No, fuck no. This is the pernicious side of sex-positivity. Just because you get off to something doesn’t automatically make it worthy of praise or immune to criticism. To quote #kinkykinkshamer:
Subjects should not be off the table for critical analysis simply because they turn us on. Racism, sexism, authoritarianism, and emotional abuse do not magically become totally okay because of consent.
Opposing “kink shaming” is dangerous because it establishes a sphere of action and thought that is not subject to critique. Furthermore, the sphere it puts outside the realm of criticism is a very important sphere. Sexuality is a realm of human interaction where abuse and violence are rampant. It is a realm of human interaction that deals with our deepest emotions. It is, therefore, a realm that we should be able to think critically about.
Declaring that preferences in this sphere cannot be critiqued is a terrible idea.
For example, people on Tumblr rightly pounce on whites who say “I’m not racist, but I’m just not attracted to black people.” Sex isn’t some kinky Narnia where all oppression disappears. This simplistic “consent = good” analysis rivals right-libertarianism in its sophistication.
Incorrect. Do they not teach English or Logic these days in primary school? Allow me the refute your position in two steps.
Part 1: Linguistic objection—critiquing is not shaming.
Whether in academia or outside it, criticism furthers our understanding of the world. Kinky desires, acts, and communities are among the many things that benefit from a critical perspective. Although marginalized groups such as queer and kink communities seek to work outside the confines of mainstream society, they are nevertheless influenced by pervasive cultural paradigms—For we could talk of moving the Earth with a lever, but where shall we stand?
So far, we agree that those who exempt consensual kink from critical examination are misguided. However, those who misinterpret an anti-shaming message as an anti-critical thinking message are equally clueless about the difference between shaming and critique.
Shame is an appeal to emotion or arbitrary morality, defined in the OED as “The painful emotion arising from the consciousness of something dishonouring, ridiculous, or indecorous in one’s own conduct or circumstances, or of being in a situation which offends one’s sense of modesty or decency.”
Criticism is an appeal to reason, defined in the OED as “passing judgement upon the qualities or merits of anything; esp. the passing of unfavourable judgement.”
Kink-shaming, much like slut-shaming, is a direct attack on the person and the quality of their character.
eg., “What a skank, she deserved it.”
eg., “What a disgusting pervert, we shouldn’t trust her with children.”
Being kink-critical examines the underlying social and cultural factors that permeate our existence, offers our assumptions, desires, and actions up for structural critique, while affirming that you are not a bad person for living in a society filled with privilege, inequality, and problematic paradigms.
eg., “What kind of racialized assumptions of masculinity/femininity are we making when we engage in consensual raceplay?”
eg., “Does femdom get away with more harmful abuse because it is under less scrutiny than maledom?”
eg., “What sort of privileges are required to practice polyamory?”
If you are a self-styled “kink-shamer” who loves critical analysis, it’s time you re-evaluate your methods.
Part 2: Political objection—It does not serve everyone, but it does serve a purpose.
Much like sex positivity, kink positivity serves one main purpose: to combat the rampant sex moralism that manifests itself in our society in everything—from the lack of proper sex education given to teens, to the mistreatment of sex workers, to an ignorance about consent, to the stigmatization of BDSM practitioners.
I believe some of the more sophisticated social justice wonks who backlash against the positivists for being too sophomoric in their ebullient reclamation of “slut” and “pervert” are committing a grave strategic error and missing the forest for the trees.
The fact that there is now a greater awareness to bring asexuals into the sex positive movement does not delegitimize the good work sex positivity is doing and has done to overcome the initial barrier of sex moralism. We cannot have a productive, varsity-level conversation about sex inclusivity while a vast number of American public schools continue to offer abstinence-only sex ed. That’s the nature of progress. We needed to have Frederick Douglass before we could have Malcolm X. And for as whitewashed as Betty Friedan is, we needed The Feminine Mystique before we could have bell hooks.
So no, this flyer does not critique kink on a sophisticated level. It does, however, affirm to kinky people that there is no shame in their desires and that there are others out there just like them. Maybe it’s just preaching to the choir, but maybe someone—especially a young person yet unsure of their sexuality—will see it and be encouraged to take ownership of who they are. That, my friend, is what I call a good start.