Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kink Myth #2: It must be because YOU were abused

First off, I want to thank you for your encouraging response to my previous posts on this topic {On being sex-positive, Kink Myth #1}. I was a little bit nervous about them, and am glad that y'all appreciate the information and the discussion that I'm putting out there.

Today, I want to talk about one of the more popular things I hear about kink, both regarding 50 Shades and generally when these types of things hit the news {and of course, when it hits the news, we usually hear bad things}. That is, that no one would like what they like if they weren't abused as kids. That kink is not "normal" {I hate that word!} and that people only like it because something bad and traumatic happened to them.

One of the things that drives me nuts about the 50 Shades  series is that Christian seemingly plays into that stereotype. He was born to a woman who was a prostitute and did drugs, was abused by her pimp, and later entered into a BDSM-sexual relationship with an older woman when he was just 15. As a result, he says, he now has this disposition for pain and kink in his sexual relationships until miraculously he meets Ana who shows him there are "better" ways.

Le sigh. Humans are the summation of their experiences, right? Christian has issues with control and issues with keeping people safe. This obviously manifests itself in many ways, some of which do extend to his sex life. That being said, I would strongly argue that his sexual tastes are NOT the result of the things that happened to him.

Let me tell you a story about someone I know. This person knew from first grade that there was something different about them. They liked some things the other kids didn't seem to have any interest in and they thought this person was weird. Years {years!} later, after puberty, sex-ed, and high school graduation, it dawned on them that these were *sexual* things that they had absolutely no context or use for until the grown-up hormones kicked in. That very early on they had tastes, even if they didn't know {and really, shouldn't know} what they meant.

This is a common, common story, friends {it is also why I fully believe in LGBT rights. If this person I know could trace their sexual tastes back to FIRST GRADE, there is no doubt that everyone else can, too}. We're hardwired, in some ways, to like certain things over others. In other ways, our environment does shape some of our preferences, even though no one is quite sure how that works. Something else you should know about my friend? Never spanked, or hit, or even put in time-out. Not abused in any way, whatsoever. And this is, again, a very common story.

People who are abused often, in-turn abuse others. But, as I've discussed, sane, consensual BDSM is NOT abuse. His relationship as a teenager {which, I will say, is ILLEGAL and he was most-certainly taken advantage of} probably played into his tastes and gave him an outlet {even though there are some serious ethical issues at play...the brain is a funny thing}, but if he wasn't pre-disposed to liking that sort of thing, he wouldn't have enjoyed it so much and wouldn't have continued with that kind of activity. Elena {the woman in this relationship} introduced him to some things but didn't cause him to like what he liked.

To explain further: you might be totally freaked out by activity A for whatever reason. If you don't want to enjoy it, you won't. It doesn't matter if your partner is reeeaaallly good at activity A, it won't be pleasurable for you. You might think you want to try it and then you won't like it, or you might do it to humor your partner and end up having a great time. This is how life works. The same thing applies in the novels. There are some things that both Ana and Christian would not consider. There are some things that Christian did that Ana drew the line at because it wasn't fun to her and some things she tried and really enjoyed.

And here's another piece to this puzzle: tastes change over time. This is what really gets me about how Ana "saves" Christian from his desires and tastes. Yes, she helps him be more open and communicative, and less controlling of everything around him, but does she save him? Erm, no. Christian illustrates this by saying that he always previously played with women who knew what all of this meant and *wanted* it. It changed when he met Ana because her tastes were *different* than the women he previously dated. He was worried about harming her because she didn't want to be harmed! This is, in essence, what responsible partners {of any variety} do. Ana, for her part, was GGG and the two of them found a middle ground where both of their needs were met, and they both enjoyed themselves.

Conclusion: Yes, our past often has an influence on our tastes in life, but sexual tastes cannot be attributed to past abuse. Having an interest in BDSM does NOT mean that someone had something awful happen to them or that they were abused. Are there folks into BDSM who have been abused? Of course. There are survivors in all walks of life with all manner of interests. However, we shouldn't  hold them up as examples of "what could happen to you" or "why people are the way they are." People are the way they are because....they are.

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