– Call it what? Replied deaf me, with no mid-range for nightclub chats.
"Don't call it a gimp mask!"
Shouted the international fetish model, slightly muffled by her latex hood and competing with some kind of new aural (albeit welcome) frenetic assault by the Chemical Brothers.
I couldn't tell whether she was furious, laughing, or drunk.
Probably cross. Best to be safe as she was German and I didn't want to upset diplomatic and possibly, personal relations.
"I'm... was being facetious....erm... cheeky." I added to help hurdle the language barrier.
"What?! I know but..." She hesitated, "Uh, okay ...but every time I hear that it sends a shudder down my spine!"
This left me food for thought, for so many reasons.
I wasn't trying to be face-ist. I myself love a good hood, especially Rubber 55 ones, transparent Libidex ones and ones worn by the opposite sex.
I never thought 'gimp'.
It always seemed to me something in the way that the more objectified or mannikin a woman made herself, the more deliciously feminine she seemed to become: Almost as if my male imagination was attempting to assist her in escaping the restriction.
But not only does vanilla society's need to use the gimp label for comedy seem laughable, but the fetish scene's duplicitous & mixed feelings also fascinate me. BDSM thrives on the visually questionable and perverting it for a good time. I've heard gimp used a lot, in jest, fun, and public play. Perhaps, deliberately and mostly in humiliation play as a baiting insult.
What exactly then are we as kinkcredible superverts asking for?
Do we have some sort of self-reflecting mind-f*** going on?
Don't we want respect or understanding?
Or is it that we really want more perversion and enjoy blurring these facial lines?
Or is that the vanillas of this life are the ones with the issue?
These were questions I couldn't answer myself, so I called upon some fetish friends to help me further work out what I have come to neatly call, because it rhymes as well...
THE GIMP COMPLEX
"For the Tarantino generation, most outside of the fetish world have had little exposure to hood-wearing as a sexual practice beyond the introduction of the 'gimp' in Pulp Fiction. Here, the hood-wearer is a non-consenting victim of violence: This doesn't do much to bring people's awareness towards the positive explorations of hood-wearingbetween consenting adults in S/M practice.
"Perhaps it's time someone made a big budget movie that portrays this kind of practice in a sensitive and realistic way; by exploring the desires of those who enjoy having their identity altered through costume. It's not just those taking a sexually submissive role who like to wear hoods – it can give a further sense of empowerment to those in the dominant role."
Jan FetishClubPix, Photographer, Dominant Extreme Fetishist
"The gimp word used to really piss me off, mostly because generally less well informed unsophisticated people on the scene thought wearing hoods was automatically a badge of submission.
"Before we had gimp mask, in the UK anyway, we had another name for a close-fitting black leather hood/mask, and that was a rapist mask. That was because of the mask supposedly worn by a serial offender known as the Cambridge Rapist, in the 1970s. Subsequently it was popularised by a t-shirt designed by Vivienne Westwood and sold by Malcolm MacLaren.
"The bottom line, is that it is much safer, as a dom, top, master etc, to be associated with gimps than with rapists. I think it sort casts hooded dominants in a vaguely 'Cenobite' mould (re: Clive Barker's Hellraiser), as if we have taken a little suffering upon ourselves just to be extra badass.The truth that we think it looks and feels lovely, is just too complicated for vanillas to process."
"I go through life under an incognito status with regard to this subject. I have come across quite a number of people in the past with attitudes ranging from
a) amusement (sometimes ridicule)
b) a slight aversion
c) complete antipathy over people with anything considered sexually unorthodox.
"In a lot of cases in my formative years I usually sat quiet and hoped the conversation would take a different turn. These days I still do not make it common knowledge about my kinks down the proverbial 'boozer' if the conversation ever comes around again, but I just say something along the lines of "if people are not hurting anyone then where is the problem?".
"There was a guy I once knew who was very averse to them. He said he had come across a mail order catalogue with 'gimp masks' in, as he described. How and where he came across the catalogue was undefined, however he was so disgusted by them and attributed them to rapists, paedos and other undesirables of questionable sexual conduct. That was back in my teens... again I just sat quiet and hoped the conversation would take a different tack. I guess I am still in that incognito phase.
"Added to this the fact that I dolly up as a 'bird' and can be quite convincing to a few people, and anyone seeing my photographs would be very hard pressed to work out it was me. I think I quite enjoy that too. I guess I'll bimble along in my vanilla world as <name removed> and nillas would hopefully be none the wiser. I suppose I'm not really looking to set the world straight and stand up for 'Gimp Rights'. I just like to get me kink with it."
If you enjoyed this debate so far please leave a comment or Get in Touch with any similar outbursts of opinion. We will add them to our Fetish Forum on The Gimp Complex which, as we have had lots of feedback already, we will run for a couple more posts.