To Be Quite Vanilla, Oh Dear.

There’s a “Vanilla Privilege Checklist” floating around. To the list, this kinky rambling feminist woman of color says, the dangers of appropriation are staggering, also erasure of marginalized identities from vanilla is not the way to go about this:

A vanilla person will have an easy time finding media that portrays people with their sexual preferences sympathetically and accurately.

Queer sex isn’t necessarily kinky. Sympathetic and accurate portrayals of queer people in the media however? Nearly non-existent.

A vanilla person will not have their being vanilla brought up during a rape investigation (either as accuser or accused)

I’m pretty sure that I don’t have to remind everyone that not all women are kinky. When they are victims in rape investigations, their being women is enough to work against them. Rape culture, anyone?

Symbols of vanilla affection/romance will not be appropriated as “edgy” fashion statements.

Someone please look up Lady Gaga’s commercializing of the gay community.

A vanilla person will not be assumed to be sexually experienced because of their vanilla-ness.

Vanilla is not taken to mean sexually available.

POC (peoples/person of color) sexuality is automatically offered to some people. It means that when I walk down the street, my sexuality is not my own, it is others’ to delegate and make use of as they see fit.

There’s another post similar to this on vanilla privilege and while it makes a good point on privilege reactions and why people shouldn’t react violently to accusations of privilege, I’m still not sure privilege is the right name to assign to “not being kinky”.

Listen.

Being kinky is not a cakewalk, I get it; I know this- but there’s a line and it is crossed at appropriating queer, POC, and other marginalized movements. You know the roots of kinkophobia?

Gender norms. Racism. Heterosexism.

POC sexuality has been corroded to the point of erasure of anything that didn’t mesh with the “pure white sexuality” within POC communities.

Homophobia is so prevalent, the queer community bends to heteronormative norms in an effort find sameness which ends up being just another oppression.

Women aren’t supposed to be vocal, dominant, or agents of their own sexuality- and kinks? No way.

This is a conversation we need to have in the anti-oppression community- of kinks and kinkophobia, and why kink has been erased from our intersecting marginalized identities- but I believe that this list does more harm than any good.

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10 Responses to To Be Quite Vanilla, Oh Dear.

  1. cat says:

    I totally disagree. Did you stop for a second to think of the concept of “simultaneous privilege and oppression” before you wrote this? To use an example, a black man has male privilege but not white privilege, and the degree and interaction of his male privilege is affected by his lack of white privilege. The same notion applies to kink. As a queer kinkster, I definitely think that hetero kinksters have hetero privilege, but that does not mean they are privileged in every other aspect of their lives or sexualities. A person can be privileged as a hetero and oppressed as a kinkster at the same time, just like a white queer person can have white privilege and be oppressed as queer at the same time. Sheesh.

    • I don’t ignore intersectionality, I’m a straight black woman, I’m privileged as straight but simultaneously oppressed as a black woman. However, as a kinky hetero myself, I argue that I’m not oppressed because I’m kinky. In the context of oppressions such as racism and sexism, I can’t put kink in the same place. It feels appropriative for me to consider myself oppressed because I’m kinky.

      It’s not cut and dry, and I guess we each have our own opinions.

  2. Pollypureheart says:

    I understand what you mean about walking down the street but once I put THOSE punks in their place I let my kink flag fly. It can be sometimes hard to find a soulmate in it so I say hang in there and good blog by the way.

    • Ah, to be a woman of color in this society. But you’re right. It’s our power to exercise. We should debunk the punk theory and own our sexuality!

  3. feministsub says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I’m white, grew up middle class, cisgendered (though often problematically unfeminine) and straight. The idea of claiming oppression makes me twitchy.

    But the thing is, my kinkiness really, really fucked me up for a long time. Scratch that – not my kink, but the way I was raised to think about my kink. I honestly identify with many of the queer coming-out narratives I’ve heard or read. I understand that as a kinky person, I don’t face the same level of oppression that queer people do – but that sense of hiding, of having a dark, shameful secret that kept me from being intimate with other people, and the subsequent sense of relief and then “oh shit, now what do I do?” feeling after I finally “came out” to myself – all of those are common in queer coming-out stories and I experienced all of those things in terms of my kink orientation. And I’m a submissive *female* – what submissive men go through is often even more difficult.

    Here’s the thing – there IS vanilla privilege. That’s not to say that it outweighs other forms of privilege or oppression, but it does exist. For instance, many of my friends don’t think about sexual compatibility when looking for a mate. They just date people, and when they meet someone they like, they start a relationship, and assume that as long as there’s communication and a desire to make the other person happy, then good sex will follow. To those of us who are “orientationally kinky” (a controversial idea, I know, but it resonates with me), that seems like a wild luxury.

    Of course, there are kinky spaces where one can look for a partner, but those spaces aren’t welcoming to everyone, and tend to attract predators, because submissives of all genders and orientations are seen by some as “easy marks.” (I knew a woman who was almost raped by a “vanilla” guy she met who assumed that’s what she wanted because she was a sub) And then, let’s say I met my next partner at a munch, or a play party, or collarme. I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling everyone (my parents, my coworkers, etc.) where we met, so we would have to come up with some sort of cover story. That might not seem like a big deal, but think about how often couples are asked “how they met.” It’s exhausting to have to lie so often. It’s even harder for people in power exchange relationships – it’s generally not socially acceptable to explain your decisions or actions by saying “because my partner says so” – so then people in these situations have to do even more lying.

    I understand that these things are not on the same level as facing the threat of violence because of your sexuality, or facing a massively uneven education/career playing field because of your race, but they are issues that kinky people face and vanilla people do not.

    That said, I’m really enjoying your blog. I just subscribed and look forward to reading more from you!

    • I see what you are saying, and I’m still dealing with it. I think that I’m maybe coming from having had to deal with being a woman and black- other parts of my identity have pretty much taken a back seat to race and gender (in terms of who I am, who I’m perceived as when I walk out my door).

      Thanks for your comment, it’s encouraged me to rethink my conclusions.

      • feministsub says:

        >>>I think that I’m maybe coming from having had to deal with being a woman and black- other parts of my identity have pretty much taken a back seat to race and gender <<<

        That makes sense. I really liked your most recent post on this subject and it definitely gave *me* a lot to think about as well. I was going to write a whole long comment, but I think it'll be better as its own post on my blog.

        • Wow, you know I didn’t even realize I wrote that post in response to what’s been bugging me about this issue until you mentioned it. It’s interesting how I managed to disconnect so obviously related discomforts in my head but they still managed to leak through.

          Hindsight, and all that. Thank you!

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