Not an Odalisque

Youth and Desirability in the Fetish Scene

with 6 comments

This week it was suggested that Manchester Under 35’s Munch allow over 35 year olds in, if they have youthful enough partners. I’ve never been particularly interested in debates about age-limited munches, except to note that I’d never invite the people decrying them to a party, because they’d probably be sending out for more beer when I’m rinsing glasses and yawning pointedly. However, responses to the suggestion have been fascinating. There’s a terrifying number of people who think it’s acceptable that younger people should never go to events without their partners. A significant proportion of members don’t think the age limit is about having something in common with other attendees, but about keeping, “predatory older doms” (PODs?) out. I began to ask some questions. Why are so many older people angry about not being able to come? Why can’t young women go to events unaccompanied by their partners? Why is there such a perceived threat of PODs? The answer is obvious: young women are valuable. Everyone wants us. Don’t you just want to tie us up and beat us? Well you can’t, we’re taking our hot, youthful flesh to that pub over there, and shutting you out. Feel free to peer at the goodies through the window.

I’m exaggerating a little. In any case, the rhetoric of the fetish scene is one of inclusivity and acceptance, where many tastes are represented. We’re brought together by our difference from the mainstream; you might not share my love of canings, but you share my sense of exclusion. Because there are so few of us, we have to share a space, so we respect one another. Where there are enough people, we divide into groups by preference to make places where we can go to get what we want, and we exclude those who don’t share our tastes. And that’s personal preference, right? You can’t criticise people for that, surely? Well, it’s not quite that simple.

At 19 I tended not to sleep with fat women, trans or genderqueer people (fat men were less of a problem for me – go figure). At 27, it’s naive to think of that as “just personal taste” and have started to challenge received wisdom about what qualities are sexually desirable. As a result, I’ve had some fantastic sex (and indeed relationships) with beautiful people I would otherwise not have considered as potential lovers.

Pandora Blake

It’s easy, after the initial “Oh God, what made me like this!?” stage for kinksters to think that because they don’t share obviously mainstream tastes, they exist in a social vacuum as far as their desires are concerned. I think it’s worth considering the factors that shape them. That’s why I remain vaguely insulted by FemSub, for example, even though I can understand why people would want a space where they know they can meet someone of their preference. There’s something distasteful in providing a space for what seems to be the most common and acceptable dynamic, the one that’s closest to the mainstream, and excluding everyone else. And don’t get me started on the advice that there may be play, “should the ladies choose.” Consent isn’t an issue for men, apparently!

But I digress. It’s naive to expect the kink scene to be free of the prejudices the rest of society has: sexism, herteronormativity, racism, the belief that high heels are a good thing. Perhaps I should count myself lucky since I fit my box well; a bisexual submissive woman is a better thing to be, given the prejudices of our little subculture, than, say, a submissive man with a urine fetish. There are women who do better out of conventional beauty standards than I do (I’m never going to be able to do anything about these hips) but I’m on the right side of acceptable, and hairy legs aside, it helps that I’m femme. That’s probably why it took me so long to feel uncomfortable with the scene’s values. I was doing fine out of them.

A while ago the lover and I were talking about the spanko community I know through blogs and Twitter, but for the most part don’t know in real life. He observed that, compared to us, they’re ‘so straight’. “Some of the women are bi” I said. The men aren’t though, or if they are they keep it quiet. The prevalent dynamic is M/f, with (and I say this from the outside, with extremely limited knowledge) a preference for youth among the fs. Presumably they’re brought together by a shared taste, but that doesn’t stop me feeling sad when I look through what’s being shared as hot (Abel’s collection of photos, say) or criticised as not (such as this tall spankee) that I’m not getting any younger, skinnier or shorter.*

I’ve loved the idea of being fresh meat for the predatory older man since before it would have been legal, but just as an idea. Well, I’ve loved it once or twice as a reality, too, but queasily, and before I discovered kink. Now that I’m here, in this world where fantasy becomes play so easily, I’d like to enjoy being preyed on, in my youth and innocence, by older men who covet it, without the real-life repercussions of feeling I lose value with every passing day, or that my partners like my lack of wrinkles or my naivety more than my experience or knowledge or any of the things that make me me. I’d like a world where spanking models don’t have to lie about their ages, and where we don’t think we have to keep predatory doms out of the Under 35’s Munch.

