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January 21, 2012

On a Diversity of Tactics

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 11:05 am

This started as a response to Kink In Exile’s Toward a New Expression of Sexual Freedom. And specifically to a comment by Fizz. But it got really long and off-topic and vulnerable to a degree that I didn’t really feel comfortable just dropping it on someone else’s blog, so I’m putting it here instead.

Fizz said:

None of this is to disagree with the need for a better space for those of us who do want one. I just object to the notion that there’s something wrong with the folks who don’t (or that it can only be because the spaces aren’t good enough yet).

Thank you.

I’ve been struggling to write about this for a little while, and I haven’t been able to articulate myself well enough to post yet, but I feel like this is key.

Recently, my friend feeds have been all atwitter about this play party in NYC: Myth 3 – Friendship is Magic. It looks on the surface to be a fairly inclusive, queer-friendly, kink-friendly, anti-body-policing, consent-focused space that makes an effort to be as safe as possible – and when I say “safe” I don’t just mean “condoms”. I think some of the ways they’re attempting to set the space up are potentially problematic, but by and large, it’s an actively anti-oppression oriented public sex party.

I wholly, absolutely, radically and vociferously support the right of people to pursue sex and play in public settings. But I don’t often go to them myself. When I do, it’s usually because the event is being organized by someone I care about and want to support their hard work – not because I’m looking to play there, and I rarely do. I also go to baseball games sometimes, not because I care about baseball or even intend to watch the game, but to spend time with someone I care about who wants to go.

I’ve always assumed that my objections to (or, at least, hesitancy to particpate in) public sex events myself come from a concern about those spaces being potentially triggering for me. As they currently manifest in my area (and the country in general, it sounds like), both BDSM and sex-positive scene spaces tend to be extremely heterocentric, cisgenderist, binary-sexist, classist, and…well, you know. That shit is wack and it’s obviously a major turn-off. And then, on top of that, I have some sexual trauma that WAY predates my involvement in sexuality communities, which simply makes difficult – and, basically, a bad idea – for me to get erotically intimate with people I don’t already have a meaningful emotional connection with. In short: public play spaces aren’t really designed with me in mind.

So, when this “Let’s Try and Fuck in a Welcoming Way!” play party came down the line and queer sex radical folks I know (who mostly also avoid the BDSM and sex-pos scenes for similar reasons) started getting all excited about it, I expected to be excited too… And was surprised to discover that my response was basically, “Huh. That’s nice.”

And this is what I realized: Part of the reason I’m not into the public sex scene is because it’s politically and psychologically problematic for me. But part of it is also just because, well, it’s boring. And I feel like this is a dangerous thing to say, especially here on the public Internet, because when you tell people their sex parties are oppressive and re-inscribing institutionalized violence, they have this huge well of hegemonic victim-blaming rhetoric to attack back with and they can feel all self-righteous and like they’re defending something Truly Transgressive against Some Prude Who Just Doesn’t Understand. But people get *really* butt-hurt when you tell that you just don’t think their hobby is all that glamorous.

And I hope I haven’t hurt the feelings of anyone reading this by saying that. It’s not my intention. My point is that, in fact, as a sexual freedom activist that’s EXACTLY the world I’m fighting for: One in which sex-qua-hobby is just as legitimate, well supported, unglamorous and easily accessible to ANYONE who wants it as, say, chess or going to a baseball games.

And, contrary to popular belief, I can wholeheartedly and actively support that goal (and the associated goal of making those sexual spaces more inclusive and welcoming and anti-oppressive and their resources more available) and still not be super interested in participating personally. I mean, to be frank, even the most inclusive sexuality-based scene isn’t going to be a space I get much out of because – as far as I can tell – those scenes are primarily about:

a) having orgasms – which is something I don’t really do (it’s complicated…)

b) finding partners – again, something I’m not really in the market for. I’m not averse to new love coming into my life, but I’m really invested-to-the-point-of-saturation in the intimate relationships and family/community I’m building at home, so I don’t go out looking to meet more people. Someone has to REALLY impress me to get my attention, and that’s unlikely to happen at even the friendliest sex party/scene because they also seem largely about:

