Q1. Julie and Mike are into sadomasochistic sexting. Which among these emojis is most likely their ‘safe emoji’? Why?
The pickle or cucumber looking emoji would most likely be Julie and Mike’s ‘safe emoji’ for sadomasochistic (SM) sexting.
With reference to Kulick and Cameron’s ‘Language and Sexuality’, in the SM scenes, participants must decide on a ‘safe word’ in advance. As long as one participant says this consensually-decided-upon ‘safe word’, all ongoing activities would cease. Words such as “no”, “stop”, or “slow down” cannot be used since the submissive party in SM may tend to use these words to either experience the pleasure of being overcame or having the dominant party to experience pleasure of being in control. Thus, it is advised to use a word that would stand out in context so as to make it unambiguous. The word ‘pickle’ is actually a popular choice used by SM practitioners as the ‘safe word’.
As we convert words to emojis and in the world of sexting, it may be common to assume that the pickle or cucumber looking emoji actually refers to ‘penis’. This works the same for banana or eggplant since they are all long-looking objects. However, in SM context, we must look at the full set of emojis used to be able to find the incongruous word that could stand out as the ‘safe word’. Comparing Julie and Mike’s SM sexting and with the reference from Kulick and Cameron’s ‘Language and Sexuality’, it is safe to say that the pickle or cucumber looking emoji is their ‘safe emoji’ instead. This is because it is clear that all the other emojis can be grouped or matched together congruously. All the hand signs and facial expressions can be categorised under ‘Expressions’ since SM is all about role-playing, hence it involves using the face and body for acting. The poop, water and toilet bowl can be grouped together as they would naturally come together. The pill, chain and key emojis could be grouped and seen as “Tools” for SM, while the mike and exclamation mark could be related to some audio aspect. Thus, the pickle or cucumber looking emoji would be one that really stands out among all the other emojis since there is nothing congruous about it with the rest.
Q3. What does it mean to be ‘sex-positive’? You can start by reading this, this, and this. What are, in your opinion, its implications for contemporary identity politics?
With reference to the three internet sources read and my own inference, I think that ‘sex-positive’ is generally or simply a liberal attitude towards sex and sexuality. A person who is ‘sex-positive’ embraces not only her own, but others sexual expressions and pleasures. That is, he or she respects individual’s sexual identity and desires.
Being ‘sex-positive’ means that an individual is confident and comfortable with how he or she handles her sex life. In terms of identity constructing, he or she is not confined to look or act like a guy or lady. This in turn will affect how he or she expresses their desire. A ‘sex-positive’ individual is open to sharing or expressing their history or desires with someone whom they are going to engage sexual activities with. This is to consent and ensure that it would be a healthy, safe and enjoyable sex experience.
However, ‘sex-positive’ is not an official term, yet. Within it, it encompasses too many possibilities and complexities for one in our current society to understand or agree simply. Our society and education have been constructed as heterosexual or binary over long history, hence the sexuality mindset of past generations is kind of set. This was thought to be the “best” public option. However, people being more expressive and open in the modern days, many sexualities terms have been popping out. ‘Sex-positive’ being one of them, would be a challenging concept for people to accept since it is pushing people’s limit to be open. Yet, within this ‘sex-positive’ concept, it is a very varying idea. There is no fixed levels of positivity since people are open or liberal to their own certain extents and limits.
Hence, being ‘sex-positive’ may mean that an individual accepts lesbians and gays, or it could mean that he or she does not believe in a fixed identity construction (perhaps gender fluidity). Such ambiguity applies on how they look upon desires too. With reference to Kulick and Cameron’s ‘Language and Sexuality’, by moving away from identity categories, it may be depoliticising as it ‘decentres’ the categories which radical sexual movements are organized. In this case, would ‘sex-positive’ beings be the majority or minority? Based on the current society system, they may be seen as the ‘deviants’ since they do not conform to the ‘normal’ practices. The irony lies when they are a group that accepts all humans for who they are, yet they struggle to be accepted as they get “marked” or “scrutinised” for not following the “default standard for being human”.
In conclusion, the ‘sex-positive’ people are another group of humans who are still forging their way to be recognised or visible (just like lesbians and gays). If contemporary identity politics accept this concept, how is ‘sex-positive’ officially defined must be considered so that language can be explicitly or accurately used in its context.