Securing Sexuality is the podcast and conference promoting sex positive, science based, and secure interpersonal relationships. We give people tips for safer sex in a digital age. We help sextech innovators and toy designers produce safer products. And we educate mental health and medical professionals on these topics so they can better advise their clients. Securing Sexuality provides sex therapists with continuing education (CEs) for AASECT, SSTAR, and SASH around cyber sexuality and social media, and more.
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Technology's Impact on Rachel Lark's Music and Creative Process
In today's digital age, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, shaping the way we communicate, express ourselves, and explore our identities. This intersection of technology, artistry, and sexuality has opened up new avenues for artists to push boundaries, challenge societal norms, and create thought-provoking and impactful work. One artist who embodies this intersection is Rachel Lark, a singer-songwriter known for her bold and unapologetic exploration of sexuality and relationships through music.
In a recent conversation, Rachel shared her insights on how technology has influenced her artistry and allowed her to connect with a diverse and engaged audience. Rachel's journey as an artist began long before the rise of social media and streaming platforms. As a teenager, she honed her musical talents by performing in local coffee shops and open mic nights, relying on traditional methods of promoting her work, such as handing out physical CDs and flyers.
However, the advent of technology brought about a paradigm shift in how artists could reach their audience. "With the rise of platforms like YouTube and Spotify, artists suddenly had the ability to share their work with a global audience without the need for a record deal or extensive touring," Rachel explains. "This democratization of the music industry allowed artists like myself to gain visibility and connect with fans who resonated with our unique perspectives."
One of the key ways in which technology has influenced Rachel's artistry is through the creation and dissemination of her music videos. With the accessibility of high-quality cameras and editing software, she has been able to create visually stunning and conceptually rich videos that complement her thought-provoking lyrics. These videos not only serve as a visual representation of her music but also as a medium for storytelling and self-expression.
"Technology has allowed me to bring my creative visions to life in ways that were simply not feasible in the past," Rachel shares. "I can explore complex themes and narratives through my music videos, sparking conversations and challenging societal norms around sexuality and relationships." Furthermore, technology has also facilitated the connection between Rachel and her audience.
Through social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, she can engage in direct conversations with her fans, fostering a sense of community and intimacy that transcends geographical boundaries. "I love that technology has given me the opportunity to connect with my audience on a personal level," Rachel enthuses. "I receive messages from people all over the world, sharing their own stories and how my music has resonated with them. It's incredibly humbling and inspiring to know that my art has the power to touch people's lives in such a meaningful way."
However, with the opportunities that technology affords, there also come challenges. The ubiquity of social media and streaming platforms has led to an oversaturation of content, making it difficult for artists to stand out and gain recognition. Rachel acknowledges this challenge but recognizes the importance of authenticity and staying true to one's artistic vision. "In a sea of content, it's crucial to stay true to yourself and create art that is authentic and genuine," Rachel advises. "Technology may provide the tools, but it's the artist's unique perspective and voice that will ultimately resonate with an audience. Don't be afraid to be bold and take risks, as that is where true artistry lies."
The intersection of sexuality, technology, and artistry has provided artists like Rachel Lark a platform for self-expression, connection, and exploration. Through the power of technology, Rachel has been able to create visually stunning music videos, engage with her audience on a personal level, and challenge societal norms around sexuality and relationships. As technology evolves, it is exciting to think about the limitless possibilities for artists to push boundaries, spark conversations, and create impactful art.
Stefani Goerlich: Hello and welcome to Securing Sexuality. The podcast where we discuss the intersection of intimacy-
Wolf Goerlich: -and information security. I'm Wolf Goerlich.
Stefani: He's a hacker, and I'm Stefani Goerlich.
Wolf: She's a sex therapist. And together, we're going to discuss what safe sex looks like in a digital age.
