the quiz of kink and the question of queer*

I’d like to start of with two announcements for you today, both of them regarding events that will be taking place next weekend. The first is NOCK, or Northern Ontario Conference of Kink, which takes place on November 7 in Sudbury. And from November 7-9 in Peterborough, Ontario, there’s a conference called Bodies of Dissent: Trans Access at the Trent Women’s Centre. I’ve posted the info for each one below the body of this post. Enjoy!

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*I originally posted this on September 18, 2006. Unfortunately the quiz in question is no longer available online unless you create an account, but the link is here if you want to give it a shot.

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So there’s this “how kinky are you” quiz that’s been circulating online, and I finally decided to take it. I kinda grew out of quizzes in my early teens when I realized that most of them were completely inane (“Are you a good friend? Are you fun in bed?” etc., etc.), and even the good ones rarely told me anything surprising about myself. But this one seems to keep popping up, and I figured it might be fun to regress to adolescence and see how my personal kink gets reflected back to me through someone else’s arbitrary lens.

Okay, straight to the punch line: with a maximum score of 1,000, I landed at 751 points, which apparently rates me as being “you live and breath kinky!” – a rating which seems relatively accurate aside from the glaring spelling error.

(Quick aside: do you folks find it irritating that I’m constantly carping on grammar and spelling in what’s supposed to be a sex blog? I hope not… I don’t know if I can help it. Maybe I should take a “how obnoxious an editor are you” test and see how likely it is that I’m pissing people off. For the moment I’ll just excuse my bad behaviour by pointing at the “geek” part of “sex geek.”)

So apparently I’m pretty darn kinky. 75% or so. (Is the other quarter vanilla? If so, which quarter is it?) Like I said… these tests rarely surprise me.

What did surprise me was some of the reasons why I make that score. Three questions in particular that made me raise an eyebrow: 1) Have you ever been attracted to someone of the same sex? 2) Have you ever had sex with someone of the same sex? and 3) Would you let someone of the same sex go down on you if you didn’t have to touch them or return the favor? (American spelling this time! Okay, okay, ball-gagging the internal editor now…)

How fascinating that you effectively get kink points for being bisexual or gay. Gee, can you tell it was a heterosexual who wrote the test? I mean, “let someone” of the same sex go down on you, if you didn’t “have to” touch them? Where’s the frickin’ fun in that? Why would you bother gettin’ down with someone if you had to mentally block out their gender in order to enjoy it? That’s a pretty big part of someone to try to ignore while they’ve got their tongue in your crotch! How dehumanizing. I almost answered no as a matter of principle – if someone’s gonna go down on me, you better believe I’m going to touch them at some point.

I guess when you’re nominally straight, the idea of same-sex sexual activity might seem transgressive in some way, and thus kinky. It’s like that titillating no-man’s-land where you might venture if you had that one extra drink, if your honey was out of town, if nobody was likely to find out, if you know you’re straight so a little dabbling doesn’t mean anything, if you could pass it off as one of those things you just have to try once… or whatever other excuse you can come up with to happily maintain your firm stance as a Confirmed Yet Laudably Open-Minded Heterosexual.

Really, it’s kind of insulting. I mean, if some chickie wants to muff-dive on a lark because “girls have such soft skin” and anyway her boyfriend will get all excited about the idea, or some dude decides that if he gets to blow his load down someone’s throat it’s not that much of a big deal if said throat happens to have an Adam’s apple and a five o’clock shadow on it – well, who am I to say it’s wrong? You go, girl. Get all experimental. Have a blast. I may not be interested in being the subject of that sort of experiment for the entertainment of straight people, but I don’t condemn it. I just wish people didn’t get so self-congratulatory about it. I mean, so what. You made out with someone of the same sex. People have been doing it for centuries. It doesn’t make you extra-spicy-exciting. It makes you human.

