This post is a bit different, okay a lot different. In fact, maybe it needs some kind of content warning, so in case the title didn’t already make it clear, this post talks about sex, sexuality, sexual violence, and kink positivity. All three concepts are all about allowing people to live their lives in the moment, to enjoy their bodies and to experience happiness and pleasure. But there are many women, sex educators mostly, who have written articles about plus size sex and how you can learn to love your body while being intimate, so I don’t want to cover that topic again right now. I will, however, link to a few of these types of articles at the bottom of this post, for those of you that would like to do a bit more reading on the topic. I’d like to specifically focus on kink positivity here. Kink positivity is the opposite of kink shaming which is similar to body and slut shaming. Slut shaming is also very closely connected to victim blaming and rape culture. All these oppressions and judgments are designed to keep control over most of us, over those of us with the least unearned privilege. They are a method of ensuring that society behaves in a way that those in power have deemed to be both acceptable and desirable. These are ideas that have been taught to us and then reinforced so often, that they seem completely normal to many people. Overall, and in almost every example that I can think of, being non-judgmental and accepting people for who they are and where they are at is the best way to encourage both mental wellness and to discourage individual and collective harm. It is important that people be able to openly discuss their interest in kink so that they can discover what is healthy and unhealthy, and then so that they can get help for or report violence or abuse if they choose to do so. Yes, abuse and violence can occur within the kink-positive community, but this is mostly because of the isolation faced by individual community members outside of that scene. The more we talk about positive and consensual experiences with kink, the more positive the experience and community can become for all who want to be involved. and kink, Not all of the clickable links within this post are safe for work, so you may want to save reading this for your leisure time. Personally, I think body positivity and sex positivity go hand in hand and that is the main reason I am writing this post. I hope that you will come to see that any form of shaming is unacceptable and that we should all be striving to allow adults to live their lives as they see fit.
Over the past 5 years or so, Fifty Shades of Grey has been responsible for officially bringing kink into the mainstream and allowing many people to feel free to explore their secret desires and reignite their sex lives. The books, and now movies, are incredibly problematic for many reasons, but even I have to acknowledge that it makes me happy to see so many people having more fulfilling sex lives. The books and movie are mostly problematic because they promote a really unhealthy version of kink, and quite frankly, an abusive relationship between the two main characters. Left unchecked, it presents the idea that being controlled and isolated is not only normal but desirable. To be clear, my day job is working as the manager of a shelter for women and children fleeing violence, I am a trained counselor for abused women and part of my job is to recognize and educate others about the signs of gender-based violence. So I don’t say these things flippantly, I take it quite seriously that at one point the female character explicitly says “no’ to a sex act and the male character continues, raping her. That is legally rape in Canada and in many other countries, as well as not in line with actual BDSM practices. Navigating consent is a primary aspect of all parts of real kink and it makes me scared that so many people had such a problematic introduction to the lifestyle. Many of the women who read this book had stopped feeling excited by sex and were living in sexless marriages, desperate to reignite the flame, by almost any means necessary. I’m not trying to imply that these women don’t truly find kink to be a turn on, I am just suggesting that if they had an understanding of what kink really looks like, they would enjoy it even more. While, I don’t buy into the idea that everyone needs to be having regular sex (that is super exclusionary to asexual and demisexual people) I do think that if people want to be having it, there are ways to make it exciting again. That is actually a good point about the two sides of the sex positivity debate, the side that supports sex positivity, requires nothing of the side that doesn’t. However, the side that believes things like kink and porn are inherently evil, want to restrict the choices available to all of us, which just seems ridiculous and unfair. This conversation is in no way meant to sound heterosexist, at all points of this blog post I am including all sexualities, but the books and movie described above, are about a heterosexual couple.
