Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Book Review: When Someone You Love is Kinky

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An approachable book, When Someone You Love is Kinky is a basic primer to alternative sexuality (specifically kink) by Dossie Easton and Catherine A Liszt and serves not to introduce the people involved in this sort of erotic experience but their friends and families. As such it is very gentle, easing the reader into the subject matter, taking the time to debunk myths and to offer reassurance that engaging in kink activities is not a one way ticket to the morgue. Beginning with a basic introduction, which not only talks about the community, but also how we got here, and how the idea that sex is one thing and one thing only (penetrative, foreplay light, man on top etc, etc) came to pass.

They discuss language, and how BDSM has its own specific terms, which may seem baffling to the beginner, or to people outside the community. There's a chapter dedicated to safety, to discussion and negotiation, which while it touches on things like safewords (a concept I fear is so esoteric to the non kinky world as to be almost alien) also dives into limits and safeguards. Age is discussed here, with a strong condemnation of the idea that children be in any way involved in kink, and a note that experience is vital if you want to get involved.

There is a discussion of community and what it means, and of the dangers of being outed to the outside world. While I've never heard of anyone losing their job for being involved in BDSM, but it obviously does happen (and here I am rabbiting on about it), or at least not outside of media and political circles where reputation and honesty were involved (Angus Deyton's sacking from Have I Got News for You springs to mind, where I believe it was felt that being the story yourself was against the nature of the show - Simon Hoggart's departure from the News Quiz was a similar affair, and he had only, well, had an affair). This chapter rounds out with a piece about kids and how much they should know (not much if anything, since you ask).

The book also serves as a chance for the authors to discuss sex negativism and to promote a more positive attitude towards sex, laying out almost a manifesto that supports basic ideas for improving your sex life; grounding it in sex therapy as well as in alternative sexualities and the experiences of the people in them. There's also a large section which tackles what to do if you find out your partner is kinky, and how to handle it. It's thoughtfully and nonjudgmentally laid out.

Most touching are the anonymous letters that pepper the book, letters to parents, to lovers, to friends. Each confides, and explains why the correspondents enjoy the things they do, each is a slice of human experience outside of the norm and brings home that it's human lives and human experiences and that none of this magically renders the people involved into monsters.

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