The word “kink” is a slippery term, and depending on whom you ask, it can have varying, even competing, definitions. But while speaking in the aggregate about all kink practices can be difficult, I don’t think I’m overgeneralizing when I say that consent is central to kink, so much so that it is very often foregrounded, explicit, and detailed, with clearly established, agreed-upon protocols for withdrawing or adjusting one’s consent. It isn’t at all unusual for sexual partners to write out physical contracts about what is allowed and what is not.

Earlier this month, Garth Greenwell and I published Kink, an anthology of fifteen writers’ short stories centered around kink, desire, power, sex, and bodies. Garth and I started dreaming up this anthology in 2017, with the central hope of creating a book that might stand in opposition to the widespread tendency to reduce kink communities and practices to pathologies, jokes, or caricatures. Such reductive tendencies can seem especially odd given that one shared characteristic of kink practices is that they don’t take for granted what sex can look like. Given those pathologies, jokes, and caricatures, I’d steeled myself for the ignorance that would surely attend the book’s publication, so I shouldn’t have been surprised (though I always am, no amount of preparation ever being enough) when ignorant people made themselves heard on Garth’s and my social-media feeds.

Some abusers, these people claimed, deployed kink as a cover for harming others; therefore, they said, kink itself was bad and dangerous. It’s possible the conversation was especially heated because the performer Marilyn Manson has been in the news recently following allegations that he terribly abused former sexual partners, including actors Esmé Bianco and Evan Rachel Wood. The actor Armie Hammer has been in the news recently for similar reasons, with multiple former partners alleging that Hammer abused them. (Manson has denied the allegations. Earlier this month, he was dropped by his talent agent and booking label. He is currently under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for alleged domestic-violence incidents. Hammer has also denied the allegations against him and has also been dropped by his talent agent and publicist.)

Bianco says that during what was supposed to be a music-video shoot, Manson turned violent: He tied her with cables, repeatedly hit her with a whip, and applied electric shocks to her wounds. Some have claimed that Bianco’s story is evidence that kink is harmful, because it describes how one common manifestation of kink, BDSM — an umbrella term which includes bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism — could be used to hurt women.

But what Manson allegedly did to Bianco, as Bianco herself has noted, wasn’t BDSM. What Hammer allegedly did to his partners wasn’t BDSM either. As the Cut reported, Manson and Bianco “hadn’t discussed consent or safe words, which she knew from both personal experience and the fetish performers in her circle were crucial for safe power dynamics.” Consent is both the foundation of kink and its front door: The fastest way to be expelled from a kink space is to violate someone’s consent. This often extends to actions elsewhere thought acceptable, like touching another person without clear consent.

As a result, a lot of people — women very much included — have found that kink spaces and kink communities can feel markedly safer than other, less consent-prioritizing spaces. Consider, for instance, the consent violations that could (and often did) take place in a single evening in a predominantly heterosexual sports bar, back when we could go to bars. Consider the reality that many people who take part in submissive roles find that, with consent made so explicit, they can have even more control in a kinky sexual encounter than they otherwise would. Accordingly, many kinky people feel that the person truly in control in such encounters is the submissive.

Read the Full Article Here:

The Willful Misunderstanding of Kink What does it mean to conflate a sexual practice with abuse? by R.O. Kwon

Feb. 22 2021