colonialism took a place to all our own anymore. It’s so complicated so we have no privacy, can’t grow our own food, can’t build d to live this exhausting, exploitative life trying to get by. future is Black people owning more land and building has decided is success.

egofatso Senne has been condensed for purposes of this


Name: kyle malanda Country: Malawi Pronouns: she/her Short Description: kyle malanda (b. 1994) is a Malawian photographer and filmmaker whose work explores the intersections of racial & ethnic identity, queerness, and indigenous spirituality in an increasingly globalised digital world. Her works seek to interpret Black history into her ideals for the present and imaginations for Black futures. She regularly incorporates fashion design, set design, and augmented reality into her visual works. Using her multicultural and transcontinental experiences as a queer Black woman, kyle’s work is an autobiographical reflection of both society and the self/ves. She is based in Lilongwe, Malawi but is often found elsewhere.

T


Tiffany Mugo

Founder/Executive Director - Pollicy Tanzania, India and Nigeria

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and the work you do online? Hey, I am Tiffany Kagure Mugo and I am the author of quirky quick guide to having great sex and also the curator of HOLAAfrica! Most of the work I do online is through HOLAA!, creating a fun edu-tainment type sex positive space where folx can come and just hang out essentially. A place that educates and is fun to be in, that feels like a digital home in a sense. The online platforms functions mainly around social media platforms such as Instagram, twitter and Facebook as well as podcasts and other forms of digital content. We kinda make it up as we go along and according to what folx want/need at the time. 2.Why did you start this work and what has the experience been like? We started the queer work because we needed it. It was initially purely for us because we could not find the information we needed as queer women on the continent. So we started a blog and asked folks to write and then the social media followed. Truth be told much as HOLAAfrica! is edu-tainment and we see the need it is really a lovely thing to do. There is always so much to do, be it start a podcast or have people do Instagram take overs or simply have an event with wine and poetry readings. The sex positive work has, like sex, been all about exploring, trying and testing and building intimate relationships. Sex positive work, because it is relatively new as a field has meant that there is always space to diversify, try new things and form new and fun connections which doing some (sometimes heavy) work. 3.Tell me about your book! How have people responded to it? Quirky Quick Guide To Having Great Sex is your best friend telling you all the random things you need to and want to know about sex! It was a blast to write and truth be told kinda miss the process of writing it. It has everything from sending nudes, to consent, to handling a break up to having a one night stand and everything in between. The response has been really positive which was awesome! Folks seemed to enjoy that it exists and that it was easy reading and that they could learn things. COVID was a huge bummer in terms of getting it out there but folks found it and shared it and it has been a wild ride. 4. Why did you feel it necessary to write a book like this? You can never have too much good sex ed amiright? After years and years of the work I do and also knowing incredible people the book finally felt like it could be born. Also I simply wanted to write a book and folks should write what they know. There is a lot of information about sex out there and I felt that it would be important to add more on the sex positive/ comprehensive sex ed side. 5.You’ve been running HOLAAfrica for years - how has that been like?

We started HOLAAfrica! in 2020 and it has been a wild ride. We’ve been super lucky to grow a whole community of sex positive feminists who hang out with us online and offline and almost managed to carve out this adorable little niche corner of the internet where we post naughty things and giggle with our community. It feels like the internet equivalent of living in a village filled with queer sex positive folx which can only be accessed if you know someone who knows someone who knows the secret route to our tiny kingdom. 6. How do you define pleasure for yourself? Is it weird that this actually made me pause? I suddenly did not have any idea. *thinks* Pleasure for me is something that feels good but also adds good. I think something that takes away from you (e.g. something that causes harm or simply pokes at your insecurities or traumas but feels good in the moment) cannot count as a pleasure. Thus pleasure for me is something that feels good in the initial moment and also in the moments after. 7. What pleasures do you access online? Memes. Truth is the online space can be a little overwhelming so other than memes and Tik Toks I tend to float off into the distance. 8. Do you feel safe expressing your pleasure online? I personally do because I have seen the possibilities through HOLAAfrica! and it’s networks to be able to actually express yourself online. I do not tend to be very expressive of my personal life (and thus my pleasures) online but HOLAA! has shown me the possibilities. However, I also know of the perils 9. Have you experienced online gender based violence? Personally no, I have been extremely lucky that regard but I have seen others go through it. I know of people who’ve had their nudes leaked online or have been harassed for expressing views, met with threats of violence and verbal violence. 10. How did it affect you? Did any of your online behaviour change as a result? As I said before I am not very active online and HOLAAfrica! seems hidden from trolls and those who do not want to be part of our little kingdom so not much changed. What is making me think more and more about change is the issue of digital security which I am increasingly learning about. 11. What ‘digital self care’ do you do, if any? (Blocking preemptively, digital detoxes, etc) Simply not being online for whole tracts of time. Because a whole bunch of my work means I have to go online everyday I make sure that I do not spend a lot of time arguing online, or overly engaging in the contentious aspects of the online space. I also simply do not wander around Twitter that much. Because, phew, Twitter.


