liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
[personal profile] liv
So when I was composing my post about PDA I intended to include in the discussion my reaction [personal profile] thingswithwings's post on I don't like X but. And the post got a bit out of hand, so I didn't have time to get to that discussion, so I'm adding it here.

This is a very meta sort of post, I'm talking about talking about potentially charged topics. So I'll at least mention violence including sexual violence, and I will also refer to sexually explicit including kinky stuff. I don't expect to go into lots of detail about anything, but those will be the topics. And now I'm being the centipede because the whole post is about how I should phrase this kind of description of what I'm about to write about and of course I've made myself completely self-conscious about doing so.

I sort of agree with [personal profile] highlyeccentric that perhaps what I'm doing here is simply rehashing the trigger warnings debate, but I also reckon I have the beginnings of some ideas that are at new at least to me. Most of what got left out of the PDA post was to do with figuring out the most appropriate way to talk about kink. Certainly, not at all, or only in private spaces, are options, but not really my preferred option from where I'm starting at the moment.

So [personal profile] marina linked to [personal profile] thingswithwings' post from Twitter, and I read it and followed lots of the links to older iterations of the discussion, and I've been turning it over in my mind a bit. There was also some interesting discussion chez [personal profile] rmc28.

And it's true, I absolutely do the thing of saying, it's not my kink but, I'm not usually into this but. I don't think I'm doing that because I want to distance myself from those icky perverted tastes, but I take [personal profile] thingswithwings' point that it doesn't have to be intentional to be part of a pattern. In my post about power stuff, I wasn't so much talking about fiction itself as I was self-disclosing, so talking about what I'm into or not into seemed like relevant information; that's perhaps a slightly different situation from the one discussed in the post, which is mainly to do with recs and comments on kinky fic within the fandom community. I'm pretty sure I am distancing by mentioning more than I really need to that I'm not into Fifty Shades of Grey. I want to say that's more of a snobbery thing than a kink thing, I wouldn't want anyone to think I read serial-numbers-filed-off bad fanfic. But in some ways it's distancing from the kink as well, because I don't think it's meaningfully consensual.

What this brought to mind was the research that suggests politically conservative / authoritarian types are often strongly motivated by questions of purity and disgust, where as more liberal types care about fairness. And I'm a typical liberal in that I really think when it comes to sex, whatever's consensual is ok. But in some ways it feels like I'm just lucky that I'm squicked by non-con, I don't know if I can really claim the moral high ground compared to people who are squicked by body fluids. I can make a case why there really is a bright line between consensual stuff, however gross, however medically unwise, no matter how much it recapitulates oppressive dynamics; and anything that is imposed by one person on another against their will. Even if I convince myself of that, though, I don't want to apply that standard to imagination. I don't think people should be made to feel ashamed of their fantasies, and I don't at all want to argue for censorship of fiction and art, erotic or any other.

So where that leaves me is that, empirically, lots of people are sexually drawn to things that are taboo. And some of those things are taboo because (our society generally finds) they are gross, some because they involve hurting people, and some things because (our society generally finds) they are morally unacceptable. I am strongly committed to the idea that having those desires doesn't make you a bad person, because I don't want a purity-based morality, I want as much room as possible for the broadest diversity of personal choices. I want to be supportive of people who are into stuff I'm offended by, because I would want that same respect myself, and because I don't think my sense of offensiveness is a good moral barometer.

I think one of the key points that [personal profile] thingswithwings makes is that a lot of what pretends to be morality is really respectability policing, it's enforcing normative relationships and contributing to harm towards people who don't fit that norm. I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the analogy between homophobia and kink-shaming / anti-kink prejudice. On one level, yes, the analogy really does hold, and I think the examples of early slash fiction having a lot of no-homo disclaimers is pertinent, as is the concept of homonormativity where it's ok to be "gay" as long as that looks like two gender-normative men who completely recapitulate conventional heterosexual socially approved relationships. And yes, prejudice against kinky people can lead to real-world harm including violence, as [personal profile] thingswithwings argues cogently a comment. Even acknowledging that, I never like trying to claim that any sort of unfair treatment is the same as systematic oppression, it risks being appropriative.

