Monday, July 27, 2009
It’s hard for me to remember what feeling ashamed of myself feels like, so I’m not at all sure that I’m ashamed of myself for being a pervert.
To be sure, I very seldom speak about certain eccentric aspects of my tastes and sexual desires. For a lot of people—though fewer than just ten years ago—it’s enough of a blow to find out that I’m homosexual. I don’t think it’s necessarily shame that causes me to keep certain private matters private—I am certainly being up front right now—but really how useful is it to elaborate on matters of purely personal interest to other than likeminded listeners? (Or “impurely personal”?)
Rest assured, then, I’m not about not about to count out my dark proclivities here in this post—not in any detail, at least.
More importantly, let’s get a few things out there—I am a pervert, NOT a sex offender. I may (oh, hell, I most definitely do) transgress the line of your personal scruples about sex and morality, and do so with gusto, over and over again, but I do not break any laws and I do not use or take advantage of others—which is more than most respected businesses can say for themselves.
Pervert means perverse, against the grain—to “twist,” which, absent the word’s moral nuances, is no different than to “adapt” or “utilize” … to “make do.” It means to deviate from the norm—to twist what others consider inherently innocuous into something prurient—to take satisfaction in what most others regard as just plain wrong (or “in the wrong way”) and, vice versa, find no (or very little) satisfaction in the white-bread canoodlings of the mainstream.
Lately I’ve tried to be a bit more frank about these matters around my friends. Still I avoid going into details, not so much out of shame or guilt, as out of a commonsense acknowledgment that, however much my personal kinks fascinate me, they bore the crap out of almost everybody else.
It’s the same principle—only worse—as the more commonly observed fact that nobody really wants to hear all about that weird dream you had last night. Nobody but your analyst, perhaps—if even him, or her.
And it’s the same principle—though nobody dares to tell them—as the fact that believers’ personal confabs with God lose almost all their sparkle in their translation to third parties—meaning they are only just as interesting as having to look through and find nice things to say about somebody else’s thick stack of photos of beloved pets.
My kinks get a reasonably full airing in another blog I write. The nice thing about blogs is they tend to attract the audiences they are meant for. According to the Google Analytics app, that blog of mine has got in the past three weeks roughly three to four times the daily hits (in 58 nations and territories) as my comparatively innocuous blog Kubla Kong. This fact suggests that my private self resonates with more people than my public, political, social self—a fact that I find, to be perfectly honest, somewhat disconcerting.
My kinks—the predilections that make me a pervert—are more or less distinct from other aspects of my character. I draw a clear line between fantasy and reality and between desire and necessity. They are even distinct from my homosexuality—I am connected no less to likeminded straight people than to likeminded gays—and perhaps the same high percentage of gays and straights would find them uninteresting, if not appalling.
What I mean to say here is that one’s kinks do not strictly correlate with other aspects of one’s sexuality—some heteros and homos alike, like me, generally prefer brunets to blonds, just as some heteros and homos alike find wrestling, like me, or the texture of denim or angora wool, unlike me, erotically exciting—others in both camps have no or different preferences on these matters.
Like my homosexuality, though, I became aware, albeit only vaguely at first, of my sexual kinks while I was still a child. My earliest sense of sexual excitement, as a boy of 7 or 8, was watching Mighty Mouse beat the shit out of cartoon cats. Not only that, but I wanted to be one of the cats. Where the fuck did the feeling come from? I still have no answer, but I would be dishonest to say it wasn’t there.
The first time (and one of the rare times) that I felt a charge of heterosexuality was once, at about that same age, when I wrestled Diane, a neighborhood girl, in my back yard and straddled her flat chest and triumphantly pinned her skinny wrists to the ground. (My mother, spotting trouble at once, called me inside and told me that that was no way to behave with girls, even though Diane had giggled excitedly the whole time—and little did my mother know back then that “trouble” for 9 out of 10 of other little boys was altogether different than it was for me.)
Our culture’s difficulties with sexual kinks have many sources—the most obvious being our puritan discomfort with and fear of erotic pleasure. Some celebrities on American TV still find it necessary to whisper even the words “missionary position.”
Another obvious source is our culture’s tendency towards conformity. For all the talk about American individuality and diversity, Americans as a rule do not want to be tagged as “oddballs” or “eccentrics,” and most find a great deal of satisfaction in the predictability of sitcoms and in the knowledge that the Big Mac they buy in Durham, North Carolina, is not detectably different from the one they could buy in Chinatown in San Francisco.
Also, pragmatism counts for a lot with Americans. Pleasure—especially sexual pleasure—has to have measurable goals and predictable outcomes. Ideally, it must be reducible to a routine. “Planned” and with the proper permits and registrations. On vacation, surprising numbers of Americans prefer to follow a strict schedule governing each day’s appointed sights and activities. A kink—or, for that matter, any spontaneity or eccentric quirk—purportedly does not win wars, increase populations, turn a profit, or gain salvation for one’s imaginary soul.
Not least of all, Americans like clear boundaries, and kinks threaten the most comforting boundaries of gender, race, and sexuality. Conformist sexuality (what some call “compulsory heterosexuality”) ensures and validates the importance of clear divisions, based not on personal preferences, but a mythology of social order.
Twenty and thirty years ago, when I practiced my kinks more than preached them, my erotic interest in wrestling was one I shared not only with other gay men, but with bisexual and straight men as well. With the last of course, there was no actual sex, no penetration—or, let’s be perfectly honest, never when both of us were sober. Still, we all were aroused and came.
I did draw the line at wrestling women after Diane—and, more pertinently, after recognizing my personal preference for men as partners in both wrestling and fucking. (One point I’d like to add on this is that I find videos of women wrestling each other no less stimulating than those of men wrestling each other, though—thanks a lot, Mom!—mixed wrestling leaves me relatively cold.)
American culture is famously hypocritical about sex and other matters, as well. We probably have no fewer kinks than Europeans do; we just don’t like to call them what they are. We compliment others’ “athletic” physiques, as if to neutralize the sexual charge they give us. British novelist Graham Greene ran afoul of the American public when he noticed and dared to speak up on the frequency with which little Shirley Temple’s ruffled dresses fly up to reveal her panties while she bounces on some gentleman’s lap or other. The scandal forced Greene to flee to Mexico.
The demographic most represented in theater audiences for Mel Gibson’s epic The Passion of the Christ was conservative Christians, followed closely by bondage-and-discipline fetishists (and has anybody not noticed the frequency with which Mel the actor winds up on torture racks in his films?—I dare say that electrodes on nipples and testicles and hot pokers up the rectum became fairly commonplace with Gibson—but who would dare call him a porn star to his face?)
So here I am, folks, impiously and brazenly proclaiming that what I do behind closed doors is very different than what most people do or care even to think about. As promised, I have spared you the details—at the considerable risk that some of you will imagine behaviors far different and more bizarre than any I actually accomplished. Still, my kinks are a source of my unique identity, involving their own peculiar standards of respectability and decency, no doubt different from the public’s, and quite likely alien to your own.
But, there, I said it, folks—not for forgiveness or a cure—“I am a pervert.” Can it be said then that I have come “clean”?
Posted by Joe at 3:58 PM