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Apr 22 2013

An Open Letter To People Concerned About Kink

You gotta love it when people shame each other, in the name of opposing shame.

No, not “love.” What’s that other word.

As regular readers know, I’ve been posting excerpts here from my kinky erotic fiction book, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” (Now for sale on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords!) Yesterday’s excerpt was from a story titled “The Shame Photos,” which read thusly:

Here’s how it begins: a photographer, and a woman in her thirties or early forties. He is a porn photographer who sometimes does other professional work; she is a professional woman who sometimes looks at porn photos. They meet in some business capacity: a conference, or a corporate shoot. They talk. His camera is on the hotel bar next to their untouched drinks.

“No, it’s not that,” she says. “I like your photos. They’re good. They’re very hot. It’s just…”

“What?” he says. He’s defensive, a little prickly, and also more than a little curious. Apart from critics, not too many people tell him to his face what they think of his work. Or what, precisely, it is that they want from their porn and are not getting. This could be illuminating.

“Well,” she says. “You have these lovely photos of these — scenarios. The women licking someone’s shoes, or dressed up like ponies, or what have you. But they always look sort of — posed. The faces are all wrong. They’re too relaxed, too composed. For the things they’re doing — it’s all wrong.”

“What do you want to see in their faces?”

She doesn’t hesitate. “I want to see shame.”

“Say that again.”

So when I posted a link to this excerpt on Facebook, with an excerpt from the excerpt, I got the following responses. (I’m not going to quote their names, since people have a somewhat higher expectation of privacy on Facebook than they do elsewhere online.)

Luckily, I have never found shame sexually appealing at all.

To which I responded: I don’t consider it unlucky to be kinky, or to have the particular kinks that I have. A lot of people eroticize shame: I’m not the only one. Is there some reason you find it “lucky” to not find shame sexually appealing?

And then I got the following (from two different people, not the original commenter, making a total of three people expressing basically the same sentiment in the course of about eight hours):

“Is there some reason you find it ‘lucky’ to not find shame sexually appealing?” A disinclination for people to feel ashamed, perhaps. I don’t like for people to feel shame.

I have a concern about shame being eroticised. It’s that I just worry it’s psychologically unhealthy. If it isn’t then hey whatever.

Sigh.

Okay. Let me spell this out, as patiently as I possibly can.

I am entirely happy to consensually eroticize shame in my sexual fantasies and my sex life. It is a central part of my sexuality, it makes me happy, and I am at peace with it.

But I don’t appreciate being non-consensually shamed about my sexuality.

Consensual SM — including the consensual eroticization of shame — is just as psychologically healthy as any other consensual sexuality. There’s a significant body of evidence backing this up, and a large community of happy, healthy kinksters who will testify to it. Again: I don’t consider it “unlucky” to be kinky, or to have the particular kinks that I have. A lot of people eroticize shame: I’m not the only one. And I find it troubling that people would not only consider themselves “lucky” to not find shame sexually appealing… but would say this to kinky people, to their faces, in a space dedicated to talking about their kink.

These are people who would almost certainly not tell gay people that they consider themselves “lucky” not to be gay, or that they are “concerned” about their gayness. But kinky people, apparently, can’t expect get the same kind of respect.

This sort of “concern” for the people who practice it, however well-meaning, is part of what stigmatizes us and marginalizes us. It makes it harder to live our lives. Please stop it. Thank you.

29 comments

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  1. 1
    smhll

    This may be a tough topic for atheists because of how much IRL shame is inculcated by religion.

  2. 2
    mythbri

    Shame was a huge barrier that I had to overcome in order to think it was okay for me to even have sex, and to enjoy it. It’s not for me, but who am I to tell other people what turns them on or not?

  3. 3
    nonnie

    I’ve definitely felt/feel shame around kinks I have, but there’s something pretty meta about feeling shameful of a shame kink.. I feel unlucky that I’ve had to struggle with shame over my sexuality. I feel unlucky that I’ve had to keep it totally secret. I feel especially unlucky that I’ve had to worry over the various things it could mean about me that this weird thing gets me off. So when I hear about even stranger, more taboo, more difficult to realize kinks, I feel lucky that I don’t have them.

