Objections To Kink Sunday, Mar 28 2010 

Today’s theme is the feminist objection to kink, “BDSM eroticises power disparities”.
This would be a reasonable complaint, did it not demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect. BDSM doesn’t cause the eroticisation of power disparities: people erotisise power disparities and therefore engage in BDSM.
The existence of kink didn’t make me kinky. The existence of me made me seek out kink. I am me, and part of me is that I erotisise power disparities. In fact, I fetishise power disparities. I have never had an orgasm without thinking about power. Given the existence of people like me, the existence of some kind of community of us is inevitable. One of those communities is the subculture and flavour of activities known as BDSM. But BDSM is just a convenient name for what some people like to do.
When you object to the eroticisation of power, you object to me.
That hurts. That really fucking hurts. I cannot change my sexuality. I cannot escape from my kinkiness. It wouldn’t even occur to me to want to if it weren’t for the people telling me I’m sick, because my sexuality ties in completely with the rest of me. How I interact sexually with the world is all of a piece with how I interact platonically with the world. My focus on power and heirarchy, my use of these concepts to understand interpersonal relationships, is not confined to the bedroom.
When you say that BDSM is wrong because it focuses on power disparities, you are telling me not to exist.
Ow. That hurts. Stop it.

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Fantasy Versus Desire Saturday, Mar 27 2010 

There’s a really important distinction to be made between a fantasy, and something you actually want to do.
A fantasy is something that turns you on, that gets you aroused. It can be anything from a single image to a epic storyline in surround sound. Something in your imagination that makes your libido happy. But that’s all it is.
Fantasising about something isn’t the same as wanting to do it. Maybe you fantasise about it, but know that in real life, it wouldn’t be fun – I’ve got some of them myself, because in real life I get bored easily, but it could as easily be because you don’t really want your consent to be violated, or your body permanently marked, or to be seen having sex in public. It’s fun to imagine, but in real life, it wouldn’t be.
Or maybe, like me, you fantasise about things that your conscience will not let you actually do. You’d enjoy them. These aren’t the kind of fantasies that pall in real life: these are the ones that would be so good your head would explode. I have fantasies like that, things that turn me on to a huge degree that I’d never act out, because I’m a sadist. Nothing wrong with that. But no matter how hot kidnap and torture would be, I’m not going to do it, because kidnap and torture are wrong.
It’s pretty simple, really. I can have arousing thoughts without being compelled to act on them. Indeed, I am not compelled to act on any thoughts I have. I can dream up elaborate and detailed erotic stories, which in my case are likely to be quite violent and nonconsensual, without feeling the slightest wish to do them or have them done to me.
To fantasise about something is not the same as to desire it. It seems a subtle distinction, but it’s very important.

Fetishes, Kinks and Squicks – Describing Sexuality Wednesday, Mar 17 2010 

So here’s what I’m thinking.
Every person has a unique sexuality. We all like and dislike different things. We all find different things sexy. We all experience different things as sexual. We’re all attracted to different things. Those differences aren’t necessarily large – most (but not all) people think orgasms are fun, for instance. But the differences add up, so that you can’t safely generalise between people.
Now, the way my brain works leads me to want to be able to talk about these differences, and one of the first things I do when I want to talk about something is to start defining things. It’s a lot easier to say “I prefer milk chocolate” than “I prefer confections made from the bean of the cacao tree when they contain cow’s milk and a higher percentage of sugar than the milk-free varieties”. If you’ve got to explain what chocolate is every time you want to use it in a sentence, it gets really hard to talk about chocolate. And sex is a lot more important than chocolate.

So I’m thinking about the components of sexuality and I think one way of looking at it is to think about fetishes, kinks and squicks.
A fetish is something that must be present in real or imagined form in order for you to experience something as sex. That’s actually a really strong concept. A fetish isn’t something you like, it’s something that you need before you feel as though you are having sex. I think one’s own arousal, and one’s own consent, whether or not that’s been communicated, are pretty universal fetishes.
A kink is something you like, and that can be an object or a situation or an activity or pretty much anything. Anything you find sexy, that’s something you kink on. I kink on male bodies, on rope, on bondage, on penis-in-vagina, on certain hairstyles. None of them need to be present, but they’re really sexy. They turn me on. Every sexual person has kinks, because a kink isn’t necessarily something weird, it’s just something that turns you on. Most straight guys kink on breasts, and there’s nothing weird or wrong about liking breasts, but it’s still a kink.
A squick is something that turns you off. Maybe you find it disgusting or humiliating or stressful – in a bad way – maybe for no reason you can explain, it’s just unpleasant. But it’s something whose real or imagined presence is anti-sexy. A lot of people find urine to be an active turn-off, for instance. (The word ‘squick’ is drawn from fandom, where it means something that provokes any strong negative emotion.)

