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OPINIONS

OMG BDSM

Whether it has impacted you personally or not, you probably know how college romance usually goes. A guy, with fantasies of sex or romance, approaches a girl. As long as she doesn’t tell him to stop, he pushes small boundaries: a surprise compliment or tease, a touch of her hair, a casual arm around her, a stolen kiss in the heat of the moment.

Alcohol and the ambiance of a crowd encourages both to do less second-guessing. If she’s pretty and kind, and he isn’t awkward, they eventually — whether in hours or months — end up together in a dark room, wordlessly stealing bases.

It isn’t a surprise why this game of hints, nudges and assumptions doesn’t work for the kinky — that is, people whose desires lie outside the norms of sexuality or relationships. You can’t assume what you want is in line with what they want, or even, that what you want won’t be extremely violating to them.

Before you decide to open your relationship up to multiple partners, don a diaper for an hour of cuddling, or put an ice cube in your mouth before oral sex, everyone involved has to communicate what they want and consent to what they’ll be doing.

Otherwise, it’s alarmingly likely that someone will be physically or emotionally hurt, perhaps to the point of violation. Pushing boundaries is one of the most psychotic habits one could have and, paired with alcohol’s deleterious impact on decision-making, remarkably dangerous.

Consent and, more broadly, open communication are, by necessity, the foundation of kink since mainstream assumptions about sex and relationships no longer apply.

But did they ever apply? What’s the difference between kink and vanilla?

The aesthetics and shock value of kink are vastly overplayed, so instead of describing kink through common fantasies, I’ll enumerate a few common reasons people identify as kinky. One: The sex or intimacy I want is shamed or uncommon in mainstream society, but it can be accepted and even desired in the kink community. Two: I dislike how integral alcohol and pushing boundaries are to having sex, and prefer a community that emphasizes consent. Three: I want to feel desired — male, trans, overweight, cross-dresser, handicapped, etc. Four: I love applying my brain to sex. Five: It’s fun! Six: I’m interested in feeling pleasure besides in areas other than the genitals.

Everyone’s sexuality is different. It can consist of a different anatomy, libido, orientation, interests, orgasm, ways to orgasm, etc. In this spectrum of sexuality, the line between kink and vanilla is simply the line where society starts judging.

The difference between being kinky and being vanilla is the same as the difference between being straight and being gay. Besides the fact that some people are considered outside the cultural norm and some are not, there is no fundamental difference, and the reality is that most people lie somewhere in between the two extremes.

In a perfectly sex-positive world, there would be no such thing as “kinky.” Whether one’s sexuality is due to genetics or a choice wouldn’t matter, and sex wouldn’t be a game with very convoluted rules that name “winners” and “losers.”

I don’t mean to paint kink as a perfect wonderland. The reality is that it kink exists in the context of modern society, complete with sexual assault, social biases (sexism, racism, etc.) and discrimination.

The entire kink community, including Kardinal Kink, functions under as much anonymity as possible. Many fear the impact being outed would have on their career and relationships.

Many understand and respect our anonymity, but so few question why it is necessary and what negative impact this legacy of silence has on individuals.

Kardinal Kink is just what it sounds like: a Stanford group for all things kink, and a two-pronged effort to create a support system for Stanford students to safely explore kink and to campaign for the legitimacy of kink.

There seem to be more kink-identified people than queer or LGBT-identified people, but one can major in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and never read an article about kink by someone kink-identified.

There are no resources at Vaden or the LGBT-CRC that address kink. There are no classes on campus that explore kink as anything more than a footnote. This isn’t Stanford’s fault in particular, but rather evidence of a widespread tendency for “legitimate” organizations to not acknowledge kink, for fear of being associated with it.

There is so little research into kink that we hardly even know what demographics it reflects, let alone the problems it faces. One exception, a survey by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, found that a third of kink-identified people, including the heavily closeted, report experiencing discrimination based on their involvement with kink.

More than half of that discrimination came from medical professionals and a quarter from government or police officials, which implies that these much-needed services systematically fall short of serving this population’s needs.

This has a concrete, negative impact: Isolation and a lack of resources puts many newcomers to kink at a high risk of abuse. In turn, there are few resources available for those who have their consent broken in an unconventional circumstance. While the kink community tries to enforce consent and offer resources and medical knowledge to those who need it, it should be the job of the police and relevant professionals.

I am not calling for a large-scale civil rights movement like the gay rights movement, but am asking the local community — Stanford as a university and as a campus — to respect kink as a gender and sexuality minority in academia and in services on campus. Although kink is currently dismissed as an individual’s crazy sexual tastes, it represents a world of enthusiastic consent that encourages you to craft the relationships and live the experiences that truly satisfy you; a world that must function in silence and in isolation.

 

This piece was anonymously submitted by the leader of Kardinal Kink. If you wish to contact the author, please send all messages to opinions@stanforddaily.com

  • crux36

    Is kink a sexual identity, like being gay or lesbian? I think it has more to do with taste than gender.

  • Nothing

    Hmm, it seems unfair to define kink in terms of LGBT stuff when they say it’s not the same thing…

    We know that the idea that people were Born This Way isn’t just how it works. Sexual identity is a mix of genetics and of the environment, so I don’t see why kink, which seems more based on environment, doesn’t count as one.

  • noneyobeeswax@yahoo.com

    As a part of the BDSM community I would say it is MUCH appreciated that you would wish to err on the side of caution in giving BDSM freedom of definition.

    In practice though… we try not to sweat the definitions :-). There are at minimum as many flavors of kink as there are individual members of the community. Anything goes as long as it follows the principle of SSC (safe, sane and consensual). Some people prefer the term RACK (risk-aware consensual kink) to acknowledge that plenty of forms of kink have risks. Risks that go beyond what is typical day-to-day life like those associated mountain-climbing or scuba-diving.