I admit, the title makes this sound a lot more expansive of a post than it really is, but I think it’s important to look at the kink community for a moment, especially in light of the people who are just discovering it.
A couple weeks ago, Dan Savage mentioned that 50 Shades of Grey, the horrendous bit of literary nonsense that has enraptured people around the developed world who were frantically searching for something to project their abuse fantasies onto now that Twilight is wrapping up, had at least one positive aspect: it introduced a number of new people, especially middle-aged women, to kink. Now, it did it poorly, but at the very least, it took an interest at the outskirts of social acceptance and thrust it, as it were, into the mainstream.
Of course, there is a major, major problem with this: 50 Shades is a terrible depiction of a healthy kink relationship. It romanticizes the worst aspects of those sorts of human interactions, making everything that would be rejected among experienced kinksters into a virtue. If anything, it is as widely known for its abusive aspects as it is for its position as a romance novel.
So, how do we deal with a flood of people suddenly interested in impact play, humiliation play, fire cupping, bondage, etc.? The Harvard College Munch has a good idea.
Essentially, they are the first student group for kink at the school, offering a safe space in which to discuss BDSM-related topics and to become educated about how one has a safe, sane, and consensual relationship that involves these aspects. Unsurprisingly, the religious right is absolutely appalled by the invitation of the “Jezebel Spirit” into Harvard, as they much prefer abusive relationships that stress god’s different roles for men and women (the former to be the abuser, and the latter to struggle fruitlessly to meet his increasingly unreasonable and irrational demands, just like the relationship with Yahweh).
My local dungeon is very proud that it’s known nationally as a teaching dungeon, where people who are new or curious about various aspects of BDSM can come and receive instruction and safety guides so that they can indulge in kink play without risking injury and death in the process. I’ve learned quite a bit from attending classes and asking for help of the people who attend.
The point is, there is a major influx of people who are going to be tying up their partner and cutting off circulation, whacking their kidneys with a flogger, and setting them on fire. BDSM is not something a person jumps into, it’s a complex form of physical and emotional play and needs to be approached with respect. Which is exactly why the kink community has to be ready, open, and welcoming to these new people, ready to teach them and help them determine the difference between rape fantasies and BDSM reality.
While kink is being pushed into the mainstream spotlight, it’s important for the kink community to follow it, explaining that erotica is not necessarily like the process-driven, interactive activity that is kink play of any sort. It’s good to see Harvard doing it, and hopefully we’ll continue to see munches pop up on campuses and in towns around the country.