Thursday, June 24, 2010

Speaking up for kink and culture.

In a previous post, I cited a mental health website that offered some strong, clinical arguments to suggest that kinky people suffer from a paraphiliac mental disorder.

In the view of these writers, kinkster- and genderqueer people are therefore included among the ranks of pedophiles and presumably other sorts of folk who engage in abusive, non-consensual, criminal, harmful activities in their lives.

"The essential feature of sexual masochism is the feeling of sexual arousal or excitement resulting from receiving pain, suffering, or humiliation," the site states. "The pain, suffering, or humiliation is real and not imagined and can be physical or psychological in nature. A person with a diagnosis of sexual masochism is sometimes called a masochist.

"The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," they continue, "is used by mental health professionals to diagnose specific mental disorders. In the 2000 edition of this manual (the Fourth Edition Text Revision also known as DSM-IV-TR) sexual masochism is one of several paraphilias. Paraphilias are intense and recurrent sexually arousing urges, fantasies, or behaviors."

I finally got around to chiming in on their comments. I reached for my academic mortarboard (or was it my headmaster's cane?) and stepped up to the mike:

While it's always possible that a person suffering from a mental disorder may have an interest in these fantasies, it doesn't necessarily equate that a person engaging in consensual, expressive sexuality need do so because of an existing mental disorder.

Human sexuality of all stripes often includes a cognitive foundation involving power structures and roles. For many people, the deliberate and consensual application of these different power and authority structures (in a conscious and nurturing environment) can add enticing dimensions to one's sexual play. For some, the use of many kinds of physical and mental stimulation (such as spanking) adds another level of excitement.

People who engage in this sort of imaginative and creative sexplay are not the demons under your bed. Most are highly educated people coming from very professional and leadership-oriented backgrounds, with sound and happy families, paid-for cars, and mortgages.

Tragically, yes, there are people in the world who use power-exchange or bondage play or similar elements within the BDSM milieu for things other than safe, sane, consensual adult sexplay between knowing partners. But then, equally tragically, genuinely abusive people can also be found among the clergy, law enforcement, child care workers, and in other places in life where one wouldn't expect criminal activity.

If one thinks back far enough, deep enough, it wouldn't be unusual to find some kind of "kinkyness" (however one might apply that highly subjective term) in one's sexual fantasy life, including as far back as childhood. It's part of the human sexual awakening experience. Attempts to argue otherwise often fail to grasp the whole breadth of human sexual history and anthropology, and simply resort to trying to sell a specific, limited, restrictive idea about what is "right" and "appropriate" from a culturally myopic point of view.

In other words, the world's a lot bigger and broader than you probably think, and just because I spank my grrlfriend, that doesn't mean that I should stand in line for a thorazine shot.

Just sayin.


Three Sexketeers said...

Beautiful post! <3 I agree 100%.

- Disco

Aurore said...


It shouldn't have to be said but it's so misunderstood.

Rogue said...

Thank you.

Alice Kytler said...

I always like it when you have your academic mortar-board out.