Monetising the Male Gaze South Africans are obsessed with sex workers. It is all anyone seems to talk about.

Monetising something you enjoy doing is what

If it is not slut shaming blessees (sugar

hustle culture keeps telling us to do, no? The

babies), or watching Bonding and Euphoria,

only difference is that we act like exchanging

then we are fascinated by stories of women

sexual service for money is somehow selling

raking in R70k a day on OnlyFans. Of course,

your soul; more than everything else we do to

this obsession is a contradiction of hatred

survive under capitalism.

and admiration. The male gaze – a way of looking that empowers men by objectifying

“We make ourselves poeses all the time

women – makes sure we praise women

for [regular] jobs,” Cleo adds. A model and

who fit into what men want, but we terrorise

former stripper who has moved to sugaring to

them for demanding respect or money in

supplement her income under the lockdown,

return.

she does not see a difference between shaking ass for a cheque, and pretending to

And that is what sex workers do for the

love long hours in a job interview. How many

most part: they pander to the male gaze.

humiliating things do we endure so we can be

However, when women step in front of

overworked and underpaid in ‘regular’ jobs? At

a camera and they decide how they are

least with online sex work, you can have some

dressed, how they are framed, and when

control.

and where men get access to that, they are manipulating the male gaze for their

In fact, it was being a nightclub promoter that

own benefit. When I spoke to a Joburg sex

influenced Gabrielle’s decision to become a

worker, Gabrielle, she said, “It sucks, but

sex worker. In the nightclub, the male gaze

men thinking I’m hot is financial freedom for

is pervasive. Everything in the nightclub is

me.”

about rewarding men for spending money on premium liquor. Girls are paraded in

The male gaze is almost inescapable.

revealing clothes and high heels, often at the

Whether you are sharing a selfie or walking

requirement of management, and club staff

down the street, you are probably going to

especially must laugh at jokes, endure groping,

be sexualised. So why not make money off

and make it clap for male enjoyment. “[Because

of it?

of the club] I realised how profitable my body could be,” says Gabrielle.

Gio, another Joburg online sex worker, has always been into sharing suggestive photos

But don’t be fooled: much more goes into

of herself online. She satisfies what men

sex work than just being a beautiful girl. “Sex

want to see, but not necessarily for male

work is not a get rich quick scheme at all,” says

approval or romantic partnership. She is

Swazi, a stripper who has also had to move to

just a woman, with agency over her body

remote work because of COVID-19. “There are

and how and where she presents it. She

so many skills beyond the obvious ones you

even began her OnlyFans account before

need to be successful. Sex work is all about

there were any real payout options for

selling a fantasy… You have to give [clients]

South Africans: “I liked taking sexy photos.

something worth paying for.”

Receiving male attention and money was just a plus.”


South Africans are obsessed with sex workers. It is all anyone seems to talk about. If it is not slut shaming blessees (sugar babies), or watching Bonding and Euphoria, then we are fascinated by stories of women raking in R70k a day on OnlyFans. Of course, this obsession is a contradiction of hatred and admiration. The male gaze – a way of looking that empowers men by objectifying women – makes sure we praise women who fit into what men want, but we terrorise them for demanding respect or money in return. And that is what sex workers do for the most part: they pander to the male gaze. However, when women step in front of a camera and they decide how they are dressed, how they are framed, and when and where men get access to that, they are manipulating the male gaze for their own benefit. When I spoke to a Joburg sex worker, Gabrielle, she said, “It sucks, but men thinking I’m hot is financial freedom for me.” The male gaze is almost inescapable. Whether you are sharing a selfie or walking down the street, you are probably going to be sexualised. So why not make money off of it? Gio, another Joburg online sex worker, has always been into sharing suggestive photos of herself online. She satisfies what men want to see, but not necessarily for male approval or romantic partnership. She is just a woman, with agency over her body and how and where she presents it. She even began her OnlyFans account before there were any real payout options for South Africans: “I liked taking sexy photos. Receiving male attention and money was just a plus.” Monetising something you enjoy doing is what hustle culture keeps telling us to do, no? The only difference is that we act like exchanging sexual service for money is somehow selling your soul; more than everything else we do to survive under capitalism. “We make ourselves poeses all the time for [regular] jobs,” Cleo adds. A model and former stripper who has moved to sugaring to supplement her income under the lockdown, she does not see a difference between shaking ass for a cheque, and pretending to love long hours in a job interview. How many humiliating things do we endure so we can be overworked and underpaid in ‘regular’ jobs? At least with online sex work, you can have some control. In fact, it was being a nightclub promoter that influenced Gabrielle’s decision to become a sex worker. In the nightclub, the male gaze is pervasive. Everything in the nightclub is about rewarding men for spending money on premium liquor. Girls are paraded in revealing clothes and high heels, often at the requirement of management, and club staff especially must laugh at jokes, endure groping, and make it clap for male enjoyment. “[Because of the club] I realised how profitable my body could be,” says Gabrielle. But don’t be fooled: much more goes into sex work than just being a beautiful girl.


