Tag Archives: feminism goes well with kink

Unmentionables

Person in Carnival of Venice mask and clothes, holding a gloved hand across the painted-on lips of their mask

There are many things I can’t write about on this blog because they would put me, my partners, my friends, and larger parts of my queer BDSM community here in Europe at too much risk of exposure.

Because this community is tiny. Our biggest international event has about 250 participants, our munches and workshops have around twenty guests on average, and our play parties usually have about 25-50 attendants. The overall number of queer perverts who are in touch with one or more parts of this queer BDSM community is of course bigger, but still: Compared to similar events in the straight-centered kink world, these are ridiculously small numbers.

This community is also intensely interconnected. Most of us are non-monogamous in some way, many of us have an extensive network of kinky friends that reaches across several national borders, and lots of us travel to queer BDSM events all over Europe. Like many other marginalized communities, we tend to have strong friendship ties even across different subgroups. We mostly value inclusion over separatism (even if that means we’ll keep running into all of our exes forever). We also remember each other’s faces, no matter for how many years people disappear before they come back, sometimes with a new name, set of pronouns, gender identity, degree, job, child, partner, disability, and/or kink identity. Compared to straight-centered BDSM contexts, it’s much harder to hide in an anonymous mass of people because the mass just isn’t there. Neither is the anonymity.

What is usually a benefit when it comes to community-making and (the good kind of) social control, is also a risk when it comes to unwanted outside attention. Since there aren’t very many of us, we’re easier to identify even by outsiders to this community, individually and as groups. And while some forms of BDSM have become a lot more accepted in mainstream culture in recent years, people can (and do) still lose their jobs or child custody, or get into trouble with their landlords, neighbors, family, etc. over being outed as practicing sluts and perverts. So the need for privacy still remains for many of us.

Aside from the stigma that comes with engaging in BDSM, literally all of us in this community are also marginalized by way of being queer, female, non-binary, and/or trans. Many of us don’t have even the vaguest veneer of presumed “don’t ask, don’t tell” cisheterosexuality to hide behind if we need to or at least one solid connection to a cis dude who can look intimidating if he wants to if we need to scare away annoying/potentially dangerous people. (Which is why the specific type and lived experience of someone’s queerness often still matters in assessing our realities of risk and access, even if we don’t believe that there are different “degrees” of queerness.) Not to mention that many of us are also disabled/chronically ill, neurodivergent, Black/people of color, sex workers, and/or poor and already experience discrimination and violence because of that, and not just outside our own community.

With the general right-wing backlash that’s happening in many European countries (and beyond), all of us (as individuals and collectively) are at risk of increased state scrutiny (e.g. the overly nitpicky attention that police and government agencies have paid to various queer sex/kink venues in Berlin and led to the Still-ongoing, months-long temporary closing of one of them), hate group attacks both online and offline (e.g. the trans-hostile attacks on London Pride last year as well as on the London Porn Film Festival last week), and multiple anti-sex/anti-queer internet regulations (e.g. last year’s Tumblr anti-porn policy that made large parts of queer and/or kinky self-expression and sex education invisible; or the upcoming British porn block). Not to mention the many supporters of the far-right parties who are still gaining parliamentary seats all over Europe and whose destructive actions unfortunately aren’t limited to “just” saying horribly inaccurate things about sexuality and gender (and related educational programs) to a public that still thinks it’s a good idea to offer them platforms to do just that. And then we still haven’t even started to look at how inequalities around race, class, disability, etc. further put queer and kinky people at risk and exclude them from the community support structures that exist.

So, to protect this beloved community and all of its members (including myself) from even more discrimination and violence, I don’t write about a lot of things I see other sex/kink bloggers write about all the time. I don’t mention the names of the kink events (such as munches, play parties, conferences, workshops) I go to. I don’t promote any of the workshops I’m giving in offline spaces. I don’t mention places, venues, dates, and try to remain vague even on countries. I don’t describe how people I interact with look in any detail. And I most definitely don’t post any pictures of any of us (including myself), not even with obscured faces (because in a community as small as this, our freckles, birthmarks, scars, tattoos, and piercings can be used to identify us just as much as our faces). And that’s not a risk I’m comfortable taking, especially not when it affects more people than just me, most of whom I can’t ask for their consent, if only because that would compromise my own anonymity and the partial security that comes with that.

