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Clash in Kink-Positivity: Triggers versus Fetish


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*Preamble/Trigger Warning: The intent of this article is explorative, to open discussions regarding a growing issue within the common community. It IS NOT intended to propagate negativity towards neither those that have emotional triggers nor anyone's fetish or kink, this is not a blame/fault discussion, and certainly not intended to offend. HOWEVER, this conversation will be discussing several subjects that may make some people feel uncomfortable. Please continue reading responsibly.

I would just like to take a moment to say, this truly is a wonderful age we live in, full of promise and growth. Society, by and large, has started becoming aware of BDSM/fetish culture, and albeit at a snail's pace, tolerance and acceptance is coming. Kink-positive groups are becoming more common, and everyday more people are realizing it really isn't so strange being different, not so different being strange. Are you kinky? You're not so alone anymore!

At the same time, people are becoming more empathetic of others, taking their emotions into consideration when discussing controversial subject matter. More people are taking into account the emotional distress some topics may give, often opting to issue a “trigger warning” when something may be overwhelming to others. As a collective, we are becoming a more sensitive culture, able to understand words carry power, and sometimes that power hurts. Respectful people are they that choose their words carefully.

Without a doubt, these are both great areas of growth for humanity. But, as is common, there may be conflicts in advancement. As a kinky individual wanting to be involved with a public community, I want to support both concepts of a kink-positive culture and respecting the emotional well-being of others. This is where the crux becomes evident.


How do we have a kink-positive community when so many fetishes may act as an emotional trigger for others?


A couple examples for consideration:

At a recent fetish party I worked, an individual showed up wearing a Nazi SS uniform and was refused admission to the party. As a kink-positive event, we try to support all fetishes or kinks that are practiced between safety-minded, consenting adults (within reasonable limits – body fluid play is commonly restricted due to bio-hazard potential, for instance). However, in this case, 'an emotional trigger of the many' outweighed 'the fetish/kink of the few'. He was offered entrance if he removed the Nazi propaganda, but rather, left feeling alienated for his fetish (quite the opposite end result from that of a kink-positive culture).

At a different fetish function, an off color joke was made among a group of friends regarding the consensual “cutting” of one's submissive. This was overheard by someone nearby whom became offended; as a “self harm” cutter, the joke had offended that individual who then interrupted the discussion to let the jokester know they were triggered. Because of this individual's emotional distress, other people got involved, chastising the jokester and attacking their character. The jokester was made to feel belittled for mentioning an acceptable form of play for the environment due to an outside individual's emotional response previously unknown to the jokester. Once again, this outcome seems far from the objective of a kink-positive community.


Communication is coming on leaps and bounds but we'll always bump into issues like this.

I'm the queen of compromise myself, always have been and I do believe in such situations finding out what's going on for both sides of the issue and then trying to find the middle ground is the best way to go. 

Sometimes just getting a bit of understanding of the other person's point of view can make the world of difference in a difficult situation. 

We evolve and move on. In fetish establisments of course, it's the owner's decisions that have to be abided by and they can make the rules and en*** them as they will. 


@VictoriaBlisse Thank you for the response, and I certainly agree on communication being key!

Playing devil's advocate, these questions come to mind:

A. What if one or both sides are unable/unwilling to communicate? In my experience, those whom have been triggered typically want to shut down communication; they experience emotional distress sometimes from the mere utterance of a word, and understandably, the natural reaction is to stop whatever is causing the emotion distress (often even if it didn't include them). On the opposite hand, someone with a fetish might feel an innate right to talk about their consensual fetish in an appropriate fetish forum. This combination can often be come quickly volitile with both parties feeling justified in defending their position.

B. At what point have we compromised "too much" to be considered kink positive? By respecting all consensual kinks, will that mean we care "too little" about emotional triggers?


I suppose it depends on the context. You choose to participate in a forum discussion and can refrain from doing so if the subject matter is outside your comfort zone. In terms of public displays of the two examples cited, I would take exception to the Nazi uniform as it would be difficult to avoid, where I would simply step away from the second conversation, I.e.; everyone have the choice on whether to engage or not and everyone has the right to a certain kink, fetish or whatever, which is fine as long as it is consensual. 



Why should the offender have to leave though? Where do you find the balance? Maybe instead of the people with the Nazi fetish being turned away why not open a separate section for them to be where those who aren't offended by them are?


That is actually what I meant by avoiding the situation.


The difficulty with the overbearing modern condition of political correctness and the 'concern' of offending another is that you might never voice any opinion.  The approach I choose is like it or lump it as I have no filter between brain and mouth- luckily I don't say things for the sake of saying it and often find my views are welcomed.  I am brutal with my honesty and people do struggle with this sometimes.  Overall I am who I am, anyone who has a problem with it needs to go and manage it themselves as it's their problem not mine!

Posted (edited)

@Carnelian2 I would agree. I think we should all remember that by attending fetish functions/sites, you accept that you will see anyone else's fetish that also attended, whether you are comfortable with it or not. At the same time, there is a personal responsibility with every fetish to not *** it on others; as the fetish falls into more controversial areas, the higher the likeliness to offend others. In the Nazi scenario, it's easy to lean towards the many German and Jewish individuals negatively affected by such imagery. Of course, as we minimize to the second example, we almost see an *** of this concept: "that doesn't sit well with me, so no one should enjoy it". Thank you for your input, much to think on!

@Retta Doesn't having separate areas for separate fetishes seem a bit like segregation? Considering telling someone they can't enter an area because their fetish is "too extreme" or because they weren't "extreme enough". How do we make that line that is all too likely to offend more than solve? Should there be such lines in a kink-positive community? Thanks for posting!

@Mrchristopher70 I have to agree with you. It can be very difficult to have open discussions in groups when considering anything could be a trigger to someone. Although it's definitely good to be considerate of others, the truth is, consideration works both ways. Our emotional responses are based on our personal perceptions shaped by past experiences; as I am only privy to my own experiences, I can't know what will be a trigger for anyone, so why am I responsible for those emotions? I know I didn't consent to owning other's emotions. I know I have to be responsible for how I react, is it really unreasonable to expect the same?

Of course, at same time, I want to be better. I want to help the world be better, too. Thank you for commenting!

Edited by Cade

@Mrchristopher70 What you wrote made me think of something that once was explained to me, which was that if someone upsets you, then it is your problem to deal with it. Not the other person's. In reality and personally, I have found that very hard to get to terms with, but once you get there, it becomes a lot easier to deal with uncomfortable situations. It is their problem, yes, and it is them that should deal with it. I think that also goes with the examples above. We cannot change the reality around us, but we have a choice not to engage in it.


One thing I always try to do is to take on board what had been said and deal with the said comment as a positive not a negative this takes time to be able to achieve. The truth is from every negative there is a positive whether this is a realisation of a personal darkness and believe me I've had plenty of those but it also is a chance to gain mental  strength and confidence, without the dark there is no light. So the dark side of personality and in a great deal of ways the dark side of kink is the same.  But also bear in mind that to that person their dark to others is their light so i don't berate anyone for there choices just because i don't like it or feel uncomfortable with their choices, that's my problem not theirs and don't judge what you don't understand and if you don't understand ask .C 

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