Brainstorm: Categories of kinks connected-to-real-world-bad-things

[Brainstorm posts are about things that I am still thinking about, want to think about further, etc. I want to try to write about how my thoughts are at the moment, to get them down and possibly to get feedback and other people’s thoughts]

So, I’m trying to think in more detail, and more organized detail, about kinks that connect-to-real-world-bad-things. (I’m using ‘kink’ here in the ‘have a thing for this’ meaning).

Sidenote: It would be helpful to have a more concise word for this, but I am deliberately not using ‘problematic kinks’ because a big part of my view of this is that that’s not correct. I believe in analyzing feelings and noticing connections to bad things in the world, and working with that. I believe in condemning violating actions. However, I don’t believe in condemning feelings on their own, and to me kinks fit into that.

Other sidenote: I also need a better word than ‘badthings’, and am very open to suggestions. In case it is unclear, I use that term to mean something like ‘ideas, paradigms, and systems in the world that are both wrong and harmful’.

But anyway, for me a big part of thinking about things tends to be organizational, so here, as I have seen and thought of them so far, are my categories for these kinks.

1. Result from conflict due to internalized badthings:
The major example of this I’ve seen is rape fantasies originating from internalized sex-shaming. So, people internalize the idea that wanting and enjoying sex is bad, but still have sexual desire, so they fantasize about a scenario where they could have sex without being ‘guilty’ of it.

2. Reactions against constant stress of badthings:
This is when the everpresence of some hurt leads to fantasies or desires of its complete absence and opposite. As a personal example, I’m pretty sure my kink/grey kink for particular kinds of F/m power dynamics (for instance, the book A Brother’s Price hits this for me) is a reaction against constantly living with the oppression of sexism.

3. Depend on bad paradigms:
This is when a kink depends on taking some such paradigms as true. The most common example where I see this talked about is forced feminization – since the kink there tends to be for the shame/degradation, it depends on a worldview where femininity is degrading. A very pervasive example of this is the whole set of kinks related to sexual degradation: good-girl/slut dichotomies, sexual derogatives (slut, whore…), etc, which all depend on the paradigm where liking/wanting sex is deviant.

4. Romanticized badthings:
This is kinks that are directly for some badthing, but focus on the aspects of it that the person is interested in while leaving out the unpleasant aspects of the reality. Most roleplay falls into this category – kinks like sexual slavery or teacher/student focus on the sexual aspects and exclude the trauma, psychological harm, etc.

5. Remaking the pathways:
This is kinks that are directly for some badthing, but actually seek to play out the trauma, with the idea that replicating it in a safe and negotiated environment can be a help in dealing with the real world version. There are multiple ways this can happen: for instance, playing out a fear can take it from a Nothing is Scarier horror to something concrete and combatable. I’ve also seen it talked about how, on a psychological level, a major part of trauma is not being able to leave it behind because the brain keeps going down the same pathways, and recreating a similar situation on your own terms can rewrite over those pathways.

Thoughts on critical examination and ethical practices

First, as noted, basically everything starts being problematic when it crosses the line into violating other people. So, for any kink as for anything else, ethical practices involve not doing that – playing consensually only, content warning erotica, etc.

Aside from that:

1, 2, and 5 share the common trait of being coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms become problematic when people don’t realize that they are coping mechanisms. Critical examination and ethical practice with these kinks therefore means knowing that they are coping mechanisms, knowing what they are coping mechanisms for, and making the conscious decision as to whether or not to continue to use them as such.

4 is where most of my own kinks are (though the aspect I’m interested in is usually something like melodramatic nobility and not sexualness). Since this is my main area of experience, I want to do a separate writing on the value I see in this category of kinks. Critical examination and ethical practice with these kinks means noticing the romanticizing, noticing the aspects that are being left out, not confusing the romanticized version and the real version, and being committed and making an absolute effort not to let the romanticized version lead you to contributing more harm to the real version.

3 is the one I struggle with the most (I was going to write about that here, but it turned too long and also is its own topic, so I’m going to give it its own post instead). At the moment, where this puts me is: Critical examination and ethical practice with these kinks means noticing the bad paradigms they are dependent on, and being committed and making an absolute effort to reject these paradigms in real life.

