Respectability, kink and consent


respectabilityThe ongoing squawkfest about whether kink should be ‘allowed’ at Pride events seems to be quite the bullshit cocktail. Some of it is likely to be concern trolling or simple mischief, as usual in the Time of Internets. Some of it is respectability politics. Some of it is the newest variant of self-righteous whinyarsed puritanism which boils down to ‘everything must meet MY standards or my human rights are being breached, but if you’re offended by my behaviour, you’re making a fuss about nothing’. So the people who complain about kink at Pride tend to think the people who complain about the police or the army joining the parade are being silly crybabies, and the people who complain about the presence of police, the military or large corporations think the people who complain about kink are ignorant crybabies who don’t understand what Pride is about.respectability

This is what you get when some identities/lifestyles/existences are so dominant that they become the default, and anything which indicates an unwillingness to conform to them is percieved as an attack. ‘I don’t mind people being gay as long as they don’t ‘flaunt’ it’ has always been bigoted bullshit, because ‘flaunting’ is meant, by the people who speak of it, to describe behaviour that is wholly acceptable for straight people: kissing your spouse, holding hands,


talking about your spouse and the fact that you have a spouse in public… Walking down the street in rubber or leather (as long as your junk isn’t actually on display) is no more *flaunting* your sexuality than being visibly pregnant would be. (Yes, OK, it is possible to get pregnant without having PIV sex, but the vast majority of pregnancies occur that way, which means that a visible pregnancy can be interpreted, by most people, as a clear indication that you have had PIV sex within the last few months.) Wearing clothes (or insignia) isn’t a ‘sex act’. Whether or not you ‘consent’ to seeing someone wearing something that you dislike or disapprove of is immaterial as there are so many types of clothing which can cause offence, distress or annoyance to others, even when the wearer is simply going about their everyday business and the item that has upset a particular passer-by would be, to anyone else, wholly unremarkable (a jacket similar to the one worn by a person who harmed you in the past, for example).

Respectability isn’t a prerequisite for being inclusive and welcoming. Not everyone is like you, and not every difference is a personal attack or a threat to your very existence.

Plenty of what’s in the bookshop is not ‘respectable’ and all the better for it.

One Response to “Respectability, kink and consent”

  1. Lisa Stone

    Everything is good in moderation

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