Stefani: Today we are joined by somebody I am super excited to talk to. She is ridiculously cool, and that's coming from Wolf and I, and we pretend to be cool on a regular basis. Rachel Lark is a queer, polyamorous, kinky folk punk musician who celebrates pleasure, sex, and relationships in her songs. She is the creator of Coming Soon, a rock comedy musical exploring themes of connection and healing from trauma. This is my favorite part. She has been described as a cross between No Doubt and Bo Burnham. If they met in a dungeon. Welcome, Rachel.
Rachel Lark: Hi, friends. Thanks for having me.
Wolf: I'm sure everyone asks you like what made you become a musician, but I wanted to know, like, what made you become all those things that we've just strung along, right? Because that's a lot to bring to any one person, let alone anyone's performance or anyone’s body of work.
Rachel: I stumbled into this niche kind of by accident, and very much thanks to the incredible storytelling show based in San Francisco. Bawdy Storytelling, uh, spelled BAWDY storytelling, uh, hosted by the incredible Dixie Delatour. But to back up a little bit, I mean, I started singing, playing music, writing songs, like, From Day one. I was one of those little kids that just needed to perform constantly. I was always, like, organizing my family into the living room and making them be an audience and then, like, just improvising some ballet or something in front of them. So I loved performing from a young age. I also loved peeking out about, um, feminism and relationships. My parents are both philosophy professors and my mom, um, specifically, uh, does feminist philosophy. And so, um, really having a kind of intellectual critical analysis for human relating was very much something that was normal in my household. And, you know, the term sex-positive, uh, you know, didn't exist yet, exactly. Um, when I was growing up, But I would say I did live in a like, sex-positive household where my parents, who had both been raised in kind of fundamentalist, uh, religious households as kids were very much ready to do the opposite of that. And so, you know, it was, it was a household where, you know, we had we My parents had gay friends. The idea that, like, you know, sex was something that was good and should be celebrated was, like, very much part of my upbringing. Um, so, you know, for years, I kind of had this, like, feminist sort of sex geek, kind of, uh, personality. And I was also making music. Um, the two were not connected until, um, uh, body storytelling has always has, like, a musical guest as part of their storytelling show. And they had a cancellation. Um, last minute. And they, uh, someone recommended me as a possible musical guest. I don't know why. Because at the time, I was writing very serious songs about, you know, uh, boys who had broken my heart and, um, and Dixie called me up and invited me to come perform. She was like, Do you have any songs about sex? I said no, not really. Um, but, uh, I guess I have this one song that's like a joke. That's not a real song. I would never perform it. And it's called Fuck my Toe And, um, she was like, play that one. That's the one. And I was like, OK, and I showed up And it was just this unbelievably warm, incredible audience of, like, 400 people. And I played this, you know, stupid funny song that I hadn't really thought anything of and it killed. And I was like, Huh, You know, I never thought of myself as a comedy writer before that, and I hadn't thought about writing songs about, you know, sex or kink or anything. And I just thought this would be a cool, creative exercise. So I proposed to her, what if I, like, wrote custom songs for your show and you know it's a monthly show? This will be a kind of fun little side gig. Um, and you know, maybe six months later, um, and I've been writing custom songs for her, I suddenly realized that this was the stuff that was really resonating with people and my sort of specific lens of kind of political analysis and like, joyful performing. Um, and this inner emo girl, that I will never fully get rid of, all kind of coalesced into this particular sounds that, like, really worked. And, um, that's that's kind of how it all caught on. And, um, I really leaned into that that wheelhouse of, um, topics. From that point on.
Stefani: I have got to say I am a huge fan of Dixie tour and I love the body podcast. And now I'm just super jealous because I always think that, like, I get to hang out with Wolf and the hacker crowd. And so I'm like, cool adjacent. But no, apparently you are like, fully cool embedded and that is just amazing.
Rachel: We're all cool.
