The SF girls of Leather ♥ cute kink and breaking down stereotypes
"We live in a patriarchal society and that reflects on every part of our society, including leather," she says, sipping a latte in Oakland and soaking in the spring sun.
"The men outnumber us physically in this community, [but that] doesn't mean women's voices are missing," she continues. Isadorah is pleased with the progress of her generation of leatherwomen and is happy to sit back and nurture the younger crop. "I think we've done our job: to educate women about their bodies and the opportunities they have to explore sexuality beyond what society thinks is appropriate."
Today, nearly half the current directors of the Leather Alliance, the community's well-respected governing board, are female.
"We're sitting at the table now," says Daddy Vick Germany, a female-bodied leather daddy who has been a part of the Bay Area's leather community for more than 15 years and serves as a director for the Alliance. Overall, Daddy Vick is content with the community's moves toward inclusivity. "The men are leaving more space for us," she says.
But traces of segregation can still be found. "Sometimes men just don't see you — you're not even in their line of vision," she says, referring to a recent experience at the Up Your Alley street fair where a man blindly butted in front of her while she stood in a concession line. She recognizes that these incidents can be subconscious, but any female who roams the SoMa leather fairs is bound to encounter this feeling of invisibility. It makes her "mad as hell."
Elected SF Dyke Daddy in 2002, Vick made substantial efforts to bridge gaps between the sexes. She's currently running for SF Leather Daddy, a traditional competition built on fundraising for the AIDS crisis. In 2009 a transman won the competition, but if she wins, Daddy Vick would be the first female-bodied daddy to hold the title. Her candidacy alone is sure to shake things up with leathermen who believe in upholding traditional roles — but her motives are pure.
"I'm not doing this to make a statement as a female daddy. I'm running because I think I'm a good daddy for the community," she says, meaning she cares about being a supportive, reliable father figure for those around her. The "working title" would help her foster change more effectively than her individual efforts.
Besides Folsom's Venus' Playground, there are no official social spaces intended for leatherwomen. This makes sharing communal bars and events incredibly important. Change is a slow process, but Daddy Vick says ample motivation is brewing in all corners, and — paired with the diffusion of kink — the space for growth can only flourish. Leather is opening into an umbrella term with the capacity to encompass multiple elements of fetish, and to further accept people of all genders, bodies, and preferences in any role.
In this respect, Daddy Vick thinks the SFgoL could play an important role. "It just takes people like Leland, coming in with a different energy. People who stand up in the crowd, see a need, and start organizing."
FOLLOW THE PINK BRICK ROAD
While leatherwomen made slow but steady strides in the past decade, those straddling the space between butch and femme — the girl space — began breaking ground for themselves, too. In 2003 an international Leather Girl Network was born, led by the Bay Area's Cheryl D. The group intended to mirror the already well-established leather boy community. Girls everywhere were giddy with possibilities.