    Although usually that’s in the context of a sad, confused savage love letter. In contexts like this I’m more happy and envious that other people are so well-adjusted.

  4. 4
    Pain Strumpet

    I’m pretty open about being a masochist. When someone I’m talking with asks how I got to be this way, I shrug and say, “The nervous system came with the body. I didn’t program the buttons, but I’m very damn glad that I learned how to get them hit.”

    It only took until I was 35 years old. If I consider myself at all unlucky, it’s that I lost ~20 years of pleasure, not even knowing what was missing.

    I wish everyone were lucky enough to know what turns them on, and to find a way to safely, sanely, and consensually get it.

    – emc

  5. 5
    AgeOfReasonXXI

    I can see why ‘concern’ of this sort might be stigmatizing and marginalizing, but I guess for most people such ‘eroticization of shame’ is bizarre (to say the least).
    Also, It’s true that ‘these people would almost certainly not tell gay people that they consider themselves “lucky”’, that doesn’t mean they don’t actually believe it, though.

  6. 6
    Kim Rippere

    Many people don’t understand kink, it is different, it is other…so, something easily judged. I think most would be surprised by how deeply “kinksters” understand their kink, what drives them and why, and how much nonkink time is spent in kink world!

  7. 7
    Ariel

    And I find it troubling that people would not only consider themselves “lucky” to not find shame sexually appealing… but would say this to kinky people, to their faces, in a space dedicated to talking about their kink. [...]
    This sort of “concern” for the people who practice it, however well-meaning, is part of what stigmatizes us and marginalizes us. It makes it harder to live our lives. Please stop it. Thank you.

    I’m not completely sure how to understand Greta’s words and what exactly should be stopped. In effect my question to Greta is: what is it that you consider ok, and what is off limits to you? The basic possibilities are:

    (1) Considering oneself lucky to not find shame sexually appealing.
    (2) (1) with saying this to kinky people.
    (3) (1) together with (2), all in a special space where kinky people talk about their kink.

    After reading your text, my impression was that you are asking for (3) to stop (which, by the way, is perfectly fine with me). But I’m not completely sure about your intention, hence my question. In particular, are you ok with (2) in other spaces, like open discussion sites, or is this also off limits in your opinion?

  8. 8
    freemage

    Ariel: Honestly, I’d even say #1 is a bit presumptuous–as others note above, feeling ‘lucky’ not to share a kink is to cast a judgement on that kink as undesirable. There’s a few kinks that would genuinely be ‘unlucky’ to have, in that they cross boundaries in such a way as to make it impossible for the kink to be fully realized in an ethical fashion–the closest you could ever get is a role-play fantasy based around the kink; any attempt to make it more ‘real’ (and thus, more fulfilled) is going to result in crossing an ethical line, and more than likely a well-justified legal one as well.*

    Outside of that, though, there is no reason to feel ‘lucky’ that you don’t share a particular kink, any more than there is to feel ‘lucky’ that you do. The fortune is in being able to accept and express the kinks you do have, not their possession or non-possession.

    And since #1 is problematic, any expression of it is going to be extremely presumptuous, regardless of the context. At most, the only time you should tell someone that you feel lucky not to share their kink is when they’ve explicitly solicited your opinion.

  9. 9
    Greta Christina

    I’m not completely sure how to understand Greta’s words and what exactly should be stopped. In effect my question to Greta is: what is it that you consider ok, and what is off limits to you? The basic possibilities are:

    (1) Considering oneself lucky to not find shame sexually appealing.
    (2) (1) with saying this to kinky people.
    (3) (1) together with (2), all in a special space where kinky people talk about their kink.

    #1 is not okay. This attitude comes from a mistaken understanding of kink, and consciously or unconsciously, it affects people’s behavior in ways that do harm. And not just towards kinky people, either (although largely towards them). The idea that it would be sad or unlucky to have a certain consensual and harmless sexual orientation, and that other people’s consensual and harmless sexual activities are any of your business, is one of the more toxic elements of our sexual culture.

    #2 is not okay, unless your honest and unvarnished opinion is specifically solicited by a kinky person. Even then, I think it should be prefaced with, “I know this isn’t right, but…” Saying that you think it’s lucky to not find shame sexually appealing is saying that it would be unlucky to do so. It non-consensually shames kinky people, tells us that our sexuality is sad and unlucky, and it serves to marginalize us.