c) exchanging, sharing, improving and appreciating each others’ erotic skills. – Again, I think this is AWESOME, because I think people learning and sharing about anything they’re passionate about is awesome. But the skills I look for in a potential partner aren’t their ability to swing a whip or suck a dick (although those are great skills to have). Rather, I’m looking for people with the self-confidence, emotional competence, communication skills and compassion to…well, basically, to roll with it if I have a panic attack in the middle of sex. Even for those who do have these skills, they aren’t the sort that tend be on display in a dungeon (at least as far as I’ve seen) – they’re things you pick up on by watching someone with their kids, seeing how they move through daily domesticities with their partners, how they approach their work, what they read, how they think.

I’m getting off on kind of a tangent here. I think all I’m trying to say is this: I *love* sex. And BDSM (or elements that others might describe as “BDSM”) has been a part of my erotic make-up for as long as I’ve been aware of myself as a sexual creature. And, sure, I’d like to improve various specific erotic skills and things, why not? And I would really like to have access to free and easily accessible resources to do that, especially fun politico-psychological intellectual conceptual resources, which don’t require me to spend all my Saturday nights hanging out in dungeons drinking punch and making sexual smalltalk.

But that’s still not my erotic priority. In fact, my erotic priority at the moment is getting lots of exercise, bodywork and therapy in order to better manage the aforementioned panic attacks – because they limit my ability to have a satisfying sex life WAY more than any other skill or space that I’m currently lacking.

So, for a large number of totally valid reasons, I don’t do erotic intimacy with people I’m not already emotionally intimate with. That’s what’s right for me, and I want to be able to express and live that authentically and have it respected, while still fighting hard for the diverse sexual freedoms of others who are different from me.

I don’t want the fact that I choose not to have sex or do power-exchange publicly to be seen as an indictment of other peoples’ public sexuality. Trust me, if I want to indict something about how you’re doing public sexuality, I will damn well say so explicitly – and then I’ll write about it and send you a link. The simple fact that I won’t fuck you in the way you prefer to fuck doesn’t automatically mean there’s something wrong with you fucking that way. It just means we’re not a good match.

And I think this would be a lot easier for people in the sex-positive and BDSM scenes to handle if we could tease out “the way someone fucks” from “the way someone does politics” and consider the subtle intersections of those things, rather than just conflating them all together in one undifferentiated lump that has something to do with how many Cool Points a person has. The personal is political and the political is so, so personal. That doesn’t just mean they’re the same thing. But that’s a whole ‘nother essay.

Wow. That was a rant. Sorry, this has been on my mind a lot lately.



  1. You’re very welcome. Your response is thorough and very well-spoken–it’s clear you’ve been thinking about this longer than I have.

    After I posted that comment, some friends and I were having a side conversation about it in another medium; specifically, how to create valuable spaces for people who are not interested in playing or having sex publicly. Our premise was a little different from your situation–we were specifically talking about people who would be interested in shared resources, including classes, discussions, and expensive equipment, just not the “watching people/being watched while I bone” part. I’m curious whether something like that would be valuable to you, and if so, what are some attributes that it would be important for it to have in order to help meet your needs?

    (WordPress has not been great about emailing me with comments, but I’ll try to keep an eye on this.)

    Comment by Fizz — January 22, 2012 @ 4:59 am | Reply

  2. Why go if it’s not something you’re into and seem to radically disagree with? I think your feelings about not wanting to do things publicly to be intimate with those other than your current partners are valid. But why so ranty about other people’s fun?

    Comment by CC — January 23, 2012 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  3. […] of BDSM-oriented sex-positive culture allowed no possibility for my experience to exist. Much like sex-positive scene spaces, sex-positive discourse had no space in it for […]

    Pingback by This One’s for the Invisible Girl « Bloggity Blog Blog Blog… — April 25, 2012 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

  4. Reblogged this on That's Not a Kink Blog; THIS is a Kink Blog!.

    Comment by thirdxlucky — April 15, 2013 @ 2:06 am | Reply

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