Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Myth of d20 Sexuality.

Oh, I was just born a submissive heteroflexible masochistic slut with a preference for medium-husky boyish geeks. Like someone rolled a die at birth and picked my identity off a loot table. Maybe it's genetics. Maybe it's "wiring." Maybe it's magic.

And if it wasn't that way, it's a problem. If society, or my childhood, or my past experiences contributed to my preferences, they're no longer valid. The fact that I like to be cut with a knife is totally hot and cool when it's just some random thing--as soon as I reveal that I used to self-cut, it's probably pathological and I need to address my issues and certainly not play that way. The only healthy fetishes are the ones that you're sure came out of fucking nowhere.

Of course that isn't true. My present bears all the marks of my past, and my past wasn't all hugs and bunnies--not that I'm some sob story, no one's past was perfect. I'm a generally happy person right now, I'm pretty comfortable in my skin, but I'm nobody's blank slate. A lot of my sexuality comes from my past, in good, bad, and neutral ways.

And I think that's okay. It makes me happy now, and anyway I can't get rid of it even if I "should." If I'm happy before I get cut up, while I'm getting cut up, and after I get cut up--that's enough. It doesn't have to be "pure."

This is one of those arguments that's probably not true at extremes. If you've been really badly abused and now you seek out really bad abuse, I'm not nearly enough of a licensed kink-friendly therapist to tell you how to deal with that. Although my belief is that "your abuse disqualifies you from all kink, sorry but you have to be vanilla now" might not be the whole answer.

But if your life was a little rough, and now you like your sex a little rough, probably it's not unconnected, and that's okay.


  1. Of course, it is stupid to assume that our sexualities are formed in a vacuum, without interference from the real world, cultural contexts and personal experiences. But it is hugely presumptuous to assume that all sexual preferrences that don't adhere to the traditional idea of normal sexuality (i.e. perfectly vanilla) are automatically bad for the person. What would be bad for the person is to convince them that just because their desires are less conventional they are bad - this leads to supressing desires and severely limited expression of sexuality and we all know how fucked up sexually repressed people can be (look at the Catholic Church for a particularly vivid example).

  2. Yet again, so much this. The argument that's en vogue in the LBGT community at the moment, that we were just born this way, makes me very uneasy, because...well, I'm not just bisexual. I'm bisexual with a preference for women, emotionally, but men, sexually. And generally only men who are either much older or really effeminate. And I really like red hair. But only on girls. And British accents! But mostly on boys. And hats! Hats are awesome. And high heels. But not stilletos, just platforms.

    At which point did that list stop being nature and start being nurture? All of the things I just mentioned are part of my sexuality but I can't imagine being born with SUCH specific tastes.


  3. I have a very strong preference for footjobs which I developed during my two marriages. I never got enough sex in either and it's pretty clear to me that the footjob preference is connected to the idea of asking very little; I suspect it would be gradually reduced if I were married to someone who was happy about the amount of sex I want. I always loved cunnilingus and I know that's because of the giving aspect.

    I wonder if in many cases the dom role in rape fantasy and BDSM is rooted in the same frustration; turned outward as anger rather than inward as depression.

  4. Boy howdy, I'm with ya. I think some part of the conceptual problem may be an overenthusiasm for analogizing all forms of discrimination to racism: the argument against intolerance is much easier if gay people/DS enthusiasts/furries can't _help_ it. And the implicit dismissiveness of that model may never even be noticed.

  5. Of course your desires come out of your background and experiences. Duh.

    And kink is only a problem if it leads to 1. problems functioning in life and/or 2. it upsets the person with the kink. Doesn't matter what their parents, church, siblings, barber, whatever think, kink is the kinky person's business alone.


  6. THANK YOU. Another kinky blogger I follow (who I agree with about most other things) wrote a huge post about how most kinksters are just born that way and it's horribly ignorant for anyone to assume otherwise. A bunch of BDSMers commented their agreement and I wondered if it was just me whose kinks could be traced back to certain psychological scars.

    I dunno, I feel like this is pretty much the same as if I'd been physically hurt and now the scar tissue is really sensitive and erogenous. If I get turned on by someone touching my scar, and my partner gets turned on by touching it, too, then what's the problem?

  7. Christ, thank you. I'm not all that kinky, but even outside of sex, the past shapes the present. As long as your coping mechanisms/reactions/what-have-you are making you happy and not fucking with your life, I don't see what's wrong with them.

    (also, the next time I hear 'if you were sexually assaulted and you have a high sex drive, you're just acting out your trauma and you MUST BE STOPPED', I might scream. If you're being stupid or unsafe about your sex life, or if it's making you more miserable, you should stop. Otherwise, go fuck and have fun)

  8. I tend to say I'm "just wired that way" when it comes to my kinks, but I don't mean "biologically, with no outside influence." I mean, "it's in there and it's not going away, 'cause at this point it's part of how I'm put together." I figure like most things, some of it's nature and some of it's nurture, and sometimes I'll be able to tease out which is which and sometimes I won't.