I mean think of the logic of the thing. Picture it: You’re a girl. You grow up not being super interested in boys, except maybe to play street hockey with. You never really understand the dating thing all your friends in high school seem to be so excited about. You have a couple of raging crushes on the popular girls, but whatever, doesn’t everybody? Eventually you come across a girl who decides you’re cute, and that makes you blush and stammer, and you end up kissing one day after you run into each other at the Dairy Queen, and all of a sudden the world comes into sharp focus. You’re a lesbian! So you stock up on your Ani DiFranco records, start reading Sarah Waters, cut your hair short, go to college, join the campus queer group, pierce your nose, get a girlfriend, break up, get another (or twelve), figure out how where the G-spot is located, graduate, get a job at a women’s centre, start doing the Pride circuit every summer, meet a hottie, do the U-Haul thing, buy a house and a car, get a cat and live with them happily ever after.

How is any of that kinky? With a few allowances for cultural specificity (and yes, I know that not every dyke follows the exact same path), that’s just a pretty typical vanilla life from what I can tell. It happens to include a deviation from the statistical norm in terms of the gender of sexual object choice, but that’s hardly in and of itself a major plunge into the uncharted waters of sexual adventure.

Or, in short: straight guys eat pussy. Why is it kinky if a girl does the same? (Gawd, I know, it’s bizarre for me of all people to be leaping to the defence of vanilla people.)

First of all it’s a question of accuracy. Speaking as a Confirmed Kinky Bisexual, I ask you to please believe me when I say that sex between women is not always kinky. It’s not extra-exciting just because it’s with a girl. (Or if it is, maybe you should reconsider whether you’re actually attracted to men, or at least reconsider the lover(s) you’re with.) For me, at least, the mere fact of having a naked girl in my bed (as opposed to a naked guy) does not by any stretch guarantee that we’ll get up to anything outside the realm of vanilla. And you know, that’s OK with me! Vanilla sex can be lots of fun. In my opinion kissing is one of the greatest pastimes known to humankind, cuddling rocks, and – well, I like orgasms, and I’m not generally too picky about how I get there. One doesn’t always require a bucket of lube, a scalpel and two pairs of restraints to make a fun evening.

Second, it’s about stereotypes and objectification. Most queers I know do not see themselves as exotic creatures whose bedroom practices should be held up as awe-inspiring examples of extreme sexual experimentation. Really, most of us just want to get laid like anyone else, and it’s just a question of using the body parts at hand to make that happen. No big mystery. “Oooh, what do lesbians do in bed?” Uh, finger-fuck and eat each other out. Same thing straight people do, minus the cock. What did you think happened? They grew three extra hands and masturbated each others’ nasal passages?

To hold up same-sex sexual behaviour as inherently erotically transgressive is to exoticize people who never asked to be made into a contorted projection of other folks’ repression. It makes queers into “those strange people over there who do those disgusting things… that I might want to try, but only if I can run back to my safe little acceptable life once I’m done.” It creates a division where there isn’t one. To borrow some academic language for a sec, it creates an Other (“different”) who, in the age-old tradition of binary power dynamics, is opposed to the Subject (“normal”) and comes out on the political short end of the stick. It’s hard to be exotic and still be respected; it’s hard to be fetishized and still be seen as human. In short, the equation is not only inaccurate, it’s disrespectful.

Third – and here’s where I stop championing vanilla sex and get back to my roots as a pervert – the equation of same-sex sex with kink confuses the definition what is truly kinky. Certainly, there’s no arbitrary definition out there as to what counts as kinky in the first place – it’s not like I can pull out my handy board-approved list and point to all the activities that made the cut. But I’d say a generally agreed-upon broad definition would include sexual (and sometimes non-sexual) activities that involve consensual power exchange, “extreme” physical sensations (i.e. pain or other unusual types of sensual stimulation), and/or the use of fetish objects (i.e. traditionally non-sexualized body parts or items). In other words, kink is about transgression – not necessarily enormous transgression, but transgression nonetheless. And tons of same-sex couples out there don’t go near any of those things, don’t see themselves as transgressive or kinky, and would rightfully resent being labelled as something they aren’t. (Please note I’m not a fan of queers who spend a lot of time distancing themselves from leatherfolk to avoid being politically “tarnished.” But I do understand the desire to be seen for what you are, and not to have people assume you are something you’re not. And I believe there are ways to make the distinction without basing it on misunderstanding and hostility.)

