Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Kink Question

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.


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.


Choux said...

I'm so happy that you made the distinction between kink critical and kink shame. Sexual deviancy is a subject that I'm really passionate about, especially in regard to healthy expression. There are many unhealthy expressions of a Dom/sub relationship, and many horrifying men who take advantage of the women or men who enjoy a sub role. When it IS healthy, part of the appeal is the consent. The sub should have more power because they get to say stop. The Dom NEEDS to stop when that happens. Since women in general don't have that luxury in life, I find it incredibly attractive.
If only things always happened the way they should. Women are doms much more often than you'd think, but mostly in a prostitution setting. It's still "normal" for the man to be in charge.
I hope that any man who enjoys being a Dom can take your advice and really take a look at themselves. If you can feel secure in your relationship with your sub and proud of your kink, you should be happy. But you make excellent points that if you are ashamed, you need to ask why.
I'm sorry this was so long, I hope you do more posts in regards to sex because as a feminist it can be hard to see how to explain my sexuality. I think you've made some great points!

Lindsey Weedston said...

No saying sorry! This was a great comment, you're awesome :D.

Puppy said...

I'm a kinkster (ageplay) and the sheer number of people who don't want to spend even a moment analysing if what they like is encouraging harmful attitudes in themselves is...ehhhhh :/

I've spent a long time doing painful work to figure out why I like what I like, and it hasn't always been pretty, but I feel a lot more confident and safe about what I do now.

Sarrrh said...

What do you think about women with rape fantasies? How should a man react to that?

Lindsey Weedston said...

I'm a whole lot easier on women about this because they're not the ones with privilege. The man in this situation should think about whether he's comfortable with that, and if he is, he still needs to consider the implications of what he's doing including power dynamics and there should be an extensive discussion between the two of them about how it would work.

PC♔Gaming♔Queen said...

I find BDSM a bit terrifying. Despite being ever so slightly kinky, myself.

Because I know where my kink comes from, and it horrifies me. I'm mostly vanilla, it's true. Which is what most people who tell me I'm kink shaming, say. That I'm vanilla and I don't get it.

And it's true, I don't get it. I don't empathize with this sort of thing. To me, violence is pretty horrifying. And fantasizing about it seems pretty horrifying.

But I'm also slightly masochistic towards women or feminine people, and slightly more dominant towards men or masculine people.

And this is entirely because of internalized gender roles. I am critical and think critically about my own kinks and where they come from. And they're still equally as horrifying to me.

I live in a society where most people in positions of power are men. Whether presidents or prime minsters or CEOs. Where girls who raise their hand in class are more likely to be ignored, and boys given attention. Where men are more likely to talk over women than women talk over men. Where women have to be worried about being raped, and men not nearly as much.

Maybe other people don't see this, but no matter how "safe and consensual" it all is. All I can see is the horrors of rape, of patriarchy, of male dominance, reflected in the bedroom, in maledom and femsub fantasies.

Maybe that's not the way it is for other people. But that's the way I experience it. Gender norms make me uncomfortable, too psychologically uncomfortable for me to find them sexy in any way. This where my slight kink for femdom and malesub comes from. It doesn't come from a vacuum, I wasn't born with it. It's a psychological and sexual respond I have to the effects of patriarchy.

And maledom, no matter how consensual, is nothing but a terrifying reminder of the world around me. I don't know what other people experience, but for me, it feels like hegemonic masculinity, sexualized.

Gender roles horrify me. Rape and anything that reminds me of it horrifies me. And female submissiveness and male dominance are the status quo, the patriarchal gender roles of today.

It horrifies me to the point that I can't even manage to empathize with the maledom and femsub fetish, because it makes me too sick to my stomach.