When people have ethical objections to 3 and 4, it’s often with the idea that the fully ethical practice is impossible: it’s impossible to practice romanticized kinks and not have this be part of contributing more harm to the real version, and/or it’s impossible to reject a bad paradigm while practicing kinks that depend on it.

I’m not going to address the impossibility question, because to me it misses the point. Short of living in a utopia and seeing what happens then, there is no way to figure this out. In the world as it is, everyone contributes to the harm of real world badthings, everyone retains and perpetuates aspects of bad paradigms, and there’s no way to trace that back to a particular source with any kind of certainty.

As such, dealing with this to me is no different from dealing with living in such a world in general.

It means, for any area where I might contribute to harm, consciously answering the question, “remaining in congruence with my own morality and integrity, what can I and can’t I do?”. And it means addressing any specific harm I’m doing that I become aware of (whether myself or through someone else pointing it out).


The personal and the societal: What do I mean when I say ‘kink’?

[This is something that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while, and I decided it was time to get it out there]

As a general rule, when I say ‘kink’ on here, I am using it as a way to say ‘I have a thing for’. I have a thing for punishment, I have a thing for honorifics, etc. And, it seems that a lot of people use it in this same way (case in points, kink memes). This usage can then mean several things.

  • “This thing gives me specialfeelings. They are a particular kind of specialfeelings that are kink feelings”.
  • “This thing thing gives me specialfeelings. They are sexual feelings.”
  • “This thing gives me specialfeelings. They are are particular kind of specialfeelings that are kink feelings, which are a subset, a superset, or in some other way related to my sexual feelings”.

(The first is the one that is the case for me).

However, I also use ‘kink’ in a way that means something beyond the personal. If I talk about ‘kinky people’, I don’t mean ‘people who have things for the stuff I have a thing for’. I mean something wider than that. Well, what do I mean?

Now, the one thing this could mean would be ‘they have a thing for some thing(s), in one of those aforementioned ways. Just like I have things that give me specialfeelings, they have things that give them specialfeelings (though their things and specialfeelings are possibly different from mine)’.

However, in practice, there’s often another distinction. Often, kink doesn’t just refer to having specialfeelings for anything, it refers to having specialfeelings for things outside the mainstream. So, if I were to have PIV sex with someone as equals, this would not be considered a kinky activity even if I had a thing for it, while if I were to tie someone up, this would be considered a kinky activity whether or not I had a thing for it.

I do think both definitions have their uses. The second is important for group identity in the face of social non-inclusion, and generally acknowledged as such. However, it is also important to not lose sight of the distinction between ‘I have a thing for this’, and ‘having a thing for this is outside the social mainstream’. Because personally, I don’t have a thing for either PIV sex or general bondage, I do have a different kind of feeling about both of them, and the fact that one is considered kinky and one isn’t has no bearing on this for me.

Meanwhile, the first is useful as a way of thinking about things. Thinking of things in terms of ‘what do I have a thing for? What gives me specialfeelings?’ (as opposed to in terms of ‘this is How This Is Done, this is the Way of Things’) is important, and it’s important for everyone, including the people whose ‘what gives me specialfeelings?’ does end up lining up with the cultural mainstream.

Myself and Derogatives

(aka, wheeee, more thing I can organize!)

[Beginning note: I’m not sure if this needs saying, but just in case it does: In this post, I will be talking about derogatives and insults as used in fictional stories and consensual scenes. This should in no way be equated to verbally abusing non-consenting real people, which is completely wrong and unacceptable.]

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about various parts of this topic for a while, and was recently reminded of it. So, here are the categories of derogatives I’ve identified (if anyone can think of other ones, I’d love their input), and how I feel about them both actionably and narratively. (Note: ‘Actionably’ here always applies to a roleplay scene in which I play a character who is the one the insults are targeting. I am not interested in derogatives as applied to my real self).

