Not an Odalisque

Oh, That Hurts! No, Don’t Stop!

with 4 comments

I met up with a strange man from the internet recently. Before we met, he pointed out to me that I knew far more about his kink than he does about mine, because he blogs on his while I limit myself to safer topics, such as feminism and pretty dresses (he didn’t actually mention pretty dresses, but I’m sure that was an oversight). My advantage probably lay more in the fact that I’ve read books by his ex-girlfriend, while he doesn’t know of the books people have shoehorned me into. Suffice it to say I’m not sharing, as, unlike him, I’m not the love interest but the maker of trifles.

It got me wondering why I don’t blog about kink. Sharing experiences of sexualities which aren’t publicly sanctioned is good. It was a big step towards freedom in second-wave feminism when books like “Our Bodies, Ourselves” sparked conversations between women independent of male ‘experts’. Freud’s theories about the right type of orgasm must have started looking rather silly in the light of real women’s experiences. Similarly, gay sex seems to have stopped being the love that dare not speak its name and become the love that wears something eye-catching and shouts its pet names from the rooftops and parade floats. Talking about it was not the sole cause of gay liberation, perhaps, but a small contributory factor.

Kinksters aren’t a poor, oppressed group, but they aren’t exactly accepted, either. I don’t just mean the tabloid treatment of Max Mosley or the “dungeon” owners in Devon. I mean the scare-mongering about causal links between violent pornography and rape. I mean the idea that a woman doesn’t have the agency to choose to be submissive. I mean the worry I feel that I may lose credibility if I tell you too much about myself.

That’s one reason I haven’t gone into detail about my kink, but it’s also a reason why I should. The problem is that I don’t have a final answer on what my kink is. Sexuality is infinitely malleable, and finding a vocabulary to write about it may change it. The fetish community displays a striking uniformity of bizarre tastes. In my vanilla experience I’ve met men obsessed with my shoulders, my hair, my age, a particular expression, my tone of voice when I want something, the way I exhale smoke from a cigarette, my stare over my reading glasses. What do we get in the kink community? Floggers and clothes made out of tree sap. What if I wake up a cookie-cutter “slave” or “little girl” just because I enjoy a screwed up power dynamic?

If the language of the BDSM community is dangerous, the language I’m more familiar with, that of theory, is no better and has the added disadvantage of opacity. I can talk around the issue using Sade, Bataille, Blanchot, Hegel, Bakhtin and, on a good day, Kristeva (although the good days are getting fewer and further between). I can make intertextual allusions through novels and pornographic texts. All of this is, however, to come at it crab-like. I can’t find the words, and I don’t trust them not to find me.

Does it sound like I’m making excuses? I suspect that I am. I don’t want to tell you about my kink because I’m haunted by everyone who ever disapproved. The ex-boyfriend who dug for evidence of buried childhood trauma. The ex-boyfriend who thought it was an all-access pass. The confused vanilla friends. They combine into an angel on my shoulder telling me that if only I were to stop wanting kinky things, I could be good and pure and loveable, citizen of a lemon-scented world and creator of incredibly fluffy cakes.* That angel is nothing, however, in comparison to the fear that feminists inspire. You see, I know that when the things I fantasise about happen, they really aren’t fun. Being hit by a man isn’t just painful, it’s bloody terrifying. Being raped is a really crappy experience, and it lasts. It’s still possible to turn me into a rabbit in the headlights by making a sudden movement or catching the wrong tone in your voice. I don’t want to feed the myth that that is what women want. It isn’t. Every time I see a kinkster talk about his “natural dominance” or “a woman’s place” I feel as if I’ve committed an act of violence against feminism.

One final worry: I secretly snigger at other people’s kinks. Sometimes they make me feel vaguely ill. You might, too.

Were those good enough reasons? No, I didn’t think so. So I’m going to try to tell you about my kink.

I like to be in somebody’s power. I like to feel that there’s no way out, no way to re-establish my own will, and my only option is to do as I’m told. That’s not enough, though, otherwise I would enjoy getting stuck in traffic jams. I like to be valued. I rather like being rewarded when I’m good: instant justice from an immediate authority. Even being disapproved of, or punished, is proof that somebody cares. And—oh!—I like to be punished. I like it even when it’s not fair. Maybe especially when it’s not fair. And when, unfairly, my protestations that it’s not fair have been silenced on pain of even more punishment.

