Bondage & (academic) Discipline

spankUnless their activities necessitate a visit to the emergency room, thereby placing a burden on the health system and public purse, lovers of leather and whacko! quite probably strike those who don’t fancy carrying on like a British cabinet minister as being no more interesting than the worth of a bemused smile. That’s why we must give thanks for modern academic Elizabeth Dori Tunstall, who has sufficient degrees in this and that to perceive so much more in a game of naughty schoolgirl-meets-stern teacher than might be obvious to, say, a parent preoccupied with covering the cost of a child’s education at Swinburne University of Technology, where Ms Tunstall teaches something called Design Anthropology. She also supervises “strategic planning of academic quality and curriculum innovation for 2200 students and 150 academic staff”. In between those duties she  finds time to pen learned essays for The Conversation.

Her latest deep thoughts, prompted by Fifty Shades of Grey, are most informative. It seems that multi-tasking with a ping-pong bat and cucumber (or what have you) has something to do with racism: white people spank each other because no one else does, while people of colour have copped enough humiliation to take all the fun out of a trip to Bunning’s for some rope and G-clamps. But let Ms Tunstall explain:

Erotic genres often name the dominant social barriers between people. Interracial brings together historically, as well as currently, taboo people of different races, such as black men and white women. MILF or DILF (moms/dads who “I’d like to f$&k”) addresses several taboos: age, parental assumptions of asexuality, and adultery. Cross-dressers and trans sexual genres challenge gender norms. Gay and lesbian genres deconstruct hetero-normative sexualities.

The fantasy of having sexual experiences across class, religious, ethnic and/or racial, age, gender, even species lines opens imaginative possibilities that challenge the very existence of those lines.

And what, the intolerably thick might yet be wondering, is Ms Tunstall’s prime interest, this topic going by the title of Design Anthropology? Again, let teacher settle all misconceptions:

Dori, with the help of colleague Norm Sheehan, sought to explore with a global group of design anthropologists, Indigenous activists and scholas (sic), and innovation consultants the possibilities of a socially-focused model for innovation based on the methodological approaches of design anthropology and Indigenous Knowledge whereby “high cultural wellness” communities are the direct sources and beneficiaries of innovation.

Clear on that?

— Roger Franklin

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