“Sex work is not a get rich quick scheme at all,” says Swazi, a stripper who has also had to move to remote work because of COVID-19. “There are so many skills beyond the obvious ones you need to be successful. Sex work is all about selling a fantasy… You have to give [clients] something worth paying for.” Too often the rhetoric around people sex work is that it is a last resort for people who have failed miserably in their lives (I’m looking at you, ‘I’ll just drop out and become a stripper’ tweets), or the untalented and unskilled. Any actual sex worker can confirm that if you want to be successful, there is real effort involved. “The biggest misconception people have about online sex work is that it’s easy,” Gabrielle says. “People think it’s like taking nudes for your boyfriend but, like, it’s not.” Gio has had girls reach out to her for help because of how well she has crafted her presence online. There are serious considerations about angles, lighting, and desirability that go into an explicit picture. It is not always hardcore porn either. Gio makes it clear that she does softcore body appreciation, which involves simulation. She spends her time looking to other sex workers for inspiration and support, paying special attention to women who are innovative and know how to expand the scope of sensuality. This work includes anything from doing lingerie hauls or reading literature aloud because men find your voice enticing, to filming your face while you are sitting on someone else’s. Swazi adds, “You also have to be very clear about what your persona is and stick to it. Are you the unapproachable bad bitch? Are you the soft, sexy

Please consider donating to the Sex Worker Empowerment and Enabling Environment Program or the sex worker Advocacy Law Reform Programme. You can find more information on how to assist South African sex workers at SWEAT


Name: Khensani Mohlatlole Country: South Africa Pronouns: She/her Short Description: Khensani is a writer and bag lady living in Johannesburg. She’s often musing about fashion, sustainability, sex and pop culture and whether or not the simulation broke in 2012. Usually you can find her on the internet ready to talk to anyone about anything. Otherwise, you can find her trying to make needlework cool again or watching Gossip Girl for the 106th time.


section

five Digital self care


LEAH







Nana Darkoa 1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and the work you do online? My name is Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, I am an African feminist with a deep interest and passion for issues relating to gender, sexuality, communications and digital technologies. I am basically interested in everything that is somehow at the intersections of these topics. In terms of the work I do online - that’s virtually everything in my life but for the purposes of this interview I’ll focus on the work I do with Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, a blog I started with my friend Malaka Grant in 2009, which has now expanded to include an annual live festival which is organised by a diverse working group of African feminists. We are also currently working with AfroQueer Studios on a podcast that will be launched early next year. 2.Why did you start this work and what has the experience been like? The experience of nurturing Adventures has been a satisfying one. I really feel like it’s a collective project with so many African women, some of whom I have never met. All the folks who contribute blog posts from all over the world, engage in dialogue in the comments section make the blog what it is today. It’s also been really satisfying, in many ways, to hand over the reins to the next generation. The site is currently administered by Fatima Derby, an amazing young feminist from Ghana. 3.How do you define pleasure for yourself? Hmmm this is a great question. Pleasure for me is a yumminess in my belly, a tingling sensation down below, a general feeling of happiness and expansion. A lightness on my soul. . 4. What pleasures do you access online? Imagery! Great visuals give me joy. This is why Instagram is my favourite social media platform. I also love to watch home decor videos and for that I’m constantly on YouTube 5.Do you feel safe expressing your pleasure online? I don’t feel wholly safe expressing my pleasure online. Sometimes I choose to express myself anyway - knowing

