Uniforms, power and consent


uniformsA lot of people have a thing about uniforms: there’s definitely a uniform fetish.* This may well be because uniforms are fundamentally about power – they either confer it or strip it from you, which makes them erotic to many. (Remember the quote at least attributed to Oscar Wilde: Everything in the world is about sex except sex; sex is about power). For some, the thrill lies in being ‘forced’ to wear something that signals your low status; for others it’s a matter of seeing the clothing associated with authority on another.

Uniforms and uniform-wearing can get additionally complicated (and, for some, additionally exciting) in erotica and kinky spaces: you can probably guess what specific uniform worn for fetish thrills is going to generate the most controversy – and is in fact banned from a lot of BDSM venues. More recently, there has been further discussion, at least, of whether it’s entirely ethical to get excited about police or military uniforms or their wearers, along with the fairly perennial disputes about who should or should not participate in Pride events.

When it comes to erotic fantasies about power, sexy cops or naughty (adult, roleplaying) school pupils my take on it is generally: go ahead, have fun.uniforms Consensual explorations of power are what loads of people get off on, and ‘glamourising’ dubious people and concepts is not necessarily a terrible, immoral thing. A lot is said, rightly, about the vital importance of consent in sex and kink and erotic power exchange when you are actually engaging in it with (and in the presence of) other, real people as distinct from reading or writing stories about such things.

These days, though, it’s also important to think about consent in relation to people wearing ‘real’ uniforms, and the non-sex-related powers associated with them. Wearing the uniform of a service worker does not, for instance, designate you a person that others are entitled to abuse and demean. And wearing uniform which proclaims you as an authority is not a free pass to mistreat those who do not wear it.

(No uniform-themed sexy stuff currently in the bookshop, but if you would like to see some, drop me a line…)

  • nothing like an excuse for linking to a classic chunk of cheesy 80s metal…
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