There are two tribes of perverts. Those who believe and those who don’t; real perverts and fake perverts. I contend today that the world is dominated by the fake ones.
I’m not a wholehearted fan of the Yugoslavian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, but he has proposed an interesting theory I embrace. He says that the world has become appallingly inauthentic and that this is the engine that powers an obscene system. It is the practice of perpetuating fantasies, which we know to be fantasies, in order to doggedly maintain the system. It is not necessary to actually believe in the ideology of the system. No one does. But it is necessary to pretend we do, in order for the wheels to keep turning. It is the reign of the wink and the nod.
He says, there is real fundamentalism, and pseudo-fundamentalism. The Amish, he says, are real fundamentalists. They really believe. They don’t want you to join them, or share their beliefs. They don’t have a problem with science. Science is simply on another plane of existence. They don’t debate its veracity. They dismiss it as irrelevant to their way of life. They let you get on with your life. Just keep your distance. Then there are the pseudo-fundamentalists who are manic proselytizers, who attempt to insinuate themselves into scientific debate by arguing that creationism is some scientifically acceptable alternative to Darwinism. They find a way to weave all their supposed transgressions into some narrative that fits with their dogma. But, most telling all, says Zizek, is that they have envy. They suffer tremendously from a fascination with the “jouissance of the other”. They constantly dehumanize and demonize other groups as a part of their doctrine. They hate homosexuals and imagine that gays have far better sex than they have. They demand that people envy them for their ‘born-againness’ and their personal relationship with god.
It’s very much like the myth of Santa Claus. A parent pretends to believe in Santa Claus for the sake of his or her children. The child pretends to believe in Santa Claus for the sake of the parent, and for the presents. No one actually believes in Santa Claus. He’s an agreed-upon fallacy.
I see a similar pattern in the majority of the people who make a pretence of perversion. I’m so filthy, I’m so dirty, I’m so naughty, so ba-aaaad, so perverse, they say. But if you really ask them whether they think they’re doing anything wrong, you get this incredible answer. Of course not! What I do is perfectly natural. As long as it’s all-consensual, there’s nothing wrong with it at all. It’s all about respect and ethical humanism. There’s no inherent disdain or humiliation about five guys coming all over a tied up girl. She’s up for it; they’re up for it. Where’s the ethical problem? Of course I have no shame in the fact that hurting someone and making them cry gives me a raging erection. I don’t do it to anyone who doesn’t want to be hurt. It’s just a natural variation on the long continuum of sexuality. So all that initial ‘I’m so naughty’ stuff is all… marketing hype. But for who?
I call bullshit. If you really believe that, you’re not a pervert. You’re a tourist.
Real perverts believe with deep sincerity in the rules they break. They have faith that what they are doing is wrong. They have a firm model in their heads of exactly what human dignity is and when they transgress it, either by what they do to themselves or what they do to others, regardless of consent, they know it’s unacceptable. It’s not right. Not natural. Not okay. It’s monstrous and ugly and perverse. Robert Stoller has called perversion ‘the erotic form of hatred.’ I agree with him unreservedly.
This strange and, in my mind, truly corrupt practice of perpetuating fallacies has poked its bony undead fingers into all parts of our society and, at the bottom of it, is a pure, unadulterated consumerism: “You can have whatever you want without consequence. You can have coffee without caffeine. Sugar doughnuts without sugar. Weight loss without calorie reduction or exercise.” And, my very favourite – and the one that squicks me beyond measure – BDSM without risk or even sex!
I’m here to tell you that coffee without caffeine isn’t coffee. Sugar doughnuts without sugar aren’t sugar doughnuts. You can’t loose weight without either exercise or cutting your calories. And no real BDSM is riskless or sexless. There is nothing remotely ethical about being aroused at someone else’s pain, or at suffering it yourself, pissing on someone, pushing needles into their flesh, using someone else’s body as a vat for your semen or, indeed, getting off on having yours used that way.
So, what has this to do with me as a writer of erotic fiction?
It occurs to me that I need to make it clear that I do not write the stories I write as how-to manuals for kinky couples. I do not make moral excuses for the rotten and perverse things my characters do. I do not give them nice happy endings because I do not want to send the message that there are no negative consequences to their behaviours.
I am a pervert. I believe that my sexual proclivities are deeply unethical and, in fact, a good deal of the jouissance I get from them comes from the fact that I know, in every fibre of my being, that they are wrong. Most of my characters are like me.
None of us need, or want, your absolution.