April 29, 2011

Library shows life of the bind

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Bondage 10100 may not be part of the core, but all the reading material is available at the International House.

As part of an exhibition on all things kink, Viola Johnson, director of the traveling Carter/Johnson Leather Library, lectured and led a discussion titled “You Are Not Alone: What You Haven’t Heard about the History of Sex,” at the I-House last Tuesday.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s just a feather or the whole chicken; if it gets you off, you’re kinky,” Johnson said.

The week-long exhibit, which opened Monday, displays historical and modern art, as well as literature dealing with bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism, and masochism (BDSM).

The discussion also broadened to include public perception of not only BDSM, but also gender identity and sexual orientation. Johnson expressed concern about the effects of social pressures on today’s youth.

Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK), an RSO that discusses and practices ways to explore kink in a safe and consensual way, sponsored the series. The event also received $3,000 from the Uncommon Fund this year.

RACK Vice President Drea said that the money still fell short. Trident International Windy City, a Chicago leather club, and the Leather Rose Association, a BDSM social club, stepped in to bring the Leather Library’s collection to campus.

According to Drea, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of RACK’s activities, the response from students and community members alike has been generally positive.

Third-year Denzel Scott agreed, but said a more general awareness and acceptance of sexuality is necessary. “Before visiting the library, I didn’t know that sex even had a history,” he said. “It’s very important that we can talk freely about sex to get rid of the social stigma.”

Still, third-year and RACK attendee Peter B., who also requested that his full name be withheld for privacy reasons, praised the student body’s openness to the RSO.

“It’s very helpful that the University is so tolerant and open,” Peter said. “People will ask me where I’m going, and I tell them. A couple people have even tagged along.”