Tag Archives: flagging

Flagging

The queer remaking of a traditional gay medium

‘Flagging’ refers to the wearing of a colour-coded handkerchief, bandana, scarf or – as is becoming increasingly seen in queer femme circles – ribbon to indicate sexual interest/s. Most colours have standard meanings: black for SM, yellow for watersports to the more precise [an actual] teddy bear for cuddling. The location of a flag is also indicative: left for top, right for bottom; around the wrist for curious, around the upper arm for into it. Once you know the basics about flagging it’s generally easy to decipher the code; as in electric tape denotes electrical play and maroon signifies blood play. But there are some wild cards for experienced players; like gold – which indicates ménages à trois (on the left: two looking for one / right: one looking for two).

Hanky coding was originally a way of gay men identifying each other, thus traditional hanky codes assume all parties are male. But flagging culture is being remade by young queers today to actively work against the sex-gender assumptions of conventional gender binaries. That is:
“it’s better not to assume the sex-gender of who’s flagging or who that flagger is seeking… It’s important that female flagging complements and extends traditional gay male flagging, without becoming incompatible, so you can accurately decode any hanky on any body. I’d like hanky code to be a complete language for how you want to fuck that overrides what might be assumed from how your body is gendered.”

Whereas in traditional gay male flagging culture things were fairly clear cut: navy on the left (top) seeks navy on the right (bottom) to fuck (where everyone has a perspicuous idea of what that means) – the development of a flagging language that draws attention to the ambiguities of bodies and of sex challenges traditional (and gendered) stereotypes about sex and demands a comprehensive understanding (and practice) of specific and explicit consent. Without this, flagging makes no sense. Flagging is about inviting questions and initiating conversations about sex acts, bodies, affect and relation.

In the era of adultmatchmaker, grindr and okcupid our ways of communicating seem to be growing exponentially. But having immediate access to someone’s pictures, dimensions and sexual interests doesn’t necessarily make for the best interactions. Flagging hints. And while “keeping your desires unvoiced, unspecified or even unknown may protect you, and you might well get just as much play, that style is tepid. There’s something way hot about compelling a direct response, and opening yourself to explicit rejection.”

Get out your hankies and hit the town.

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Daddy Green

POLYAMORY, POWER & POLICING DESIRE

The policing of desire (or ‘not’) is a fairly common polyamorous catch phrase, along with the ‘control of one’s body.’ Usually in the context of ‘I won’t police your desires or control your body’ the implication is: you can do whatever you want [and so can I]. But really, our desires are always policed. And I remain unconvinced that polyamorous discourse effectively overcomes this.

The fact is, someone always likes someone else more. And there is so much power in that. When it comes down to it, the person who most likes the other will forfeit their desires quicker and easier: the terms will always be set by the more nonchalant. And what is interesting and important (and too often ignored) is what the partner ‘in power’ does, how they use that power (ir)responsibly.

Thinking about power through daddying can help elucidate some of the complexities here. The power that a daddy has is surrendered to him (of course, a daddy can be a woman but either way I will use male pronouns) by his boy/orphan/girl. Put in a more general context, the top only has power given to them by the bottom. The way in which this power is respected – reciprocated – is by the daddy only doing what the boy wants. Doing something else, using that (daddying) power against someone who has given it to you; in a way they don’t want, is (always) abusive.

In a poly relationship, saying ‘we [or I] do what we [or I] want’ ignores this transference of power and the ways in which our decisions and actions impact those around us. It’s naïve and perilous. Being clear about what you want helps, but things are more complicated than that. The fact is, mostly you know when someone likes you more than you like them, or when your desires (often so very inappropriately termed ‘needs’) are overriding theirs. Highlighting the way power functions like this in relationships is of desperate necessity.

I don’t want to police anyone else’s desires, and certainly not someone I love. But if our desires differ, which they certainly will in one context or another, someone wins out. Power is always at play. Pretending that we’re autonomous, that our decisions and actions don’t affect others, isn’t helpful. All it does is overwrite and invalidate ways in which power is abused. Being a good daddy means taking care with the ways in which you have power. Please.

Max xx

see Polyamory & Power Part 2 & Part 3

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Filed under "Queer Culture", Max Attitude, What's Queer Here?