I have occasionally come across the idea, and I need to read more background on this, that there's a difference between oppressed groups and... some other term which is not despised but something along those lines. Trying to decide who's "really" oppressed versus privileged is not a productive line of discussion IMO, but if there were another term for people who are rejected and discriminated against but not part of historically oppressed communities, that might perhaps be useful. I mean, groups like nerds, goths, furries, poly people, and, yes, kinksters. Which is not to minimize how dangerous it can be to be [despised]. There certainly are examples of people who have lost jobs and families and been subjected to violence because of belonging to a subculture not accepted by the mainstream. And the consequences don't have to be that extreme to matter, being bullied and rejected is absolutely serious and absolutely not acceptable just because it's different from homophobia.

My point is, I'm not looking for an excuse to be horrible to kinky people, or rather, people who are differently kinky from me, just because they're not "really" oppressed, far from it! I think [personal profile] thingswithwings has a really good point and I do think it's a good idea for me to at least stop and think before I make declarations of what I'm Not Into. But at the moment I do go with labelling kinky stuff carefully so that people can decide if they want to read it. I don't want to be forcing discussion of topics that people may find uncomfortable or upsetting or traumatic onto anyone. I think I do risk falling into a respectability trap, of putting more negative labels on kinks that either I disapprove of myself, or that I think most of my social group are likely to disapprove of. Like in the text outside the cut in this post, I said I would mention violence, sexual violence, sex and kink. I absolutely do not think those things are equivalent! I tried to make my wording clear and not imply that kinky sex in any way belongs in a category with real-world rape, but maybe in mentioning it at all I contributed to a general negative attitude towards kink.

Of course, there's the compromise of using content notes rather than warnings, especially "trigger" warnings. I do generally try not to make a judgement of what other people will or should find upsetting or triggery. But I'm not sure that really solves the problem; to go back to the somewhat shaky homophobia analogy, it's potentially like the fact that same-sex behaviours get higher film ratings than the equivalent opposite-sex behaviours. Being rated for older viewers isn't in itself a negative comment on same-sex affection, but if that keeps happening as a pattern, it contributes to the idea that same-sex interactions are somehow more weird or more shocking or more dangerous. Likewise if I make a point of saying that I'm discussing or linking to kink, I'm marking kink as non-normative.

Following links outwards from [personal profile] thingswithwings' post I read some really thoughtful comment discussion referencing the fact that some kinks play on things that are taboo not because of arbitrary social prejudices, but because they mimic things that if they happened IRL would be violent or oppressive. I do think it's morally right to give people the choice over whether they want to be exposed to something like that. There's also the issue, which some people in related discussion have raised, that it's a cop-out to just say, oh well, it's my personal sexual taste, so it's above criticism. Kink culture is sexist and racist and full of oppressive hierarchy, just like broader culture, and it's true that it's not fair to put all the blame for these wider problems on kink, it's also not right to hide behind the claim that if it's sexual and therefore part of people's identities (or indeed, if it's art and freedom of expression), it must be morally good.

Sometimes when talking about kink, there is a positive moral value as well as a potential harm in mentioning that the non-consensual or oppressive stuff being simulated or imagined is actually a bad thing. Like, goodness knows there's enough cultural messages telling women that they should give up their autonomy and do whatever men say, or that it's understandable if men are violent towards their partners if the partners are irritating, without making men controlling and beating women into this glamorous and sexy thing. Not only do I want to shield survivors of intimate partner violence or incest from unexpectedly stumbling across depictions of something that looks like what they went through, I want to send a clear message that IRL violence, incest etc are wrong. And I would like to find a way to do that without kink-shaming, if possible.

Right, that ended up being not quite coherent. Let me put it out there anyway and see what people think.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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