Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nothing to reconcile.

Man, I've come up with better answers in the past, but really, being asked to "reconcile" being a feminist and being a polyamorous kinkster just feels irrelevant. Like being asked "How can you wear baseball caps and also own a cat? Don't you feel like a hypocrite?" They're two such separate things in my life.

It's possible to be polyamorous in a misogynist matter, and treat multiple partners as a harem, as multiple possessions and proof of your "status." (I always like that Rowdy's attitude has never been "I'm dating two women--I'm so cool," but "I'm dating two women--these two women are so cool.") It's also possible to be polyamorous because you're so damn feminist that exclusivity seems like oppressive ownership to you.

It's possible to be kinky because you like an excuse to hurt people and deep down you really don't like them--or because you think you really deserve to be hurt. It's also possible to be kinky because you simply like to play with intense and dramatic dynamics and sensations.

Although it's interesting to note that in both of the examples above, people acting in the unfeminist ways tend to be perceived as just plain bad and generally aren't popular in their respective communities. You may be kinky for bad reasons and maybe that's not going away, but very few people who come to be known in The Kink Community (patchwork as it is) are the bad-reasons type. If kink is neither feminist nor anti-feminist, The Kink Community tends to skew feminist. I'm less familiar with The Poly Community but I believe that they are even more so.

Two things contribute further to this:
1) Being in a sexual minority means that you can't hide behind "normal." Saying "well, gender roles are normally XYZ" sounds a little hypocritical when you're wearing floor-length latex and carrying two hundred and forty feet of lovingly coiled hemp rope. You're in no position to be enforcing the status quo.
2) The kink and poly communities are diverse. Although there are probably horrible little enclaves somewhere for people who only align themselves one way, in most kink communities you're going to run into dominant women and submissive men, in poly communities you're going to run into women with multiple male partners, and in both communities there are queer and non-gender-conforming people. Anyone who thinks kink is about putting women in their place would have that clarified for them right quick after about ten seconds with some of my kinky friends.

Finally, the main reason that I don't worry too much about the feminist cred of my sexual activities is that they feel good. Not "I deserved that and my inner pain has found catharsis" good. Like "warm fuzzies" good. I go to work and things get difficult or boring and I think about the bruises on my breasts, the little cuts healing on my back, and I'm happy. It gives me strength through the day.

I don't have the ability or authority to designate every activity on Earth "feminist" or not, but when something gives me as much simple joy as my sex life does, I'm just gonna go ahead and enjoy the hell out of it.


  1. This. So very much this.

    People ask, "how do you reconcile being feminist and submitting to a man?" and my first thought is mostly just "huh?"

  2. Like being asked "How can you wear baseball caps and also own a cat?

    Love it!


  3. (I always like that Rowdy's attitude has never been "I'm dating two women--I'm so cool," but "I'm dating two women--these two women are so cool.")

    To be fair, being poly has been pretty good for my ego. It becomes remarkably hard to maintain my K-12 education generated self-image of "I am utterly uncool" in the face of multiple relationships with multiple awesome women. So, I guess it's more like "I'm married and dating two women, I must be at least kinda cool."

  4. I think people that try to put a negative label on things like this just don't understand them. Their loss!

  5. I remain puzzled why Liking The Hittysex and Thinking Women And Men Are Equal are even related at all, except insofar as they both occasionally fall into the Venn diagram circle of It's My Body, The Fuck Do You Care What I Do With It?

  6. Yeah. I simply like sex and like testing the limits. I love trying new things with my man. I need to keep it interesting for both of us if I want to be with him forever. Makes sense to me...

  7. Gods yes! It's an unfortunate fact of life that most people associate poly with certain not-so-fun religious groups, but really, it isn't like that. The assumption in Western culture that everyone has ~one special soulmate~ is annoying at best. At worst, I think, it degrades people's opinions of themselves, because they think if they can't find the perfect person, then something must be wrong with them.

  8. "It's also possible to be kinky because you simply like to play with intense and dramatic dynamics and sensations."

    Beautifully well said. I've often tried to find the right words to say something like that, but I've never managed it with such succinct eloquence.

  9. It's also possible to be kinky because you simply like to play with intense and dramatic dynamics and sensations.

    It certainly sounds possible.

    This is something I've just been thinking about for my own case, the why of being kinky. It's not my why, but it sounds possible.

    May I suggest that this is not a full explanation for your case either; it sounds more like a switch, because a dominant gets to play with those too.

  10. Mousie -"Intense and dramatic" blah blah is a total euphemism for the stuff we actually do. I don't want to do "something dramatic, whatever it is" half so much as I want cuts on my back and teeth marks on my tits.

  11. Holly, that's kind of what I meant. I'm thinking about a different level of why; not so much "because one simply likes cuts on one's back and teeth marks on one's tits", but why we like those things.

    I'm on this kick because I realized for my part that there are things I'm saying through being a bottom, and a top, that I'm implictly expecting to be communicated to my partner. Despite the fact I'd never laid it out in words myself. And I also realized how unlikely it is that anyone's going to just get it when I realized that everyone who wasn't a switch was saying something different by topping or bottoming.

    So now I'm curious what other people are thinking, how other people's kinks work.

  12. Scarlett Knight is absolutely right. What's not understood is automatically criticized by the vast majority. Too bad men like me are marginalized and remarkably, it's mostly from women.


  13. Uhm, in a word: YAwww!

    All dat stuff mon. Although I do understand where people are coming from when asking that "reconcilation" question, but really, you said it superbly.

  14. Hershele OstropolerDecember 7, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    I've seen the argument that in the post-Patriarchy, There Will Be No Kink. My reaction to this when kinky people express fear of feminism in these terms is "1) probably not but 2) if so, what of it? It's not like people who are already kinky will be rounded up for reprogramming" but the belief explains why people think kink and feminism are irreconcilable. I suspect the forms kink takes are influenced by the environment -- think 18th-century latex fetishists -- but the pervy will always be with us.