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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mind Theatres

Or Asexuality, Kink, Beauty, Control, & How I’d Like To Fit It All Together.

Hello there. I'd been meaning to write about this subject for a while now - but then this month's Carnival Of Aces rolled around, and it felt like the perfect excuse to actually do it. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a blogging carnival, it basically works like this: a host suggests a topic, people write about the aforementioned topic, and the entries get collected for easy reference. And if you're not familiar with the concept of asexuality... I'd like to maybe direct you to AVEN.

Also, I'd like to point out a few details, before we move on. This piece is about me. It's about my own experience as an asexual person with - somewhat - kinky sensibilities. These are individual ideas, thoughts and experiences, and they don't represent anyone other than myself.



Possible trigger warnings:
- Strong wording, as in “destroy” and “person” in the same line.
- Hypothetical situations – fantasies, if you will – where consent isn’t clear. Nothing graphic, nothing explicit, but I think the overall tone might just be worth the warning.
I

I remember being young, maybe ten (I’m not sure, but I know I hadn’t yet turned eleven), and being rather entertained by the idea of a bound person. I understand the term trigger tends to be used to address situations that are overwhelming in a negative way - but that's the word that comes to mind. I felt triggered, like someone had turned on a switch. And that's still the best way to describe my relationship with the world of kink. It’s a trigger. It’s a kick in the stomach, a punch in the face. It elicits some sort of visceral, widespread reaction I cannot explain.

But back to the bound person. I can’t remember whether it was a dream or a fantasy. I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and even though I grew up exposed to all sorts of “girl’s media” and “boy’s media” (you know what I mean... pink princesses and blue Power Rangers), I had a somewhat bigger penchant for the princesses. And there’s something about princesses. They’re quite often found in distress. I couldn’t recognise this back then, but I can now – so maybe I didn’t know it back then, either, but now, I am 99% sure the bound person in my vision was a woman.

I can remember the image, exactly. There was a person bound in some sort of full-body bag (the bag was gold-copper-brown, with details on it, I can remember surgical stitches but they were probably just average buckles), hanging horizontally from the ceiling of some dark, but somewhat inviting and warm-looking room. I’m purposely avoiding the term dungeon. It wasn’t threatening, it wasn’t violent, it wasn’t sexual. Everything and anything we would usually associate with this sort of scene – it wasn’t there. Just a bound person, and for some reason, that was pleasant to think about.

Nowadays, it’s conflicting for me to talk about this. Because it brings forth a very unfortunate implication: back when I was ten, I could think about bound people without having to justify myself to myself; but right now, at twenty-one, I can’t do that. Back then, it was natural. It was just something I thought about, just like I thought about the existence of a god and what I was going to have for an afternoon snack. Right now... it’s not natural. I grew up, talked to people, learnt new words, lived through the 50 Shades stravaganza. Bound people aren’t just bound people, in the society I live in. No. They’re symptoms of either sick and twisted minds, or ooooh, sexy!
I can’t relate to either side of that fence. The funny thing is that, back when I was ten, I didn’t have to.

Let me name my kinks, then. Bondage and restraints, of any kind – though I’m partial to anything that looks medical. Straitjackets, medical corsets, you name it. If it's white and buckled - and it looks painful -, I'm in. The exception would be Japanese rope bondage, which I find beautiful, but more art form than kink, really. Asphyxiation – how to achieve it, being the least of my worries. Hair pulling, because why the hell not. Nails. Bruises and scratches and marks. Handguns. Silver handguns. I kind of find new things, little things, every day. But I think it’s safe to describe my area of interest as anything that’s kind of strange and dangerous and demands some sort of body discipline.

The question about kinks when you don’t care about sex is... what is it for, then? In that sense, my mind is still very much imbued by the definitons of the world around me. I don’t know what it’s for. Maybe it’s just like anything else. Maybe buckles are just something else I like, right along with the color yellow and playing chess. Or maybe there’s more. Maybe there are recurring themes. I can identify two, at least: the highly problematic degradation of beauty, and the slightly less problematic control.

