Why nothing makes me feel less liberal than the concept of “kink shaming”.
I’ve always considered myself a lefty liberal. I have gone through life hating judgmental people and embracing the move towards a progressive and accepting society. We should all be free to be true to ourselves, to love who we love, and accept everyone for their truth. And I do feel we should be proud of what we’ve achieved.
I still feel that way. I want us all to feel safe and free to express ourselves in public with no discrimination, no judgment, and total freedom…sort of…
“Kink shaming” is a current liberal phrase that has firmly booted me from considering myself a liberal. Now, we must embrace every fetish, no matter how degrading or obscene we find it, and we must celebrate it being displayed in public. Criticise it, say it should be kept in the privacy of the bedroom or the swinger’s dungeon etc, and you’ll be called a bigot.
Whilst I accept that people get their jollies in different ways, and I do still believe that if everybody is consenting and happy with whatever it is you’re involved in then it’s nothing to do with me, I’m absolutely not okay with “kink” suddenly entering the public domain. Because once it’s in public, it is most certainly to do with me.
I feel like, perhaps, a little shame is healthy.
I’m not the only person feeling this way. We seem to be splitting down the middle. The liberals on one side are fully embracing all, to the extent that people now write “MAP” (minor attracted person) in their Twitter bio and include “age of attraction”, and are welcomed. An active paedophile network free to display in public because it’s wrong to judge. On the other side are those who, like me, have reached saturation point and need a step backwards. And going backwards is not something I ever thought I’d call for.
So am I wrong? Should I ignore my instinct that this is now too much and truly embrace everybody no matter what? Should I learn to accept that people’s kinks are part of their inner truth and thus should be in the public sphere? Is it our duty as a liberal society to embrace everything? Or…as I increasingly feel…is a modicum of shame perhaps healthy?
Should we embrace the fetishization of childhood? Should grown men who like to wear nappies and dress up in little girl costumes be accepted in public because shaming them is judgmental and damaging? I hate to be all “won’t somebody think of the children” but…seriously…won’t somebody think of the children? I feel that witnessing this is far more damaging to the children. They’re being told that their bodies and their image is porn fodder for adult men, and that we value those men and their fetish more than those children’s right to protection.
Putting “kink” in public like this is exhibitionism. It makes anybody who sees it, no matter how uncomfortable or unhappy it makes them, an unwitting participant in that kink. If you are forced to participate against your will in someone’s sexual fetish, surely that counts as sexual abuse? You take away your audiences right to consent. And that is worthy of shame.
I strongly feel that the term “kink shaming” is designed to silence people. It’s designed to break down your boundaries and force you to accept sexual behaviours that make you uncomfortable. Once you’re forced to accept it in public, because if you don’t like seeing a dominatrix with a man on a lead it’s you who’s inappropriate not them, what then? Can the condemnation of “kink shaming” be used to force us to accept sexual things we aren’t comfortable with in private? Are those liberals so dedicated to accepting and loving all, even when it makes them uncomfortable, that they’ll consent to sex acts themselves to avoid being accused of kink shaming?
You might think these fears are unfounded and ridiculous, but the total acceptance has reached the courts. Kinky, violent sex is being taken as so normal that when women die from the injuries they sustain, the male perpetrators are being found innocent. We are so lacking in shame that “kink” is an acceptable, and successful, defence against murder charges.
We can’t know if these women consented to the kink, because they’re dead. But what we can know is that it’s assumed that they consented, because rejecting kink, refusing to indulge and accept kink, as anything but completely okay in all circumstances, is socially unacceptable.
Trust me when I say I’m not suggesting everyone who enjoys “kink” is a murderer. I’m not claiming it’s always violent or dangerous, that the people who enjoy it are evil. I’m not. You do you. People’s private pleasures don’t impact me at all, and mine don’t impact them either. What I am saying is that when people cannot criticise “kink”, even when they’re literally involved by way of being an unwitting audience, we have a problem.
When you bring something into the public domain, it’s open to criticism. Being part of a fetish or kink community does not put you in a bubble of protection from public opinion, and being offended that you’re not loved and embraced for all of your fetish does not make you morally superior. Being offended doesn’t make you right. If you don’t want to be criticised, keep it in private. I, for one, would be much more comfortable if you did.