technique, theory, and criticism kinkspam

(kinkspam = “kink” + “linkspam.” bad joke.)

Through persistence, I’ve found some of the kinds of things I would have wanted shared with me when I started here and here (and long before then, really, but those posts offer my personal context re: why I’m interrogating kink).  In the interest of anyone else who may find themselves in a tangential position, I want to share these with y’all, too.

Or in other words: *LMM’s Washington voice* Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

[general subject matter: abuse, ethics, bondage, and (un-)D/s]

Disclaimer: this linkspam has been curated with a sex-averse reader in mind and includes detailed notes, descriptions, and content warnings for most links; I’ve tried to make this post safely navigable for abuse survivors, but bear in mind, if you venture out by clicking the other links you may find through these, all bets are off.

So… kinky and critical?

edit: Even though I’ve linked it before, I’m adding in this series, too.  There’s a War On, Part 1 [tw for rape, big time] is where it starts, and it goes into great and horrible depth about the specifics of intracommunity problems in the kink community (primarily with regard to abuse, silencing, and abuse apologism).  The rest of the parts:

  • Part 2 (about the “stranger in the bushes” problem) [tw: abuse, sexual violence, porn]
  • Part 3 (on “team secrecy” and general silencing) [tw: extreme physical violence, sexual violence, really squicky disturbing stuff, community apologism]
  • Part 4 (on police & the criminal justice system — and how they fail) [tw: abuse, rape, CSA, death threats, burns, lots of disturbing acquittals and mild sentences, very squicky nonsexual-organ violation, & some author disrespect toward victim’s wishes]
  • Part 5 (on “Social License to Operate” and where it comes from) [tw: masochism and painful stuff, consent talk, edge play, extreme physical violence, mid-scene renegotiation, sexual harassment]
  • Part 6 (on silencing and Fetlife) [tw: rape, pedophilia, bestiality]
  • Part 7 (the author’s advice for bottoms, tops, and everybody) [tw: sexual violence, safword shame]

Your kinks are not “BDSM” [cw: bloody image, medical-moral language] presents an interesting perspective on a combination of semantics and renouncing abusers via differentiating general “kink” from the specific culture of “BDSM.”  You could argue that it’s the No True Scotsman fallacy in reverse, but I think the discussion here is worthwhile for pointing out the false dichotomy of “vanilla” vs. BDSM-as-collective and how that false dichotomy manipulates kinky people into a political alliance that benefits some more than others.

On Mr. Fox’s Application For A Security Position At The Poultry Facility [cw: sexual assault, discussion of a specific abuser] argues that “the safest place for a mole is to be tasked with finding the mole” — which definitely casts the BDSM community’s consent rhetoric in an interesting light, & is a good thing to remember in all pursuits fraught with vulnerability.

These Venn diagrams* (hint: the images contradict each other, so keep scrolling) illustrate a few different ways of conceptualizing kink, abuse, sex, rape, and BDSM.  You’ll notice this takes a similar approach to “Your kink is not ‘BDSM'” above.

*I have qualms about this person who made these.  If you go to their (main) blog, which the linked post is reblogged from, there’s a header that tries to guilt/manipulate you with “you’re a predator if you don’t have XYZ” when you may not have even heard of the thing in the first place (guilt-tripping: not helpful anti-abuse praxis).  Also, if you read the bolded bracket section here, there’s a mention of a serious callout — with a dead link.  So.  Make of that what you will.

I Can Never Tell [cw: description of manipulation and physical violence] is about kinky porn production and its implications for the viewer.  Summarizes something I’ve been thinking for a while.

Trust Me [cw: alcohol, manipulation] is a first-person satire of abusive tops that lampoons cocky attitudes, warning signs, and manipulation tactics.  I like this piece because it criticizes more than just the obvious (i.e. severe physical damage).  It doesn’t explain all of the red flags it’s joking about, though, so I’ll mention a few here.  One of them is drinking before play (because alcohol compromises your judgement); some others include touting authority, role policing (claims about “true” subs), acting arrogant, opposing negotiation and safewords, and baiting for approval (“there’s something special about you”).

Obligatory note on Fetlife: it’s terrible.  It outright protects abusers and is not as secure as it says it isYou can’t even make sure the pictures you delete off your account are actually gone off the server.  [edit: And here’s an important warning for the sex-repulsed folks.] Just putting this here because I’ve seen multiple instances of beginner advice that’s just like “join Fetlife!” without further comment (and people should be told what they’d be getting into — informed consent, y’know?).