some folks will quietly judge me. I have reduced my fears around that by creating a Close Friends circle on IG, so now that’s where I post my more risque pictures. 6. Have you experienced online gender based violence? Nothing that has really bothered me but to be honest that is also because I really don’t engage with negative people online. Once I realise that the vibe is off, I disengage immediately. 7. What ‘digital self care’ do you do, if any? (Blocking preemptively, digital detoxes, etc) I go off Twitter - that tends to be where I see content that upsets me the most. 8. What does/would a feminist internet look, feel and function like to you? OMG. A feminist internet looks like everybody having access to the internet. No social media taxes, no blackouts, feminists using the internet to organise, people being able to share images of their various selves with no judgements. 9. What guidance would you offer young women and queer people looking to access knowledge around or experiences of pleasure online? Check out the sites and platforms that centre pleasure. Apart from Adventures check out HOLAA, The Spread, on YouTube follow Suhaidatu Dramani. My pronouns are She/Her. I’m from Ghana and I’ve attached a picture which should be credited to Nyani Quarmyne.


Digital self care We learnt the term “digital self care” from Founder and Executive Director of Glitch, Seyi Akiwowo, and it’s really all about setting and communicating your boundaries online.

“Digital Self Care includes choosing when to engage with certain topics or accounts – if at all – and how you engage with such topics and accounts. Digital Self Care is essential for your own wellbeing, to make sure that your experience with the online space is as safe and enjoyable as possible.” Here are some of the tips that Glitch shares in their free-to-download toolkit, created to specifically help Black women care for themselves online.

Having a page policy, a pinned tweet or short post, which lists what you expect from others online is a great way to ensure your own digital self-care. It can include how you plan to respond to profanity, aggressive comments, misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. It can also explain how you will engage with anonymous accounts, trolls and topics that aren’t up for debate. It ensures that people understand your boundaries and makes sure that you don’t have to respond to anything that oversteps these boundaries (you can just report and move on). You can also create your own privacy checklist in your head for when you are posting. For example, does this post contain private or personal information that I don’t want to expose? Am I comfortable sharing this information with all my followers? Talk to a friend, family member or other trusted person about what is happening and how it makes you feel. Ask them to believe and validate you and to actively listen to what has happened. You can ask for help to document and report the abuse for you or with you. Seek support from loved ones if deciding to make a report to the relevant authority. Take time for yourself each day and do something you enjoy. Balance the challenges of the online space by getting outside, reading a book, watching Netflix, meeting friends. Do something to make you smile.

In a conversation with Tiffany Sostar, a Toronto-based lawyer who focuses on internet policy and digital rights, Cynthia Khoo shared her opinions on digital self -care. Khoo expressed that she considers digital self care to be fascinating because it isn’t something she had considered herself, even as someone who works within the online space. Below is some of the actionable advice we thought would work for various readers. 1) Install Signal or Whatsapp for encrypted texting. [Easy and painless] 2) Install PGP if you think you should have encrypted email. [Not as easy or painless as expected] 3) Install 2-factor authentication on all important online accounts, if available. [Easy and painless, provided you always have your phone on you] 4) Learn / read about how to create passwords properly, and start doing that. When I think of digital security, I think of it as two categories: The first is protection from other people: how to encrypt your data, prevent your data from being breached, falling into the wrong hands, etc. But the second is digital security in the sense of backing up my data: how can I access it if it’s lost somehow, or my usual avenues to it are cut off, such as if someone confiscates my phone? For the latter, I would recommend an external hard-drive that you place in safe keeping somewhere, and/or cloud storage such as Dropbox. And then the next step is combining the two: protecting or encrypting your backups. There are apps that integrate with various cloud storage services, for example, Boxcryptor is encryption software that works with Dropbox. There are mobile versions as well, so you can keep things encrypted and closed to others, but still accessible to you on your phone as well as computer. Remember, you know what works best for you. We could provide you with all the tips the internet can provide, but it all comes down to what you feel is most sustainable for your daily routines. Make it work for you.


Sexy selfies:

Sending Fire Nudes Safely

T

he digital age means that there are new ways to get freaky. Gone are the days when the way to show you liked someone was by sending them a four page letter in the mail or sending a scribbled note some place private. Sending sexy pics no longer means getting them developed and hoping the guy at the camera store doesn’t take a peek. Now we live in a world of angles, filters and double taps. Sliding into the DMs and swiping right. It’s a really good thing but it can also be a hot mess with people sending d**k pics before they even say hello and people leaking other people’s bare naked asses onto the interwebs. Much of it can be a dumpster fire. So here is how in this digitally dynamic age you can send gorgeous gifts online.

