I'm writing about BDSM here, because it's a hobby of mine, and one the universe loves to make me have thoughts about. I know for a fact I'd seem cooler if I didn't do this, but if I wanted to look cool I'd be setting fire to government buildings not learning to use HTML. If you don't want to hear about bodily fluids, sadism, various kinks of various levels of atypicality, or anything else you might reasonably expect under the title "Orgy Basement", go elsewhere. The frog poem up to your left is lovely, I'm told.
Reader, I like hitting people. I like making bodies shudder, and wince, and scream. I like turning someone's thighs into tiger stripes. It's fun, heaven help me, and why shouldn't I? I like the noises people make, and the way their strange and foreign bodies move. It's simply good clean fun. Believe me, I make very sure of that. It shouldn't be any surprise that I do - every fibre of me is terrified of doing anyone any actual hurt. BDSM is a lot like stage acting, but if you had the capacity to permanently injure your co-stars and send everyone involved to therapy - which, really, would be quite a play.
I, like so many of those of us with increasingly inexplicable collections of implements taking up space in a drawer, am at times luxuriant in this evil impulse of ours, and sometimes deeply fragile. Much as I know what we do is safe, clean, profoundly consensual, and deeply premised on the comfort and delight of the deviants we have the pleasure of accompanying on a trip backwards through a willow tree or two, it is hard to teach a brain that whipping someone raw and revelling in their whimpering like it were the nice truffle-y one out of a box of quality streets is not in some way wrong. At the very least, it's not quite the moral standard.
But hell - I work hard to keep up good practice. I'm quite proud of my commitment to that, in fact. As hobbies go, it's probably the art form I'm best at. I like to make sure my ropes are well capped, well bundled and stored properly, that my fingernails are kept short, that none of my stationery has any sharp edges. I endeavour to keep my premises meticulously orderly, and I have never had anything but stellar reviews. If I saw myself, this is to say, as a takeaway on Google Maps, I wouldn't worry about ordering.
More than that, it does a disservice to our whimpering comrades for us to treat what we do as if its something to be ashamed of. Side-note: how darling is it that they used to call BDSM "what it is that we do"? So, I say again; Reader, I like hitting people. I like plenty of other things - feeding swans, comitting sins with handcuffs and spotify access, inventing entirely new ways to stroke people's hair, seeing what you can truly do with a pair of ears. None of these are to be dismissed, or to be treated as damning little secrets.
With any luck, this recognition will eventually beat the little voice in my head telling me otherwise till it's gagged, begging and covered in its own fluids.
Good question! Mainly because it's fun. I find it fulfilling to engage with people in these strange ways. Ideally I'd live in the blissful world where that was enough on its own, but alas. I'm aro, and I'm pretty broadly ace, strange as it may seem given the above. My long-standing belief has been that "sex is 4 nerds", and getting into bizarre fetish shit didn't change that. I have had fulfilling and well reviewed evenings of good company with people who've literally never seen more of my skin than you can see in the street.
In part this is tied to the stone part of me - I don't want touch. In another part it's part of my strange little dyspraxic brain - I have a lot of difficulty tracking where my skin ends and the world starts, and clothes make that a lot more bearable. Another is that I'm an insufferable peacock and I love pageantry, fuck you, why shouldn't I still have my frock coat on for this. I also tend to work sitting down - if I can make someone submit while sitting in a wheely chair, the logic goes, what can't I do? Plus I'm not standing up for four hours (see above 'fuck off' if you have any queries on this topic)
And, of course, I'm profoundly autistic. I find it very hard to initiate touch with any of you other creatures out there. Having a good few hours outraging a cafe by discussing in detail what is wanted or needed makes this considerably easier. As does having a set of procedures in mind. If I know you'll do precisely as you're told, after all, I've nothing to worry about responding to except the occasional mistake.
This feeds into the last point of it all - that I do this because it lets me be other than I am. Or, more properly, it lets me be more of myself than I usually can be. Is there anything more fun than playing a villain? Chewing scenery with a crop and a grin, revelling in a gender as much shaped by someone else's fear as your own delectation in it? In the confidence of that persona I can express aspects of myself I usually have to hold at arm's length, for fear of being somehow ridiculous. There's not so much risk to being and doing as you like when everyone involved knows you're playing. This will be relevant when I do my fuckoff essay on dandyism and genderqueerness, but it's definitely relevant here
So, in conclusion, I do this because it's fun, because it makes for a much easier and more engaging way to physically interact with the sinful flesh of the world, and because it lets me play-act (anything from sadistic to confident and patronising to motherly) without having to work with any actors or feel like some kinda unbearable Skype/Discord/Twitter/Tumblr 'dom'. Good enough for you?
