Pissing on the Oyster

 Posted by on March 19, 2011
Mar 192011
 

By Viola


Pissing on the Oyster
(or why I don’t talk about pussy torture at the water cooler)

There are certain pillars of the kink/BDSM/fetish/leather communities that have been pushing the following message:

“Queer organizers realized that if someone knew a gay or lesbian person, they were less likely to discriminate against them. The problem was that most people didn’t know an openly gay person. Queers started coming out of the closet, and that fixed a lot of discrimination issues. Since the general population discriminates against kinky people, we should all come out of the closet as kinky! So tell your friends and neighbors that you’re kinky, and they’ll be more accepting of kinky people, and this is how our movement will work! In 20 years, kinky people will be just as accepted as queers!”

And every single time I hear this argument, I want to rip my hair out.

Let’s get something straight. I’m not going to “come out” as kinky to my neighbors, colleagues, professors, and family. There is nothing that would horrify my mother more than to hear the words “Mom, I’m a super huge pervert and I’m kinky.” This has nothing to do with my mom’s views on sex, but the fact that my mother doesn’t need or want to know about my sex life. If I told my professional contacts that I was kinky, my career prospects would go down the toilet, not because of anything I do in bed, but because nobody in the world would hire a lawyer who was known for walking up to people to talk about their kinky sex life. In the real world, people think you’re a tad weird if you walk up to them at random and announce that you enjoy kinky sex. Sometimes they even complain to HR. Just sayin’.

But looking past the possibility of shooting myself in the foot professionally (worst case scenario), announcing to the world that another overworked, socially awkward 20-something graduate student started having halfway decent sex will do nothing for the “movement” or “community.” Regardless of the social ramifications of spilling your sexy secrets right before moot court tryouts, nobody really gives a damn what I’m doing in bed, and I refuse to inform them. Being a dyke is hard enough — it somehow seems that whenever someone “innocently” asks you what lesbians do in bed, they really want you to tell them your titillating lady lovemaking stories, a verbal play-by-play of what you do in the sack. I’m sick of it, and will not participate.*** Not for kink, not for queerness, not for anyone. Sorry, my business is my business, and only I get to choose what to disclose and discuss for the sake of political activism.

But then that leads to another issue: what, exactly, is kinky? To “come out” as kinky means so many things to so many people, and while I do indeed plan to spend a lot of time and effort to write, educate, and discuss the ramifications surrounding quite a few pretty problematic laws (see “Kink and the Law” by Brian), I might not be all that kinky. I’m not a whips and chains kind of girl, I’m not a Master/slave kind of girl, and I’m not even all that much of a “lifestyle” girl. I’m a queer poly chick who likes interesting sex with smart, hot people. I like play parties, primarily because I like people, sexuality, nudity, and general pervy creativity, and I like having sex with a healthy dose of D/s that ends as soon as the sexy fun does. But when people think “kinky” they don’t think about what I do, exactly. They don’t think about someone who looks and behaves as I do — that’s not because there’s a stereotype and I don’t fit into it, it’s because there are so many ways to be deliciously perverted. So there’s a conundrum; if one decides to “come out” as kinky, do you let your audience assume whatever you want, or do you sit down with the nice lady across the street who came over to borrow a cup of sugar and tell her all about your passion for spreader bars, public fisting, and interrogation play?

I think the way our society views sexuality is indeed problematic, and in theory I agree with the notion that dialogue may spark a change. But to compare the oppression, social stigma, brutality, and fear that has permeated the public’s view of queers to the inability to speak freely about going to a play party is bullshit. Sure, there’s a bit of overlap concerning a history of criminalization of sexuality. But truly, it’s a different struggle with different consequences. I will file my taxes differently, will speak to the human resources office at every future employer differently (since most workplaces won’t extend benefits to my partner), will deal with the legal ramifications of buying a house while unmarried, will be classified as “single” for legal purposes, and will inevitably write my will differently because I’m queer; a straight, married heterosexual couple will probably never have to do these things differently just because they’re kinky. The idea that the two movements (queer and kink-awareness) are parallel and will remain so for the entire trajectory of their evolution is also, quite frankly, absurd. While Heather might have two mommies, Heather’s mommies probably won’t be illustrated wearing collars and smacking each other with crops. There are limitations to the comparison between kinky people and queer people, as well as the different struggles — political, social, and cultural — that individuals face because of their queer identity or kinky activities.