The basics Find your angles: Love the visuals and know that simply just standing in front of a mirror is not good enough. Twist your body, find your best side, hold your this and that. Make it artsy. Think Top Model meets Playboy. Work the angles and the camera. Clean your camera lens: If that lens is fuzzy then we shall see it when the photo arrives. People can see a greasy lens. Dust off the lens, make sure it is clear then take the photo. Can the room be neat, please?: Why is there a dirty sock in the background? Why is the toilet looking stank? Why is the laundry not done? Before you send nudes, clear out the space and make sure people are not distracted and the area around you should be as good looking as you are. Also remove any distinguishing markers that can be tracked down to you i.e. family photos, paintings, wall art etc. Make sure your mirror is clean: If you are using a mirror to take the photos, wipe it down first. No one wants to have to look past greasy fingerprints. To flash or not to flash: Flashes in mirrors usually do not work and flashes usually wreck photos anyway, unless used properly, so try adjusting and using filters instead. Moisturise: No one wants ashy nudes. No one. Moisturise before you send nudes. Know that you are magic: You. Look. Amazing. Sweetie. Remember that. These nude selfies are fire and you should be proud of them. Sizzling to say the least!

The technical Recycling nudes is an option: If they are fire nudes, keeping them and recycling them is a OK. If you spent time and effort creating hawt images then sending them out more than once is OK (just watermark them so you know where they went: see below). Ask before you throw your digital nakedness at people: Yes you think your juicy bits are tasty but before you send them on make sure that the other person A. agrees and B. wants to be part of that tasty event. Ask before sending nudes. There are so many people (especially people with penises) who think that it is OK to just throw some nudes into someone’s inbox. That is not cool and some people do not want to see it. Also you have no idea what they want on their phone/laptop/device. Do not put your face in the pictures: Angles and artistic concepts are your friend. Staring straight into the camera whilst butt naked is not a good idea (and mirror selfies are also not the most flattering). It’s either the ‘eyes or the prize’ in this case. Never both. Edit out distinguishable markers: Tattoos, moles, birthmarks and the like do not need to feature when you are sending nudes. Use a photo editor to remove them or avoid having them in the photo all together. There are also apps that help obscure parts of a picture to keep it anonymous. Just in case these pictures get loose in the wild, this limits them being tracked back to you. Show me yours if I show you mine: If someone has your pics insist on having theirs in return. Not for the purpose of sharing their nudes if they leak yours but for them to stop and think “they have my nudes so let me take care of theirs”. Think of this as the nude version of the nuclear arms idea of M.A.D (mutually assured destruction). It will make people think twice. You do not have to send nudes if you do not want to: Send nudes because you want to. Never EVER feel pressured to send nudes to anyone. Anyone who is forcing you to send nudes is trash and does not respect your boundaries and thus does not deserve nice things. Mark and track your pics: When you send your nudes to different people put a different watermark for each person so if they leak you know who did it for sure. If they leak, then the watermark will snitch on them.


Trust is key: Sending nudes is about trust because having someone with pictures of your bare ass leaves you vulnerable. Do not take the trust factor lightly, send them only to those who you feel would protect you and your images. Use platforms that automatically delete photos and encrypt messages: Spaces such as Instagram and SnapChat have ‘self destruct’ aspects when it comes to photos. Cover Me also allows for encrypted messages. Granted you cannot stop someone screenshotting them but at least you know there is a time limit on the pics. Research available platforms that make sending safer. The rule of thumb should be ‘here today gone tomorrow.’ Be aware of the infamous screenshot: Even if photos are automatically deleted from certain platforms the screenshot is still the biggest weakness to anyone’s sexting game. Never forget about the screenshot when deciding whether to send nudes or not. The cloud is not your friend: Do not store your images on digital storage platforms. Ever. There are enough horror stories of peoples nudes being leaked after their online storage was hacked. Do not be one of them. Also you could share a folder you do not mean to share or have it pop up in a space and time it does not need to pop up i.e. mid-presentation at work. Keep your photos under lock and key: There are lots of apps and ways to keep your pics under passwords. You can put them in a protected folder and make sure the person you blessed them with does the same just in case you lose your phone or device. There are apps that even hide that they are secure folders and pretend to be calculators and other mundane looking stuff. Data scrub the photo: When you send a photo it gets sent with a whole bunch of information like the date and time the photo was taken, the device ID, camera settings, and thumbnail image and description. Research how to get rid of this stuff so the photo cannot be tracked back to you, different apps and devices have different ways of doing it. Remember the consequences: Much as sending nudes can be fun, having them leaked often isn’t. Also, sadly women are far more affected than men when it comes to having their lives turned upside down by things like revenge porn. This is something to think about before you press send.

This piece was originally in Tiffany Mugo’s book Quirky Quick Guide To Having Great Sex. It has been reprinted here with permission from the author.


THABILE photographed by Siphumeze Khundayi




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