Going Rogue: Dragging Kink Into the Shadows [Community]

This article was originally posted on FearlessPress.com

Often those that participate in kink, BDSM, and alternative lifestyles like to think of themselves as social outlaws, people that live and love on the edge. They view themselves as renegades and outsiders, shirking the rule of mainstream society. And, in some ways, I suppose this is true. In comparison to mainstream culture, kink is still often misunderstood, shunned, and criminalized. However, while there’s still work to be done on improving how kink is represented and accepted in widespread culture, the BDSM communities have managed to create such massive, inclusive, and comfortable spaces for themselves that kink in and of itself hardly seems groundbreaking and intensely edgy anymore. Once one has discovered their local kink community, sites like Fetlife or Alt.com, or BDSM educational events, they can settle in to adapting to a new status quo that simply comes with a somewhat broader set of norms.

Such a situation is far from “being rogue.” Take a moment to contemplate what being a outlaw is to you. In my view, being a rogue means trying new things, stepping outside the boundaries of the safe, known paths and charting new territory. It’s voicing your opinion, even when it’s not the popular one. Being rogue is asking questions, challenging the status quo, and unapologetically pushing for positive changes when the system around you becomes complacent and comfortable just letting things be. At times, it’s about taking a stand on what you refuse to do – not supporting the popular opinion or individual that you find morally questionable or detrimental to the health and well-being of the community. Being a rogue and outlaw is about thinking critically, being innovative, and holding your own in the face of rejection, misunderstanding, and hardship.

There are still rogues in the community. You find them in the damnedest places. They’re the people that are the innovators, the risk-takers, and the forward thinkers. Sometimes they’re community leaders, titleholders, and organizers. Just as often, they fly under the radar and quietly work behind the scenes. The rogues radiate a special kind of energy and often, even if you don’t like them, you find that you respect them. The rogues are doers. They’re rebels with a cause…but not always the one you expect.

Ironically, in this age when kinksters are tirelessly fighting to have BDSM accepted and decriminalized, many of my favorite rogues are arguing that kink needs to remember how to explore and occupy the shadowlands, the dark, dirty, and taboo spaces that the mainstream is guaranteed to reject. Lee Harrington outlined his desire to find those unsanitized, sinister corners of the kink world in his writing, Give Me My Shadows Back. Mollena Williams has waxed poetic about the thrill of surrendering fully to the shadowy places of the human psyche, poking at the taboos of race inequality, lynching, and horrors of slavery. Even my own Leather mentor, David Dean, has often remarked on the importance of having the ability to “find those dark back rooms and wallow in filth” while he continuously fighting for social acceptability for kinksters.

It’s a hard, uphill battle. How does one make kink palatable and acceptable for society at large while keeping its edge? I’m not sure I have the answer, but I refuse to let the light shine into all the dark corners. I want the ability to surrender to the shadows, to explore and exploit the darkness and still emerge a respectable and accepted member of society. It’s a worthy fight and I, for one, am going rogue. I’m taking the time to crouch in the shadows enjoying the darkness while continuing to insist on acceptability. What about you? What are you willing to go rogue for?

2 thoughts on “Going Rogue: Dragging Kink Into the Shadows [Community]

  1. My first reaction to this is “I don’t know if you can”. Which is… too simplistic and not actually an accurate way of verbalizing what I’m feeling about this.
    I don’t think it’s possible to “make kink acceptable” to a mainstream that is, at its core, deeply and painfully sex-negative. I think many attempts to do so rely pretty heavily on throwing our shadows, as you put it, under the bus.
    I’m one of those people who does blood play (with knives, with scalpels) and 24/7 Owner/property power exchanges – the kind that aren’t “play” but “life”. I’m the kind of person whose “normal” exists in what, for a lot (apparently – although in my own community most of us get 24/7 O/p without much trouble, even if we aren’t engaging in it) of people is pretty scary territory.
    This isn’t me being all “I am the shadow-queen (koo-koo-kachoo)” at you. I’ve been to a lot of workshops about cuttings and similar where the facil has made a damn good point of mentioning how one person’s super-intense edgy scene is another person’s paper-cut… and that that doesn’t make the former any less edgy or that latter any more-so. And I agree with that.
    So I’m with you on that one.

    What I’m getting at is that I don’t think that you can keep the dark and edgy stuff – however that’s defined by each individual person – while simultaneously trying to specifically make *kink* non-scary and safe-sounding for, say, legislators who, by their job descriptions if nothing else, tend to be fairly conservative.

    I think a better (albeit slower) tactic is to push for the acceptance of sexual diversity and the idea of “we don’t all have to enjoy the same thing for all these (different, numerous) things to be okay and good for the people who enjoy them”. Not that I have much of a clue – beyond having a LOT of conversations – how to go about making this happen. But that’s the tac I’d take. :-)

  2. Wow this has a very special place in my heart and you two have said so much about it already. I have always tried to avoid mainstream, and be on the outskirts of “normal” society.When I came into the kink community, it was another way that was delving further into the shadows. But the further I have gone, and the longer I have been here, the less dark they look to me. I have people reminding me everyday that it is still out there.

    Like Syrens said, society as a whole is sex-negative. People are not accepting of what they do not know, or do not understand. Even trying to help them understand kink is difficult. I applaud E.L. James with 50 Shades of Grey. For as much as it seems quite tame to people involved in the scene, it has opened up a whole new bunch of people to this lifestyle, and did it in a way that did not scare them, but made most of the horny as hell. Well that really is the whole point. But you will always have people who will always find kink too taboo for them. We will never change their minds. But that is okay. The world needs all kinds of people, even if we can’t understand each other

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