Thanks, in part, to 50 Shades of Shitty Prose, BDSM is now being trotted out as ‘just another form’ of sexual expression, as something that’s acceptable, healthy, just misunderstood. It’s now an ‘alternative lifestyle’ ready to be mainlined by mainstream America right?
Fuck all that noise.
Some things were meant to remain in the shadows.
I’m quite sure many in the BDSM community will take issue with this point of view for a panoply of reasons I won’t bother enumerating.
I’m equally sure I don’t care what the larger community thinks because it’s a farce, a co-opted, well-illuminated, middle-class joke, with deflated cocks and clown hats.
Not that any of this is surprising, new, or even ‘bad.’ But it is rather annoying.
Make no mistake, I know where we came from. I think an America more accepting of homosexuality, less hung up about sexuality in general, and just coming around to third-wave feminism, is not just a good thing. It’s awesome!
It’s the normalization and dilution of yet one more sub-culture that sucks. Yep – it sucks big, hairy, donkey balls.
None of this is new. It is déjà vu all over again when I think of two other subcultures I once loved: tattoos and punk rock.
When I go my first tattoo, it was almost exclusively outlaws and military men that got ink on their lower arm. I had no desire to express my creativity or be accepted by society. My tattoos were a rejection of cultural norms, a middle finger to society.
Of course, back then I was just a punk kid who wasn’t nearly half as tough as I thought I was, but that’s not the point.
The point is those of use who marked ourselves as outlaws or outsiders did so knowing full well there’d be personal and professional consequences as a result. The only acceptance we wanted was by a small group of people who were unacceptable to ‘the norm.’ Similarly, those in the service marked themselves as being a part of a group of professional warriors ready to kick ass or die trying.
And while were on the topic of kicking ass, let’s think about hardcore punk.
Been to a hardcore punk show recently? If so, were you even the slightest bit afraid someone might knife you for looking at them funny? Better question, did the cops beat you, harass you, or try to find a reason to lock you up as you went into the show? Did you go anyway? Did the band end up joining the crowd in turning on the roid-rage bouncers when they beat up some skinny kid?
Of course not.
This music and culture, which went out of its way to be violent, crass, and as self-destructive as it was introspective, is now so sugar-coated and normalized, it makes me nauseous.
Sha-na-na cryogenically frozen. Only, later revived as Blink 182.
Some readers might wish to inquire:
- Am I aware that the human drive to mark and adorn our skin goes back as far as we can see?
- Do I realize there’s no such thing as an ‘original’ youth subculture, and it’s all been done before?
- Do I just want those damn kids off my lawn?
Yes, of course I know those things.
No, I think the kids are alright.
Things change, culture evolves, and sometimes it’s for the greater good: Where I once had to go into “some guy’s” garage or dingy shop to get a tattoo, I now have my choice of clean, regulated shops staffed by professional artists. That’s all well and good, but I’d argue punk rock is yet another co-opted art form that serves as a cautionary tale.
To paraphrase Lux Interior, you know the scene’s a bust when the squares are promoting the show.
Because peering beyond all the positive reasons kink is being normalized, there’s a vast landscape of what’s been lost and what’s being, dangerously, misunderstood. The rituals, bonds, and teaching of practical knowledge meant for those in the margins and shadows have rapidly shifted to the center where it is unappreciated and, mostly, ignored. Example: as one reader pointed out, these stupid books are being used as a manual to practice impact play and TPE. The political implications of this are scary enough when it comes to legislation sponsored by moral crusaders, but the co-option by political groups complicates things further. Suddenly, what was transgressive and a-political is now wrapped in shiny paper, slathered in one-line bumper stickers, just before a big, red bow is placed on top. Or a political bulls eye, depending on your perspective.
Look, as a social liberal, I think the gradual un-clenching of America’s Puritanical, patriarchal sphincter is a good thing.
As an unrepentant 21st-century libertine, I find the number of squares piling through the doors to be both amusing and irritating. Mostly irritating.
John Waters once made a comment about homosexuality he caught a ton of flack for. But I loved him for saying it. And it just so happens to make a succinct point relating to how I feel about BDSM. When discussing the gradual, cultural acceptance of homosexuality, Waters said he thought it was great more people are able to come out of the closet, but added:
“I wish some gay people would go back in. We have enough.”