II

This was something I mentioned on my Tumblr, once. I am very vulnerable to the glamourization of violence, or, in my preferred words, the degradation of beauty. I arrived at this brilliant conclusion, worst possible scenario, in 2005 (I was 13), when it hit me that Anakin Skywalker was far more attractive post-scar than pre-scar. But it might have been before that. It might have been when I was reading one of my Buffy books and Willow was posessed by a demon during a fight and the narrator kept describing her “broken” body. That might have been the first kick.

This side of my character is something I’m still... coming to terms with. It’s not easy for me to admit that I feel attracted to a concept that basically implicates causing people so much pain that they walk around bearing the marks for days afterwards. There’s strain, here. On a visceral level, I do appreciate it when I’m presented with a beautiful face/body that’s still beautiful regardless of how much pain is inflicted on it. I can’t get over this idea of attempting to destroy someone’s outer shell, their big fiction, their calling card to the world. On an intellectual level, I can point out a million reasons why this is problematic. People aren’t objects I can break and fix to my heart’s content.

But maybe that’s what makes the idea alluring. It’s an impossibility. It’s an illogical pantomime that keeps playing in my little dome of a mind... and I can make its plot more or less extreme, its methods more or less bloody, its consequences more or less permanent, as I please. No one gets hurt.

But it’s not something I would ever trust myself to bring into the physical world.

III

Kink is a very personal thing, to me. I talk about it, and I joke about it, but if there are deeper psychological reasons for any of it, they’re mine to handle. I am terrified of being read without my consent – just telling people I like the idea of a straitjacket could lead them into reading something else into my character, something I don’t want them to know. I am terrified of anything happening to me without my consent, and I give consent for very little.

Maybe it’s control, then. Maybe kink isn’t related to sex, to me. Maybe it’s related to control. And that isn’t something I would relinquish to anyone.I need to keep the reigns at all times, as far as my body is concerned.

I’ve often asked myself the million dollar question. Would I do it? As in, would I actually ever try any of these things myself? Who knows. I mean, there’s the curiosity. What does Japanese bondage feel like? How long does it take before it gets uncomfortable? What about straitjackets? How much can you move in them? How much would I need to practice to be able to escape one? And what if we talk about corsets? How tight could I go? These are all practical questions. I can focus on the tactile experience of these things. I can hold my arms in reverse prayer position and wonder about how truly uncomfortable it would be with ropes included. I can imagine just perfectly how it’d feel to wrap my hands around two straps and pull on a fan-lacing corset. Some of these things are achievable on my own. Some are not. But my current state of mind doesn’t allow for the presence of another person in any of this. If it did, if there was indeed another person, I dare say it would severely disturb my experience of these – otherwise somewhat pleasant – circumstances. Adding people means adding audience, and adding audience means adding performance.

Other people see this the other way around, I’m aware. Other people see kink as the perfect opportunity to let their guard down and place all responsibility in someone else’s hands. It’s a tempting concept, but I can’t detach from the fact that someone else will always be someone else, and I can’t stand the idea of being seen in a vulnerable position.

IV

If you think for a couple of seconds, this second theme explains the first. In my little mind theatres, it’s never my (arguable) beauty being destroyed and degraded. It’s always someone else’s. But then again, it makes sense. If the attractiveness of such a thing lies in its impossibility, clearly it couldn’t be me, because I can destroy myself. There’s nothing stopping me from standing up and doing it right now. It’s a possibility.

There’s nothing interesting about it.

But, here’s the thing. I can’t cast myself in the other role, either. I can’t see myself actually harming anyone – with or without their consent. I can’t see myself taking part in most of the situations I conjure. Or maybe I’m just in denial. Maybe I just don’t want to because it’s conflicting enough that I think the way I do – I wouldn’t be able to handle going from spectator to perpetrator. But if I stretch my grasp on current reality, if I allow for just a tiny change in my current mindset, I realise that I wouldn’t even need that much of a push. It’s never been me in that position, so far, but it could be. I wouldn’t relinquish my control over my body but I would let someone relinquish theirs to me. After lots of dicussion on the subject. Under extremely specific, impossibly restricting conditions.

The hows and the whens and the wheres and the whys and the whos aren’t something I’m ready to discuss or even think about just yet. But this, let me tell you, this is a very unexpected, very new, slightly out of character conclusion, and no matter how much I doubt the content of this piece, I wouldn’t have reached if I hadn’t started.

Thank you for reading. The self-discovery crusade goes on.

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