Kink Critical

Can we really be unquestioningly kink-positive?

Your kink is not my kink. These days, sex positivity pervades debates, slowly liberating people who want to take charge of their own sexuality. As a result of this Good Move, it’s appropriate, now, to back off the moment someone mentions their sexual preference, because one doesn’t want to shut minorities out of the conversation. The mainstream is increasingly accepting of less conventional approaches to sexuality, some more than others (BDSM is currently trendy, asexuality is not). Society chooses to listen, rather than to talk. It’s extraordinary, and admirable. It enriches discussion, and our understanding of other people. But when we agree that Brian’s kink is not Mary’s kink, and assume that Brian, therefore, ought not to question Mary’s kink, are we shutting down a discussion that needs to be had?

Some middle ground must exist between oppressing less mainstream preferences and the unquestioning acceptance of various kinks. Take, for example, the widely publicized ‘most common female fantasy’ – rape. This idea is thrown around to justify any number of means; the sinister belief that all women are secretly ‘asking for it’, that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ and we’re all looking to be dominated. An idea that, regrettably, permeates the collective consciousness, albeit often in subtle ways. It perpetuates the idea of women as submissive – we don’t ask the chicken-or-egg question here: are women submissive because they’re taught from birth that that’s the proper way for girls to be?

In the case of the rape fantasy: little girls grow up inundated by messages telling them they ought to be submissive, they ought to please, to take up as little space as possible and cause as little fuss as they can. Is it any wonder that, as grown women, the majority seem to lean towards a more passive sexuality? If you’re taught not to ask for what you want, it makes sense that the most intense fantasy available would be one in which a women is passive.

Another theory is that the rape fantasy is a response to the everyday threat of rape. Most women are aware that they could be raped at any point; we adapt our lifestyles to minimize the time in which we walk home alone at night, and wear grubby coats over our dresses to avoid attention. We don’t make eye contact with strange men, because some men see that as an invitation to sit next to us and talk up close in our faces; to follow us down the street crying out that we’re bitches and sluts, and they’re just trying to be friendly, and why have we got to be such fucking cunts, suck my dick etc etc. Some men throw rape rhetoric around for laughs – hollering out of cars at lone women, giggling with the power that comes with being a genuinely terrifying threat. Perhaps the rape fantasy is simply a coping mechanism in the face of that fear. A way to rehearse what seems inevitable, to numb the fear of a life ruined by rape. For these are the ideas we’re fed: it is likely that you will be raped, and rape is likely to ruin your life. Damaged goods. You’ll never get over it.

Your kink is not my kink. We accept the rape fantasy, and other preferences, as natural and normal; we explain that women are naturally submissive, there’s nothing wrong with fantasy. It’s true – there isn’t, and consenting adults ought not to be boxed in by the limits of ‘vanilla’ sex. Nevertheless, ‘kink critical/positive’ may not have much of a ring to it, but the discussion still needs to go further.

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