I often regret having to make this choice. I often would like to be a lot more open. I often want to write about the whole range of topics I come across in this community (and give credit to the people, events, and/or FetLife discussions that inspired my thinking), to share details of the amazing events I go to (and create more of an archive of this community), to attach my face and legal name to this blog (and stop worrying whether I’ve told a personal story to too many people already to still feel comfortable with posting it — or vice versa), and perhaps even to link to the kink-educational work I do outside of this blog. I often worry that leaving out all this detail, all this joy, makes me sound aloof, inapproachable, or even fake. But I also know that there is no way back into the proverbial closet, so I want to be very careful with the bits and pieces I show of my own life and of the larger queer BDSM community on this continent (and in several of its countries). I do engage in risk-aware, consensual kink after all.

So I guess we’ll all have to live with this dissatisfying reality and my resulting hesitation to share information as generously here as I often share it in offline spaces or as I would like to share it in an ideal world. After all, I come from a line of queer and otherwise marginalized people whose names were put onto lists by actual Nazis (and whose names are put onto lists by actual Nazis again as we speak), who have found reasonable safety in obscurity (even if the price for that always was that we were harder to find for others like us), and who have good reason to be distrustful of the corporations that own social media and do highly questionable things with our data, the governments that make laws that criminalize more and more things related to sexuality, sex education, sex work, and/or LGBTQIA+ issues, and the actual Nazis (and other hostile assholes) in our very own neighborhoods.

Apparently, the sexual is still very political indeed.

(Edit: P.S. If any of you other sex/kink bloggers want to talk to me about your own risk management strategies, especially in relation to what I’ve said above, please feel free to comment here, use the contact form, or get in touch with me on Twitter.)


Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

This week’s topic for Wicked Wednesday was ‘unmentionable.’

This post marks my return to blogging after yet another absence during which I made shit happen offline which I unfortunately can’t write about for all the reasons spelled out above. Unmentionable indeed.


Image source: Pixabay

I want to be a good girl

Photo of a shelf of 19th-century painted mugs. The one in focus says

One of my longest-kept kinky secrets is that I want to be a good girl. I want to please my partner, use my skills to serve them, quietly predict their needs and strive to fulfill them before they even think of asking me to, be praised for my ability and eagerness to follow someone else’s will, stick to their rules, obey them.

I’ve felt a lot of shame about this desire. You see, I wasn’t supposed to want any of these things.

First, there was my mother who told me over and over again to never be dependent on a man and encouraged me to be smart and successful on my own.[1] Then there was the rebellious youth subculture that saved my teenage self from her futile attempts to be “normal” and taught me that resistance against pretty much any authority was a virtue and that I should follow no one’s rules but my own.[2] No gods, no masters. Almost at the same time, the first flavor of (second-wave) feminism I discovered repeated a similar message yet again: I was supposed to be a strong, independent woman. I was supposed to reject any and all traces of stereotypical femininity.[3] I was supposed to never be the proverbial woman behind a successful man. I was supposed to speak up and demand respect at all times. My body, my choice.[4] And I was to eroticize similarity. Egality. Sisterhood is powerful.[5] Then I found queer culture which tended to prescribe boundless fluidity and flexibility as the solution to all ills related to gender and sexuality. More role erotic switching was better, more gender ambiguity and variability was more desirable, and all desires were to be expressed freely.[6] Fuck gender. Assume nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, these were all highly valuable things to learn. I still cherish my ability to question authorities (including authorities within my own communities). I still cherish my knowledge that there is absolutely nothing that needs doing in my life that requires a man to do it.[7] I still cherish my awareness that there is no characteristic or interest or behavior on this planet that is inherently female or male. I still cherish all the insights I gained when I played around with drag and switching and genderfuckery and excessive femininity and general sluttiness. I still cherish being able to say “no” to so many things in so many different ways.

Of course, I carried these lessons over to my first ventures into BDSM. Which worked well for a long time. Especially since I never had much shame about my interest in kink to begin with.

Except for that one secret desire.

