I mentioned a while ago that I was thinking of writing a controversial post. It is more than just controversial: It is potentially dangerous. Documentary evidence of all points raised here has been sent to a few trusted locations, in event of my sudden disappearance. I kid you not. Big money is rarely in the hands of nice people.
I have, for nearly 2 years, kept this blog free of sponsorship, advertising, paid reviews and commercial interests, so that it may be a place of truth about the swing scene, life inside it, and free from the kind of propaganda that I am about to discuss. You will now see why.
I was messaged this week (as often happens, I do love chatting with my readers) by a single lady new to the scene. She said she’d liked my book and was feeling excited to go to a swing event at one of the largest and most successful elite sex-party event companies. Far from taking the last chapter in my book as a cautionary tale (which included 2 sexual assaults), she’d taken it as a recommendation.
Let me say to you now, my lovely libertines: I have never recommended this company. I may have mentioned it, among others. I’ve certainly been there. I used to, as with so many new swingers, have a feeling of fondness for it. Yet there are many things now which don’t sit well with me. Some were always there, yet less obvious as a shiny new baby duckling myself. Some are recent, and frankly sinister. Let’s take a look at some of the facts; then, as with all else in life, you must decide for yourself.
- The business is not structured in the way it is presented. It is largely owned and run by men, not the female figureheads you see. Almost all female personas presented are actually the wives of the men who really run things in the company. The people employed by the company do not partake in frolics at the parties: They are contractually prevented from doing so. Though you may see them at parties, they are not ‘one of us’ – they are there to make money.
- The ‘elite’ looks and age selection criteria reinforce patriarchal images of what makes women acceptable and desirable- conventional stereotypes of vapid, passive young women are preferred and depicted in their marketing. In spite of this, there is a double standard. Though it promotes itself as being selective on the basis of looks and class, events have always been accessible to anyone willing to pay enough money to get in. The use of supposed selectivity is helpful in making the customer develop a sense of value to the status of being chosen.
- Feminism cannot by trans-exclusionary. The site has no mention of the pricing structure for transgender or gender non-binary individuals, nor are they encouraged to attend. They are not represented in the marketing. The only customers catered for are ‘single girls’ – who are allowed in at a discounted rate, heterosexual ‘couples’, who pay full whack and, in recent years, single men, who pay a premium. Even in their recent campaign to select free models for marketing from their customers to fill a variety of ‘token’ types, no trans-women were included.
- Despite initially catering for the kink cross-over community with some events, these have now been phased out in vanilla-normative drive to not ‘frighten’ new customers. Women are told that to enjoy being a submissive is disempowering to them, which, as any submissive knows, is laughable. This sanitization of the swing scene from the BDSM community discourages openness about sexual diversity.
- The events are specifically bi-male exclusionary. Though bi men may attend, they must play as straight men. This encourages secrecy and shame in what is still a large but stigmatized and hidden section of society. Conversely, bi women are expected! Not only expected, but heterosexual women are prompted to adopt bi behaviors, for the entertainment of the men. The fetishization of female bisexuality perpetuates disrespect for a part of society who statistically experience high levels of discrimination and violence.
- Exploiting female sexuality for commercial gain is the name of the game. Charging women to participate in roles and activities that were traditionally only performed by escorts or porn stars (for payment, or very occasionally for free) by telling them they are ‘unicorns’ (the company has a different name for them) and that it makes them special, powerful and valuable, does not actually provide them with respect or equality.
- The company specifically preys on single women. Women who have had a little bit of a tough time in their past. Women who are seeking inclusion, validation, a place to belong; to be recognized for who they really are. To rejoin and heal their social and sexual selves. To feel valuable, and valued. Who actively seeks out the lonely, isolated and lost? Cults.
- The company exploits single women for free labour, by ‘specially selecting’ some and giving them demanding roles with a special title, in which they then actively recruit, market and message strangers in order to bring in more customers and encourage increased spending. If things slow down, they are encouraged to ramp it up. Who else does this? Pimps.
- Are the single women (and it is always, without fail, single women) who are assigned these special roles trusted? No. Within each forum, group or activity, there are also secretly appointed volunteers or personnel. They spy on what happens and report back, to ensure that the appointed volunteers are doing their unpaid job and working hard enough. If not, they will be upbraided on it, and accused of disloyalty. Who also does this? Despotic military regimes.
