..and what does this mean?

I’m forever coming across old posts I’ve made on discussion boards about various aspects of smut; and I often find them useful because they provide a great retrospective view of how my sexuality has changed over time. A post from a few months ago, from a thread inviting readers to blab about how we personally define ‘kinky’ sex for ourselves. (green text are things I’ve edited just now):

“I often think of ‘kink’ in similar terms as I do “queer”, another word I tend to define in opposition to an ever-shifting norm. I see “queer” in opposition to heteronormativity (not heterosexuality, necessarily. There are plenty of straight people I’d consider queer, as well.), and I see “kink” in opposition to some sort of mainstream vanillla-ness…whatever that may be at any given time.1

Aside from that, though, the word usually connotes power-exchange and/or fetish (e.g. feet, pony play, scat, etc.) to me. This can be a bit tricky, though, because almost2 all sex involves some power exchange; and I can scarcely imagine any sexual encounter without some ‘fetishistic’ attachment to body parts or excretions.

We load heterosexual intercourse (i.e. penis in vagina sex) with lots of baggage, in particular – the very way we often conceptualize intercourse and genitalia themselves usually casts the man as active giver and the woman as passive, submissive ‘receiver’. Plus, the only difference between a guy who gets off on blowjobs & full lips (‘normal’) and a guy who gets off on footjobs & red toenail polish (‘fetish’) is societal approval.

So, one might have a typical “vanilla” sex scene: ‘Man massages and licks the sweat from girl’s breasts and gets turned on by it, because he luvz teh boobies. Also, nipples are an erogenous zone for the girl. Man penetrates girl and fucks her. Halfway through, she says, “Ooh, you fuck me so good!” He gets off on feeling powerful.’

…that looks awfully similar to a “kinky” one: ‘Man massages and licks the sweat from girl’s anus and gets turned on by it, because he loves giving analingus. Also, the girl loves to humiliate him. Woman encloses man’s penis with her vagina and fucks him. Halfway through, she says, “Lie still and give me that cock, you little pantyslut!” He gets off on feeling dirty and used.’

If one were to watch the two scenes, they’d look pretty much the same, mechanically – some massaging & sucking, intercourse, dirty talk, power play sprinkled throughout, and BAM! The only difference is societal approval & what’s going on in everyone’s head, which is why I feel most comfortable conceptualizing ‘kink’ in ways that reveal the arbitrary nature of how we define it.

So, my own definition is very murky, but I like that ambiguity – any sort of rigid division between “kink” and “vanilla” obscures the constructed-ness (and bizarreness, even?) of sexual norms and makes them seem natural. Making the familiar seem bizarre and the bizarre seem all-too-familiar is pretty firm ground to stand on while critiquing the ways these oppressive sexual norms make folks miserable.”

I wrote this awhile ago; and although I’d definitely like to hear other takes on how people define ‘kink’ for themselves, ^those ideas still hold true for me for the very reasons that other people would critique them – that it’s messily ambiguous and makes no clear, absolute division between A or B.
…but that’s sexuality for you, I suppose; and for all its imprecision, at least a definition of ‘kink’ that makes a straight vanilla couple seem awfully similar to me blurs the division between normalcy and deviance, which is good enough for me.
( …for now, at least.)

1. Sex norms are ever-shifting, which is why I tend to latch onto identities that allow for more fluidity.

2. …and I’m being pretty generous with my use of the word ‘almost’. I wouldn’t say that it’s impossible for people to have completely egalitarian sex; but given that power imbalances are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe, I’m very skeptical of the idea and tend to think power play often appears without anyone consciously evoking it. For one thing, I do buy the Dworkinesque idea that het intercourse almost invariably casts women as submissive holes and men as active blunt instruments; but I doubt most straight couples would ever view their sex lives through this lens.

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~ by fistfulofsunshine on May 29, 2009.

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