Is it possible, given that I spent half of last year battling a crush on a beautiful woman in her forties (no luck, she has a younger boyfriend), that I have a bit of a thing for a woman who was old enough to be releasing records in the 1980s (and I know I’m not the only one), and that the kink scene is built on such weird tastes as fancying a woman over thirty, that I could find a kinky space where youth isn’t—ahem—fetishized? Or am I being naive?

*Ok, I find it hard to want to be shorter, it must make it difficult to breathe in lifts. And reach high things. I sometimes feel too tall for my kink, though.

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Written by Not an Odalisque

November 21, 2011 at 12:57 am

6 Responses

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  1. Quite loved this, thank you. The idea that kink could be/is viewed as predominantly one flavour seems perverse and contrary to the principles of what kink is (although herteronormativity still seems a wee bit gender biased).

    But a random survey of one fetish night seems to suggest that kink favours the young, and particularly lusts after the nubile female sub. As a 42 year old male sub bear I didn’t feel snubbed, but that’s mostly because I’m not looking for anything.

    But in a world where I’ve struggled to admit my kinks in public, to be excluded from a group that should theoretically welcome me but argued to exclude me would feel cruel and unusual indeed.

    Thank you for the post,
    Insatiabear

    Insatiabear

    November 21, 2011 at 5:15 am

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Insatiabear. You’re right that what I’m saying seems counterintuitive, but I suspect that the theory of acceptance is unrealistic, given the nature of people and society. I hope that, even with the biases of the scene, there’s a space for those who don’t fit into one of the ‘high-value’ boxes. In fact, I sometimes worry that getting so many messages from hopeful doms might turn my head. I think better relationships are formed outside these hierarchies.

      Not an Odalisque

      November 22, 2011 at 12:56 am

  2. Great post. Have you read this article by MayMay? It’s very relevant to this topic and I think you’d find it interesting.

    Pandora Blake

    November 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    • Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen that one before, it looks good (and like something to be read at leisure). Some of MayMay’s work did contribute to my thinking for this post. He and a few others got edited out because my writing tends to ramble.

      Not an Odalisque

      November 22, 2011 at 12:51 am

      • Hope you enjoy it. The stuff about how submissive (…. youthful, white, slender, cis) women are valued above all other figures in the scene as sex objects has really been hammering its way through my thinking lately. Dominant (…etc) women next. Then dominant men. Then submissive men at the least-sexy bottom of the pile. Switches – well, they’re just confusing.

        The weirdest thing about the whole sexually-desirable-status thing is that when you flip it, it’s not even properly upside down. Dominant men are most valued/most commonly seen as community and event organisers, producers, speakers and leaders, not submissive men. Then dominant women, then submissive women. Obviously it sucks that dominant men aren’t valued as sex objects and that submissive women have a hard time not being, but thinking in those terms really clarifies how sub men on average don’t really benefit from either end of this particular privilege spectrum.

        Pandora Blake

        November 22, 2011 at 1:15 am

  3. I didn’t get to comment on this at the time you posted it, as there was rather a lot going on, but it’s a topic close to my heart – especially as, a year ago, at the age of 42 I was in relationships with three partners under the age of 35. (I should say, at this point, that I don’t view myself as a POD – I’m far to shy to be predatory, I’m pretty young at heart, and I’m a top rather than a dom!)

    i do understand that people like to associate with folks like themselves in a safe environment – and hence the rationale behind the 35th birthday cut-off. Although, frankly, why 35 marks the divide between youngsters and the unacceptably-old is beyond me.

    What concerns me with these events is the implicit tolerance of discrimination. Most kinky people I know are passionately anti-discriminatory – indeed, perhaps, we have to be, as potential targets for discrimination ourselves. I do struggle to see how these strongly-held beliefs where it comes to gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, ability/disability or any other criteria are consistent with advocating age discrimination.

    Abel

    December 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm


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