One of the conflicts within feminism that pops up a lot is the question of the kink. "The kink" referring specifically to the dom/sub relationship where a man is the dom and a woman is the sub. A lot of feminists identify as "kink-critical," which basically means that they looks at a BDSM relationship where a dude gets off on hurting and/or humiliating a women and go WHOA UM HEY WOW GEEZ UH WHAT'RE YOU DOIN' THERE.
I might have paraphrased, but I think you get my point.
Any time a kink-critical feminist speaks up about their concerns around this dynamic, you can be sure there'll be someone there to say that they're kink-shaming, just as sure as someone will pop up to go "not all men."
I've talked about this before on Tumblr, but it's time to get my official stance out on the blog for everyone to see. I am kink-critical. What I mean by that is, if your kink could be in any way harmful or borne from toxic social norms, then you have a responsibility to think about it.
That's all, just think about it. If thinking about it causes you to feel shame, then think about that, too. Don't blame me for your shame by calling me a kink-shamer. I didn't tell you to feel ashamed. I didn't announce that every person who has any kind of kink should feel ashamed. I'm saying that men, specifically, who get off on hurting women, no matter the setting, need to take a serious, honest look at themselves.
IS THAT SO FREAKING HARD. I DIDN'T EVEN SAY STOP. JUST THINK.
The problem is that self-examination seems to be very difficult for men. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that anything mental health-related is considered weak and feminine. Maybe it's that men are taught to believe that they're God's gift to the Earth and nothing could possibly be wrong with anything they're doing, and the appropriate response to anyone who suggests otherwise is to lash out, mostly with projection.
"I'm not the bad one, you are!!"
But I'm not even saying that men who have dom kinks are automatically bad. You'll notice that I'm actually pretty nice about stuff like this. I'm just honest and straightforward.
Everyone has internalized harmful shit from our culture. You can't escape it, not with the media saturation that we have going on. That's how the human mind works. You will absorb toxic messages as a child. They will be reinforced as an adult. They will leak out of you and have an effect on every person you interact with. You're not conscious of most of this. Remember learning about the subconscious, with the whole iceberg metaphor? It's true!
The only way to reduce the harm you perpetuate on others, particularly those whom you have privilege over, is to take a good look at yourself. You know that if you get off on hurting women, there's almost certainly something misogynistic going on in your brain. Where does that come from? Was your dad a sexist asshole? What kind of porn do you watch? Was there something in your childhood or adolescence that caused you to associate causing women pain with sexual pleasure? I'm guessing yes.
Self-examination is the best and most basic ally work you can do. Don't try to pretend that you or your actions are helping women if you aren't even doing the most basic work.
So yes, I'm kink-critical. In the way that I am very critical of men who get sexual pleasure from hurting women and refuse to take a second to think about why this is because it makes them feel bad about themselves. I'm also critical of any white people who get off on some sort of plantation/slavery kink with black partners and refuse to examine their own racism. In fact, I'm critical of myself when I find that I'm resistant to examining my own actions and urges. If I find myself resisting, I know it's all the more important to do the work.
Self-work isn't easy. Luckily, I'm explicitly NOT here to go easy on men. Do the work, or accept that you're not a feminist ally. Don't come to me to throw around blame for things that you feel because you know there's something not right going on in your subconscious.