Updating the blog here to pull old entries from the pros/e/yes archives…in their original order. This project is simply a unification of my personal blog (with a LOT of NSFW entries) and my professional blog.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Last night, I watched “Our America” with Lisa Ling for the first time. It should come as no shock to anyone, really, that last night’s episode was the one that got recommended to me, since I just launched the Weird Sex Ed page in facebook yesterday. *chuckle* Which is totally fine.
Last night’s episode was “Shades of Kink” ~ in which Ms. Ling delved into the often mysterious (to outsiders) world of BDSM. In Ms. Ling’s facebook page, she shared her thoughts about “Why kink?” as a subject to delve into. I don’t know her personally, so I have no way of knowing how truthful she’s being in her thoughts; however, assuming the positive about her, I appreciated the reasons she gave. I was pleased (yes, truly…pleased) that Ms. Ling admitted frankly that her perspective about the world of BDSM took a shift during the course of her interviews with people who actively engage in the lifestyle…and gave them a voice in the mainstream that they all-too-often do not have. Of course, some folks will continue to refuse to see the point (though why they choose to follow links and comment with their closed-minded views is beyond me), such as this comment, from someone called marysfive:
“i understand there are alot of strange people in this world but really? so i can not watch this “news program” or whatever you are calling it w/my kids because of the content. that is sad. when are we going to realize that what goes on behind closed doors, aka, someones bedroom is just not okay w/Yes God or anyone else. i could go the rest of my life and not know what sinful, sick and unGodly people are doing. really? do you call that news? kinky america? no wonder this country is falling apart. God come quickly thats all i have to say. the only good part is going to be talking about God on the air. oh is that still allowed? well good.”
*blink* See, I get that some folks won’t ever get it. What I don’t get is the compulsion to go to make a ridiculously insipid comment such as the one above. If you could go the rest of your life not knowing, then why did you visit the website in the first place? To me, it’s a case of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Marysfive, if you didn’t want to know…if you weren’t curious at all…you wouldn’t have gone to look in the first place.
In preparation for watching last night’s episode, I watched a couple of other episodes…one about girls in pageantry (more accurately about their parents), and one about swingers. The one about swingers caught my attention in a similar way to how “Shades of Kink” caught my attention. Like some of the comments to the episode about BDSM, a few of the comments in the swinger’s episode preview on OWN’s website made me roll my eyes and chuckle.
See, I am not watching the episodes out of some morbid curiosity about different areas of what we call “alternative lifestyles”…I am watching the show because I am curious about how the subjects are portrayed and presented. And honestly? I’m mostly pleased with how Ms. Ling is presenting the topics…treating all participants with dignity and respect, and asking some of what would seem in the “vanilla” community the most obvious questions — to give the participants a voice.
Now, between you and me…the episode I’m most looking forward to, now that I’ve been clued into the show, is the episode coming on 5 March — “Families of Killers” — that is one I really want to see. But back to “Shades of Kink”…and my actual thoughts on last night’s episode…
…nothing I saw surprised me or shocked me. Nothing made me cringe in horror or disgust. Because nothing was shocking…or horrific…or disgusting. BDSM…kink, if you will, is not for everyone. And that is okay. I appreciated what one of the interviewees said about the lifestyle — that for her, it wasn’t simply a lifestyle, but a way of being. Kink has always been a part of her sexuality…her being…and always would be. Which makes sense to me. For her, asking if she would always be “into kink” is like asking someone who is gay if they would always be gay. For her, it is simply another facet of who she is. It doesn’t define the whole of who she is, from my perspective; rather, it is simply one part that makes up the whole.
While I still found a bit of a cringe factor during the interview with the man who is a Dom, in that his discussion with Ms. Ling brought him to an admission of childhood abuse — I was reminded of one of the things I disliked so intensely about the 50 Shades trilogy. And for me, that was a split-minded matter. On the one hand, I applaud the man for his honesty, for his courage in working his way through his demons, and for finding a realm that was/is, for him, a safe space to work through those things. On the other hand, I can see people watching his honesty and saying, “A Ha! That’s what this is…a place where abused people find their therapy/outlet for childhood issues!” as though everyone who is involved in BDSM has some sort of abusive or negative childhood history from which they seek emotional escape.
Here is my thought about that misconception. Yes, there are people for whom personal history plays a role in the “decision” (if we can call it that) to enter the realm of kink. However, there are just as many, if not more people for whom there is nothing in their background to claim that “justification” (and guess what? No justification is necessary or required!). Furthermore, there are many…many, many, many people who endure abuses of all kinds during their childhoods and adolescences for whom BDSM is not something of remote interest to them. One has nothing at all to do with the other…and there is a part of me that resents the assumption…for the sake of very good friends I know who have nothing in their backgrounds that falls into that realm of assumption.
Now for the positive. With both last night’s episode, and the episode about swingers, there was one really important point that I have noted –repeatedly– and last night, I cheered on. Radical honesty in communication. I think a lot of “vanilla” folks could really learn something from swingers and from people who engage in kink (or name the “alternative lifestyle”) in terms of honest negotiation, discussions about boundaries, about what turns them on…what turns them off…how far they are willing to go, what their deepest fantasies are…honest discussion about sexual history, including STI history…etc. That wasso refreshing to watch and listen to, people being ruthlessly honest in those discussions. BEFORE any sex or involvement (and that is another important point to remember here — BDSM is not entirely about sex, there is an emotional and psychological involvement on the parts of participants that can and does fall mostly outside the act of sexual intercourse). Building mutual trust through honest discourse…and consent.
Which brings me to the next-to-last point for this morning’s Hump Day entry. Consent is one of the most important factors involved when we talk about things like swinging or BDSM, or really, any area of sex and sexuality. And this is part of what I don’t think I will ever understand about people like marysfive and her comment above…why they feel that judging what others do -with full consent- as somehow “wrong” (and the willingness to use “god” to justify that judgment). In what way does what others do -again, with full consent- impact anyone else’s lives? The short answer is, it doesn’t affect their lives…but for whatever reason, they seem to feel as though they have the right (by whose authority, I’ve yet to figure out, other than “god”) to judge…even when their own holy book says “judge not lest ye be judged.” *sigh*
My final point for the morning…
…I suspect that this series, and in particular this episode, was brought to my attention because I launched Weird Sex Ed in facebook. *chuckle* In another space, I will address why as much as I truly appreciate all recommendations for books, shows, etc…the world of BDSM, swinging, etc…is not going to be a focus of the project that is Weird Sex Ed. Yes, the subjects will be touched upon, and perhaps discussed…but mainly for the purposes of illustrating the profound importance of honest and direct communication — as those things relate to STI prevention. Because the dominant focus of Weird Sex Ed is to create a comprehensive, sex-positive resource (truly for everyone), with the aim of helping reduce and prevent further STI transmission…mainly across the teen population. I’m working to create a useful resource for teens, parents, sex educators, and health care professionals that addresses how to help people (and hopefully at younger ages than public school sex ed addresses) protect themselves and reduce STI transmission statistics among teen populations. To that end, of course other areas of sex need to be (and will be) addressed…but those things are not my direct area of focus.
Anyway, that’s it for today here in this blog. Hope this finds you well. 🙂
Happy Hump Day!