Everyone is different, so what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. But, it does seem to be pretty consistent that the things many people find exciting as a relationship progress are “new” to them at the time. Part of the excitement comes from trying something they have never tried before, even if they end up not wanting to try it again after that first experience. Often, they would describe the act as kinky prior to trying it. However, others, who are more experienced with kink, would perhaps describe some of those same acts as quite vanilla, or boring. Kinky could range all the way from simply trying a new position, to participating in orgies, to exploring bondage and submission. There is no set definition or list of acts that can be described as kinky, and in fact, that almost doesn’t matter for the purposes of this blog post. What matters is that we recognize that adult people are entitled to live a consensual and healthy sex life, however, they want to define that. In this case, the personal is not political. By that, I mean that you can be the most badass radical feminist, and still like to be submissive in the bedroom. Your politics and beliefs do not have to control your sexual desire. There is no right or wrong way to be a feminist, in terms of what we like or chose to do, in bed. Some of us are monogamous and some of us are polyamorous, there is no hierarchy here, as long as it is all consensual and never abusive. However, there are some abolitionist type feminists who will try to say that “porn is always akin to rape” or that “all heterosexual sex is violence”. Yep, there are some pretty out there theories, that leave many women feeling like feminism can’t possibly be for them because they like sex, kink or watching porn. I am here to tell you that it is bullshit to be judging other people’s lives and choices and that feminism means having the freedom to choose the life you want to live, and the freedom to choose what you want to do with your own body. I personally believe that being fully pro-choice is the only requirement for being a feminist. I do not believe it is possible to be an anti-choice feminist and I do not think that being pro-choice is a concept that is exclusively applied to reproductive rights and access. Women and all people are the experts on their own lives and just because a so-called feminist had the class and/or race privilege that allowed them to obtain a degree in women’s studies does not mean that they know better than other people who identify as feminists. But even if it did, how would you explain away those of us who are educated in gender studies but who still believe in sex worker inclusion and support sex work as a valid career choice?
This does not mean that we get to ignore the issues that feminists should care about around sex, porn, and violence. Like the fact that sex trade workers are at a significantly higher rate of violence because of the stigma that is still perpetuated about the work they do. In fact, some of this stigma comes from the shaming comments of abolition based feminists. When they say that they “want better than sex work for women” they contribute to the devaluation of the chosen field of many women in this world, which indirectly makes it easier for women working in the sex trade to be abused. The perpetrators of violence against sex workers often get away with it for much longer than they would otherwise. Think of the example of, Robert Pickton, who murdered over 30 Canadians, most of whom were both sex trade workers and Indigenous women. It is because of the attitudes our society has to those three social locations that this monster was able to get away with his crimes for so long. Those in the know, have now firmly concluded that the best practice around safer sex, drug use, and self-harm is open and honest communication without judgment. The social worker in me is clearly showing, I know, but my point is that when it comes to issues like these, we can save lives and keep the public safe by reducing shame instead of increasing it. In fact, Amnesty International is now in support of worldwide decriminalization of sex work in order to keep workers safe. I’ll use the complex issue of HIV criminalization to make this point perfectly clear. In Canada, we had reached a point where a majority of the population felt safe in getting an HIV test and discussing the results with their partners. When suddenly people started to be prosecuted for accidentally infecting others with the disease, even if they used protection, it became clear that the only way to ensure you will not be prosecuted is to not know that you are positive in the first place. This has created the negative consequence of having people not get tested and passing along the disease because of their ignorance to their own status. That is clearly not in the best interest of public health. We, as feminists and sex workers or sex worker allies, should also be concerned that porn is one of the only fields where women make more than men, but where their career is shortened by sexist double standards around beauty. I believe we can be having feminist conversations about these topics without completely dismissing the entire sex industry. To me, that is intersectional and inclusive feminist at its finest. In summary, I believe we are all entitled to a healthy and positive sex life, as each of us defines it, as long as it is between consenting adults.
Blog Post Outfit Details:
Photo One: Dreamcatcher in Biscotti Lingerie by Curvy Kate
Photo Two: Strawberries & Cream Lingerie by Ms.Pomelo Bras
Additional Sets: Surrender Lingerie by Dear Scantilly