Wednesday, September 20, 2006

On kink

In my racism class, for grad school, part of our "getting to know you!" introductory exercises had us think about labels and what we identify as, individually.

The list of usual suspects was on there - sex, age, race, ethnicity, economic class, etc. I added gender identity and sexual orientation, because I think about those a lot in the course of my work. I got to add them because there was an "other" category, for anything we wanted.

I got home tonight and was thinking about all the things I could put there, but didn't, and first on the list was my identity as kinky, sexually speaking. I would have completely forgotten about the exercise, except for the fact that we were talking about deviance this week, and how it's very easy to classify someone as deviant, and what that means.

The important thing I gleaned was that deviance is all in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, if the beholder is "American society as a whole", I, as a kinky person, am deviant. Highly deviant, if you want to get particular.

But anywhere else, I'm not so deviant. I'm an independent, mid-twenties, white, well-educated woman. I'm not dependent on anyone, or the government for that matter (except for student loans, but those are socially acceptable forms of dependence). In fact, I work to help make other people less deviant, in my field.

It also got me thinking about socially acceptable forms of deviance. It's okay to be gay (more or less), okay to be a working woman, okay to be anti-Bush, okay to be on Medicare or Medicaid (as an elderly or disabled person). In fact, we applaud people who are honest about these things - at least in the circles I run in; I realize that the "red states" might feel differently about them. But while I wouldn't have a problem describing myself as bi or lesbian or even trans in that "other" category, I still wouldn't feel comfortable coming out as kinky. Society as a whole would still classify me as deviant, and would try to stigmatize me for that deviance.

Hell, some days I do it to myself, for all of my liberal and sex-positive attitudes.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that it sucks that kinkiness is still so largely stigmatized (as is sex as a whole, really), and that it's really hard to like yourself when the messages you get tell you not to, even over something as minor as one aspect of your identity. Not that identity is minor, but there are so many other things that I am that I don't think I should be condemned on one of them - one of them that really is quite fulfilling, thank you very much.

1 comment:

WM said...

A very good post with some really interesting points. I agree with what you say.

I certainly wouldn't find you as deviant but then again, I'd be labeled as one as well.