Fuck Decaf, or The Two Tribes of Perversion

decafThere 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.

  20 comments for “Fuck Decaf, or The Two Tribes of Perversion

  1. April 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve never been so glad to be riven with guilt before!

    Fascinating piece but a RT would bring some of that inauthentic outrage your way, so I’ll refrain.

  2. April 8, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Okay, I think we deeply agree on a lot of points here. Perhaps it’s because my proclivities are quite beyond what the ‘social norm’ is even inside supposed BDSM context. It’s easy to point at me and say, ‘Fuck, that’s wrong that he likes to hurt women,’ and within the same moment, shrug and call it ‘healthy’ because two of us agreed upon it.

    My perversion makes yours okay?

    Tourism, authenticism, whatever, it’s guilt. I enjoy my guilt, but hell, I’m an inauthentic Catholic. I don’t care if people want to visit the obscene places and find their own absolution in the failings of others (human nature is remarkably rife with the need for social dominance) but don’t use me to somehow neglect the reality that you are, by religious and societal definitions, a sinner. The guilt is the best part of it all.

  3. April 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Wow, yet another way to divide the world into the True and the Untrue, and one that I did not expect. Why not just be happy that some celebrate their kinks with a wink and a smile and others revel in the dirty wrongness of them?

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      Because they aren’t kinks then. They dovetail beautifully into a consumerist society that encourages you to view the world as consequenceless.

  4. April 8, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    No matter what people try to tell themselves, no matter how carefully they control the situation, there are always two risks with BDSM that you can’t control – the risk that the other person won’t follow the rules, and the risk that you will lose yourself. Anyone who thinks otherwise has just been lucky so far. I don’t think of it in terms of ethics, just by considering it you’ve gone beyond society and are automatically inethical. There’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is self-delusion masked as a safety net. You can tell yourself you have one, but it”s ephemeral, and tends to disappear when you need it most.

    • April 8, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

      Really? How do you work that out, logically?

      • April 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm

        We all travel outside the bounds of societal values all the time. If we didn’t the world would be a dull, rote, place. If our traverses affect only ourselves then it’s no harm, no foul. That’s how societal mores change, after all – enough people go outside the bounds and the boundaries change. The real difficulty is going beyond our own personal boundaries, modifying our personal ethics. For those there is no bell-curve, no outliers.

        • April 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm

          My argument is that we don’t need to modify our personal ethics. They’re fine. In fact, it’s the idea of them as a constantly moving target that we can adjust to suit are whims and when we want to make exceptions to what we know to be right… that’s the problem.

          • April 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

            True – we don’t have to move past our personal ethics, but sometimes changing those boundaries is the only way we can come to peace with ourselves. I, for one, am glad to finally have decades of self-hatred over what I enjoy behind me.

  5. Raz
    April 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    The definition of perversion is partially fluid, because it relies in part on defying and defiling the accepted. It becomes harder to be truly perverse as people become more accepting. Where perversity is not fluid, I think, is where it goes against the ‘natural’ – and in that way all humans are perverse in all manner of ways, non-sexual as well as sexual. However, you (and Zizek) describe a third thing – this pseudo perversion or pretend perversion. The costume ball where everyone is exotic on the outside and impeccably conventional underneath.

    For most people, I think, it’s the safe thrill. The same reason we ride roller coasters instead of driving the Swiss alps at 150 mph on a motorcycle. There’s still a rush. There’s suspension of disbelief. Only those in the experience can say whether it is sufficient, or authentic for that moment, or hollow. I suspect it’s more often the latter than the two former, but people are different.

    It’s possible also that the “tourist” pervert bumps up against the truth sometimes. No matter how much consent is given, no matter how much trust there is, there are moments – when the locks click into place, when the wax candle is lit, when the whip cracks the air for the first time – that even the superficial dabbler can see over the edge of the abyss if they look. Maybe for some people, just knowing the abyss is there, somewhere, is as much as they can stand. Still, I have no illusions – many people don’t even think about it, because they’re busy playing. And play is fun – it’s just not perversion.