On to more fun stuff…

Some bondage tutorials/guides/explanations with relatively minimal nudity!

The Duchy’s tutorials are the easiest for me to follow, with step-by-step pictures and text explanations.  It took me a while to realize what exactly the participant being tied was wearing… and admittedly, the material is a little thin (beware of nipples) which was awkward but fell below my tolerance threshold.  There’s also some comments about attractiveness and jokes about doing “evil things” (edgy mcsnoresville) but for the most part it’s just straightforward instructions and safety warnings.  They also have a General Safety page I skimmed over (covering medical concerns, communication, etc.), which seems okay except for the “You are responsible for your own safety” BS and the neutral way it mentions objectification.

The Beginner Rope Bondage page on BDSMwiki has some similar safety information on avoiding nerve damage, tips for riggers and those being tied, technical information on types of rope, etc. as well as some links to pages on individual ties.  I haven’t investigated each one, but the video preview images show people in clothes.  This page is convenient for all its linked headings and subheadings in the table of contents, and since it’s mostly text (with one basic genital-less diagram of a human body, and then some pictures of rope equipment in the Amazon widget at the bottom) at a distance it’s SFW.

Twisted Monk’s How-To Videos [cw: medical-moral language] explain some beginner ties.  I haven’t checked each one, but it looks like the participants are clothed here too.  Their Where Should I Start? page has a clean, simple design and may be more navigable than the cluttered walls of text on BDSMwiki, but it’s just some basic information about sizes and lengths of rope and such, so you may want to get an overview here and then pursue more information elsewhere.  Also, a warning if you go exploring the rest of the site: one of their book covers has an awkward boob-touching photo.

A lot of the tutorials on Monkey Fetish Studios show underwear or bare boobs, but here’s a couple that don’t: Futomomo (Fat Leg) and Armbinder Tutorial 2.0 have pictures and text explanations, demonstrating some nice ties that I didn’t find on the Duchy’s list.

edit: Here‘s a more detailed diagram on nerve damage.  Only shows images of limbs, bones, and muscles, no boobs or genitals of any kind.

edit: the copilot and her boyfriend recommended Animated Knots by Grog for its knot tutorials.  It’s a general knot site, not a bondage resource, which has the upside of no nudity/NSFW photos, and the downside of nothing specific on how to tie people, just the basic building blocks you might incorporate into a tie.  That said, I did find this tutorial (cn: autoscroll, looping series of images) on how to tie handcuffs.  Looks like it’s the same tie as shown in this Duchy tutorial for “Texas handcuffs,” and it’s a collapsing knot, so make sure you know the issues with those.

edit: another copilot rec — deGiotto Rope has a lot of rope video tutorials where the models are mostly clothed.  He’s also got a video on Rope Types & Care that seems like a good introduction.

edit: adding this “gunslinger” hip harness tutorial by Lux / Innovative Fiber Arts because it’s one of the first lower-body-area harness I’ve found that doesn’t involve rope being strung up awkwardly through the crotch like a thong (and it looks really cool).

edit: Comfortable & Safe Basic Anatomy post with text and SFW diagrams!  Pretty detailed, covers most parts of the body.

What about kink without D/s?  How can you express a deliberate rejection or subversion of that dynamic?

We know how some LGBT folk feel about “queerplatonic,” so just wait until they find out about “rolequeer”

I have a lot of wariness around the q-word, as ace readers will probably understand.  [& no, none of the people who were involved developing the original term are cishet]  Although the dialogue around it has a… vibe, that I can’t quite place, that feels blindspot-y, the concept has enough of what I’ve been looking for for me to take the parts I like and run with it.

In its original formulation, if it can be said to have one, rolequeering constructs an antithesis to the fetishization of abuse, hierarchy, and oppression (aka D/s) by fetishizing resistance, liberation, and solidarity.  Here’s some basic explanations I’ve found:

Rolequeers do not seek to abolish inequality in relationships or claim that this is an achievable goal. Quite the contrary. Rolequeers recognize that power inequalities exist in every relation and seek to address and subvert those inequalities, doing the constant work of undermining those inequalities is the rolequeer alternative to pretending those inequalities aren’t there or pretending that they are unproblematic things to get our rocks off on. (quote source, tw: rape)