    #3 is not okay. #2 is bad enough, for reasons explained above. It’s bad enough to tell kinky people that there’s something wrong and sad and unlucky about being kinky. It’s worse to do so in a space where kinky people are celebrating their sexuality. Most of the world is a place where kinky people get judged and (non-consensually) shamed: we don’t have much space of our own to discuss and explore and celebrate our sexuality, free from that judgment. Coming into one of those spaces and bringing that judgment is invasive.

    So the answer is: All of the above.

  10. 10
    Greta Christina

    I can see why ‘concern’ of this sort might be stigmatizing and marginalizing, but I guess for most people such ‘eroticization of shame’ is bizarre (to say the least).

    AgeOfReasonXXI @ #5: Yes. I understand that. That’s why I wrote this piece: to educate people.

    Also, It’s true that ‘these people would almost certainly not tell gay people that they consider themselves “lucky”’, that doesn’t mean they don’t actually believe it, though.

    I know some of the commenters (online, anyway) who made these comments, and I’m pretty sure they don’t hold that opinion about gay people even in the slightest. But even if some of them did, I don’t think they would say so… and I definitely don’t think they would say so to gay people’s faces. I think there are stages in the process of getting over bigotry… and one of those is the stage where you still have your bigoted beliefs, but you understand that other people think your bigotry is uncool and fucked-up, and you’re kind of embarrassed about it and realize that it’s probably not okay, and you keep your mouth shut about it. And you especially keep your mouth shut about it when talking to the people your bigotry is directed at.

  11. 11
    Ariel

    Freemage #8 and Greta #9

    Ariel: Honestly, I’d even say #1 is a bit presumptuous–as others note above, feeling ‘lucky’ not to share a kink is to cast a judgement on that kink as undesirable.

    Yeah, I guess so.

    There’s a few kinks that would genuinely be ‘unlucky’ to have … etc.

    Also: Greta’s answer to my #1.

    I understand that you think #1 is based on a mistake. However, even if I had doubts about this, trying to discuss them here would be (imo) explicitly against Greta’s plea from her open letter. I assume that her blog is one of the spaces she mentioned and I respect her wish not to have it here.

    And since #1 is problematic, any expression of it is going to be extremely presumptuous, regardless of the context. At most, the only time you should tell someone that you feel lucky not to share their kink is when they’ve explicitly solicited your opinion.

    Also:

    #2 is not okay, unless your honest and unvarnished opinion is specifically solicited by a kinky person. Even then, I think it should be prefaced with, “I know this isn’t right, but…” Saying that you think it’s lucky to not find shame sexually appealing is saying that it would be unlucky to do so. It non-consensually shames kinky people, tells us that our sexuality is sad and unlucky, and it serves to marginalize us.

    Then I’m afraid I have to disagree (rather strongly), at least on a certain reading. Even if #1 is problematic, your conclusion (i.e. that #1 shouldn’t be freely expressed in an open space by someone who sincerely believes it) doesn’t follow. I think that public discussion should be an admissible (if not the default) way to deal with such problematic opinions, especially that – as far as I can see – the kinky world is little known to the wider public (less known than gays and lesbians). Any attempt to silence such opinions in public spaces should (again in my opinion) be preceded by a free discussion of what’s wrong with them. Your approach makes it impossible: you are not going to have such a free discussion if you decree in advance that expressing such opinions should stop now, everywhere. This will leave you either with no one to discuss with (at best you will have answers like mine from the previous paragraph), or – which is far more probable in practice – with a lot of angry backlash: a flame war instead of a discussion. Sorry, I understand your reasons and your good intentions, but … intention is not magic.

    One last remark. Maybe I misinterpreted you and all you wanted to say was: if you know that a given person is kinky, you shouldn’t say #1 (in this form) to this person, even on an open forum. If that was your intended meaning, please forget my previous paragraph: obviously the same content can be expressed in a different, perhaps less offensive wording, making discussion possible.

