Sometimes your kink is NOT okay

Originally posted on Tumblr

Sometimes I think a lot of kinksters just expect everyone to drop whatever critical lens they may have upon entering the public scene. “Your kink is okay” is drilled into people as a way of making room for the wide variety of things that fall under the kink/fetish/BDSM umbrella. It’s a useful thing to remember when you encounter things that squick you, or that just hold no appeal. Just because it’s not your kink doesn’t mean it’s bad.

But what about when you’re pretty sure that someone’s kink is *not* okay? Are we supposed to drop our ethics or our ideologies? Are we supposed to behave like once the leather and latex come out then we’ve entered a critique-free zone? Is BDSM the key to a mythical, objective, ideology-free world? That what some folks seem to think.

“If you don’t like it, then don’t participate,” they’ll say. “It’s not your place to judge.” As if scenes, fetishes, and relationships existed in a void, neither affected by nor affecting anything not directly connected to them.

But sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, misogyny and all the systems of oppression within which we live don’t miraculously disintegrate once you enter the dungeon. We can still engage in problematic behaviors under the guise of BDSM.

That race play scene may have been the best thing ever for the people involved, but it could still bring up very real memories and fears for the people who saw or heard it. And even if race play is your kink, that doesn’t mean that it’s not fair game for analysis, for wondering how actual racism interacts with it.

You may have a fetish for corrupting young girls, but your swooping down on every young woman who is a newcomer still reeks of rape culture.

“Forced bi” activities might get you hard as a rock, but they still interact with, and possibly reinforce, homophobia and biphobia.

Sissification may be where you feel most at peace, but it still plays off of misogyny, transphobia and transmisogyny.

You might buy into a kink fandom built on the idea that women should be submissive and men dominant, but the fact that it’s your kink doesn’t make it not sexist.

And you’re right. People who have problems with these things don’t have to play with those people. It’s true. But the effects of the prejudices that are interwoven with these kinks don’t dissipate just because they happen to turn someone on. They still work to create an environment that’s often not welcoming to the people most affected by types of oppressions that inform the kinks. And as long as that’s happening, then “Don’t judge. It’s just not your kink,” doesn’t cut it for me. I will critique. I will criticize. I will bring my full self, ethics, ideology, and all, to any situation. I may take my glasses off to fuck, but my critical lens stays in place.

And maybe you don’t like that. Maybe you think I’m harshing your mellow judgment free zone. And that’s fine. But critique is my kink. And my kink is okay, right?

Living Antimilitarism in the Kink Community

I wrote this for FetLife a few months ago, but I thought it would fit just as well here.


I’ve been wondering lately how to best respond to the assumption that I support and respect the police and military. Messages of support for the troops are seen by so many as apolitical, when I experience them as anything but. As an anarchist and pacifist, the insinuation that others act on the myth of redemptive violence on my behalf is not simply insulting, it turns my stomach. Being in the kink scene offers its own unique difficulties in dealing with this.

So much of the current BDSM culture has its roots in leather culture, which in turn has roots in the military and military culture. Despite not being leather myself, I recognize that it does make up a large part of and inform the BDSM culture as a whole. Beyond that, the BDSM scene is a microcosm of the larger culture it’s in, and so the prevalence of veneration of soldiers and police in the subculture is going to be seen in proportion to that in the rest of the culture. However, given the smallness of the kink scene, one runs a much greater risk by vocally opposing that veneration. Given the intimacy of what we do and what we talk about, a difference this stark could easily stand in the way of that intimacy.

So when I’m confronted with things like a celebration of a warship on my local group’s listserv (as one example), I see it has highly political, while most others see it as transcending political boundaries. It would be like if I were to send something celebrating members of the Animal Liberation Front‘s evasion of capture. How then do I remain authentically engaged while pointing out that my own foundational stories put such a celebration on par with celebrations of gang warfare and mafia extortion? Is this a situation where it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie? I don’t think so, as it only encourages the assumption that everyone buys into the myth of redemptive violence. But with such a charged topic, to simply say that I oppose state violence and am offended by it means that I’ll likely end up either enduring a string of invective meant to show me how very wrong I am or have to explain a hundred different points that lead up to my own pacifism before we’re even able to find common ground from which to dialogue.

It’s tough. And since I do value individuals who have been in the military, explaining the line between respecting them as individuals and not respecting the institution they gave themselves over to is very tricky and fraught with pitfalls. To refrain from doing so, however, feels as though I’m being inauthentic, and not giving my real, full self to the relationship and the dialogue, and to do that feels like a worse fate than risking offense.