Mr Blk & Ms Pomegranate are presenting “What does consent look like; Practicing consent in kink”. Check out Mr Blk's bio here and Ms Pomegranate's bio here. 1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change? At The Black Pomegranate our credo is, “Talking the Taboos” and that philosophy permeates everything we do. In a sense, that credo is emblematic of the manner in which we’re catalyst for change. Sexual alternative lifestyles are still considered to be taboo. Coming out as kinky can have very real consequences, professionally and personally even in 2016. When someone is kinky, the prevailing thought still exists that you're different at best, potentially harmful at worst. The message is, if kink is your taboo, perhaps that should be hidden. We define taboos differently. We think the taboos of sexual alternative lifestyles can be incredibly nutritive and affirming, something to be celebrated in life. In essence, we’ve redefined taboos as a positive instead of a negative. We want people to talk about the taboos of sexual alternatives with candor, acceptance and security, yet without shame or fear. “Talking the Taboos” is a prelude to learning about the ways we can all participate in healthier, safer and more fulfilling alternative sexual lifestyles. We see ourselves as facilitators, working to demystify kink and BDSM and help make it more accessible and approachable. We want to initiate the ideas and changes in our communities which promote informed consent, openness and confront abuse. In our teaching, we want to advance play techniques, so participants learn a better way of doing things. We want people to acquire the tools to get the most out of their kink journey. Therefore, by that metaphorical act of talking about the taboos, we aspire to be catalysts of change. 2. Who or what was a catalyst for you? Our catalyst grew organically, from our separate and shared experiences in the kink world. Over time, we shared our perspectives with each other and remarked about the conversations we didn't see occurring often enough. One problem in the kink community is that it can be very hierarchical and dogmatic. Kinky people often joke about “the one true way” of doing things when it comes to BDSM play and relationships. This dogma is based less on what's best and more on long held conventions, even if they are wrong. Over time, Ms.Pomegranate and I saw things that bothered us, both in our local kink community and from our experiences. We reached a point where we realized we had something to share, that we could use our skills and knowledge to address the problems we saw. From that point on, we became advocates and teachers in the kink community, often being able to give new people the advice we didn’t receive early in our journey. Finding our agency and our voice to create positive change became our catalyst. 3. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable changes that have been made in our current society and the field of sexuality? The effect of technology on kink culture has been undeniable over the last twenty years. For example, in the 1990’s, the local kink community in Baltimore was linked by small ads in the City Paper. Any actual networking was a long process with a negligible chance of leading to a play partner, never mention an actual kink relationship. Today, the information revolution has fundamentally changed kink. Websites like Fetlife have moved BDSM networking from a small newspaper ad to become a global endeavor. People can stream kink classes on any subject and learn from their living rooms. Thousands of bloggers and writers share their sex positive thoughts, culminating in events like Catalyst Con. Technology has had other effects on kink culture. Gear is better made, with an easier learning curve. There are whips with flexible cores, which make them easier to throw. Sex toys are ergonomic and body safe now. Haptics offer us genuine virtual reality experiences. To say nothing of the effect technology has had on the discourse surrounding the emotional and physical factors regarding kink participation. Technology has made kink, sex positivity and sexuality a very different place in 2016, with much more to come. 4. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in society and the field of sexuality today? BP The plethora of misinformation about kink. As we stated, there is more access to kink information then there has ever been. But this also means there is also more access to bad kink info. It's inevitable that we mention the book and movie, “50 Shades of Grey”. Various “50 Shades” media exposed millions to BDSM, it became a guide of sorts for kinky curiosity. The problem is, it was never intended to be that. “50 Shades” was written as fan fiction by someone who had no practical knowledge (or desire) to exhibit a reliable manual for how to live a kinky lifestyle. The danger is when people new to kink take this misinformation as fact. When people read lack of consent and breaking boundaries in a book and think it's ok, there is a danger. When someone views slip knots used for bondage in a movie and don’t realize that can cause an injury, that is another danger. Because the topic is kink, that doesn't make the content reliable. Part of our collective jobs as sex positive kink and sex educators is to debunk bad information and strive to offer timely, credible information. That is the responsibility we’re charged with and should always uphold. 5. Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you? Our CatalystCon topic is about practicing consent in kink. It's appropriate, because consent is the true catalyst of everything that occurs in BDSM. Consent provides the framework which allows participants to negotiate and the parameter that sets any kink scene. Simply, without consent, healthy BDSM can't exist. Consent violations are all too common in the kink community. The scene all to often struggles with consent violations in a manner that helps victims and holds violators accountable. We need to reframe the dialogue surrounding consent and kink. Consent has to become dynamic and applicable in order to address the unique paradox of kink interactions. Elevating the conversation on practicing kink should be important to anyone who cares about building a better, safer sex positive kink community. That’s why our topic is important to us. 6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself Ms.Pomegranate is actually a very good dancer, with a skill and physicality she takes full advantage of as an experienced rope bottom. Mr.BLK once considered becoming a Catholic priest and considers his kink teaching another type of vocational calling.