As a feminist I struggle with what i feel is objectifying and counter to my feminist philosophies daily, as I encounter various television shows, movies, books and hashtag activism online. I’ve even struggled with how i interact with pornography. As a staunch sex-positive person, I feel that embracing pleasure as a right and exploring one’s body in whatever way (consensually and legally speaking) pleases oneself is healthy and wonderfully fulfilling. Yet, one cannot deny the truth, some pornography (I will not generalize and say that all or even most) is demeaning and perpetuates the very sexist patriarchal institutions that we (as a people) must negotiate for our very safety and equity everyday. This brings me to what type of porn can I personally watch which is less offensive and gets me off still. There is in fact feminist pornography which uses many sex-positive tactics and consent-based platforms to show conversation, expression of desires and needs, and the mutual fulfilment of both (or all) parties involved. What about if you just want to jerk it, quick and dirty so you can go to sleep quickly? Maybe watching porn with no volume, no English subtitles, what about Henti? That way you don’t have to worry about those people being real. The jury is still out for me about porn, but I don’t judge others (nor myself at times) for watching it.
As I mentioned, feminists have it hard sometimes because it seems like wherever you turn, there is something wrong. To be clear, I am not suggesting that feminists should stop being so easily offended or that being politically correct is really being overly sensitive and wanting to be offended. When you open your eyes to the world around us, you start to see a lot of ridiculous and wrong things around you, and just because you happen to not let your friend get away with that HILARIOUS racist joke, does not mean that you are intolerant of intolerance (in a bad way).
So what does a feminist do when they are into kink or BDSM? Well, the first step is research. In some ways, kink is a wonderful expression of core feminist ideology because the proper exploration and enjoyment of kink is dependent on trust, conversation and consent. A popular saying within the BDSM community is Safe, Sane, and Consensual. In a Dominant and Submissive relationship or a Master and Slave relationship, the conversation on what each person is hoping to get from the interaction, what each desires and the hard lines they do not enjoy nor they want to explore is key to a successful and fulfilling relationship. BDSM is honest and enjoys the power dynamics which exists between people in today’s society but instead of men dominating women (which some are into for kink), power dynamics are amazingly diverse within the community. Women dominate men, LGBTQ+ individuals dominant/submissive others, and everything else one can think of. Power in the BDSM community is not the privilege of a select few determined by the sex assigned at birth or the colour of one’s skin but rather it is earned, respected and given within a circle of trust and communication. Furthermore, power does not lie solely in the hands of the Dominant or Master but instead, much of the power is controlled by the Submissive or Slave. This is achieved by the use of a safe word, which if used properly, immediately stops whatever the individual is uncomfortable with or does not enjoy.
A true Dom or Master does not want to abuse (i use this word deliberately) their Sub or Slave, in fact, many of those kinds of relationships are ones of friendship, and love. Partially this is because BDSM and Kink are still viewed as deviant and undesirable sexualities within the larger mainstream culture and therefore, sharing part of one’s true sexual self and sexual culture can be intimate and wonderfully liberating. The image the mainstream society has of kink and BDSM as a Sub crying in the corner, beaten and bruised is not a true representation of the culture and community but is instead a horrible backlash to an alternative of the sexuality we are taught to have and the sex we are taught to participate in. The variety that one sees in the people around them can be seen in the kind of sex people have, kinky or otherwise. Furthermore, not all are into pain, and those who are, experiment in a safe and educated way.
It must be said that while I love kink and BDSM, there are those who abuse the culture and community and those who do not in essence, follow the rules. There are predators, just like anywhere you go (sadly), one must be careful when entering any new community with little knowledge and people to look out for you. There are abusers which say they are Dominants or Masters, just look at the Jian Ghomeshi. I won’t sugarcoat it and say that everyone respects the core ideology of BDSM but I will say that there are by far (by far far far) more wonderful, inclusive people in the community than there are predators (the male, female or otherwise kind). Because of the core ideology of BDSM the support within the community is overwhelming for newcomers or longtime practitioners. I love Kink and BDSM for that, it and its community members gives me a kind of power built on trust and communication and I give power back. The kind of feminism I believe in and practice everyday, feels totally great about kink because its what I enjoy and what many others do as well. You don’t have to be into kink to be a feminist, you don’t have to be into whips and chains (though they can be a lot of fun), but in my kind of feminism; you can’t hate or discriminate against someone who practices Safe, Sane, Consensual fun just because you don’t enjoy the same thing.