    It’s interesting, too to turn the thoughts on one’s self. I think there are a lot of ways I’d consider myself a tourist. Except one or three.

  6. Amanda Earl
    April 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    hi RG,
    i’ve been mulling this post over for a few days. i don’t really care about labels, but i see perversion differently from your position. i don’t believe that the acts that turn me on: golden showers, cock worship, circle jerks, rimming, crawling around for my dominants, being flogged etc are wrong in any way, but they are seen that way in mainstream society. even when such acts are portrayed in film or in books, such as FSOG, the people performing them are usually seen as having psychological issues. i don’t hate myself for wanting & enjoying these things, i loathe those in mainstream society who portraying people who enjoy such acts as creeps or dysfunctional freaks & who are often hypocrites because they secretly want or perform such acts while castigating those of us who are open for what we do. thanks for another provocative & thoughtful post…
    Amanda

    • marksade
      April 14, 2014 at 7:45 am

      An intellectually stimulating piece. And I enjoyed the reactions; perverts don’t want to be considered “perverts” (except those that do) since somehow the labeling makes them feel lessor.

      Whether an addiction, affliction, life choice, nature or nurture, the darker aspects of BDSM and kinky are transgressive, dirty, and forbidden acts/thoughts. I know that slapping or spitting in a subs face is basically “wrong”, or tit torture, or just using someone as an outlet for My pleasure and her pain (her pleasure too) The sub knows it too (or should) and an admission that you like it, love it, crave it, need it, or that it truly is who/what you are does not detract from the wickedness and risk of it all.

      So, a good post and debate and as a PS – Amanda – keep rimming, worshiping cock, and being pissed on since that is what you crave and need and decide, as you have, in your own head how it makes you feel. non-consensual acts can only occur with consent – implicit or explicit – with Me preferring the implicit.

  7. Tom Jones
    April 12, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Lovely, thought provoking post. But I got a little lost too.

    I’m a pervert, but I’ve never thought of myself as some filthy, dirty, naughty, ba-aaaad, so perverse, pervert. I just love to see my lover suffering under the cane, the crop or the whip, and then use her as I please. Even better, she’s not much of a masochist, so she takes her suffering as a form of service rather than deriving pleasure from her beating.

    But I am conflicted: I’m a kind, warm and generous man. I didn’t ask for this kink – it surfaced when I was five – and yet denying it has never made sense either. I sometimes feel guilt for hurting my lover – and she knows it – but it also brings us closer and hey, the sex is great!

    But knowing it is not “right” is not the same as believing it is unnatural. If a five year old has fantasies of dominating women, how unnatural can it be? Unusual, sure. Wrong, yes. Unnatural? No. Unacceptable? Not to me and my slave.

    That’s where Zizek’s construct fails. The dichotomy isn’t between the authentic and inauthentic, but between the private and the public. I don’t put my kink out there for general consumption. I recognize that few people will get it and, more importantly, I don’t need them to (unless I get busted for domestic violence). The “so perverse” gloss on BDSM strikes me as packaging for public consumption, unless the kink is inauthentic, and then it is self-deception.

    So yes, what we do is wrong, and I know that. And yet it is right for me and, through the wonders of operant conditioning, ever more so for my love.

  8. TFP
    April 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    RG,

    After reading the article and the many interesting comments, I’ve decided to go back to using ‘real’ butter, instead of the imatation spreads…Now my conscience is clean, and everything tastes so much better.

    *Smiles*

  9. Six
    April 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    RG:
    Thanks for this thought-provoking essay. I read it a dozen times. It grabbed me by the throat from the first sentence. I agree with the premise, i.e., that the world is dominated by fakes, and that fakes provide the social lube that keep the wheels of society turning. My mind immediately turned to advertising, sound bites, entertainment, shoddy journalism, talk radio, and comedy news. But as I was taking a right turn into media, you were taking a left turn into consumerism, and fingering IT as the root cause.