You ever notice how much raw filth there is in any zine made before like 2008 compared to almost all modern queer media? Naturally bizarre fanfic lasciviousness continues, and we're all fucked up perverts in our own way, but there's been an amazing shift in the usual tone. Looking at Tom of Finland you're compelled to shake your head and go, in your best Baz voice, "They couldn't make it anymore", as you reflect on a pack of lads packing thermos quantities of COCK. Obviously they still make exactly that, in truth, but my point is that that kind of overt lust-filled perversion just isn't done anymore in the expression of queer society as such..
There's a lot of reasons for that, of course. For one thing it's just a natural move away from one kind of expression to another. We don't draw zines of Finland-esque adonises getting railed like Tidmouth Sheds, we write fanfic of people covering their kitchen floor in slick or whatever else. Partly, too, it's about assimilation (cries of "bitch!" from the audience) - we're respectable fags these days, it's simply not quite our class, darling. We maintain aesthetic blogs and produce moodboards, and make the occasional messy twitter post at most.
I think that sucks shit, honestly, and I imagine you do too. The modes of queer sexuality and sensuality have been thoroughly reined in, and we didn't even get to watch them bite down on the bit. I know for myself that reading old zines was a real shock at first - FTW being a classic experience in that vein for many of us. These shitty old prints contain people expressing lust in ways we really don't do so publicly this side of the death of electro-pop. People produce gross little fantasies, they are disgusting and strange and perverse. It's great! Why have we left this to fanfic authors and the fuckin cishets, when the latter were only ever gonna use it to be gross, as has proven so.
I'm not morally confident enough to really take this where it should go - I'm simply not yet cool enough to tell you to go fist each other and get pissed on at your local Pride. Additionally, it is unfortunately more complicated than just "hey wasn't it based when we weren't imposing this inhibition on ourselves through digital puritanism". Sometimes, alas, sexual morals and mores are vitally important to keep us safe. It is important that we care about consent, it is actively fantastic that we're moving towards shouting the virtues of sexuality that isn't defined solely by HARD COCKS AND WILLING HOLES or whatever the fuck.
What I will say, though, is that this puritanism sits in an interesting place. Between and beside those wretched souls who spend their time lusting after cishets who aren't interested and who, heaven help them, aren't actually as online as we are. I don't speak to their experience, because I don't know them. I do know us, at least a little. And I think that for a lot of people the mask of twitter puritanism doesn't actually make them any better, or their sexuality any safer or happier. It's just a mask of nice words to put over all the shit the queers were doing in the seventies, in the hopes that guilt and self flagellation will make us feel less bad about having such perverse desires as we do, or about the ways we, flawed and messy people, hurt one another.
Reader, the solution to feeling bad about your desires is to recognise that desiring isn't evil. We're not Cistercians, c'mon. Spending your entire life worrying about being morally evil for wanting to get stepped on or for wanting to kick someone in the balls doesn't actually make you a better person. It's also not gonna make you any safer or healthier a sexual partner. The fact of the thing is that there's no way to abdicate the responsibility we have to each other, as fags, as lovers, as people. You can proclaim your cavalier disinterest, or you can put on the puritan hat and proclaim that you care until you're hoarse, but to do it right you just have to actually care.
Consent, as we know, isn't so simple as a yes. But that doesn't mean it isn't possible when you're doing anything other than holding hands in the background of a disney film. Just because ensuring safe, complete and continuing consent to getting whipped requires a lot more care, focus and attention doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't break out the canes. Fleeing from your debased little urges isn't going to make you any more capable of treating your partners properly. It won't make you any better of a person, partner or friend. Nothing will, except taking the effort to be so. I think we ought to recognise and accept that - be perverse, filthy and flagrant. Talk about your bizarre fantasies, write dumb zines, produce fics that would get you hanged by 18 year olds who've never met a queer over 22. Just take the effort to care about each other while you're doing it, and it really doesn't matter. You don't need to despise yourself for what you want or don't want, you don't need to justify it, you don't need to provide a moral philosophy. You just need to be good, and take care. Don't let assimilationists or any of those who think otherwise tell you not to be so writhing and monstrous a creature as you are.
I think if we centre that need to do right by each other, rather than rhetoric that would have us owe each other nothing, or be incapable of giving each other anything, then we'll end up safer, happier, and having much more entertaining hookups. Plus, more pressingly, they might let me buy an uncensored PISSFAGGOT leather jacket from the Disco Elysium store, which is the main thing.