  12. 12
    Greta Christina

    I think that public discussion should be an admissible (if not the default) way to deal with such problematic opinions, especially that – as far as I can see – the kinky world is little known to the wider public (less known than gays and lesbians). Any attempt to silence such opinions in public spaces should (again in my opinion) be preceded by a free discussion of what’s wrong with them. Your approach makes it impossible: you are not going to have such a free discussion if you decree in advance that expressing such opinions should stop now, everywhere. This will leave you either with no one to discuss with (at best you will have answers like mine from the previous paragraph), or – which is far more probable in practice – with a lot of angry backlash: a flame war instead of a discussion.

    Ariel @ #11:

    Sigh.

    How many times does this have to be explained?

    I am not advocating “silencing,” or making public discussion not “admissible.” I am saying: This opinion is wrong, and it is harmful. I am responding to the expression of false and harmful ideas with education. I am responding to speech with my own speech.

    People have the right to do things that are nevertheless not right to do. People have the right to say that black people are intellectually inferior to white people; that gay people lead amoral and miserable lives; that women’s brains are inherently incapable of coping with abstract thought. And they have the right to say that kink is unhealthy, and that people who are kinky are unlucky. It is nevertheless not right to say these things. These ideas are false, and they do serious harm. They spread false ideas, they marginalize people, they do emotional injury to the people the ideas are directed at. And when people express them, I am going to say, “That’s messed-up, and saying it does real harm — please stop saying it.”

  13. 13
    Ariel

    People have the right to do things that are nevertheless not right to do. People have the right to say that black people are intellectually inferior to white people; that gay people lead amoral and miserable lives; that women’s brains are inherently incapable of coping with abstract thought. And they have the right to say that kink is unhealthy, and that people who are kinky are unlucky. It is nevertheless not right to say these things.

    Oh my.

    Please, don’t do this to me. It was not about legal rights. I think that someone who sincerely believes in #1 has a moral right to voice his opinion in a public place. I think that the plea “stop saying it” should appear after a long discussion with such a person, not at the start. I think that it’s dangerous and wrong to start with such a plea, as only too often it can be used as an excuse for dog piling.

    Greta, I’m one of you. Not ready to discuss the details in public, but … yeah. However, if I meet you in a public place, seeing you starting with high moral ground and all this “that’s messed up, stop saying it”, I will not support you.

  14. 14
    Timid Atheist

    I’m a bit boggled by Ariel. At first I couldn’t quite figure out what ze was trying to convey, but with that last comment I’m guessing it’s something along the lines of, “Don’t tell people they’re wrong because then they won’t change their opinions?”

    If so? I disagree completely in every way possible. A bigot does not get to be coddled. If they can’t do the right thing and manage their own bigotry then there’s nothing else to do. That’s like telling a black person to be nice to white people because if they are, maybe, eventually, that white person will come around to see that the black person really IS a person. That is seriously disturbing to me. You don’t get to be coddled for holding terrible opinions. It’s wrong to have racists, sexist, homophobic opinions, full stop. Coddling those people does nothing but hurt the people they are biased against.

  15. 15
    antialiasis

    I can’t help suspecting there’s a kind of circular logic behind remarks like that – “Gosh, I’d hate to get off on this, because it makes me uncomfortable”, without realizing that if they [i]did[/i] get off on it they wouldn’t be so uncomfortable with it, or at least not in the same way.

  16. 16
    Nentuaby

    Ariel, you appear to be proposing the rule “do not object to a widespread, publicly broadcast opinion except: on an individual, after detailed discussion, in private.” Do you understand how massively this putative rule of good conduct tilts the playing field toward status quo?

  17. 17
    Greta Christina

    Ariel @ #13: I didn’t simply issue the edict “don’t say these things” with no explanation. I explained, in this very piece (as well as on Facebook), why people shouldn’t say these things. I explained that these ideas were mistaken; I explained that these ideas, and the open expression of them, did harm, and how. And it was in the context of that explanation that I asked people to stop: not just to stop expressing these ideas, but also to stop holding them.

    If people want to have a further discussion about this topic, I’m willing to do so. (Assuming that I have the time and energy at the moment.) If people want to talk about the research on the emotional healthiness of kink, for instance, or if they want to hear more from kinky people about our experiences of our sexuality as well as our marginalization, I’m willing and indeed happy to have those conversations. But I am not willing to do that if it starts with the foundation that other people in the conversation can tell me how sick and sad I am… and that I should sit there politely, and listen, and have a civil dialogue, while they do it.

