Slide 1: “So you say your kink is not political”
Slide 2: “…but you practice shibari, a practice that derives from hojojutsu, a technique used by the police to capture, interrogate, and torture people.”
Slide 3: “…but you like to be the master to a slave and play with power hierarchies and labels that are drenched in thousands of years of suffering and death.”
Slide 4: “…but you use floggers, whips & canes, all of them implements that were and still are traditionally used to punish and dehumanize prisoners, slaves etc.”
Slide 5: “…but ‘real’ kinbaku needs to come with tatamis and yukatas else it’s not ‘eastern’.”
Slide 6: “…but it’s hot to do some race play, Nazi play and engage in traditional 1950’s household play.”
Slide 7: “…but you love your sissification so you can play out traditional roles that women had to endure and suffer through for hundreds of years.”
Slide 8: “This post is not about kink-shaming. It’s calling on you to reflect on the fact that kink does not exist in a vacuum. It’s a privilege to consensually ‘play’ with these topics instead of being caught in them without consent. They can not be separated from politics, history and lived experiences. / Practicing kink is political. At worst it re-enacts, at best it deconstructs.”
The BDSM world has a particularly thorny problem because so much of what we do, the roles, implements, language and scenarios are based on real-life, historical violence and inequality, as the Karada House posts said. We are playing with, and eroticizing, the signifiers of threat.
As Margot Weiss observed in Techniques of Pleasure, the idea that the BDSM scene is a utopian space untouched by inequality (or in which it only exists in play form), is both false and dangerous. Micky Valentine wrote an essay in 2016 titled “3 Reasons the Kink Scene is Hellish for Black, Disabled, Non-cis Kinksters”, in which they talk about being fetishized, ignored or excluded in a subculture built for middle-class, able-bodied, cis white people.
The same struggle plays out in our subculture, in the writings of veteran writers and educators in the kink world. Recently, Guy Baldwin wrote on Facebook about what he saw as Cancel Culture coming for the kink world.
There has been some talk about certain fetish wear and even some fetish-based language causing some individuals to feel Triggered. And it seems that the Purity Police… woops, not supposed to use that word any more– so, Purity Enforcers are preparing to deploy the weapons — woops, another ‘forbidden’ word– deploy the tools of Cancel Culture to punish — woops, another triggering world, so — to restrain….uh, no, that one’s risky,too, I guess.
I can’t even imagine what English class could become if Triggered Vulnerables are permitted to have jurisdiction over words (!!!!) and the power to sanction fetish clothing, implements, and even kink language and lables [sic].
Outlawing any part of Fetish Sexuality puts all of Fetish Sexuality directly onto the slippery slope of Censorship.
I feel certain that for us to become prisoners of Trigger Culture will casue the slow death of real erotic variation.
The end result of eliminating all triggers (how many are there?) would eventually be to homogenize our sexuality into something bland and without intensities or strong flavors or character.
If someone’s trigger is so profound and debilitating then get thee to a good therapist…don’t tyranize [sic] me or my friends with your unfinished therapeutic issues.
As of 16 July 2020, Baldwin’s post and his entire account appear to have vanished from Facebook.
I should mention that Baldwin has been involved in the gay and leather communities since literally before Stonewall. He is of another generation, and the political and cultural situation of 2020 is very different.
Patrick Califia, another veteran of the kink world and also a therapist, wrote a rejoinder on their own FB account. Excerpts follow:
I want to apologize to anyone I may have hurt by my posts on Guy Baldwin’s wall. On certain points, I will not retrench. I do not believe BDSM is inherently racist. I do not think there is much possibility of changing the terminology [for] people who need a consensual M/s dynamic use to describe themselves. The need to submit and feel possessed runs too deep. And the leather folk who love uniforms are not going to give them up.
It seems especially important for POC to have play spaces in which they can feel safe, their reality mirrored, and rules made in their own interest. This probably means no white folks or only those who are invited perhaps as a partner. If the rule needs to be no uniforms, okay – especially now, when issues of police brutality are so clearly paramount. I do not want my good time to wound someone else or cause them to grieve or feel rage or terror.
I’m trying to refuse the dilemma that making the BDSM subculture/community more inclusive and diverse will necessarily come at the cost of making it “something bland and without intensities or strong flavors or character”, as Baldwin put it.
My research has shown me that the BDSM culture has changed many times over the decades. New generations of kinksters arrive with new ideas and practices all the time. The line dividing acceptable from unacceptable at a given gathering, whether explicit or implicit, is constantly redrawn. Some events ban breathplay or blood or penetrative sex, some don’t. External factors, like increased awareness of the dangers of HIV or breathplay, are just one of the many influences.
POC-only events or events that ban paramilitary and military uniforms may be necessary to make the scene better.