    “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.”

    Then you defined the essence of consumerism as, “You can have whatever you want without consequence.” This seems like a huge leap into the land of non-sequitur and a sweeping, unjustified generalization. You could just as easily have divided consumers into two groups: those who think about the consequences of their purchases and those who don’t.

    When people don’t think about the consequences of their purchases, I would submit that it’s rarely because they’re pretending there are no consequences. They may not care. They may not be aware. They may not have time to think about them. They may feel the consequences are not harmful – or not harmful enough to care about. Most people simply don’t have enough bandwidth to worry about the ethical ramifications of the hundreds of things they consume each day.

    Your examples (decaf and donuts) don’t rise to the level of an ethical decision for most people.

    While I love the main point you make, I just don’t believe “consumerism” is the cause. For a cause, I would look elsewhere. And there is certainly no shortage of places to look. Our media diet (not our physical diet) comes quickly to mind. When I see people killed thoughtlessly in movies and on television in the name of entertainment without a thought given to the consequences, I disturbs me deeply. I applaud your desire to show the unvarnished consequences of people’s actions in your fiction. That’s one of the many things that makes your work so fresh and exciting.

  10. Djin bleu
    April 14, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I think I agree with Tom Jones here, unethical yes, unnatural no. I also agree on the point where social boundaries ebb and flow, we all need the barometer of society to touch base, the human mind is a very dark place if not grounded and some of us are capable of genuine horror, that’s one of history’s uses, if we cannot learn from those times then shame on us.

    As for consumerism well that’s just a natural human progression, with wider media coverage; youtube, gritty TV dramas, music videos and documentaries, there is so much more knowledge or access to it, quite simply put people are interested and where there is interest there is so much more money to be made, everyone can sell goods to anyone. One shouldn’t have the right to say “I am genuine and you aren’t”, that’s just silly.

    There is nothing fashionable or clever about the word perversion, it is what it is, a diversion from an accepted practice, also what does BDSM have to do with being ‘real’? BDSM does not have to involve sex at all, yes it’s sexual but not about sex, if anything saying that it is makes it sound wholly consumerist. What I’m saying is be careful using the word ‘pervert’ and mixing it with BDSM, they are not intertwined. Pervert defines a violation, unconsensual, criminal; Paedophile being an example, there is nothing ‘edgy’ or ‘real’ about being that way.

    Whilst there are social rules and practices each and everyone of us have our own sexual hurdles to overcome, some of us find ourselves edging towards what they feel to be unnatural thoughts which become crystalised as curiosity takes over, it’s just easier to find out about things now which I think is a good thing, 20 or so years ago it was harder to reassure oneself about our peace of mind. In short I think your point of view about real v tourism is just as fickle as people who think they are experts in regards of BDSM, BDSM is applicable to all of us, if anything consumerism is a fad, diluted and demonised eventually. Have fun, enjoy yourself, dip your toes if you wish but know yourself first, we can be monsters.

  11. Laura
    April 20, 2014 at 5:08 am

    RG, great article, honestly … I don’t know what I am. I guess if I had to choose between the two I would say I am a tourist. I am a tourist because I can’t deal with the guilt perversion would engender in me. That probably makes me a coward … that’s something I have to live with. I do enough to keep the urges at bay. Sometimes they spill over. Guilt doesn’t rest easy with me.

  12. April 21, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Fuck yeah.

  13. May 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Pain can go fuck itself.

    I only like men who can make love. I’ve been lucky that way. Oh well.

    ps: Rg is one of the most aesthetic people I know, and best writer. Sometimes I am awed by the way she lays her words on a page. I am. I’m not a lesbian, and I love RG.

    pss: Rg has a feminist voice and I feel I know it inside out. Boy am I lucky.

    xxoo!
    me

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