Of course this is definition has very blurry edges, and there are lots of grey areas; for example, I’m personally quite sure that a whole lot of people who don’t really think of themselves as kinky still play at the edges of it (by the above definition) with no qualms. Blindfolds, light bondage, biting and scratching, spanking, light power play during sex, and so forth – these activities won’t automatically send anyone tumbling over the edge and into the chasm of St. Andrew’s crosses and single-tail whips, but in my books they’re still at least a step or two over the vanilla line.

But the point is, any people of any gender combination can play in the realm of kink – whether it’s two men, a guy and a girl, or a pair of women. Kink is a great equalizer. One of the things I like most about the kink world is that if I’m in a public dungeon, it can be filled with people of every conceivable orientation and the common point is our desire to transgress the boundaries of “normal” pleasure and seek out our satisfaction on the edges. Which is not the case when I go to a lesbian bar. The common factor in a dyke bar is gender preference, nothing else. In that setting, I can kiss a girl and nobody will blink, but if I want to string someone up and paddle their ass until it’s purple, you better believe it’s not going to happen in that same lesbian bar – for that I need to find a dungeon. On the other hand, I can bring a lesbian to the dungeon and kiss her, and nobody will blink there either – a kiss between people of any genders would be considered really quite banal compared to what Bob and Joan are doing to Ted in the corner over there with the plastic wrap and the taser gun.

Apart from the problematic same-sex questions, the rest of the kink test was all right, though honestly it was a bit vanilla. I’m sure I lost points for not liking to videotape my intimate activities and not being into “consensual bestiality” (I’d love to know how they define “consent” here!), but they didn’t ask me if I like fisting or needle play or caning or foot worship or strap-on sex (does strap-on sex count as kinky? hmmm, another debate!) so I’m not sure the 751 is truly representative. If they’d only asked the right questions, I might have qualified for the 901-1,000 point slot and merited the honour of being in “Super Freak Alert!!” range. Ah well. I guess I’ll take my 751 and be happy with that. I guess there’s only so much you can expect a quiz to tell you, after all.

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Alternative sexuality conference to be held November 7th-9th, 2008, 4 hours north of Toronto, in The City of Greater Sudbury, ON.
NOCKTM is a three-day educational and social conference with the goal of educating people in the safe and responsible practice of bondage, percussive play, submission, and other alternative sexual practices.
NOCKTM has programming geared for people at all levels of experience, including those who are just curious. People of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome. Scheduled events include workshops, a social area, a vendor’s marketplace, and a play party for exploring in a safe environment. There will also be hands on experiences for those who wish.
The cost of the event is $50 ($65 after October 15th), which includes a buffet supper. Advance registration is required, as tickets will not be sold at the door. Tickets are available now, and can be purchased online at http://www.nock.ca, over the phone by credit card or in person at various locations listed on the web site.
NOCKTM is a NO ALCOHOL event.  participants must be over 18 yrs of age. Government-issued ID will be checked at the door. This is an accessible venue.
NOCKTM is sponsored by the SNO Bears (Sudbury & Northern Ontario Bears), the Plaza Hall Theatre, the Rock City Rollers and Between Us Lovers Boutique.
NOCKTM will be making a donation to the Healthy Sexuality Outreach Program through the Access Aids Committee of Sudbury.
Website: http://www.nock.ca
Email: info.nock@gmail.com
Facebook: Nock Sudbury

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The Trans Conference is being put together by Peterborough’s Trans Events Committee.

Bodies of Dissent is focused on decolonizing ourselves from the racialization and gender norms present in our society, as well as from institutional practices of psychiatry and prison. We are calling for a rebuilding of ‘trans access’.

The conference features workshops, presentations, talks, discussions, film screenings, performances and dancing. Topics include disability, race, barriers to access, youth, mental health, psychiatry, prison system, and more.

We would appreciate it if you could circulate the poster as well as registration form and program via, email, website or printing the poster and making it available at your organization.

7 Responses

  1. Yes! Another problem I have with it is that it gets dangerously close to the “interracial sex as kink” thing, which has been an issue in some circles lately. It’s saying that the Other is kinky, and I’m not comfortable with it. Plus, as a lesbian whose sexual partners have been disappointingly vanilla, there is a big difference – emotionally and physically – between run-of-the mill lesbian sex and a kinky relationship.