After several years of doing kink in a queer context, I realized that I was done “experimenting.” I was done sticking to all these strongly implied rules about how to be a proper queer feminist pervert. I realized that I didn’t want to be or play any gender besides femme, top anyone, or play as a cheeky brat anymore. What I actually wanted was to be a good girl. Or whatever the grown-up version of that was, because I was also tired of being permanently stuck somewhere between 16 and 25.

I wanted to submit, without any previous resistance whatsoever. I wanted to put on some pretty underwear and a nice dress, without any irony, and kneel before a butch, a trans guy, a nonbinarily-masculine being of the queer persuasion. Just because they wanted me to and because I wanted to. And because we both understood that this act expressed an intimate gift and that it didn’t diminish my value as a person or my ability to take responsibility for my life. I wanted my partner to give me a clear set of rules to follow, and I wanted it understood that I would do my best to do so, that I would not fail in order to provoke a reaction from them. I wanted to succeed at the tasks set before me, and I wanted to stretch myself to become ever better, and I wanted my partner to recognize and appreciate and desire that. And I wanted them to tell me so.

Once I had realized this desire, I started remembering moments from my past. Moments where I had had an inkling of this desire and then pushed it aside again. I was surprised at how many of these moments there were, all different, but all echoing the same theme: I want to be a good girl. I had to recognize that I had been wanting this for a long time, much longer than I liked admitting even to myself. That took a bit of work.

And because I had learned my lessons well, I then started to talk about this desire. Because in my experience, telling people what I wanted still was the way that would most likely get me what I wanted. This also took some work. I brought up the topic carefully at first, and often in hints and jokes because that was the only way I could speak about it in the beginning. And with practice, it got easier and I grew more comfortable with claiming this desire in my kinky public.

With practice, I also lost a lot of the shame over wanting something that seemed to contradict almost my entire life. Because, as I finally understood, there really is no contradiction: This is a choice that brings me pleasure. This is a choice I made even when I was sure there would be disapproval from those I cared about most (and there sometimes is disapproval). This is a choice I’m making in a thoroughly queer context where the majority of people would rather have me make a different choice. This is a choice, the details of which I am negotiating with my partner(s) instead of using any one-size-fits-all relationship or sexuality model. This is a choice. And I’ve spent my entire life learning how to make that choice. And how to make a different choice if this one stops working. I may still have some residue of defensiveness about it when I talk to people who may not be entirely approving, but I have no doubt that this is what I want: Being a good girl.

So here I am, a queer feminist femme pervert who wants to (temporarily, but regularly) submit to a masculine person[8] and finally be the good girl I’ve eyed with so much suspicion and pushed away for such a long time. The good girl I never thought I could be, should be, was allowed to be.

The good girl no one ever expected me to be.


P.S. I really wanted to work in a link to Kate Sloan’s “I’m a Good Girl,” but wherever I tried to put it, it felt forced. So you’re getting it here. It hits different notes than this piece, but I wanted to represent her type of good girl along with mine. Because it really is a lovely account and I was very touched when I first read it several months ago.


Notes

[1] Whether she herself was as independent as she wanted me to be is a different question to be examined elsewhere. The answer is probably complicated.

[2]  Except the subculture’s own rules, of course, as much as it pretended not to have them.

[3]  At least when it came to appearances. I still got disciplined for using “masculine communication patterns” (read: stating my opinions without wrapping them in apologies for sharing them in the first place — which I thought was a feminist achievement at the time) and punished for pointing out other women’s manipulative behavior (e.g. guilt-tripping others so they’d get what they wanted without ever having to state it directly).

[4]  Yes, I know this is originally a pro-choice slogan. I’m most definitely pro-choice, and I think the slogan works just as well in a broader context of (not just) female self-determination.

[5]  Striving for erotic “sisterhood” also led to me having the most awkward and unfulfilling sex in my life. Which is also a story for another day.

[6]  Especially the desire to have switchy, fluid, somewhat kinky sex without any permanent or serious power dynamic and preferably between two (or more) people who had been assigned the same gender at birth.

[7]  If you think this means I categorically hate men, you need to pay more attention to what I’m actually saying instead of what you’re projecting onto me.

[8]  Who is probably not a cis man. See footnote above.


Today’s #Kinktober prompt was “praise kink.” This is not exactly that, but it’s close enough.


Image source: Wikimedia Commons