We might think that fetish is not political, and purely about fun. But there's a case to be made that fetish is political in some sense or other. Even if we simply enjoy fetish clothes, or take part in fetish activities, there's a political orientation to everything that we do.
For example, people outside of the fetish scene sometimes aim to constrain the activities of those who are part of it. In terms of the law, for example, some countries particularly restrict people from taking part in BDSM, as they consider it as being a form of harm to the individual.
They also consider that wearing certain clothes in public may be a particularly offense to public decency. Some individuals also consider the fetish scene to be separate from ‘normal’ sexuality and that it should not really be part of the mainstream.
So, even if we do not think that fetish is political, people in power wish to politicise it and even to make sure that fetish activities are prohibited and outlawed. What are the political positions that we can take that support fetish activities?
A libertarian perspective would be that we should be free to choose what we do with our own bodies, and in our own activities. People should be free to do what they want and should not be restricted in this by the state, or by other agencies.
Other people’s morality should not interfere with what we choose to do in our own lives. Of course, there are limits to this individual freedom. For example, if it brought harm to another, or involved people who can not make their own decisions, then this would be wrong.
So from a libertarian perspective, it's up to each individual what to do with their BDSM or fetish experience.
From a post-feminist perspective, BDSM and fetish are morally correct if they're part of a woman’s right to choose. Therefore, rather than seeing a submissive woman as being morally dubious (as she takes a role which is subservient to a male partner) they see her as asserting a right to choose her own sexuality.
In taking the submissive (or dominant) role in a BDSM relationship, a woman is asserting her right to take part in activities that are part of her lifestyle.
So as you can see, there are good arguments to say that fetish and BDSM are ethically correct lifestyles to follow. So go ahead and enjoy yourself!
Main photo: Corla Lacey/Flickr
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