    The whole "I was just born this way" thing is definitely sometimes based on the idea that if something made you that way, it must be bad. Which is silly. My life experiences have influenced everything I am -- if it's not bad for me to be into artistic shit because of formative childhood experiences, why should it be bad to like being bossed around in bed? And, possibly for some people, it comes out of having no clue how they got to be how they are -- so then, instead of concluding that it doesn't much matter anyway, it's declared biological, so then no one can argue.

  9. I don't think you pick personality traits off a loot table. (Sorry.)

  10. Well, if things came down mostly to environment in terms of defining traits, I would think that my own heteroflexibility is a result of largely growing up in a sexual vacuum (it seems to me that this is what most people would end up as by default). There was no real indications which I can recall that other people thought sex in general, or any particular orientation, was/were either positive or negative, or even any real indication that anybody had any sexual orientation or preferences at all beyond the fact that some adults had children. (I rarely watched TV or movies, and didn't make much in the way of social connections due to the fact that my parents moved every 5-10 months, so I probably missed out on a lot. Hell, I wasn't even aware of the concept of religion until my late teens!)

    And my preference toward domination would be a result of... well, you try growing up with one parent and one sibling who are hyper-dominant and the other parent and sibling who are rather passive-aggressive, all of whom acted as if compromise was a form of self-rape or something... And often in my life I've had to deal with people who are simply uncooperative in regards to important issues... Sometimes I just want the satisfaction of someone who will listen and do what I ask (or demand) them to do. It's like anti-frustration.

  11. Man, I hear "sexuality" and "d20" in the same sentence, and my first thought is "chaotic good rogue"!

    That being said, however, I completely agree. "Justifying" sexual kink with weirdass biological determinism always creeps me out. It's not okay because it's "natural", it's okay because I enjoy it and it's not hurting anyone (without consent). Why does it need a rationale?

    (BTW, I tend to post on most sites as Sam L. Open ID cannot verify me.)

  12. I'm so vanilla that my opinion may be irrelevant, but it seems to me that there's not necessarily a dichotomy between nature and nurture here. You may be born with proclivities and then learn how to express them; you may be wired to like getting hit, but being bent over "Daddy's" knee is something you could want only after learning it's an option.

  13. thank god, someone else who likes to get cut up in play. Never met anyone else with that bent; even the kinky-ish folks I know figure I'm just fucked up.

  14. Rather late to the party, but ...

    Latex fetishism probably does not predate the vulcanization of rubber in the 19th century. I doubt there were a lot of sexually frustrated would-be latex fetishists in the millennia before there was any latex. So it makes sense to assume that all such things are learned to some extent.

  15. Roughly 900 years after you originally posted this, I'm going through and reading your old posts after clicking over on a link from another blog, and can I just say - THIS.

    This is the sort of thing that gets shoved under all the wrong sorts of rugs, and I really respect your calling it out in this manner. Especially since you take something of a moderate stance, and emphasize the importance of happiness. Because while unrealistic emphasis on biological determinism upsets me, so does the YKIOK attitude that can really go too far, easily.

    I've seen too many young, vulnerable, abused girls get preyed on by experienced men who played on their insecurities in a real-life, manipulative way that was genuinely damaging, all the while maintaining the banner of kink. Freedom of choice: yes. But a blanket policy of OK-ing responses to demonstrably harmful situations? That makes me seriously uncomfortable, and it leads me to always ending up steering clear of the BDSM scene. To clarify - not because I think it's necessarily all that prevalent, but because I just don't know what to do with the YKIOK attitude's (to me) alarmingly broad applications.

    Anyway, the main reason I'm commenting (and in such an awkwardly belated fashion!) is because this post struck a chord with me. See, I introspect obsessively. But this leads to some distressing discoveries about WHY I like certain things, and it gets rather disturbing at times. Sometimes, it's downright disturbing, thinking about how my brain has gotten from point A to point...I don't know, H? I mean, really, I feel like the odds of my mentioning to my boyfriend that I rather enjoy being choked are pretty low in the first place (in part simply because I am absolutely not into things at all unless the person doing them is verrrrry into them, so asking for specific things generally doesn't get me the actual experience I would want)...but having contemplated the issue at length, that is a can of worms I -really- do not want to open. Because I realized that for me desire is intrinsically, deeply tied to fear and helplessness, and that this particular predilection derives from both, specifically because I am prone to severe panic attacks which limit my actual ability to breathe, resulting in shortness of breath under any circumstances being a near-automatic trigger for a panic attack. Except, apparently, during sex, with an extra dose of helpnessness.

    I find that disturbing. But if attitudes like what you expressed in this post were more common, even in, ah, alternative circles, maybe it would be less disturbing, because this sort of thing would be more talked about and more integrated. So, thank you. Really a lot. I'm sorry for a long anonymous ramble, but I had a rather elaborate sort of gratitude to expect.

    Oh, and also: you are hilarious. As a general statement. <3