Is Mainstreaming Killing the Allure?
So apparently the new trailer for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie just aired. For a lot of people, Fifty Shades is their only encounter with the BDSM world. Unfortunately, I’m not the target audience so I haven’t read the trilogy completely, though I’ve tried. BUT! Based on convos I’ve had with people, the limited exposure I have to the text, and the trailer itself, I’ve started to become a little concerned.
I like being a pervert. I like the seeing the expressions on my friends’ faces when I tell them my latest exploit and hearing their questions about their own sexuality after. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not do kinky shit for other people. I do not do kinky shit just to escape normality. That said, something about the taboo makes it so sexy.
Obviously, this isn’t the first literary exploration of BDSM. We got the Marquis de Sade saying all kinds of glorious smut in Philosophy in the Boudoir from like 200 years ago. More recently, Story of O and Whip Smart also explore the community from diff angles. So it’s out there. However, I’d argue the narrative has not been discussed as readily and as mainstreamly as today. Fifty Shades, besides being bestselling mommy porn, is being turned into a multimillion dollar blockbuster. Folks eat that shit up.
From what I can tell, Grey, the main character, wasn’t any representative of healthy BDSM. He seems to be a pure sadist, not worried about consent. In the trailer, Anastasia even says, “I don’t know that I can be with him in the way he needs me to.” The trailer illustrates a cautionary tale of the beautiful big bad Christian Grey who has a troubled past which has led to his “singular tastes.” The trailer depicts a constant battle in which Anastasia tries to break into Christian’s mental vault while he warns her that he’s not the man for her. There’s something very wrong about that. And what’s worse is that this is the narrative for a lot of relationships not just this fictional BDSM one. One partner doing things he or she is not comfortable with in order to please and gain access their sig other's care, attention, or affection. Back in that dive bar, when I was talking to The German about the book, he said, and I’m paraphrasing, it was fucked up. He talked about how there are scenes in which Anastasia doesn’t want to do what she is forced to do. No matter how you fucking look at it, it’s a violation.
So now we got this widespread dissemination of rape fantasy equating BDSM. Not just in the movies either. Jian Ghomeshi just tried to pass off blatant violation as BDSM. Sure. He’s probs into the kink community, but so many women have come out and said they didn’t consent to his roughness.
Now we’ve got two problems. Mainstream BDSM removing the back alley allure of BDSM and spreading a false non-consenting image of it. At least show a healthy version. Either way, folks are buzzing about BDSM right now. The usual fear and misunderstanding bathe the discussion, whipping people back into their vanilla closets while practitioners repeat to no avail that we perverts are not abusers and miscreants.
One of the biggest fears I’ve encountered when talking to vets in the kink community is the fear of being found out. Whether it be a coworker seeing marks left from a scene or a wife seeing her husband leaving his Mistress, people don’t want their dirty private life to be mixed in with their image in the public eye. Perhaps it’s maintaining the taboo allure or maybe it’s the shame associated with being different. Maybe it’s the fear of being shunned and looked at with disgust, or that their professions just don’t allow for it.
I never really experienced this shame. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m already very noticeably outside the norm, so I was a little like what the fuck when I realized I liked BDSM related stuff. It wasn’t shame per se. More like a teenage freak out about further marginalizing myself. Ha, but I’ll save those cross sections for another day. The point is, I never really felt the shame in exactly the same way as the vets I’ve talked to. Perhaps I am already a product of this mainstreaming. Perhaps this constant narrative has allowed rookies like me not to be ashamed of our desires, but to dive head first into the community. And I love this possibility. Clearly I want to help give people license to explore whatever the fuck gets them wet, but I’m conflicted. I also want to be a member of this top secret kinky club full of free spirits and adventurers.
Do you feel like mainstreaming strips BDSM of some of its grit?
I have no rights to this video. It is from Youtube.
