zack weiner (l) "A statement on the video" addressing private video circulating on Twitter (r)

ZackWeiner2021/Facebook @ELECTWEINER/Twitter

Leaked BDSM revenge porn of a New York politician upends election in last days

The New York Post slammed for publishing the picture of Zach Weiner.

 

Claire Goforth

IRL

Published Jun 21, 2021   Updated Jun 22, 2021, 10:52 am CDT

Last week, days before Tuesday’s municipal elections in New York City, an explicit video of city council candidate Zack Weiner started circulating online. The video has inspired conversations about kink, revenge porn, and the repercussions of growing up in the internet age.

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The video shows Weiner and an unidentified woman engaging in BDSM, a sexual practice that encompasses a variety of activity that includes bondage, discipline, submission, and dominance (also known as sadomasochism). In it, Weiner is bound and gagged with clothespins attached to his nipples. The woman appears to be a dominatrix. The room they’re in is what’s commonly known as a sex dungeon.

The platforms where the video was posted, Twitter and OnlyFans, by accounts with identical usernames and profile pictures, subsequently suspended the accounts, Motherboard reports.

In a statement released on Twitter, Weiner said that, while the footage was shared without his consent, he’s “not ashamed.”

“This was a recreational activity that I did with my friend at the time, for fun,” Weiner, 26, wrote. “Like many young people, I have grown into a world where some of our most private moments have been documented online.

“While a few loud voices on Twitter might chastise me for the video, most people see the video for what it is: a distraction.”

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Weiner alludes to commentary from conservatives pundits like Dinesh D’Souza, who tweeted disapprovingly about the video after the New York Post wrote a story about Weiner getting “caught with dominatrix in leaked porn video.”

The video of Weiner has shone a spotlight on the kink community, in which BDSM features prominently. While it remains somewhat countercultural and taboo, particularly among religious groups and conservatives, kink is becoming increasingly mainstream. The activity shown in the footage is among the lighter varieties of BDSM, much like that showcased in the 50 Shades franchise, which introduced millions to the practice.

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The growing acceptance, perhaps even embrace, of BDSM and kink was exemplified by the fact that far more people defended Weiner.

Many favorably compared Weiner to politicians who have been accused of illegal sexual conduct. “There are literally public officials fucking children. Why should I care about one in a consensual BDSM situation. It’s 2021. Fifty Shade of Gray was a literal thing a few years ago,” tweeted one.

If, as Weiner alleges, the video was released without his consent, he’s a victim of revenge porn. Under New York state law, it is criminal to share intimate images with the intent to harm.

Numerous online commentators opined that the Post was in the wrong for using an image from the video, which it reportedly learned of from Weiner’s campaign.

“There is nothing wrong with engaging in consensual BDSM. Leaking someone’s private sexual encounter for clicks, however, is pretty vile. I hope he sues you into non-existence,” tweeted @islandgoth, referring to the Post.

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“If I were writing about a video of somebody engaging in consenting sexual activity with another adult that was leaked against their will I wouldn’t say they were ‘caught.’ I’d say they were the victim of a sex crime. But I guess I’m different than the New York Post,” tweeted @limitlessjest. This tweet had four times as many likes as the Post’s tweet of the story to which it responded.

The video and Weiner’s response to it may have actually helped his campaign by introducing him to a wider audience and inspiring respect for the way he’s handled having an intimate moment broadcast to the world.

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As Weiner noted, young adults today haven’t known a time before the internet. They’ve spent their lives online, sharing things and experiences in their youth that later in life they may regret. Or perhaps not. As Millennials and Zoomers age, the more commonplace, and thus normalized, it will be to have a permanent living record of youthful missteps, experiments, and transgressions.

Certainly there should and always will be a line delineating the acceptable from the intolerable, but perhaps the reaction to Weiner’s sex tape is showing that people are more accepting of a wider range of behaviors than many would like to believe.

Weiner’s campaign is hosting a rally Monday night. The New York City election takes place on Tuesday.

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*First Published: Jun 21, 2021, 12:35 pm CDT