Dutch Rubbermen

Our views on gender and sexual orientation at our events

Here we define the core “target group” for the activities organised by the Dutch Rubbermen and the Mr Rubber Netherlands Foundation. We make use of the definitions of the Gender bread person model.

Our target group is defined as individuals with an interest for latex, who have a gender identity on the spectrum from non-binary to man (the man-ness spectrum), and who are attracted to persons on the man-ness gender identity spectrum (including bisexual and pansexual individuals). To be clear, this definition equally includes cis, trans, and intersex individuals, since it does not make distinctions on anatomical sex on purpose. 

We continue using the names “Dutch Rubbermen” and “Mr Rubber Netherlands”, with the addition that the winner has full freedom to choose the honorific that best describes them (e.g., Mister, Mx, Ambassador).

We also reconfirm that we shall continue to engage and explore collaborations outside of our target affinity group, and to support others who want to create safe spaces for rubber fun.

Introduction

The Mr Rubber Netherlands (NL) Foundation and Dutch Rubbermen have organised community events since 2010 with the aim to create safe and fun spaces for gay men interested in latex to explore and understand their sexuality and kinks, support each other and build a stronger community. The founders were gay men with the wish to establish an affinity group for men attracted to men and who share a passion for latex.

In recent years, conversations about affinity vs inclusion of gender and sexual orientation have developed within the gay rubber scene worldwide. Several groups that were founded as affinity groups for gay men have recently expanded their focus and developed into all-gender and sometimes also all-sexual-orientation groups and titles (e.g., Melbourne Rubber and Chicago Rubber groups, the Rubber Spain Ambassador title). 

Seeing these developments, the board of Mr Rubber Netherlands Foundation and the Dutch Rubbermen core team have held several conversations on this subject. This document summarises our current views. We welcome all feedback and contributions to further shape our thoughts and – more importantly – to shape our events and community together.

Definitions

For clear definitions of terms like gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, sex, etc. we refer to the Genderbread Person (https://www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2018/10/the-genderbread-person-v4/).

Some history and our approach

The Mr Rubber Netherlands Foundation and Dutch Rubbermen have traditionally focused their activities on establishing an affinity-based community of gay men interested in latex in the Netherlands. As such, the yearly party following the Mr Rubber NL election has traditionally been a men-only event with strict rubber dress code. However, our Sunday afternoon rubber socials have always been characterised by no strict dress code, nor gender or sexual orientation restrictions for attendees, in order to create opportunities for a broader space.

In general, our approach is that we do like to take opportunities to create bridges and explore collaborations with groups and individuals outside of our core gay men focus, be it with regard to fetish, geography, gender or other factors. We like to try new things.

To mention some examples, with regard to fetish: to our knowledge we are the only rubber group that hosts social events together with the local BLUF group, bringing together fetish groups that are often (wrongly) seen as distant. In 2019, we took the initiative to organise the first multi-country rubber social event together with the Belgian Rubbermen, creating a bridge over the border.

With regard to gender identity and expression, over the years we have invited several influential women and non-binary persons to participate as judges to select our Mr Rubber Netherlands and to host our events. With regard to sexual orientation, heterosexual men (sometimes with their female partners) have attended our rubber socials and we had heterosexual and bisexual men compete for the Mr Rubber NL title.

Moreover, the Mr Rubber NL Foundation and Dutch Rubbermen fully supported the efforts of Mr Rubber NL 2019 to establish a Miss Rubber NL title and planned to contribute to the election event.

Affinity vs inclusion

Inclusion is “the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability)” [Merriam-Webster dictionary]. Inclusion is about including minorities with the objective to ensure that being part of a minority doesn’t exclude you from participating in society and to make sure that being part of a minority doesn’t rob you of equal opportunities.

An affinity group is “a group of people having a common interest or goal or acting together for a specific purpose” [Merriam-Webster dictionary]. Affinity groups provide a community that participants can personally identify with, especially when society excludes them to begin with. Affinity groups provide a safe space around a shared identity, supporting its exploration and development.

It is clear that the identity of an affinity group depends on the individuals and dynamics inside and around the group. Some groups have had members of mixed genders and sexuality for many years, while others not at all. Development does not happen in a vacuum, and a group name change is often the consequence of ongoing changes, rather than the main driver. 

Some key questions we asked ourselves are: how does an affinity group define its identity? How specific or broad should said group identity be? How inclusive can an affinity group be without losing its specificities and thus losing value for its members? And when is it better to have one broad affinity group vs multiple more specific affinity groups existing next to each other? 

We feel that inclusion does not necessarily mean bringing everybody inside the same house. Inclusion can also mean that people live in houses next to each other. And you can organise a party for the residents of a single house or for the whole neighborhood.

Local context

If we consider the dynamics in the Netherlands, we see plenty of events for heterosexuals to explore and live their kinks and fetishes, with markedly different dynamics and very little overlap with the gay fetish scene. The gay fetish scene focuses more on community and social aspects, which is not surprising considering the history and social issues faced. As such, we do not see the preconditions or needs to structurally expand our target group to include heterosexual persons.

When it comes to the group of people who are intersex or identify as non-binary, however, this is different. As Dutch Rubbermen we have always included and welcomed everyone who is male-presenting, whether they identify as male or non-binary. We were convinced this was known and evident to everybody who attended our events, also considering the returning visit of men of trans experience and non-binary individuals to our events. 

However, we have never communicated this explicitly and we realised that explicit communication can be instrumental to ensure that there are no doubts about the fact that all male-presenting individuals who are attracted to male-presenting individuals are in the core focus group of DRUM’s activities. 

In line with this, we decided to clarify in the rules of the Mr Rubber NL competition that the winner has full freedom to choose the honorific they think best describes them (e.g., Mister, Mx, Ambassador).

Conclusions

With several rubber groups and contests developing towards broader gender inclusion, including individuals that identify as female, we felt the need to review, define and explicitly communicate the views of Dutch Rubbermen and the Mr Rubber Netherlands contest.

Making use of the Gender bread person model, we define our target group as individuals with an interest for latex, who have a gender identity on the spectrum from non-binary to man (the man-ness spectrum), and who are attracted to persons on the man-ness gender identity spectrum (including bisexual and pansexual individuals). To be clear, this definition equally includes cis, trans, and intersex individuals, since it does not make distinctions on anatomical sex on purpose. 

For the time being, we do not change the identifiers of our group and events, and we shall continue using the names “Dutch Rubbermen” and “Mr Rubber Netherlands”, with the addition that the winner has full freedom to choose the honorific that best describes them (e.g., Mister, Mx, Ambassador).

We also reconfirm that we shall continue to engage and explore collaborations outside of our target affinity group, and to support others who want to create safe spaces for rubber fun.

We are very conscious that our communities are not static, but in constant change, and these views can change too, as this continues to be an area of focus for us. We realise that not everybody may share our views or conclusions and we welcome all constructive feedback and contributions.

We strive for the best and most fun community events around our shared love for rubber.