A recent news item has come to my attention repeatedly and I've avoided giving my opinion on it thus far. Given that the conversations happened in Facebook groups and I have quite a bit to say on the topic, I didn't want to post a super long comment on FB. Now I will further admit that I didn't read the one article that I saw being shared each time the conversation was started- the title and the conversation itself "made my blood boil," to use that phrase. "A woman walked her naked slave on a leash in public." I agree that this is an unacceptable thing to do, a serious breach of community standards. However as I saw other kinksters and authors jumping on this topic, saying things like "non-consensually forcing their kink on others," I saw the conversation as lacking nuance... and that lack has led me into arguments before.
First I would like to share a little on how I live kink as part of my identity, similar to how I live being queer and polyamorous. If you've read my blog before, it's very possible you've also read of my identity as a Unitarian Universalist. The UUA maintains "Identity" pages in the Welcoming Congregation section of their website; these include identities bisexual, asexual, transgender, and queer. Leather and Grace UUs for BDSM Awareness- an affinity group that I am part of and do some activism through- has shared a model "kink identity" page; you can view it here: http://modelkink101page.wordpress.com/ . In practicality, my kink identity affects things like my preference to use words like "my dominant" or "my Master," instead of using phrases like "my husband" or "my partner."
Now I'd like to talk a bit about past minority group challenges; I do consider BDSM practitioners/kinksters to be a minority group or for myself to be part of a minority. It used to be illegal for people not of the same race to marry throughout the US. The sight of a black man and a white woman holding hands, for example, could have caused police harassment. In some places, while not legal, such harassment is still the rule. Like I remember as a teen meeting a married couple who told the horrible story of having been escorted out of a town near where I lived because they were an interracial couple- there were tears in the woman's eyes as she talked about being told by the officer that they weren't welcome in that city.
Within the LGBTQIA+ community, the chief subject many are focused on is the right for same sex couples to marry, not to have civil unions or any other non-marriage term that can be coined, but to be married just as opposite sex pairings already do. In a variety of places around the world, we've come a great deal from "the love that dare not speak its name" (a phrase famously taken from the Lord Alfred Douglas poem "Two Loves" and mentioned in Oscar Wilde's gross indecency trial), but there are still plenty of places where a same sex couple may feel uncomfortable holding hands, feel unsafe in doing so.
In the last two paragraphs, I've given examples where the simple act of two people holding hands have at same time in history, in most(some?) places were considered outside "acceptable community standards." Of course standards can vary greatly among details such as place and time. Having just finished reading Julia Serano's "Excluded," where she spends a great deal of time looking at sexism from a feminist perspective and considers how transgender people and others have been excluded from the feminist movement, or at least parts of, I'm thinking how even in "queer activist" circles, there are people who don't meet "acceptable community standards." Like I am unwelcome among radical feminist circles because of my kink identity and probably dozen or more other ways that I fail the radfem standards.
Let me circle back to what I call the Man I love when talking about Him to others. Donald, Shaman, my Master, my dominant, my husband, my partner. I circle through all those ways of naming Him depending on whom I'm speaking with. Yes, "my partner" is last on the list, probably one of the more politically correct choices, but it's the one I dislike the most. Especially online, using His first name or His nickname aren't always the best choices because I may still need to explain somehow His relation to me. I have been told that "my Master" or "my dominant" are subjecting others to my kink.
In case this is your first time on my blog, I'd like to explain something quick. Yes, I identify as queer; I am not heterosexual, bisexual, asexual. I'm queer. I live outside definitions in many ways. This said, my Master's joke about my orientation is wonderfully telling- "Joelle's a lesbian except for me." So when I see a man and woman holding hands, more of me than not gets upset about things like "heterosexual privilege," thoughts of "If Shaman was a girl, there might be an issue with us holding hands in public." It might seem weird to some as I live in a primary relationship (I'm also polyamorous) with a male-bodied/identified person, but watching other male/female couples hold hands often angers me, sadly in a similar was to what homophobes feel when seeing a same gender couple doing the same.
I don't accept the argument "that's just the way it's always been." Beyond the fact that I love her writing, I recommend that you read Anastasia Vitsky's "Becoming Clissine." It's the first book in a planned series. Anastasia starts from the premise "what if heterosexuality was illegal?" Of course there's romance and physical discipline in the book (Anastasia does write "FF spanking fiction"), but her story also calls into question the notion that a community standard that demands only one appropriate choice is wrong.