Stefani: I think it's fascinating that your mom was a feminist philosopher because one of the things that I've been really curious about was the fact that your songs are funny, but they do touch on things that right now are like, really politically charged and even things that, you know, like five years ago, I would have called mainstream, like the basics of feminism have become really fraught, and there's a lot of backlash, and I'm curious how you as an artist, as you know, somebody who's an erotic minority, How do you personally professionally, sort of navigate the social backlash we're dealing with right now?
Rachel: Whenever I experience backlash, I think that I translate it as like, OK, I'm winning because you don't get backlash when you're inside of the bubble, right? Um, you get you get backlash when you've made it sort of outside of your comfortable bubble of people who agree with you already. Um, and I do think there's merit to preaching to the choir. The choir needs preaching like we need, um, we need champions of, uh, you know, feelings that we already have. And we need words for, um, feelings that we don't have words for. And I do think that's part of the role of art. I think that's part of my role. Um, but, uh, whenever I see, you know, angry trolls online, I realized, like, Oh, it's actually getting through to the broader culture, and so I translate it that way in my head, I think like, oh, someone got pissed off. That means that they actually heard it and took a few moments to think about it. Um, you know that said I haven't, um, had a ton of mainstream exposure yet. And some of the vitriol out there is legitimately terrifying. Um, you know, and I, I think this maybe starts getting into some of the tech elements. You know, I did sort of early on, take steps to kind of, like, cover my tracks online and, you know, hide my physical address and, um, uh, you know, realize that, like, there there are, um, actually, terrifying people out there who, um, might, you know, become stalkers might, uh, you know, it might turn, turn ugly. There was, um where was it? In Canada, there was just a gender studies professor who got stabbed, you know, in Canada. And it's like so So I think there's, like, a range of what? What backlash means, right? And, um, I think that when you are someone that, like, puts your face out there, and you are putting your, um, Yeah, you're You're sort of, uh, making yourself, um, a spokesperson for an ideology that people, uh, more and more find, uh, threatening, even though, um, I don't - I really don't think there's anything, uh, threatening about, um, equality or open-mindedness or curiosity. But, um, it's threatening to these people because they've internalized a lot of, uh, shame. Right. Um, so I think that whenever you're doing that, you do have to sort of, like, think about Oh, OK, I'm not just having fun here. I'm also, um, really sort of taking up this role as a kind of vanguard of an increasingly, um, divisive political stance. Um, and I mean, actually, it's funny as I say that it does make me think, like, you know, we decide that something is political based on people's reactions to it, right? Like, um, like in, you know, I in this sort of like Marco Polo time, like saying that the world is round as a political statement, right, because of its implications of the ways that people might react to it. So, like, I don't think there's anything inherently like partisan Or, you know, that should enter the realm of politics about sexual expression. Um, but because of people's sort of inflamed reactions to it, it has taken up a political mantle, and that's not something that I am scared of. Um, and I think that like when things become political we need to step into that.
Stefani: Before we hit record, the three of us were talking about the fact that this is an early Monday morning for those who might be listening on their own schedule at some point. And Rachel, what you don't know is that I spent basically all weekend deleting hateful comments as they came in one at a time from a post for our conference on Facebook. The thing that I posted literally just said, Don't let fear dull your pride And I spent three days doing nothing but making sure that people's hate was erased as quickly as possible so that the people that needed to see it weren't seeing that. And your comment that if we're getting pushed back, then we're actually getting outside the bubble, that people, they're actually taking a minute to think of it, even if they reject it, they've taken that minute to think. And that is a win, actually kind of recognize my whole weekend in a way that I find really, um, validating and healing so thank you for that.
Wolf: A good example. What you do in terms of, uh, giving people some context and giving some people some hope when you look back at this trajectory from the, you know, the little girl forcing her family to the room to perform to To you, uh, you now getting ready, uh, to go out on tour. Uh, how do you think things have shifted, right? I mean, obviously you you mentioned the political landscape has changed. Um, you mentioned having to take steps, like, you know, removing yourself from the Internet and preventing people from stalking and whatnot. But, uh, either more broadly or more personally for you, What is the larger environment been like, as you've transitioned from, you know, this happy kid with these, you know, quirky parents, uh, into the world we live in today.
