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Sex and the University: Why sex positivity doesn't work

By Imaani Cain
On November 27, 2012


The idea that "all kinks are good kinks" is remarkably faulty. The concept is a part of the current sex-positivity movement, wherein a free pass is given to any couple (or group, for that matter) that can make a claim that it's consensual without analyzing their sexual desires at all. One in particular that was brought to my attention was a facet of BDSM called "raceplay," in which racial stereotypes and a sickening display of trivializing cultural struggles are brought to the surface. It's the prime example of "othering" in a sexual environment, and creating an unsafe place for what should be a fun, consensual experience.

The most common acts that occur during raceplay are the sexualizing of slavery and the threatening of deportation and use of racial slurs. This is considered somehow 'liberating' for both partners, and the whole argument for it seems to be based on a forced non-judgmental, "as long as everyone climaxes it's okay" status. There is the concept with sex-positivity and its sanctioned kinks is that every sexual act somehow exists in a sort of vacuum, where because the act occurs within the privacy of one's home, it somehow does not affect society at large. This, however, is simply not true. In accordance with raceplay, doing so perpetuates the acceptance of casual and sexualized racism. The idea with it is that because it's freely chosen, it somehow is acceptable. 

Another sanctioned kink is the rape fantasy, wherein the submissive has a fantasy of being totally dominated by their partner. There is no way in which this can yield positive results, as the key element in rape fantasies is being ignored despite their protests-in fact, an online women's magazine, The Frisky, laid out the details of an encounter where an argument between the writer and her partner turned into sexual assault, under the idea that the writer was merely "playing along." In addition to the danger for both partners by acting this out, this is also an example of how certain kinks can involve the trivialization of a person and jeopardize their emotional well-being. Humiliation play (which can involve forcing the submissive to carry out acts that they would rather not do) and subspace (involving putting the submissive in a mentally altered state where they might become more compliant to their dominant partner) are also damaging-most BDSM and kink sites remind the reader that 'aftercare' is necessary-but isn't it abusive to commit an act on your partner where they'll need a good amount of comforting and/or reassurance of their safety afterwards? 

The sex positivity movement currently prioritizes individual pleasure over the need to analyze sexual activities and proclaims it is "progressive" for accepting all kinks. To look further into certain sexual kinks and realize that they advocate an unsafe (or emotionally unsound) environment is to be denounced as being "sex negative." However, to truly be sex positive, we must realize what our desires are communicating, not only to the person we're with but to society at large. 

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