It’s important to note that these three components of sexuality have one big invisible counterpart: everything else. You take the world and you draw three circles on it, your kinks, your fetishes if you have any, and your squicks, and that’s not the whole world. There’s a lot of stuff outside those circles and those things are simply non-sexual to you. You just don’t care about them. If your partner wants to include them in sex you’re not going to care very much, because they don’t turn you off – but they don’t turn you on, either. For instance, I find chairs to be completely non-sexual objects. I don’t get aroused by the presence of a chair, but neither am I turned off by them. I just don’t care about chairs. If my partner want to keep a chair in the bedroom because he kinks on the proximity of a chair, that’s fine by me. Comversely, if for whatever reason he really hates chairs, and finds the idea of fucking in the same room as a chair to be a complete turnoff – we’ll get rid of the chair, and that’s fine too. I have no opinion about the chair, because the chair is not included in my sexuality.

I personally find this set of four categories – fetishes, kinks, squicks, and non-sexual things – to be really useful in understanding my own sexuality. It helps me to think about things, because I can classify the components of my desires and my fantasies and that in turn means I know what to do about them. If I fetishise X, then I’m only going to be sexually compatible with people who are happy to do X all the time, which means they either fetishise it themsleves, kink on it, or find it non-sexual but also non-intrusive. If I have a fetish for wearing socks while I fuck, that’s not going to be a major barrier to compatability, because even people who find socks uninteresting are probably not going to mind if I wear socks, especially once they know how important socks are to me. On the other hand, if I have a fetish for scat, that’s going to seriously restrict my options because involving faeces every single time we fuck is going to be unacceptable to a lot of people. But what if I don’t fetishise scat, I just kink on it? Well, that’s a very different situation. There are, I’m guessing, many more people who are happy to involve faeces once in a while, especially if anal penetration satisfies that kink for me.

So this way of looking at sexuality leads to some fairly simple compatability rules. You have to be okay with your partners fetishes, and vice versa, and that specifically means being willing to cater to that fetish all or almost all the time. You also have to be okay with each others squicks, which means being willing to avoid them all or almost all the time. And it’s probably going to help if you kink on some of the same things, and are willing to do some (for you) non-sexual things once in a while if your partner kinks on them.

This Is Not A Lifestyle Wednesday, Mar 17 2010 

Lifestyle. It’s not a lifestyle. DOMINANT isn’t something you just are, boss at work and boss at home and boss of the dog. submissive isn’t something you just are, all the time, always the little meek obedient one. It’s a game. It’s a game we play in the bedroom. You don’t get to tell me how to play. You don’t get to tell me that I’m not a real elf unless I’m an elf all the time because, well, yeah. Of course I’m not a real elf. I just like playing pretend. Of course I’m not a real DOM. I’m just playing pretend. There is no real DOM. Real doesn’t come into it, real is the wrong question. I’m not a paladin but I’m a damn good paladin when I want to be. I’m not a sub but I’m a damn good sub when I want to be. It’s a game. It’s a role. Nobody is really what they’re being. We’re just playing pretend.

Call Me Sir Wednesday, Mar 17 2010 

I want men to call me Sir. Oh yes. Want it so very much because I’m not a ma’am, ma’am grates on the ears and nobody says it right. If you’re going to say ma’am say marm. But don’t say marm. Say sir. Marm is schoolteacher, is governess, is little lady, is secondary to her man. Don’t call me madam either, madam is a prostitute and is still secondary. Don’t call me mistress. I’m not your mistress, I’m not your bit on the side, I’m not yours. Call me sir. I’m in charge. I’m the boss. I’m Sir and you do what I say. I’m the officer and I’m the CEO and I’m the torturer who’s broken you so badly that you call me Sir even while you hate me, oh yes. I want men to call me Sir because that’s got a bit of respect in it. Sir doesn’t mean anything except respect. Ma’am means you don’t even respect me enough to use consonants. None of that around here. I’m Sir to you.