Sappho by Auguste Charles Mengin (1877) via Manchester Art Gallery & Art UK

Kinkshame or Kinksame asks: 

I have a lot of kinky friends. They all want to talk to me about how kink is empowering for women and queer folk, but it makes me uncomfortable. I know — not my body, not my business — but I can’t help but feel like a bad friend for secretly feeling like this is just a spicy new way to abuse marginalized people. Can you consent to violence that is often systemically taught? Help!

Kinkshame or Kinksame, I admire how thinly you’ve veiled your true intentions. Let’s unpack this loaded submission. 

First and foremost: I can’t tell if you’re exaggerating for the sake of the question, but it sounds like you might not really like these people. Hear me out – they’re clamoring to preach about the empowerment and freedom kink can provide while you sit, squirm, and silently melt. If this is all your friends have to offer you, reconsider calling them friends.  Grinning and bearing does not a friendship make.

Second: I may have a… complicated relationship with my local kink scene, but I can still correct your misconceptions. Kink isn’t a recent “spicy” invention, and despite what 18-year-olds on TikTok may believe, kink and queerness have been historically intertwined. Now, this doesn’t mean everyone who practices kink counts as “queer,” nor that every queer person practices kink or is kinky by default. What this does mean, however, is that many kink communities have roots within marginalized groups – which are almost certainly aware of their own oppression. 

That being said: I’m a proponent of sexual introspection, as I am with all forms of reflective questioning. It never hurts to ask, What about this kink appeals to me?, especially if acting on your kinks triggers distress. For example, do you worry that your sexual sadism springs from a genuine desire to abuse your partner? Is your submissive nature the uncomfortable result of gendered socialization? I am incapable of answering these questions on anyone’s behalf, but it never hurts to talk things over with a trusted confidante until you make peace with your conclusions. 
One final note: “the kink scene” is not a monolith, and my full answer to your question varies depending on its true target. For instance, are you asking me about white people who are enthusiastic about raceplay [CW for anti-black slurs], or do you want to know if two lesbians are allowed to enjoy causing one another physical pain? If you’re in my inbox complaining about people wearing latex, my friend, then you’ve come to the wrong place.

HYPER/TEXT is a queer advice column for the digital age: a space for subcultural dilemmas that leave offline friends scratching their heads. Should you block your best friend over lesbian discourse? What on Earth is a “kinnie?” Check in biweekly for answers to these questions and more as we explore the lives of the hyper-online!

Got questions? Submit HERE or via hypertextterse@gmail.com

Fox Auslander is a nonbinary poet born, raised, and based in Philadelphia. They are a chapbook editor at LUPERCALIApress, one of three co-lead poetry editors at Alien Magazine, and one of two co-editors at Delicate Friend. Find them on Instagram @circumgender.

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