- The company responds to complaints of sexual assault, made by both men and women, at their own events, with a generic email placing blame on the victim for not acting at the time or having misconceptions about the nature of the event. Taking no action other than offering a free party as compensation. Compare this, however, with the fact that the company then attempted to procure (for free, of course) women’s tragic tales of sexual assault, without offering counselling, in order to help market a brand affiliated app. Who else does this? I literally can’t even think of anyone.
- The company endeavors to prevent free sharing of information and knowledge between women, particularly of support and recognition they could receive outside the sphere of the brand, by prohibiting discussion of other events, networks and removing figures from parallel or divergent scenes from accessing their own website. They have banned pictures taken at other events, including events which are not of the same nature (kink, trans or bi-male friendly events), stating the rationale that it is a safety risk for women to go anywhere other than their own branded events.
- Rather than encouraging women in small business, they actively seek to sink them. From engaging independent sole traders (who are women) to work for their brand and then failing to pay them, to excluding and instigating unfounded slander against women they consider to be in even slight competition with them. This may seem like just tough business sense, but the level of hypocrisy becomes apparent when one considers a few facts. The men running extremely similar events are not barred or combated in the same way, particularly when they happen to own properties that this company rents for its own events. This company is quite happy to take ideas from other sources, be they party events right down to my own blog format (Oh yes, I did notice. Please note, mine started a few weeks before theirs. Thanks also for the Twitter follow). Did you ever wonder where did the initial mailing list came from for their start-up customer base? So much for the female empowerment shown to all the small businesswomen by this company.
- The company tries to inhibit and block free reporting of the quality and nature of their events, only providing high budget media releases that are crafted and paid for from their own team. In addition to now requiring a non-disclosure agreement to attend, any independent reporters who have tried to review their events in the past have been soundly cornered and discredited by the high paid marketing team on social media. Why should this be necessary? One can only speculate.
- Advertises itself (and I quote the promotional text) as ‘a place to build lasting relationships’. Such occurrences are virtually unheard of, and failure to secure a lasting relationship within this sphere only leads to the women feeling more rejected and misunderstood, and therefore vulnerable to being further exploited. I’m not sure if the men and women are receiving different promotional material, but here is the issue. Women believe they are coming into a world where they will be respected as a sexual being, find their feminine power, explore their sexuality, feel free and liberated, and be safe. The men believe they are coming to get free sex without obligation or emotional expectation. They are never going to view you in the way you hope they will. The world hasn’t smashed the patriarchy yet, the double standard isn’t gone, and the men don’t go there looking to love you as a free wild spirit.
Single women, wise up. You are not there because you are special. You are not given roles because they see immense value in you, because they can’t afford to pay you, or because you are part of a feminist movement the company is spearheading to change the world for the better. You are not really even their customers. You are a bowl of peanuts, for the actual, high paying, customers to share. You are the attraction. The couples (or the vast majority of them), come there intent on picking you up as a plaything, to fulfill a fantasy, be it sexual or power related. And the company churns out profits from you.
Why is all of this a problem? Because I actually do believe in female empowerment. Because toxic hetero-normativity, bisexual fetishization, couples privilege, male privilege, the exploitation of people who are marginalized, considered to have less status in society (for being single, trans, not conventionally attractive, or a dozen other reasons) hurts us all. Because women should have the right to be considered sexual beings in the same way that men are, without slut-shaming and secrecy. Because sexual exploitation of women for profit is as old as the hills and exists only because of the disparity in society between male and female status.
So what can you do? Maybe don’t go to an ‘elite’ sex party. Or go to a less commercial one. Or do go, but be very aware of what you are supporting. Go to a small one. Go to a kink party. Go to a party where there is no differential gender pricing; where there is no couples pricing. Go to a party that promotes the inclusion of marginalized groups. Spend your efforts seeking validation and a spirit of sisterhood on a cause that isn’t raking money from you by encouraging your promiscuity. And, above all, don’t waste your time looking for love, approval and a sense of self-worth on the barren grounds of those who just want to take everything you have from you, with a sweet word and a smile. You are already special. Now believe it for yourself.
Take care of yourself, baby ducklings. You aren’t the only one hunting unicorns.