From time to time, whether at the local munch or in an online “debate” between multiple keyboard warriors, I see the same argument. Between keeping your kink private or being out and open about who you are, and saying a big “Fuck you” to a society with a big kinky stigma. My first and foremost opinion is that you have to do what feels right for you as an individual and in your relationship.

If you want to be out and proud, go for it. If you want to pretend you don’t even know what BDSM is until you’re in your own home, the kids are asleep, and all the doors are locked, you do you.

But for those who can’t understand what all the fuss is about - and why some of us aren’t appreciative of public displays of kink. It’s important to understand the very real risk that kinksters are in whenever we’re engaging in any consensual BDSM activity.

The Kinky Stigma:


Or Why Many Kinksters Choose the Closet


Don’t break your toys:


Most of us are aware of the risk of causing pain or harm - mental, emotional, or physical - to ourselves and our partner. What we do as kinksters is fringe. It’s often violent, painful, and inherently dangerous. Those dangers are why responsible kinksters learn before they play. As my Dominant likes to remind me, “You don’t want to break your toys,” and I am most definitely his favorite toy.

But those aren’t the only risks when you enter the BDSM lifestyle or decide to explore your kinky side. When you’re outed as a kinkster, either with or without your consent, there are plenty of consequences you can face.

Know your BDSM rights:


In March, the story broke that in a case where BDSM as a consensual act was used as a defense of a sex act gone bad (they were in a BDSM scene, she used her safe word, he didn’t stop). BDSM is not a constitutionally protected act in the United States -- even with consent of all parties involved. Here in the U.S., at least, we don’t have a right to our BDSM acts.

In many states, BDSM activities aren’t viewed as sexual activities, but as violent activities - assault, domestic abuse, etc. Sure, those of us in kink know that some activities are nothing more than words and our imaginations (you have to love a good mindfuck). But in reality, plenty of what we do, when viewed from the outside looking in, looks like violence. The problem is that most law enforcement agencies and courts don’t care that both parties say the acts were consensual. They can and will prosecute anyway.

Keep in mind when you decide to get really kinky and things get loud, if your neighbors call the police and they see evidence of what they perceive as violence or domestic abuse, there could be trouble. Explaining the consensual nature of your play won’t be enough. If you decide be your Dominant or submissive self in public, even without the “typical” violent but consensual acts, someone could still interpret the behavior as abusive. You may be talking to a police officer or get a visit from child and family services later. You never know who’s watching you.

Keep Your Job Kinkster:


According to Slate, in 2014, the Canadian Broadcast Company fired a popular radio personality, Jian Ghomeshi. He claimed it was because executives found out about his consensual BDSM relationship. There was a claim made that his firing was based on how he treated women. If he’s a Dominant, I can see where those arguments are one and the same to non-kinksters. Many people consider Dominants no better than abusers, especially when they’re male and their partner is female.

In the same state story detailing his firing discussed many other situations. A woman who wore her collar lost her job. Another was fired because her day job found out that she was a pro Domme in her free time. It happens all the time. Many companies have a “morality” clause in their employment contracts that states that if you’re found to do something the company finds obscene or immoral, they can fire you. No, your job isn’t protected either.

Some people think their unions will protect them. In some cases, it’s possible, but don’t count on it. If you’re a teacher or work in education in any capacity, if you’re outed as a kinkster, you’re fired. Kinksters in that field go to great lengths to hide their identity and guard their privacy. Once BDSM or sexual violence is attached to your name, you’ll likely never work in education or with kids again.

The Kinky Stigma

Adults Only:


As a kinky woman with an ex husband and two children, I have to be mindful of just how “out” I am. Both online and in real world. If he found out and wanted “revenge” for leaving him -- something he attempted early in our divorce -- he could easily take me to court. Label me an unfit mother because of my kink, and get full custody of my children. Nevermind he has no permanent home, no real job, and no way to take care of them. The courts could easily use my D/s relationship as a reason to terminate custody.

Because BDSM is so misunderstood and believed to be dangerous and violent, many times, the other parent or the ex-lover who wants to get back at a kinkster doesn’t even have to provide any proof. Kids get taken away, custody is re-arranged, and the kinky parent has to fight that much harder to prove they aren’t a danger.

Vanilla Shmanilla:


Think about any part of your life where you deal with people from all walks of life. The vast majority of them vanilla -- church, work, clubs, schools, anything. All it takes is one person to out you who thinks BDSM is dangerous. Then you are drummed out of the group and thrown out on the streets. Possibly lose your job, your children, and even your freedom.

Don’t believe me? Check out the results from a survey the National Coalition of Sexual Freedom ran asking kinksters how being outed affected them. There are pages and pages of consequences ranging from therapists and medical doctors who refuse treatment for legitimate problems to lost jobs to arrests.

Why the kinky stigma?


I’ll go back to my first point. If you’re comfortable being out and proud about your kinky self, do your thing. I respect your willingness and ability to do so. Maybe with enough exposure to how normal we are in day to day life, there will be less stigma. For the rest of us who have plenty to lose, guarding our privacy is particularly important. Don’t expect us to join you in being out and proud anytime soon.

 

Kayla Lords is a freelance writer, sex blogger, and a masochistic babygirl living the 24/7 D/s life. Follow her on her website or on Twitter @Kaylalords.
Image by Flogit Jennarsen

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