I don’t like pain. It doesn’t magically become pleasure between one end of the nerve and the other. It just bloody hurts. I’ll admit to enjoying in a sense of smugness produced by tolerating pain, but that doesn’t get to the core of it. The core is when I’m crying and begging for the pain to stop. It isn’t something I like; it’s something I want.

I want more than a beating, of course. It’s all the parts. It’s when I can’t meet someone’s eye in case he sees what I’m thinking.** It’s his slow, deliberate movements, when I’m almost trembling but he’s in no rush. It’s wondering what he’s going to do with his belt as he takes it off. Blushing. Squirming. Being held down by someone’s weight. It’s gasping for air. It’s clinging on to him for dear life afterwards. It’s thumbprints around my wrists in the morning and bruises I didn’t know I had. None of that gets to the bottom of it. I’ve been beaten and been nowhere near this place, I’ve felt it in nothing more tangible than a look.

This is a part of me that never really disappears, it only recedes. The same frisson is there in hearing someone speak for me in a foreign language, teach me a new word, choose a good wine, converse on a topic they are knowledgeable about, lead me well in a dance, make me blush, get me lost in a story or say me they’re proud of me. All of those are less intense variations on the same power.

Do you want to know why? So do I. I’d tell you my theory, but you’ve been reading for a long time, so now isn’t the moment to torture you with Hegel. I’m not a sadist, after all.

So, there you have it, as coherent an account of my kink as I am able to give. You’d better tell me whether or not you want to hear more. I’ll try my very best to do as I’m told.

*My cakes are remarkably fluffy, actually, but that’s because my daddy bought me a Kenwood Chef. My real daddy, not a pervy older man.

** I like it when women do these things, too, but the English language doesn’t lend itself to bisexuality, so I picked a gender and stuck with it.

Written by Not an Odalisque

July 24, 2010 at 12:39 am

4 Responses

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  1. Great post, thanks for sharing. I would love to hear more from you about kink, even the theory side!

    But I am not so interested in the ‘why’s. As Remittance Girl said in her post The Uncomfortable Truth About Kink, there are ‘why’s’ as to how we got to be who we are. But I think presenting an analysis of my psychological origins in relation to my sexuality would just give people too much to play with, in terms of making out that I have a ‘psychological problem’. All our sexualities have origins. But some get more scrutinised than others.

    I am more interested in the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ and the ‘who’ and the ‘what if…’s!


    Quiet Riot Girl

    July 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm

  2. P.s. I am not saying that in a censorious way more a personal observation. Please write whatever you want whenever you feel like it!!

    Quiet Riot Girl

    July 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    • My ‘why’ isn’t so much psychological as philosophical. I agree with you wholeheartedly, I think that concentrating on psychological explanations can lead to pathologising people who are really ok. There’s also the fact that I was interested in kink before I had any trauma to explain it. I spent a while looking for the ‘broken’ bit to fix, and got a lot happier when I stopped.


      July 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm

  3. N,

    I have always delighted in the eloquence and intelligence with which you have expressed yourself when we have spoken, and your post about your kink is wonderful. My apologies for not having been in touch for so long.

    It was a delight to see you wrestling to explain what it is that works, and indeed does not, work for you. I have long tried to get to the bottom of my own kinks (did I ever send you the link to my blog where I began that quest for enlightenment?), and realised that they seem to have certain constants, but are also wonderfully fluid, dependng on mood, ambience, company and inspiration. For me, it has always been the nuances that I enjoy..though when you and I were first getting to know one another, my experiences were a priori, and now, at last, I have some empirical understanding to underpin my long-held desires and passions. I’m still not sure I fully understand them..and like you hint at, for me there is no trauma, no frightful experience in the past. It feels to me as if this is simply me. And now, on the basis of the empirical, I realsie that I have truly found the way to *be* me. After years of hiding away, burying these desires, they have found a conduit…and in so doing, have allowed me to be who I am. I can hanle the need to lock them away in RL now that I know I can let them out again when I am able to. Oh, the irony for me…Keeping them locked away until I can tie her up, when I release them!!

    I do apologise for not having followed through before now, and I would relish recommencing our conversations by some means or other. And yes, please, do continue to write and explore and express, for you do it so beautifully, as I would expect of you, my girl, given your education, your intelligence and your skill.



    July 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm

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