This is our truth, tell us yours
Last night I was reminded of why I cut of virtually all contact with the kink community. A while back someone who had followed me for years on twitter wrote a post about sex work that was so offensive that it could have been hosted on the pages of the New Statesman. The post wondered what a sex worker did if there were consent violations, we couldn’t say no if we had been paid after all. It postulated about having sex with men you didn’t fancy, and generally treated sex workers as the usual hybrid of victim hookers and tarts with hearts but no brains.
I was forced to admit that despite writing about sex work, kink and almost every aspect of my life, and sharing the work of others, this person had only been interested in the kink. They saw one dimension of me, the submissive, regularly praised my writing but ignored anything else. They could ignore my writings on sex work because the only identity they were interested in was that of being kinky.
This goes to the heart of my issues with the kink community, and safe words. It seems to me that for far too many people their kink becomes a defining feature, and they assume it separates them from non kinky people. I would say its the only interesting thing about them, except how another person has sex is rarely interesting.
Carter wrote brilliantly about safe words here, summing it up by asking why he would need one? I think a lot of kink folk would answer that they need one because its a sign of their difference. They can’t use no, or stop because that is what vanilla folk do. The fuss and furore that comes up every time safe words are mentioned online is actually around people saying look at me, I am special, I even have a word that means stop. Its not about making people safe from consent violations, but about reinforcing the fact they are not vanilla.
Usually at this point the safe word lobby throw some what ifs at you. So here are some back. What if the sub dissociates and so cannot speak never mind say purple trumpet trousers? What if the sub forgets her safe word, and the Dom carries on anyway? What if the sub is too distressed to carry on, does play continue until they are calm enough to say their safe word? That last point reminds me of a recent meeting with Carter. Sometimes I have flashbacks during our time together, flashbacks to what happened to me as a child. It’s almost impossible to describe, far beyond edge play, a cathartic, mind altering experience. At which point, I wonder, am I meant to safe word to protect myself from the pain?
“Ah but you know each other well and are in a long-term relationship” I hear you mutter. We never had a safe word, I never wanted to build my identity around being just one thing, particularly if that one thing was how I like to get off. I could not see why people needed a magic word for one kind of sexual relationship but not another. If I did not have a safeword for sex with my life partner why did I need one for sex with Carter? It just seemed another way of falsely dividing “vanilla” from “kink”. Another false binary. They like Grey, seem to believe their desires are unconventional, and that this somehow defines them as a person. For some it might I suppose, and those people are probably as dull as Christian Grey, or as my gran used to say, net curtains at the window but nowt but jam on the table. *
We, as human beings, like to be tribal. It however causes wars, pain and suffering. Someone disagreeing with me about safe words is a minor issue, the desire to say that group there is different to me, and therefore lesser is at the root of most of mans inhumanity to man. While we still try to claim something as trivial as how we get our rocks off as an identity what hope is there for building bridges about the stuff that really matters?
* a less polite version of this is fur coat and no knickers.