In switching, hierarchical power roles (e.g. “top” and “bottom”) are static, but the players take turns trying on different roles. In rolequeer play, the roles themselves are discarded or disrupted. In other words, rolequeer “scenes” do not involve a “top” or “bottom” – or, if they do start with those roles at the beginning, the roles have blurred and disintegrated by the end. (quote source)

[cn: language that conflates kink appeal with sexual appeal]
Rolequeer play is all about breaking power dymanics.  The erotic climax in a rolequeer scene is when someone safewords, when the bottom says “no” to the top and means it, when the top makes themself obsolete, when the bottom takes the top’s power away or the top freely gives it to them, if there’s even a “bottom” and “top” to begin with. Rolequeer play is two people submitting to each other simultaneously, Submissive solidarity within the context of a scene, Submissives retroactively withdrawing consent from Dominants they’ve played with and infiltrating Dominant headspace to become double-agents, and Dominants getting excited when that happens. You might be a rolequeer if: you think it’s incredibly hot to watch someone remove their own restraints. (quote source)

Rolequeer is not a BDSM identity. Nor is it an identity that’s available to heterosexuals. Rolequeers are kinky queers who, by and large, eschew BDSM (switches and all) as a heteropatriarchal institution that glorifies and reifies oppression culture. We are not part of the BDSM “community.” We are not attempting to identify as anything within D/s. We are queers who identify deeply with our rejection of the legitimacy of D/s dynamics both “in the bedroom” and outside of it. (quote source)

(bolding added by me, italics original)

Wondering what that looks like in practice?

Submissive people don’t need dominants, period [cw for bondage and sex — several descriptions of a scene involving genital stimulation] provides an example of how a D/s scene might be reconfigured as a rolequeer scene.  Mechanically, it might involve the same elements, but the interpersonal dynamic flows from a very different approach (and, to me, reads as having a very different feel).

Sensation, Story, and Felt Sense: Rolequeer and BDSM Do Not Mix [tw: rape, captivity, abusive punishment] features a table that presents a more structured differentiation between the two — with several examples of a sensation, a story to contextualize that sensation, and then what the author calls a “felt sense” about the experience.

I’ve also seen rolequeer described as “only puppies, no masters” which is. so cute.  Not a particularly what I’m into, but cute.

A few more tertiary examples:

Contact improvisation was also brought up on a rolequeer blog as an example of what rolequeering would look like in the form of dance.  Looks silly, but… fun, too.

(I also found this, which may be one of the most sarcastic things I’ve ever heard of.)

And last but not least, this awesome comic (with nonsexual medfant interracial f/f) might not be the sort of thing that could be replicated in a scene, or that was even intended as kinky (despite the chains), but I think it conveys the subversive spirit of rolequeer well enough for me to include it here as exemplary (if you click nothing else here, I recommend this one).

13 responses to “technique, theory, and criticism kinkspam

  • mintythings

    About that link you asterisk’d. Yeah. The person who runs that blog has said some interesting stuff– I used to read their main blog, quite some time ago– but has also harrassed people who criticized them, harrassed people who didn’t critize them but also didn’t explictily support them (I saw a seriously weird interaction occur in real time on twitter, on the theme of “if you don’t agree with me, you must support abuse”), and acted in scary manipulative ways towards people close to them. I read that linked “callout post” when it was still public, and I don’t remember all the details but it struck me as sufficiently manipulative and gaslighty to make up my mind about that person.

  • embodiedinlanguage

    I could really fall down a rabbit hole with all the rolequeer links! I’ve never heard of that concept before; it does seem like there’s some really fascinating analysis of power dynamics that could be useful. I’m thinking more in terms of social and activist groups than kink specifically… Thanks for curating all this–it’s a very handy collection.

  • epochryphal

    Yikes the rolequeer stuff is viscerally upsetting me, uhhh? wow. just the way it’s being framed as the only liberation and all else is complicity with oppression. and it just generally, like, where the hell does it leave survivors with certain kinks. hm. Prescriptive and judgy, i guess – which yeah, a lot of bdsm is but… seeing it laid out as liberatory theory is always Uh to me.

    (bluhhh i’m… interested in what you get from it and what lyricalagony has to say, i just. those links, yikes me. which is interesting and i’m very into examining why, and the above are my first thoughts.

    and also like, hell yeah sub-sub play legitimizing, and talking abt how it could work, and reframing and centering submission… but not as a Moral high ground?? mmm.)

