Friday, February 18, 2011

Rubber as Kink Nouveau

As of late, I feel rubber has been really picking up steam as a kink, what with having the Mister International Rubber contest/weekend pick up for the last 15 years as well as many new groups selling rubber such as Priape, E7, TLS and many more internationally. But, as I look through the crowd that is into rubber, I can tell it is a much different demographic than the group you see wearing leather. I want to hit a couple of notes that I've thought through on why rubber is smaller and younger.

1. Rubber is younger, and has younger enthusiasts via history.

In case you didn't know your history, the gay leather subculture developed in the late 1940s along with the post-WWII biker culture. As it developed parallel to the motorcycle clubs, the publicity of wearing leather full-coverage also became more well-known. As it was more well-known, what with the motorcycle clubs, Hollister riots and other bad notoriety, it got a following for rougher gay men. How else can you curb the stereotype of being a sissy than to wear garb that associates you with a tougher crowd, and played into rough trade. With leather being austere in public, yet somewhat acceptable, leather had an advantage: vendors had a larger market. This catapulted the community into a better place.

1940s leather

Along with latex/rubber/PVC being a much younger textile for clothing, it's publicity in culture started much later. There was some fetishism in the 1940s, of pictures of people in scuba suits, but it did not have the following or mainstream potential that leather merited. The beginning of true fetishism started with PVC-style suits in the 70s, and really the 60s/70s fashion started the whole movement. As the movement is younger historically, so are the men that are getting into it now.

What rubber looked like at the start

2. Gender issues

My personal experience is that I saw leather as a sexual fabric early in life, it's something well associated with gay culture, and that was one of the first times I saw it. Dating myself as a relative child in kink, the first time I saw latex was Britney Spears' "Oops I did it again" video, and I was immediately charmed thinking "how fucking silly it was that she was wearing that shit." But now I am catsuit in tote (which I still hate calling a 'catsuit', and prefer 'full coverage suit.' I'm starting a movement to call it a 'pupsuit.') Latex has culturally garnered a mainstream feminization while leather has become masculine. Nowadays, this trend in media continues, with Lady Gaga/Rihanna wearing so much latex, while rock stars and pop men wear leather:

I feel the dichotomy of gender is slowly breaking down and materials are becoming less gender-specific. Via the internet, more outlets exist for people to see the harder side of latex and the austerity in kink scenes that it yields. This new outlet has been a reason that the scene has been picking up steam so much faster, as well as because it has attached itself somewhat as under the leather umbrella, but the younger men are getting into the rubber scene much faster as they don't have the existing hesitations about gender reserved textiles. However, when rubber is getting more exposure and getting bigger, we get better rubber products and the fetish is being viewed as butch at times. I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words (and hot as shit!!):

Stephane Donaldson, MIR 2009, and a fine piece of man. Woof!

Yeah, I'd hit that.

Until next time,

PS Re: #2, I may or may not have consciously chosen to juxtapose two people named Stefani (Gaga) and Stephane (MIR '09).

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