Since I published The Gospel of Kink — A Modern Guide To Asking For What You Want And Getting What You Ask For this past summer, I’ve met dozens and dozens of kinksters from all over the world. Many of these new acquaintances are much younger than I; many have just begun their erotic journey. Their youthful enthusiasm is infectious and they remind me how passionate I was as I began to awaken to my own sexual interests. But that was a very long time ago. So I’m grateful for this infusion of excitement because without it I know that I can easily become callous and jaded. And where’s the fun in that?
Being as old as I am, I am proud to have been part of the sex-positive and kink aware movements for as long as these terms have been around to help us understand and appreciate the panoply of human sexual response. I have been an out and proud member of the sexual fringe and alt culture for all of my adult life. And I remain an ardent advocate and activist for sexual awareness and life-long sex education and enrichment.
At the same time, I also like being a sexual outlaw. Unfortunately, over the years, many sectors of what was once the edge have been co-opted by the mainstream. Despite this, many of us long to push the envelope and remain outsiders. I admire that about us. However, there is a palpable backlash within the dominant culture toward us, as well as among us, here on the fringe, toward one another.
I don’t think that anyone can argue with the fact that there is a disturbing and very noticeable uptick in violence against the LGBTQ community lately. I chalk this up as a reaction to the gains we’ve made in the marriage equality struggle. Our increased visibility and our growing power base threatens many people who are loathe to relinquish or even share their privilege. But there is an equally disturbing trend within our own community. I call it the “kinkier than thou” syndrome. It’s as if some of us, sensing the encroachment of the dominant culture on what has traditionally been our turf, are creating a backlash of our own. This exhibits itself as a cult of extremism and its mantra is “no limits.” Some proclaim that the extreme is the only legitimate edge; everything else is dilettante play.
I don’t know about you, but having someone or some group unilaterally set themselves up as the arbiter of what is and what is not authentic grates against everything I hold sacred. I don’t take kindly to this any more than I abide a cultural moralist trying to dictate how I ought live out my sexuality and my eroticism.
Beside the arrogance of it all, there is the divisiveness. People just beginning to embrace their kinkiness are being put off by the stench of this exclusivity and rightfully so.
Extremism, in all of its forms, sows the seeds of its own destruction. You think you’re extreme? Well, I can assure you that, in the dungeon down the street, there is someone even more extreme than you, or extreme in a different way than you. Truth is, the laws of physics apply to us, and our erotic predilections, just as it does to everything else. Where there is no boundary there is no edge. If your extremism is without boundaries is not edgy, it’s just chaos.
I believe that it’s edgy enough to try and live and sustain our eroticism in the face of an often hostile dominant culture. I believe that none of us need to prove our edginess beyond our pursuit of our authentic selves.