Rachel: Yeah. I mean, in a way, I think I'm constantly on a journey to try to get back to being that happy kid with quirky parents. I think, like as an artist, you know, you start off. Uh, well, i'll just speak for myself, I. I started off with just a constant hunger to make stuff just, uh, insatiable. Um, curiosity, uh, for for learning how to make things for performing, for storytelling, for consuming other stories. Um, and, um, I think once the decision was made in my early twenties to pursue art as a career, um, then I had to contend with, uh, the sort of the quest to fit within a Venn diagram of what I liked doing, what I'm actually good at, and what the world cares to see for me and finding that sweet spot between those three things, Um, which often involves, um a lot of, um, a lot of sort of shutting down of some creative impulses, right? Like, you know, I really like taking dance classes. Um, I'm not a dancer. And, uh, that's not actually, uh, the best quote-unquote use of my time as an artist right now. Um, and you know, So that's something I sort of have to consider my leisure activity. That's not like my real like capital R real art. Um, and I have to sort of, like, make those decisions a lot. And, um, in making those decisions, you do sometimes damage that, Like that little kid, um, inside of you that just wants to, like, play and make art. And so I think the balance as a career artist is to, um, take care of that artistic spirit at all costs, because that's really like you're guiding light throughout all of it while also contending with the realities of capitalism and time management which just, like, really wanna crush that spirit at all costs. And so, um, I think I think that I, um honestly, I'm glad that I've chosen or fallen into, um a topic like sexuality and relationships because I feel like, um, that helps me sort of remember that living itself is my art. And like every heartbreak and every date and every, um, new discovery is my art and is the source of, like, how I discover new ideas. And so really, it's been a journey like, uh, I would say it's a constant journey, sort of back to that sort of pure, curious little kid artistic spirit and then, like away from it to the practicalities of the world and then, like back again and along the way it's really been a journey of self care, as I think it is for like, a lot of people, you know, growing up, it's like learning how to be a person that can function in this very, very, very fucked up world while also taking care of yourself. Um, and, you know, sort of like preserving those parts of you that are maybe stand in opposition to this world that you have to live in.
Stefani: How does that experience inform your your musical that you've written How does all of this tie into Coming Soon? Because in listening to you I, I don't think it takes an incredibly insightful therapist to be like I feel like there might be a connection here.
Rachel: Oh, yeah. Well, I've described my musical writing process as doing open heart surgery on myself while running a marathon. Um, that's that's what it felt like. I've been working on it for six years. No. Yeah, six years. Um and, you know, all of my songs are a little bit of a like journey into myself. I you know, my songwriting is, um, a process of discovery for me. I often start with a place of confusion. And then I write the song to figure out how I feel in writing coming soon. Um, I was taking a topic of trauma and relationships that I do have a lot of lived experience with. And, um, trying to, um, both, um, mine my own story for, um, you know, nuggets of truth, while also generalizing the story to be, uh, a sort of symbolic story of what women face every day, regardless of whether they've gone through this exact experience or not. Um, and it was a Yeah, it was a deeply personal process. Um, it was also a very collaborative process. And I feel like a lot of other people's, um, experiences and thoughts and reflections ended up in the show as well. Which I think is what has made it so universal and the fact that I wrote it over the course of six years. It's like I was a different person, you know? By the end of it, I just actually finished another draught of it. Um, after participating in a writing residency here in New York. Um and you know, even that draught I'm like, Yes, this is yet another perspective on this topic. Um, so, yeah, I mean, it's - The the goals of Coming Soon are, like, pretty pretty huge, Like I was trying to really nail down the full spectrum of reasons why women struggle to experience pleasure, and that was like, that was the goal. And that's a massive undertaking. In the process, I think, um, it illuminated a lot for me personally. And everyone has touched the show like I've had. Um, you know, cast members and crew members, you know, tell me about revelations they've had about their own experiences after being involved in this show. Um, so that I mean, it's this musical, like all of my writing has been really personal and transformative, But this musical probably has been the most rewarding, transformative experience of my life.
