My recent weekend at Eroticon brought up many new ideas and made more neural connections in my mind than I can process quickly. One of those thought-threads was about Identity since that is the title of the anthology generated by those at the event – buy it here and from that grew this blog post about the impact of discovering and then owning being kinky. I still have an issue with some of the ideas around this particular identity but Eroticon helps me to realise that we are all just people and that it is OK to think about smut a lot of the time!!
What does it mean to identify as kinky? Even writing those words are difficult for me. From childhood one of the worse things someone could call you was a pervert – a dirty old man or far more horrible, a dirty old woman.
If you have a moment of honesty though I think most of us could admit to finding something arousing or erotic that others find simply odd or even distasteful. At that point, and in that moment we are on the kinky side of the slash and they are on the ‘normal’ or vanilla side. For many of us this is problematic, I know it was for me, so problematic infact that rather than openly admit to desires or fantasies I buried them first for years and retreated from the idea of myself as a sexual creature. Society also encourages this retreat as we age and move through life events such as family-making, with its discomfort around women’s sexuality, the Madonna/Whore split, and a general ickiness with regard to the idea of older people, possibly our parents, being sexually active and lustful. It seems right to do this and yet we live with the loss of connection to this important life-giving part of ourselves. Life loses its sparkle and we wonder ‘Is this it?’
Coming out as kinky implies a certain sense of acceptance of our whole selves and of others that we may struggle to match emotionally at times. As we enter this world and discover that there is so much more present here than we ever thought and more shockingly, that in some people’s minds what we find erotic is as shocking to them as we find someone calling a sexual partner Daddy or wanting to be beaten with a cane until the welts has risen red and raw on their backside. It is disorientating and we can struggle to recognise ourselves here.
I remember going on Fetlife for the first time and finding the language, the images, the desires expressed and even celebrated, so shocking. The pictures leapt off the screen, women and men in chains, hobbled, shackled, beaten, hooded, red bottomed and, most strangely, grinning with enjoyment. The comments under the images congratulatory and admiring about bruising and marks, remarking on endurance and creativity and no shame anywhere to be seen or felt as far as I could see. The personal autonomy and sense of ownership of sexuality was a revelation to me. The idea that women might masturbate for their own enjoyment possibly even whilst lying next to their partner with NO REQUIREMENT that they reserve this act for them or for when with them literally ate away at my concept of how relationships should be. The idea that in order to submit you had to have ownership of yourself in the first place rocked my world.
My understanding of people broadened as I embraced the concept of *YKINMKBYKIOK – *your kink is not my kink but your kink is OK. My whole approach to life was transformed by this when conjoined to the concept of Consent- ie the freedom to do what you want with whomever you want as long as permission is sought and given. It was heady stuff and still is. My conventional self will still not feel comfortable in the kink uniform of black and red with tattoos and piercings. It simply is not my style. But I will stand alongside my people and fight the new purity culture that seems to be headed our way because of a moral panic about what adults might do if they could and I guess that is fundamentally what has changed for me. I know which side of that particular argument I am on and why I consider it to be important. It is about liberty, autonomy and the right to be ourselves.