    • Coyote

      Sorry. Are there additional content warnings I could put on any of them? Or the quotes too?

      mmmmlike I said, it has a vibe that I don’t like either. I’m still glad to have found it, for the thoughts it helped cement and the validation, but yeah. Part of that vibe, I realized, is some victim-blaming stuff (ex. in the nonkink examples of rolequeering — “a rolequeer employee quits the company” — um sometimes just giving up employment isn’t a reasonable option???).

      Also, sidenote, bitterpunktrash, who has criticized/expressed wariness of rolequeer theory, has posts on their blog tagged #bottom separatist (in a way that seems kind of joking but also kind of not). So… it seems as though there are rolequeer critics floating similar ideas? Thought that was worth noting.

      Anyway, the moral high ground thing is tricky, because the more I read and the more I research the more I’m convinced that doms as a whole deserve a lot more moral scrutiny… which I don’t think is mutually inclusive with a simple handwave-y “if u like D/s ur bad.” Which some rolequeers have said it’s not supposed to be? But? I agree it somehow comes off that way, and I’m interested in why that is.

      • epochryphal

        no harm done! i think you’re spot-on about victim-blaming. it’s very…forced liberation of the unenlightened. and evangelical one-and-only-way. and it feels very Academic-queer, differently from qp

        it’s def interesting and a model worth discussing, and i love the bits about application! i just wish they weren’t embedded in dogma

        (bc yes, criticizing domism, i’m mega interested, but not in this way that tears down…everyone, it feels like)

        • epochryphal

          (talking w partner abt how it’s eerily like “men are bad, don’t identify as a man, problem solved” which was totally a thing, this creepy discouraging people from iding as men or masculine, as if that would fix sexism?? so glad that has stopped being a prevalent thing. such a fucked approach.)

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  • Libris

    Yeah, I too get a whole lotta visceral nope from rolequeer.

    I think a lot of it is, as epochryphal has identified, the dogmatic, forced-liberation side of it – if someone tells you that in order to be truly free, you have to adhere to their careful set of rules, that’s often not really freedom, just another trap. I also do dislike the idea that literally any other kind of kinky play must /of course/ be oppressive – again, the idea that everything /has/ to be about oppression, and that this is the /only/ way to subvert it rather than to be a slave to it, is very skeevy. (And I would like to note that that is different from general Efforts To Be A Decent Person.)

    I agree that it does come off a lot like ‘you suck if you like D/s’ – which isn’t a great way to handle anything, for a lot of reasons – but I find it weird that it’s also somewhat alienating to people like me who actively /dislike/ D/s stuff, because it’s still all about roles. ‘Queering’ them, sure (and I do feel epochryphal’s comparison to Academic Queerness here), but it’s still essentially /all about roles/, which really doesn’t mitigate the community-wide problem of making everything about D/s.

    The other side of the criticism that I think fails is the attempts to go from criticism of a general bad trend (e.g. ‘a lot of the narrative about D/s in most BDSM spaces is fucked up’) to individual criticism of anyone reading (the things like ‘hey, all doms, I need you to think about why you want to play pretend as a rapist’ when that is going to be completely inapplicable to a lot of people). I do also think that it overblows and overconflates a lot of its criticism – I think you can talk about issues with consent and rape and how that can be enabled by BDSM communities /without/ saying that every single dom/me wants to ‘play pretend as a rapist’.

    (I am skeeved out by the general vitriol directed towards dom/mes here a /lot/ – part of that is because I genuinely feel that it’s not addressing the problem, and is only really gonna harm people who have dommish tendencies by introducing self-hatred into the issue, and part of that is general personal history, in that all the doms/dom-oriented people I’ve known have been very much service tops and generally down with The Sub Is In Charge, That’s How To Be A Decent Person, and the exploitation issues that have been faced are more with a dom getting exploited by subs. Also, I saw a linked call on rolequeer stuff about ‘tell a dom you’ve played with that you have revoked consent to the acts engaged in, so they are now a rapist’, which was the general endpoint of where that vitriol led to, and was kiiiiinda awful.)

    And as epochryphal said above, I think the general vitriol at individual doms or dom-as-an-idea isn’t going to fix anything. If you tell people that being X is bad, the people who want to be good will stop being X, hate themselves for being X, etc etc, and the people who don’t care will keep on doing whatever they want. I think that challenging narratives there relies on accepting that people will have dom tendencies, however that works, and teaching them how to utilise that responsibly, rather than giving the impression that they’re a bad person for having those tendencies. (which kinda reflects back to purity culture, plz no)

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