Stefani: That is really amazing to hear. I love following the progress of I'm a big musical theatre geek, and I love following the progress of new shows. Kind of from like when you first started hearing that inception to, you know, I remember having the original cast album of Hades Town, but not like the Broadway original cast like the work Mitchell Yeah, and Anie de Franco. And so I love hearing how these things evolve. And I think one of the things that really speaks to the power of something, even if it's it hilarious as well is when the cast and the crew are also saying, Oh, my God, this really resonates. This really hits me. Yeah. How do you respond when you get those stories? I know that it's really easy sometimes. And maybe I shouldn't say that selfly I just talked about my weekend, but I think we're better prepared to talk about resistance than we are to talk about acceptance. I think that, you know maybe our own sort of inner, Um uh, what's the term? The impostor syndrome tends to make it. We're mentally prepared. We've rehearsed our lines for people that are like God, that sucks. But how can you, as an artist, handle the Oh my God, this really meant something to me. If this was really impactful to me, what is? What is your response to that?
Rachel: Yeah, that's a really great question. I think also that ties into, um, Tech as well for me. Um, because I think, um, you're right. It's so easy to, um, obsess and rehearse our rejections and our failures. Um, And when people are telling us, hey, this meant a lot to me like you did it. Good job. Um, it's it's so easy to let that go. Um, and I think that one of my biggest markers of success in the years of therapy that I've done is, um my is, like, sort of how long I'm able to stay with a feeling of accomplishment before it fades or before parts of me start undercutting it. And, um, with Coming Soon, uh, especially after, like the after the run in San Francisco closed, which was like an enormous success. It was a sold-out run. We got a rave review from The Chronicle, and, you know, everything we wanted to accomplish, um, got accomplished, including, um, you know, some really powerful stories that cast members and crew members told me about. I think I felt just like this buzzing high of satisfaction for, I wanna say, like, two months after, which is like, a very long time. Uh, you know, before the doubt demons started to have something to say, uh, to me. Um and I think, you know, in terms of how I feel it, you know, I'm used to now people coming up to me at my shows and telling me, like, really, really personal stories that I wasn't necessarily prepared to hear, or, um don't feel, uh, capable of, like helping them integrate. Like, I'm not a therapist. Um, I think about feelings, but I don't really know how to change them for others or, um, anything like that. So I think I have a practice of just being really present and, um, just being really gracious, you know, and just realizing that, um especially with subject matter like sexuality, where people are not used to having so much permission to speak so openly. Sometimes they speak really openly when suddenly given the permission to. Um and, um, I've accepted that as like, OK, that's part of the role that I've taken on is I've become a safe person to share stuff with. Even if I actually was not prepared to hear, you know, like traumatic or super graphic stories from people or, you know, whatever It's like OK, well, that's part of what I've I've signed up for and I just try to be really present and really gracious. But the way this interacts with tech I was thinking about as you were talking is, um, you know, I have put a lot of effort, especially over the last year, into growing my following on TikTok and Instagram. And, um, those are platforms that up until, you know, about a year and a half ago I really didn't want to participate in because I don't enjoy the experience of being on my phone very much. And I finally sort of realized and accepted that there has never been a more powerful way to get your music out there and grow your audience as an artist. And so I started, um, really doing the work, um, to, you know, put content out and, you know, be on these platforms and grow my audience. And one thing I noticed is that, um, say a video starts to go viral and you're looking at, like, you know, 100,000 views or a million views. As I had one video get over a million views, uh, for the first time recently. And, um, it's so easy to not actually take that in and like, feel that in your body because, you know, I think about, like, what does it feel like to perform for 1000 people? It feels crazy. It feels amazing, like, you just get this energetic experience of so many people and you share in that. And afterwards you can recall that memory and it fuels you. And it, like, gives you this, um, encouragement to go on because you saw their faces and you