  2. THANK YOU. to both the original post and the above comment. my exgirlfriend and i (a queer/bi woman) were in an mixed-race relationship– and our sex wasn’t inherently kinky just because of our identities. and i’m tired of being treated like some weird and exotic creature that people can use to prove their kinkiness. (hilariously, this has put a pretty great cramp in my casual sex life.)

    relatedly, i’m tired of white folks sleeping with poc in order to prove their lefty politics–this seems to happen more in queer/dyke communities than straight ones. in any case, it’s still creepily objectifying.

    i wish i had something brilliant to say besides “thanks.”

  3. Thanks to both of you for making this point. I know that I’ve been really grossed out not only by the eroticizing of interracial sex in general – there was a bit of an outcry on the part of a Bitch magazine reader not long ago against an ad for an erotica e-book seller, Ellora’s Cave, advertising “interracial” as one of its genres – but also by the way some kink events take on racial themes, particularly “Asian.” That these events go forward with nobody calling their organizers on their inherent cultural appropriation and racism just boggles the mind. And that’s just on the public end of the question, never mind what individual people do in their personal lives, as e. so eloquently points out. Just plain icky.

  4. relatedly, i’m tired of white folks sleeping with poc in order to prove their lefty politics–this seems to happen more in queer/dyke communities than straight ones. in any case, it’s still creepily objectifying.

    I absolutely agree with you; on the other hand (as usual) it’s sometimes more complicated. Almost nobody these days will admit to being racist, but in many places, inequalities exist only under the thinnest veneer of tolerance–as you’ve pointed out, many white liberals don’t recognize their underlying biases. But flip it around: take an interracial couple who falls and love and then realizes that this is still a transgressive act in their community–should they pretend their relationship is not transgressive, even though people treat them differently than same-color couples? Or should they openly confront their community, at the risk of being seen as purely political? I know what you mean, and I’ve met people who grossly misunderstand what it means to be tolerant, but I also don’t think it’s right to expect all people who who have relationships outside the norm to pretend they are normal. I think that’s an equally patronizing, assimiliationist view. So how do you tell the difference between a white person who is dating a person of color because it looks politically good, and a white person who is dating a person of color because they love them and, because of the attitudes in their community, feels the need to defend themselves politically?

  5. Absolutely agree. It bothers me that a lot of straight people see experimenting with the same sex as this exotic, exciting thing… even though those are better than say, hating on homosexuality, it’s not much of an improvement. It’s also hurtful and disappointing when you think someone is actually into you and it turns out they just want to ‘experiment’ with you.

    I always enjoy reading your posts, they’re so informative and… real, if that makes sense. Just letting you know I listed you in a recent post on a 7 blogs I <3 meme, and tagged you in a ‘7 random things about me’ meme, though I’m guessing that’s not your thing =)

  6. No, I don’t find it annoying that you harp on grammar and spelling, at the very least in those egregious cases. Weirdly, I always hated (French, my native tongue) grammar when I was in school, and basically flunked out every single French class in college, I have barely any formal English schooling, and nowadays I’m the one always complaining about bad grammar and spelling. Go figure.

    I suppose that queer folks might be a *little* bit more disposed to kink than straight folks, on the basis of already being into something “out of the ordinary”, but fundamentally, they’re pretty orthogonal things, I’d say. And I’m mildly uncomfortable at the idea of queer being considered all that much “out of the ordinary” in the first place anyway, a bit like the other references to interracial couples and such.

    No, queer is queer, and kink is kink. I’m (mostly) vanilla and (mostly) straight, and this seems fairly obvious to me, so I don’t really understand what the deal is?

    Oh well, people with wacky ideas, film at 11…

  7. Exactly! I’ve had guys tell me I must not be a very good sex columnist because I’d never fucked a woman. Um, what? Listen, I’m not going to fuck women just because it titillates someone, I’m going to fuck women when and if I find myself attracted to them! The way that it gets played off as a “kink” to engage in lesbian or bisexual activities these days is insulting both to genuine lesbians (who undoubtedly don’t want to be some experimenter’s plaything) and to straight women (who have limits that should be respected, just like anyone else).

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