Body/Appearance: (Examples: fat, ugly)

  • Actionably: Hard limit. I spend, and have spent, quite enough time in a world full of these messages. I am grateful as anything that my body is one area where I don’t have intrusive anxiety. Everything related to this can stay the hell out of my bedroom.
  • Narratively: Never done, have no interest. Never even occurred to me, to the point that this is the category of derogatives that I only recently thought of as such. As a general rule, outside of some kind of devotional power dynamics, my power dynamic characters don’t comment on each other’s appearance at all. No draw for me at all.

Sexual: (Examples: slut, whore, fucktoy, cumdolly)

  • Actionably: Not my thing. It’s an interesting one in that my reaction to these isn’t so much positive or negative as it is “…?”. I think this is because of my background – I spent most of my adolescence knowing and seeing my peers’ interest in things sexual, with my lack therof being a major thing contributing to my ‘I am alien and don’t belong’ feelings. Since finding out my orientation exists (this is one of the ‘most important events in my life’ to me, incidentally), I’ve been able to think about this area of things, and my feelings about it, in much greater nuance and detail. But, I continue to experience no feelings I feel are sexual, I never think of my body as sexual, etc. So, to me, these insults basically just have a very serious feeling of not fitting. Possible analogy would be someone telling me they hate me because I’m French (I’m not, at all). The mental reaction isn’t any kind of upsetness (or pride) – it’s basically ‘um, what are you talking about?’
  • Narratively: Also not my thing. Sexualness being uninteresting to me, I don’t really tend to put it in stories much (including the ones where I do put sex). I run across some amount of these in reading – they don’t bother me, but don’t tend to interest me either. I do have a character where I think some other characters might call her a whore, but thinking about it, the way it would be used, this would be a worth insult (see below), not a sexual one.

Intelligence and other capability: (Examples: stupid, fool, can’t get anything right)

  • Narratively: [note: notice that these two are in a different order for this category]. I don’t generally have these used as general insults on their own. However, I do often have them used as specific insults – in other words, not ‘you are stupid’, but ‘doing thing X was really stupid of you!’ – and combined with other (generally worth, (see below)) types of insults – ‘stupid thing!’, ‘you’re worthless and you can’t get anything right!’.
  • Actionably: I need more data and/or thoughts on this one. At the moment, I would say that it’s not really my thing, for somewhat similar emotional reasons as the body/appearance, in that I have negative emotional associations. I also know (this is a fairly recent realization) that I don’t want to repeat these about myself. But I don’t seem to mind them being used here and there. I had a segment of a scene focused around one of these (‘fool’, specifically’) that I enjoyed very much. And, the same distinction as in the narrative section applies – ‘that was/would be really stupid of you’ appeals to me in a way that ‘you’re stupid’ does not, as do these insults when combined with worth (see below) insults.

Worth: (useless, worthless, waste of space, trash, filth, scum)

  • Actionably: Yes, please! (In case anyone was reading this post going ‘well, is there anything you do like?’, well, yes, this!). These, I like. I like them being used at me, I get kink-satisfaction out of having to repeat them, etc. As noted above, they also allow for the use of ‘stupid’ type insults, when mixed in with them.
  • Narratively: Likewise. These are the insults that tend to show up in my stories. I also have a habit of making made-up-language insults of this type, and putting those in my stories too. Again, they also allow for mixing in ‘stupid’ type insults.

Submission, Control, Mantras, and Intro to Positive Power Dynamics

[Note: this is going to be a ‘goes over multiple topics’ kind of blog post, but the way they all connect and relate to each other and the way I thought through them to begin with means that putting them together works much, much better than trying to separate them out. Also, in this post I talk about myself and how I am a lot. This is just what is true for me, and is in no way what I think is best or anything. Everyone is themselves, and equal in that. This just happens to be me.]

Pretty much since I first properly thought about it, I realized that I wasn’t submissive, that that wasn’t one of the labels that fit me or was true of me. It took me three pages of writing to finally come to the conclusion the first time, back when I’d recently started reading about BDSM and had gotten to the point of trying to formally figure out how it all applied to me, but it was one of those times when I already knew the answer to something, and basically had to talk to myself until the conscious part of my mind caught up.

That first writing is very rambly – I went through a lot of analogies and attempts at conceptualization trying to put into words and thoughts the set of feeling I was having.