heard them clap. And you, you know, and online, you don't get that you just all you get is the same visceral experience that you get looking at 10 views. Except now there's more zeros in front of it. And you're like, Oh, cool. You know, I got a lot of views, and so now what I'm doing is literally I will meditate, And I will actually try to imagine that number of people, like, actually tried to viscerally think through, like, what does 100,000 people actually mean? And, like, picture that and you know, if it says like, oh, this was shared 50,000 times. You know, picture like 50,000 people, like deciding to share this and like, I'll picture it and take, you know, 5-10 minutes to just close my eyes and like, take that in and then that really helps me remember that, like, this matters and these connections are actually real because I think that it's so easy to just blow past that. And then, of course, you get these trolls, right? One comment that says something just so despicable. And that's what, like sits with you all day. And, um so I think it takes I think the way that you take in those, um those compliments and those, uh, affirmations is like, you really have to force yourself to, like, literally meditate and and, um, almost like, walk yourself through the obsession that happens when things are negative. You have to, like, force yourself to walk through. That practice for the positives as well.
Wolf: So of the two of us, I'm the one who meditates. And of the two of us, I'm also the one who gets obsessed with numbers. There's a point in time where, like every time we hit a new number with, like, downloads or views on our podcast. Stefani, will be like, I'm not gonna tell you because you're gonna be like, That's the new floor. If I don't get at least that number on the next one, we need to do a good job, you know? And I never I never thought to stop and just really, like, Take it. And what does it mean to have that many people engage with your content? Oh, that's good. That I know what I'm doing this afternoon. Stefani, That's fantastic. And you know, I, I also got to imagine too, Um, as you as you are creating content for these platforms, Um, not only does the response change, and I really like what you're talking about in terms of being present about what it means for 50,000 people or a million people. Um, because you're right. I mean, it's so different than having an audience. And my numbers are much smaller, and my audiences are tech people. But I still I love being on stage, and you just don't get that same boost when you're you're putting on content. But I want to ask you too. Does your, uh, songwriting change right? Because it's a shorter format. Um, it you only have a real quick point of time to get someone's attention. Does that? Does that? Has that changed the way that you create folk music?
Rachel: Um, I don't think so. Not yet. I mean, I think you know that question right There is sort of what kept me from from tiktok for so long. I resented the idea that 3.5 minutes is now long form. I was like, Come on. Like, I'm packing a lot into these 3.5 minutes and you're now telling me I've got to write 15 2nd. Did like I don't want to. So I think there was, um I think I was, uh uh, Yeah, resentful of the idea that I might have to change my songwriting style. What I have found is that I can cut up different parts of my songs. Um, you know, sort of highlight a one-liner, um, here and there. And I don't have to actually change it, but as of now, I mean I. I just I can't say for sure that it hasn't influenced me. Because, of course, I'm also on these platforms. Now, I'm like seeing the other creators that are creating specifically for these platforms. So it's all getting it's all getting in there, right? Like this is - I'm swimming in the water of tiktok. So, like, it's gotta it's gotta be getting in there. But I still feel like we've got to have enough of an attention span to listen to a whole song. I miss I like I just I'm not ready to give up on a bridge like I, I think I think you know the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, uh, structure is great. Uh, I, I really think it's the right structure for sharing an idea. And, um so as of now, I'm just gonna I'm gonna draw my line in the sand and say, No, I'm not. I'm not changing my songwriting style for these platforms.
Wolf: Well, and I, I know, like, uh, it there is a progression, right? Someone discovers, uh, you know, a one-liner or a snippet on the tiktok or Instagram likes it and then watches a full video on YouTube or Spotify likes that. And the next thing you know, you're in town and they show for your conference - or your conference. Haha, uh, yeah. Bring it about where? This your concert. I will fix that in post
Stefani: No, because now everybody knows exactly where our heads have been at forever. No matter what we're talking about, it's lurking in the back of our heads.
