A confluence of things have caused me to think about something that should be a no-brainer.
Consent and Privacy.
In the past few weeks, a blogger, coming out about her kink in a newspaper article; a letter; and a few newspaper articles about my local scene (while being fairly complementary towards kink) but in reality may have caused a great deal of damage to it (time will tell), have come across my computer screen. The result of these items, as well as a few other things, has made me really nervous. Really nervous.
My version of my kink differs from other people’s versions of their kinks. I think we all chuckle at the phrase “your kink is not my kink but it’s ok” (YKINMYBIOK), but that is the crux of what I’m nervous about.
My family, my children, my mother, my employers and my non-kinky friends haven’t consented to even hear about my kinky activities, much less deal with the potential fall-out from their family, their mothers, their employers and their friends, should my kinks ever be exposed to the light of day, (not to mention the fact that many people still consider kink to mean that one is incapable of raising children, holding a security clearance, or even that one is mentally ill), they haven’t consented to the fallout. I try to keep my private life private from those who, for whatever reason, could make things harder for me or on them. I value my privacy, but I also enjoy sharing my kinks with those who share my outlook.
But what I don’t appreciate is the perennial arguments over about how “being out” about one’s kink is “better” for “everyone”.
What’s gotten my panties in a bunch recently is that there is a faction of local kinksters, most of whom have no children, no ex spouses, and I’m going to go out on a limb and venture to say something that sounds awful when I type it: no long term connections to employers or people outside of the kink community, who have "decided" among themselves, that being "out" is the only acceptable thing for kinksters. It’s easy to “come out” about your kink to people who are kinky or people you don’t know (vis a vis a newspaper article), especially when you have nothing to lose. Or even the fear that you will. I know what I have to lose.
But putting aside family and employment reasons, the main reason that these things coming across my computer screen have worried me, is that I haven’t consented to being outed by proxy by people who should understand that no matter what they might think, there ARE people who are their friends, who cannot or haven't consented to the risk to lose.
Let me make this perfectly clear. I have NO wish to be the poster child, test case, or a spokesperson for the kinky community outside of the kink community. I haven’t consented to my public play to be an outreach, a learning experience, or a goddamn lesson in the Constitution. That I’m into rope, but not into watersports is something that kinky people “get”. What they don’t “get” is that I’m into protecting my kinky life, while they’re into being open and vocal about theirs. They’re also forgetting, that just as people who engage in watersports know that they don’t subject others to their kinks non-consensually, that there are many others that don't share their idea of an out and proud nirvana for kinksters.
What makes me nervous is that people don’t stop and think about how coming out, being out, or looking down on those of us that aren’t, makes many kinksters shy away from those events where they’d otherwise love to be. They don't think that by forcing me to choose "out" or "stay at home", that they're forcing THEIR kink non-consensually onto me. What they don’t think about is the nervousness experienced by non-out-kinksters every time our local playspace is mentioned in the newspaper, or even the fact that their friends are now “out” and could be connected by those with rudimentary computer skills.
I do understand that the reverse is also true: that by being private and in, I'm forcing my kink onto these out kinksters. But the dividing line is mitigation of damage. Being out may allow non-kinksters to get the idea that kink isn't "bad" in the long term, but it really doesn't help other kinksters who may have to suffer the damages of educating the mass public. The question I'd put to these people is this: is the damage which may be suffered by people you call friend, who have trusted you as a kindred kinkster, who allow you to share in their experience worth the "education" of the purient or perennially intolerant public of the intricacies of our world?
I’m not saying that I don’t admire and live vicariously through many of my friends who are out. I congratulate them on having something that I’ll likely never experience in my own life. I’m happy that they’ve found more tolerance and acceptance in their own lives than I could ever hope to expect from mine. Believe me, after 45 years, I’m about as out as I’m ever likely to be. I teach and attend classes, I play in “public” and I use my own first name. Most of my kinky friends know my real last name, where I live, what I do for a living, and even my children and grandchild’s names. I’ve trusted them to recognize that we might have a different comfort level of outness, but it’s a trust that’s shared and was not given lightly. My friends are those who know all of these things about me, watch me getting my ass beat at a party, and never question my need to remain private. If I haven’t come out yet, you can be sure that there’s a damned good reason for it. Real or perceived, it makes no difference.
What I’m saying is that there is a disconnect. From what I’m getting it is that “real” kinksters are “out” and everyone else might as well just stay out of the scene. We’re not wanted, we’re a detriment, and the fact that we’re not out creates unnecessary “hardships” for those who are. And the corollary is that it is somehow they're doing it "for my own good". They have to be private when they’d rather be shouting their kink from the rooftops and shoving it down the throats of every mother and employer. I get that they might feel that I’m creating a hidden class, and I get that they might feel that us “innies” are just creating an atmosphere where remaining hidden perpetuates the idea to non-kinksters that kink is immoral or bad. Or to put it more succinctly: if EVERY kinkster was out, then there’d be understanding, tolerance, and we’d be such a force to be reckoned with that politicians and religiousians couldn’t stand against us.
I call bullshit.
So yet again, I’m forced to sit on the sidelines of the “public” scene for a while. Perhaps a long while. I’m not comfortable with my “friends” forcing me to choose sides. The “Scene” or stay home. I’m saddened that I feel like I have to do it to protect my privacy. And I’m damned pissed off that I’m considered not “freaky” enough to be kinky simply by virtue of not sharing the same kink of “out vs in”.
So be it. To my friends, thank you for respecting my wishes, thank you for understanding my need for privacy, thank you for trusting me with your lives as I’ve trusted you with mine, and thank you for truly understanding that the concept of consent doesn’t just apply to what I do to you, it also applies to what you do to me.
But most of all, to those friends or fellow kinksters who are, or may be on your way out, please remember consent of ALL those people around you (kinky people included) when you’re doing it. That way, you won’t take me down on your way out.