    Are you thinking that my tactics are ineffective? I can tell you that one of the three people who made one of these comments has already apologized on Facebook. The education worked: not only the education about the emotional healthiness of kink, but the education about why marginalizing us is bad.

    If your threshold for this crap is higher than mine, fine. If you want to go through five or ten rounds of “this is why your ideas are mistaken and harmful” before you add “so please stop holding them and expressing them,” fine. But it is not up to you to tell other kinky people how much time we have to give folks who are bigoted against us before we tell them to knock it off.

    And I’m not talking about legal rights, either. There are things that people have the moral right to do, which are still not right to do. The moral right to express bigoted opinions is one of them.

  18. 18
    Ariel

    Ok, I cooled down. There are still points of disagreement. We won’t resolve them today (maybe never), so … just a last attempt to state them. And apologies for not making my perspective clear earlier (at the start I wanted to avoid it altogether, which wasn’t a good idea).

    A minor point first (no disagreement here, just a remark).

    I explained, in this very piece (as well as on Facebook), why people shouldn’t say these things.

    I think that your explanation was part of what triggered me. Sorry Greta, but it was very official and leaflet-like. I react badly when someone sounds like reading a textbook aloud; but I’m ready to admit that it was an overreaction on my part. You are willing to have further conversations – great. I really appreciate it.

    But I am not willing to do that if it starts with the foundation that other people in the conversation can tell me how sick and sad I am… and that I should sit there politely, and listen, and have a civil dialogue, while they do it.

    I understand this. What I don’t accept (and here perhaps a real disagreement enters) is creating an atmosphere where people are afraid to say anything. If a given approach has such consequences, I’m opposed to it. The assumption “we are talking to bigots and we are going to treat them like bigots” (see #14) has such consequences. Don’t ask questions because it’s JAQ-ing off; don’t tell us what you really think because it’s bigoted and offensive. If you have to ask a question, start with “Excuse me, I know this isn’t right, but…”, even if you clearly don’t know that it isn’t right. Sorry again, but if I was one of them, I simply wouldn’t want to speak.

    Greta, I realize that there is a lot of exaggeration in what I’ve just written. I know your style of discussing and I know that it is possible indeed to discuss with you. But I’m afraid of groups who take your ideas in earnest and lead them to extremes. I don’t want such groups to dominate a public discourse. I saw such groups in action.

    This is also an answer to your question about effectiveness. Some of these people will apologize, no doubt. But how many of them will be silent in public for no other reason than fear? How many of them will talk among themselves, in their safe spaces, ignoring you completely, and acting as usual? I would prefer them to talk to us, because that’s the only chance to reach them. Is that a difference between us?

    Good night.

  19. 19
    Gretchen

    Is there some reason you find it ‘lucky’ to not find shame sexually appealing?

    Three points regarding that:

    1. It’s not polite to tell anyone that you feel lucky not to be like them, generally speaking. The closer something is to being a permanent, unchangeable thing about them (aka an identity), the worse it is. Louis CK joked that while white people are not better than anyone else, being white is clearly better—meaning that there is such a thing as white privilege. That white people enjoy benefits that people of color do not. I seriously doubt that Louis CK would walk up to a black person and say “I feel lucky not to be you,” although the meaning of both sentiments is the same.
    My guess is that the person who said they feel lucky not to find shame sexually appealing wouldn’t either, but they don’t think of that as an identity—more of a behavior, so that made it seem okay. Like “I feel lucky not to be a football fan—you guys shell out all kinds of money for tickets and paraphernalia, you spend hours in front of the TV that you could be spending doing something useful…yuck! I’m just happy it never really appealed to me.”
    2. Saying this to the football fan is, yes, a forming of shaming. It’s telling them that you think a little less of them for being one. That’s why you shouldn’t do it (well, and because it means you’re probably a hypocrite…we all spend time and money doing things we enjoy that other people couldn’t fathom if they tried). But it’s not as big a deal as saying it to, say, an amputee. The stakes are not nearly so high. You might hurt the football fan’s feelings, but you’re being needlessly cruel to the amputee. Being kind of a jerk vs. being a real asshole.
    3. Nevertheless, there is nothing inherently wrong with feeling fortunate not to be something you don’t want to be. You are better off not being an amputee—that’s why we do everything we can to prevent people from becoming that way. There is nothing wrong with looking at another person’s situation and being glad that it isn’t yours. This is what inspires empathy, though “I feel lucky not to be you” is the most tactless version of empathy, if it is such at all.