Wolf: Ok, I won't. I won't fix that in post. So yeah, they show for your concert and I do like this idea of, like, you know, having more opportunity to get content out there. But you talk about like one-liners. One of the things I want to ask you about, like there's a line in “It's hard to be a feminist” where it says “it's hard to be objectified, just the right amount.” And so I noticed you play a lot with that tension, right? You have a lot of, like one-lines that play with that tension about how to be empowered and how to be, you know, a full equal partner. And at the same time, you know what does it mean when you want to give that up and submit. I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about what that tension feels like for you and how that plays out in your heart?
Rachel: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I you know, just for context, I mean I identify as a bisexual, kinky, polyamorous person. But historically, I've always, like life-partnered with men. Um, I think I'm you know, my attraction leans more towards men. And I, um I don't know. I mean, I guess there's a lot of ways to approach this question. Kink gives us this great framework of, um, having a shame-free approach towards sexuality that I think is really healthy and really important. Where, um basically the standard is, um safe, sane. Consensual (SSC). Right. Um, any play between two consenting adults? Um, that is safe and sane, Um, and consensual. Uh uh is good to go. And there's this useful term that that the kink community gives us, Which is Squick. Um, you know, So instead of saying that something's bad or gross or weird, you know, it it it becomes subjective. Like I would say, like Oh, yeah, like I'm squicked out by, um, breath play. Um, you know, you do you It's my squick. I'm not into it. It's not erotic for me. Um, and I think that's great. I also think there are complications when we live in an oppressive society, especially a society that has so much gender oppression. Um, when we're looking at any kind of power dynamic, and I think that it's too simple to simply say, um, you know, like, OK, I'm a feminist, and I'm a woman, and I like being submissive, and there's nothing wrong with that. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but I do think there's some tension and some, um, complications in sort of how we play out actual power dynamics in the world in the bedroom. And, um, when we're doing that for sort of cathartic healing reasons and when we're doing it for maybe self-punishing reasons or reasons that we don't fully have access to. And I don't think, and I and I, I just enjoy inviting people into the murkiness of this. And I'm always a little bit suspect of people that feel like they've got such a clear understanding of their, like political certainty and their personal certainty with all of the sexual decisions that they make. Because to me, it's like it's all pretty enmeshed and complicated. And there's a great book I read, um, last summer, um, called The Right To Sex by Amia Srinivasan. Do you guys know this book? I think I'm saying her name right.
Stefani: Oh, I have it on my bookshelf.
Rachel: Yeah, Yeah, it's incredible. I think she she really does a beautiful job of, um uh, complicating questions about, um, how we think about how politics play out in our sexual desires. And she doesn't look at kink necessarily specifically, but she does look at, um, uh, like, incel logic. And, uh, she also looks at, um, grinder as a place where people sort of freely list their, um, you know, there's sexual desires that often have, um, racist and body-shaming connotations. And she sort of asks this question of like, Well, all right, so, like, to what extent are we morally required to interrogate the political implications of our sexual desires? I think it's a juicy question that I think we need to explore in tandem with continuing to seek pleasure in a space that, um, doesn't shame us for doing that. Um, but I don't think it's a settled issue. And I don't think that I have found, you know, um, that kink spaces are full of people that have perfectly interrogated their internalized misogyny. And I'm always a little bit doubtful. Like when I meet a man who wants to hit me, I'm like, do you? But do you kind of really, though? Like, you know, it's It's a little bit of, um, an open question for me And, um so, yeah, I mean, all of that. And it's funny because, like, as I'm talking about all of this, I'm like, Wow, this is feeling, like, really charged. And I think that speaks to the power of like, putting it to a ukulele, right, and like getting people to laugh, because now we can just sort of laugh about it instead of sort of start to feel this kind of change in the air where we all now have to have this really serious conversation. Um, but again, I think that's like my approach is always like I don't have the answers. I don't have it figured out. I'm not sort of offering the path forward. That is, um, politically OK, and that offers, you know, perfect care for everyone. Um, I'm sort of I get to be as an artist rather than like a therapist or, you know, a community leader. I get to be the one that's just like, Hey, isn't this kind of fucked up? Oh, all right, Um, so that's how I think about it.