A Look at Monogamish
A few years back, I encountered Dan Savage’s “Savage Love.” I never became an avid listener or reader, but one thing that truly resonated with me was the monogamish idea.
So we’ve got monogamy, more of a one-on-one equation, and monogamish, one-on-one with a twist.
My understanding of monogamish is simple: mutual embracing of all of your partner’s needs. So yes, if you all of a sudden want to go out and have a gangbang where firefighters jizz on your face, that’s awesome! BUT you do have to acknowledge that that may not suit your partner’s needs. In that vein, monogamish is a dialogue between two people dedicated to each other, about what they need from each other.
Dan (Mr. Savage if you’re nasty) advises people to be “GGG—good (in bed), giving (of equal pleasure), and game (for anything--within reason).” What I take this to mean is open-mindedness on both sides of the equation. The ish in monogamish seems to inherently denote multiple parties. However, I feel like for Savage it can also mean a movement away from the stiff traditional monogamous mindset i.e. you’re with me, don’t look, touch, or fantasize about anyone other than me.
Let’s look at this from a novice BDSM perspective:
Game for anything
Game for anything means that your partner will at least listen to any idea you have about sex. This doesn’t necessarily mean going along with it, but at least listening and brainstorming a way to satisfy that need or idea. Sometimes just being allowed to bounce something off your partner and break it down is refreshing. When there isn’t a way to do this, you get into the realm of shame, and that shit’s for the birds. Unintentional shame has no place in BDSM. This open dialogue exists to eliminate shame and create safe spaces where we can be as freaky as we want to be, so you and your partner can explore all ranges of kinky stuff.
Giving of equal pleasure
When you’re game for anything you can then start pleasing and satisfying your partner’s deepest darkest fantasies. This pleasure is not just physical. Pleasure is also visual and mental. Often, you don’t have to receive physical touch to feel pleasure. I find that, when I top, 85% of my pleasure is visual and mental. Power dynamics fascinate me, with all the different ways we submit or dominate in the spheres of our daily lives. While power is not always equal in relationships or sex, pleasure should be. Subs should feel like they’re getting what they need. Doms should feel like they’re getting what they need. Switches should feel like they’re getting what they need. This includes the after care ointments, chocolate, and conversation. Everyone should come away feeling pleased and comfortable thanks to the monogamish foundation of openness.
Good in Bed:
Game for anything + Mutual pleasure = good in bed.
My main sexual desire is to constantly push my boundaries. The idea of constant casual vanilla sex bores the living daylights outta me, while the idea of casual BDSM sex evokes a certain Jian Ghomeshi non-consensual psycho bullshit type of terror.
The complaint I have the most about sex is that my partner for that moment, whether long term or short term, wasn’t listening or paying attention to the situation or my verbal/non-verbal instructions. For relationships, this inattentiveness was mostly due to not being game for anything and becoming uncomfortable during the dialogue about sexual needs. Monogamy should offer a safe space for you to push the envelope as much as you want with someone you trust, ideally. Nothing should be taboo. The ish factor should offer that leeway for multiple partner play and general experimentation. That gangbang fantasy? Yea let’s try it? Golden showers? I don’t see why not! While you’re safe and trusting you can do whatever you like and be a sex rock star to your partner.
I’ve been wondering how to apply monogamish to my relationships. It just feels like it’s easier in theory than practice. Feelings are real, as is jealousy. Navigating real emotion while keeping a constant open mind while exploring multiple partners and pushing sexual boundaries, you will certainly encounter difficulties and challenges. I think that the dialogue and trust help me get through the hard stuff, but I’ve found that letting shit go is the most important thing. Letting go of the fear, letting go of the insecurity, and letting go of the hurt when you misperceive your partner’s motivation. In a way I feel like monogamish is only for the dedicated couple. It is far too much work for a couple who isn’t serious about each other. Or, maybe by starting off monogamish, relationships have a better success rate. But this is a conversation for another day.
Quest is a switch in training