    A disinclination for people to feel ashamed, perhaps. I don’t like for people to feel shame.

    Three points regarding that:
    1. This could be read as a tone-deaf assertion that being sexually aroused by shame means that you’re aroused by it generally. That whenever you observe someone being ashamed, you get off on it. That’s perhaps the biggest misunderstanding of kink, and I can see how my statement would be read that way. That was not intentional. On the contrary,
    2. I know that kink is about constructing an alternate reality in which negative feelings and emotions can become play, by virtue of being completely consensual. Dan Savage calls kink, or rather S&M specifically, “cops and robbers for adults.” “Play shame” is not “real shame.” Kink 101. If you’re not suspending reality, creating a bubble of safety where anything could happen between you and your partner(s) so long as it’s consensual all of the way through and anyone can say it’s off at any time, what you’re doing isn’t kink; it’s abuse. The difference is critical.
    3. Nevertheless, knowing this, I am glad not to be turned on by shame—even kinky play shame—because I don’t like for people to feel shame. And yes, you can be turned on by something and unhappy about it at the same time. I’m glad not to experience that—not because I think kink is psychologically unhealthy; I know full well that it isn’t. But because I don’t want to humiliate my partner, and he doesn’t want to be humiliated. One of the things about kink, and fetishes generally, is that it can be hard to find a good partner whose interests line up with yours. It would be really unfortunate to have a deep-seated desire to cause someone “play shame” in order to be happy sexually, only to end up with someone who isn’t into that. I don’t think it’s shaming kinky people in general at all to acknowledge this.

  20. 20
    Indy

    Thanks for this post, Greta. I’m glad to see you taking this stand for many of us kinky people who cannot divulge our identities publicly.

    Back in the 80s, I remember my lesbian friends telling me they would prefer that their children were straight, so that they wouldn’t have to deal with the prejudice, bigotry and even misunderstanding they had experienced growing up. Society has made a lot of progress since then, and I no longer hear this sentiment as often. That’s what we really want: a world in which there is no stigma attached to being gay, atheist, or kinky, but in which there is a stigma associated with being narrow-minded or bigoted. So I’d rather work for that world than to be glad I’m not in a given group or another.

    On the other hand, I do think that being kinky makes it much harder to find a compatible partner than would be the case for a vanilla, straight person. This is only in part because stigma drives kinky people underground; it’s also that only a small segment of the population is kinky, so finding someone compatible is harder. I can definitely understand feeling lucky not to face this problem. But that’s not the kind of comment Greta’s talking about.

  21. 21
    georgelocke

    Consensual SM — including the consensual eroticization of shame — is just as psychologically healthy as any other consensual sexuality. There’s a significant body of evidence backing this up, and a large community of happy, healthy kinksters who will testify to it.

    I believe that there is evidence, but where can I find it?

  22. 22
    Greta Christina

    Ariel @ #18: I am now entirely confused. You don’t like what I wrote because it’s too official… but you also don’t like it because it’s too impatient. It sounds very much as if you’re saying, “You didn’t say this exactly as I would have said it, you didn’t strike the exact balance I would have struck, therefore you said it wrong.”

    As for the question of effectiveness: I am puzzled about the notion that telling people, “What you’re saying is wrong and is harming people, including me, please stop it” is so tremendously alienating. Unless you can show me come very compelling evidence that saying “What you’re saying is wrong and is harming people, including me” is an effective communication method, but that adding “Please stop” suddenly makes this message alienating and ineffective, I am going to continue to speak in my own voice and not in yours.

    And if your argument boils down to “What you said is okay, but other people sort of do something similar to what you’re doing but take it to extremes and that’s not okay”… no. Please argue with what I say, not what other people say. Thank you.

  23. 23
    Greta Christina

    Gretchen @ #19: I don’t have time to engage with this entire comment, but I want to make a couple of points.

