The Problems With Kinkshaming
on 10 May 2017
We've come a long way in our perceptions of sex and sexuality recently, but we still have a long way to go.
I doubt anyone reading this would feel anything but appalled at the idea of someone being made to feel ashamed of their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status, or unable to express their sexual desires.
Yet, it's still so common in our society for people whose preferences when it comes to sex itself lie beyond the vanilla to feel abnormal or confused.
This act of belittling or mocking someone's particular preferences in the bedroom is known as 'kinkshaming', and it can be pretty harmful.
So I've taken a look at the key reasons why this is a problem, and why it needs to change.
What Is Kink?
First and foremost, we need to look at just what is meant by kink. It's often defined as anything going beyond 'standard' sexual practices whilst increasing sexual intimacy.
Where exactly the line is drawn is something of a grey area - there are clear cut concepts, such as how practically everyone will agree BDSM is kinky, but on a smaller scale there are those who consider the use of any sex toy between partners to be kinky, and even, in some cases, oral sex.
Personally, I think that the easiest way to look at it is as the little (or the large) predilections that make your sex life yours.
What Does Kinkshaming Do?
So what makes kinkshaming so harmful? Well, the consequences can be divided into two camps, the emotional and the physical.
The immediate emotional fallout can be clearly imagined. It shouldn't be hard to reach the conclusion that kinkshaming someone might just make them feel ashamed (the term came about for a reason), but this can have knock-on effects.
Honesty and acceptance are crucial foundations for relationships both with one's partner and with oneself, and it is these foundations that kinkshaming undermines.
Let's say someone has a kink that involved being tied up. If this kink was actively mocked, either directly to them or in media in general, they may reach the point of being ashamed enough that they never feel comfortable expressing this interest to a partner, removing an avenue of sexual exploration and satisfaction that was a great way for the couple to have fun and grow closer together.
Taken to an extreme, kinkshaming can lead to intense feelings of guilt, with people seeing themselves as 'wrong' for their supposed 'deviance'.
The physical risks resulting from kinkshaming are thankfully much less common, but can be severe. Needless to say, an atmosphere where kinkshaming is rife is hardly beneficial to the promotion of the open discussion of kink, and this can lead to valuable advice and warnings not getting to those who need them.
A couple who discover a shared enjoyment of choking during sex, for example, might not be exposed to the ideas of pre- and after-care, safe words, safe signals, warning signs and other BDSM knowledge that is essential for safely carrying out such practices. The risks are obvious and immediate, and apply to far more than the extreme example of choking.
How Can You Prevent Kink-Shaming?
The first and most impactful step towards beating kinkshaming is a super simple one: promoting and engaging in active discussion of kinks and surrounding topics.
Even just between partners, this is a great start, but it doesn't have to end there. Blogs and forums make great spaces to meet and chat with people about kinks you share (or don't share).
The most important thing is that those conversations happen; that we discuss, share and normalise. The only thing that can counteract kinkshaming is open, positive discussion of kinks and the unmatched pleasures they can bring.
The ViBlogger is a student at the University of Leeds, where he studies Astrophysics. When he's not writing for The Sextbook, he can usually be found in a Yorkshire field reenacting the 12th century.
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