Stefani: I am someone who thinks a lot about BDSM and kink-empowered dynamics. It's the population I work with. It's the topic I write about and I agree with you. There is a sort of a tight rope in saying this is absolutely empirically studied by researchers proven to be relatively normal and healthy. And the people that are kinky are normal, unhealthy and they are not broken and they are traumatised and they are not dangerous and also at the same time being aware of the cultural factors that drive our desires and these ways in which society can inform our understanding of what is sexy and what is powerful and what is submissive. And you're right. There is no easy answer. I don't know that there is a sort of binary black and white. You got it right. You got it wrong. Answer. Every single question in this realm is an essay question, and it's fascinating to have conversations with people that understand the nuances of, um, the decisions that we make around sex and relationships and power and technology and everything else. And I'm curious, sort of, as we wind towards the end of our conversation. What message do you want people to take away from your work? If there is, like, one overarching theme, one sort of, you know, Woody Guthrie had “this machine kills fascists”, sort of. You had one thing that the people that hear your music should understand or should internalize or should apply to their life. What would that be?
Rachel: Discomfort is fine. I hope that people come away from my shows feeling more empowered to sit with discomfort and confusion and not having the answers and realize that that's actually an invitation into exciting new territory. Um, yeah, I think that's what I hope people get from my music.
Wolf: I know you said in our pre-conversation inviting people into the confusion we all share. Uh, and boy, did that resonate with me because I oftentimes and living in a land of confusion as I try to balance all the things we talked about here today. But I wanna thank you for joining us. This has been a great conversation.
Rachel: Yeah. Thank you both so much. This has been so fun. I really, uh, love your podcast, and I really appreciate being here. Thanks for this.
Wolf: Request for you. Is there one of your songs that you would like us to play as our outro?
Rachel: Oh, yeah. Um, for your crowd, like - Picard, I have a song about Jean Luc Picard. Um, that's, you know, uh, that always goes over well.
Stefani: Wolf, loves Jean Luc Picard.
Rachel: Yeah. I mean, what's not to love? He's perfect in every way.
Wolf: We will absolutely go out on Picard. I may need to circle back with you to get the music for that. But thank you so much for tuning into Securing Sexuality, your source for the information you need to protect yourself and your relationships.
Stefani: Securing Sexuality is brought to you by the Bound Together Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit together with our conference sponsor, Fun Factory! From the Bedroom of the cloud, we're here to help you navigate what safe sex looks like in a digital age.
Wolf: Be sure to check out our website, securingsexuality.com for more information about the topics we discussed here today. Also, uh, upcoming tour. Rachel, you want to share?
Rachel: I'll be performing in New York City on August 31st, which might already be passed by the time this rolls. I'll be performing in Oakland, California, on September 29th. I'll be performing in Portland on October 1st, Seattle on October 4th, and Los Angeles on October 5th, and my new EP “Warm by the Dumpster Fire” will be dropping on October 27th. You can find all my tour dates at Rachellark.com/tour. You can follow me on Instagram at RachelLarkMusic, and you can find, uh, more about my musical and all of my other projects at RachelLark.com.
Stefani: And if you want to go on a small tour of your own to join us in Detroit this fall, you can do that with a discount if you use code “POD15” to save 15% on your securing sexuality conference registration. But until that time, join us again here for more fascinating conversations about the intersection of sexuality and technology. And usually I say have a great week. But I'm going to say, Now, listen to Rachel sing!
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