    The analogy with football fans is an interesting one. But there’s an important difference. Namely, football fans aren’t marginalized and demonized. Football fans don’t lose jobs, don’t lose homes, don’t get their kids taken away, because they like football. If you say something like “I’m lucky I don’t like football,” you are not contributing to a culture that consistently shames and shuns football fans — and you are not piling on to football fans’ emotional trauma caused by this culture.

    Yes, if you’re kinky, it can be hard to find a sexual partner whose interests line up with yours. (Depending on how common your kink is — it’s not that hard to find partners who are into, say, bondage or spanking.) That can also be true if you’re not kinky. Finding a partner who’s really into elbow licking, or slow genital massage, or Tantric sex. Why single out kink in this regard?

    And I am now entirely confused about your actual attitude towards consensual enjoyment of shame. On the one hand, you say you understand about kink being consensual and not unhealthy. On the other hand, you say, “I don’t like for people to feel shame” — when you’re talking about consensual SM shame, not non-consensual real-life shame. That’s like saying, “I don’t like for people to feel pain” when you’re talking about consensual SM pain, or “I don’t like people to feel helpless” when you’re talking about consensual SM bondage.

    When you say, “I don’t like for people to feel shame,” it sounds like you’re saying, “I don’t like it when anyone feels this” — not, “This isn’t something I particularly enjoy.” Why is it so difficult to express your own personal sexual likes and dislikes, without saying how glad you are to not have other people’s desires?

  24. 24
    Greta Christina

    I believe that there is evidence, but where can I find it?

    georgelocke @ #21: Fair question — but I don’t have time and energy to do the Googling right now. Here’s the Research section on the Kink Resources Directory, with some good info. You can also contact San Francisco Sex Information: they can almost certainly point you in the right direction. And there may also be good information in this PowerPoint download: Beyond Whips and Chains: What Medical Students Need to Know about BDSM: I haven’t viewed it myself, but it comes recommended.

  25. 25
    Robert Vary

    antialiasis @ #15:

    I can’t help suspecting there’s a kind of circular logic behind remarks like that – “Gosh, I’d hate to get off on this, because it makes me uncomfortable”, without realizing that if they [i]did[/i] get off on it they wouldn’t be so uncomfortable with it, or at least not in the same way.

    This makes me think of the old joke: “I hate peas, and I’m glad I hate them. If I liked them, I’d eat them, and I would just hate that.”

  26. 26
    anne mariehovgaard

    mythbrie:

    Shame was a huge barrier that I had to overcome in order to think it was okay for me to even have sex, and to enjoy it.

    For someone who feels a lot of shame about sex (in general. or a specific kink), being able to eroticize shame would, in fact, be very lucky.

  27. 27
    anne mariehovgaard

    #26: sorry, no idea why you became a cheese :p

  28. 28
    brennwyson

    I am Brenn Wyson former kink gay porn star. What I can say? What goes on behind closed doors is a lot a sex abuse in way of transmitting HIV, HEP and whatever STD will snake there way in the the doors of Kink.com. The stars working at kink.com, making money will never disclose their bad behavior and the porn stars they throw to the trash. The drugs the lies the penis injections, which is against the law in San Fran to give to a porn star. But the are sure willing to stick your genitals to get the job done. I know what goes on behind closed doors and its sick, unsafe and your life is one the line. Trust me Kink.com will talk shit about you If you have a mouth to speak. I know because It happened to me. Its has taken me a long time to get my real career back and make an honest living. You never want to become a porn star because all the main porn companies will lie to you. Now I have to deal with Hep C, As a boxer this has been a damper on my life. Im still a fighter and have recreated my life. Hopefully I can redirect others into stepping on the devils tale in the palace of porn.

    Thank you,

    Brenn Wyson. Broward Boxing.

  29. 29
    Greta Christina

    brennwyson @ #28: Yes, I’ve been hearing some pretty troubling things about Kink.com, from people other than yourself. But this post is not about Kink.com. This post is about kink — the private practice of kinky sex, and private fantasies of kinky sex, in general, among everyone who practices it. I understand your desire to get the word out about your experiences — but if you’re just posting this on any blog post that mentions the word “kink,” without reading first to see whether it’s actually about Kink.com, that’s not cool. Please don’t do that. Thanks.

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