So let’s step back. Let’s look at what we’re saying about kink, sexuality, and the law. Let’s examine exactly what coming out is, why it might be meaningful, and why one might “come out” as kinky before encouraging everyone who might be interested in wrist restrains and crotchless panties to sacrifice their livelihood. My freak flag is at the dry cleaner for a reason — I have one, but I’m not flying it. It’s clean, well-pressed, and hidden from the population at large. I don’t fly it because if I decide I want to express my political views surrounding sexuality in a public forum, I want that day to be significant; it might come, perhaps, but it won’t be tomorrow. To establish myself as a normal, professional, intelligent, articulate person whose opinions matter and authority as a scholar, jurist, or activist are respected seems to be my biggest priority at this point in my life. To lose the opportunity to do these things for the sake of kink-related activism seems counter intuitive. The world is my oyster, so I’m not peeing on it.

***Okay, I lied. My next column, lesbian sex for straight men, will debut soon. After reading it, you’ll never have to ask me that horribly awkward question ever again.

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  3 Responses to “Pissing on the Oyster”

  1. […] on Fearless Press, Viola wrote a post called Pissing on the Oyster about the idea that kinky people should come out as kinky to increase acceptance of kinky […]

  2. avatar

    I have to say I found this post a little hard to read. I understand whre you might be coming from – I don’t want to alert the whole world to my sex life either- but I truly think coming out could be a positive thing. First of all, my interest in BDSM is a lifestyle. it is not just about sex, it defines me in part as a person. Hiding my kink means hiding my relationship (because my boyfriend is my dom, not just my boyfriend). It means never being able to tell the truth. I have to lie all the time, about what i spend money on when I go shopping in the city but come home with no bags (I hide the rope and shackles) or how I got a bruise or mark. I can’t tell family members where I got my super awesome necklace because it’s from rings of steel and it’s actually a collar, and no I can’t take it off, I don’t have the allen key on hand. I have to lie about where I am when I go to a club. I live in fear someone will catch my dom punishing me and think he is abusive, or the day someone tries to take away my job or future children because of a consensual activity. There have been horror stories all over about perfectly decent people losing their jobs, facing abuse charges and losing their kids because they have an interest in BDSM. And it’s hard. It is hard to live in a world where people make snide remarks about “that disgusting crap people do to each other” after reading 50 Shades of Grey, or to hear someone call Secretary a “disgusting” film and no better than pornography. To hear women put down any woman who would let herself be tied up and spanked (I do it a lot) because it’s not a feminist thing to do. These are people who don’t know that they could be friends or relatives with someone who is an active community member who is forced to hide. And hiding isn’t healthy.

  3. You’re trying very hard to paint same-sex attraction and kink as apples and oranges, when they are pretty clearly just two different kinds of apple. If you feel comfortable coming out regarding being queer but not regarding being kinky, that’s just fine — but don’t try to draw an imaginary line between them. Let’s not forget that a big part of being gay, lesbian or bisexual is *enjoying having sex with people of the same sex*. Telling people you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual *is* telling them what you like in bed. Simple as that.

    Yes, some legal obstacles arise for queer couples that don’t arise for kinky couples who happen to be opposite sexes. But the question to ask is: What is the underlying reason for those legal differences? They don’t exist randomly. As I’m sure you know, the underlying reason why queer couples are legally discriminated against is because a large chunk of society regards same-sex coupling as disgusting and immoral.

    And that is the exact same reason why kinky couples (and larger groups) face stigma today.

    Implying that a kinky husband and wife don’t have legal concerns is a sleight-of-hand: many can indulge their kinky side without negative repercussions only if they hide the extent of their kinkiness from almost everyone. (See e.g. codydarkstalker’s post.) You might as well say that being homosexual has never had any legal consequences *provided you don’t get caught*.

    “To establish myself as a normal, professional, intelligent, articulate person whose opinions matter and authority as a scholar, jurist, or activist are respected seems to be my biggest priority at this point in my life. To lose the opportunity to do these things for the sake of kink-related activism seems counter intuitive.” Sadly you’re right to fear those consequences, but you’re wrong that they are a meaningful point of distinction. Once upon a time, announcing that you were gay would have had the same (or worse) devastating effect on your credibility.

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