After, I mostly thought of my non-submissiveness in terms of two things that a lot of people I read about associated with being submissive, and that did not appeal to me – giving up/giving over power, and wanting something you don’t want.

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch an (amazing) scene that also reminded me of a third, very important thing that I was completely overlooking (though, looking back, it was pretty central to that rambly writing of mine) – control.

Now, at first I phrased this conclusion simply as not having a thing for control, but actually, that’s not entirely accurate, because there are multiple types of control, and I do have a thing for some of them. So, I though through my idea of that:


Types of control

Let’s say that there is something I want done.

Possibility 1: I write up a program that will do this, and feed it through my computer. My computer, having no independence, follows the instructions exactly. It has no will, and couldn’t have done otherwise. This is a type of control.

Possibility 2: I write up a list of instructions, and give it to someone absolutely loyal to me. This person does have indepence. They could decide to not do what I said. But they won’t and they don’t, because they have dedicated the will they have to me. This is a type of control.

Possibility 3: I am skilled at manipulation, have enough power to force and threaten people, etc. I use this to get people to do what I want. The people involved have independence and will, but I am twisting or forcing it so that things go my way. This is a type of control.


Well, kink-wise, I am interested in the last two types, but (unlike, as far as I can tell, quite a lot of people) not in the first one. Or, to put it another way, I have a thing for control, but specifically don’t have a thing for what I would call intrusive control – imagining that every person has a bubble of sorts around them that is their will, I kink-enjoy control that’s about forces between bubbles (one bubble tethering itself behind another, say, or being caused to move or contract by another bubble pushing it or holding a pin to threaten it), but I don’t kink-enjoy the kind of control that involves one person penetrating or flooding the bubble of another. From the other side, I don’t kink-enjoy someone letting their bubble go completely, or having it be flooded by someone else. [Note: I keep saying kink-enjoy because there is a very strong type of enjoyment I get from ‘these people are having fun that they want to have!’, and I get this kind of enjoyment out of very many things I myself don’t actually have a kink for].

So, first, I think this idea of not being into intrusive control is actually the central concept of me not being submissive. The kink-appealing thing to me is not a person (or myself) without will or without control – it’s a person who has will and (varying amounts of) control, but who is within or under a power dynamic that affects what they can or will do with it.

However, it also goes beyond that, because aside from not having intrusive control as an actionable kink, I also don’t have it as a narrative kink. Which left me with the question of, well, if that isn’t what I enjoy in positive power dynamics, then what do I enjoy?

This thought-quest of mine ended up being helped along by a blog post that Spiral made about mantras he uses. These are things he has people repeat that also have to do with their headspace, and they’re things like ‘I am obedient’, ‘I am a puppet’, etc. In other words, they all have the tone of intrusive control. So, given that none of them sounded like what I tend to like in positive power dynamics, I promptly tried to think – well, if someone in one of my dynamics was saying something like that, what would it be?

The first one I came up with was ‘I am at your disposal’. Then also ‘I am your tool’, and for some tones, ‘your servant’. And, this led me to figuring out the ‘what I like in positive power dynamics’ question. I will present my conclusions in the next post.

[Edit 9/17/12: I realized after some thinking and talking that I needed to further elaborate and distinguish between a few things in this post. So: I have read about and talked to people for whom being submissive involves a kink for intrusive control. However, there are also definitely people for whom it does not. I have also run into people for whom being submissive involves control type 2. And, there are definitely many other possibilities. Everyone’s identity is their own, and that’s that.

Now, also, people I was reading about and talking to seem to generally have a kink for their type of control not only as applied to characters in stories, but also as applied to them themselves in a scene or a fantasy. (Again, this will not be true for everyone, though).

I, personally, do not have a kink for intrusive control either when applied to me, or in stories. On the other hand, I do have a kink for non-intrusive control in stories – but not when applied to me. Scenes that I like involving control types 2 and 3 are roleplay scenes, where the control is applied not to me, but to a character I’m playing.

And, both my lack of a kink for intrusive control, and my lack of interest in any of the types of control when applied to real-me in a BDSM context, are, to me, connected to me not identifying as submissive.

This continues to have no bearing on anyone else’s identity and how they define it.]