The Great British Sex Survey, Ch4
Last night (25th Feb, 2016) saw the broadcast of a British first.
No, not titillation, not exploitation or even a late-night frapfeste; but the ground-breaking turnaround of a programme supporting kink and fetish.
The Great British Sex Survey was flawed but ultimately fantastic: I can't recall another show asking us to mostly celebrate people's kinks as courageous and inspirational as opposed to keeping kinksters at a safe distance to be watched and entertained by.
Indeed, this was the first sex education show of it's kind ask us to follow our sexual calling instead of suggesting we might also need to get some help, just in case. Special praise must go to psychologist and presenter Phillipa Perry (wife of Grayson) for embracing so much diversity and daring to explain it all to us in a palatable form.
What was interesting was the mix of straight sex affiliations plus kink.
Let's get this straight, straight people, kink makes us go eurrghh or uh-oh. Just a little bit. There's a bit of the unknown, a shiver of fear, distaste, uncertainty. I'm not convinced sex toys or threesomes make us feel so off-kilter. They don't necessarily require a reassessment of our personality. Kink and fetish practice does.
This is not to knock the show.
We'll get to my minor quibbles, it's just that, as taboos melt into stuff everyone tries at least once, it seems the mainstream world can only bring itself around to a kink mindset only through the window of 'dirty sex', hedonism, taking our clothes off or being Cosmopolitan-carefully wild. Although it was amazing to see the formerly taboo Watersports in at No.9 on their survey list (and computer-animated as little plastic people pissing on each other), I would have liked to have seen five minutes spent talking about anal play and strap-ons (and it's widespread integration), instead of slipping them in to the BDSM category. Did you feel what I did there?
So how did the programme misfire?
Well it needs to be said The Great British Sex Survey was mostly brilliant, especially people trying to guess the sex toy. But here for example is where calling it a sex survey while presenting it as a kink show might have a benefited from one more production meeting. You have to ask, is a humbler a sex toy or a BDSM device? Am I being pedantic when you think that sex toys are generally designed to get people off? A humbler is a ball-stretching, prevention tool (see slide-show), so the opposite in fact.
But employing the Road Drill dom was probably ill-advised, his use of pro-nouns telling. And his 'for show' drill, the size of something you'd use for digging up tarmac, made Perry laugh. Indeed, the bloody thing with it's bollard-sized rubber donger, was laughable. He talked of fear, she agreed. Then she said that BDSM was safe (with consent), which is a conflict.
The truth is this:
BDSM is not safe. That's why the Road Drill dom said it scared people. The truth is, even with safety, sanity and consensuality we can only endeavour to make BDSM safer. Let's say that a different way.
BDSM can only be made safer, there are no guarantees it's 100% safe.
Have you got it yet? If you think about it, this explains why BDSM practitioners in the know recoil when you kill the vibe with 'health and safety' advice (and I've had my share of such accusations thank you) and why kink-haters are repulsed. Yes, the Road Drill dom knows, fear is the key, and fear is, hey, healthy and safety inducing.
Perry also seemed to believe, as many psychologists do, that people who practice kink are transferring negative experiences from their childhood and making them controllable by sexualizing them. I wouldn't say it's strictly 'transference', although I know Philippa Perry didn't actually say this. But the problem I have with it even as an intimation is that if we were to use instead the word 'transformation' as a less-negative, less-connected-to-the-past definition, we're still 'connecting' dots just to 'explain kink'.
There are plenty of victims of childhood trauma who didn't go on to be kinky, probably more. And many kinksters I know are not so gauche to connect their sexual practice to say, their parents' shortcomings or past pain. All I'm saying is that this age-old transfer theory comes across cod and is ultimately a moot point. I personally think perves tend to be simply more conscious of their needs:
Here is a quote from my breakdown of my much-copied Fifty Shades analysis, in relation to El James' linking her character Christian Grey's past to his perversions, from myth-bust No.43/50: "...only the receptive kink explorers are investigating, harnessing (literally!) and learning to control adrenaline rushes at their behest, in a consented-to environment: the exact opposite of negative and traumatic situations of yesteryear. Yes, in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the outland interests of kinksters are 'potentially problematic'. But this is because fetishists and BDSM practitioners (and all manner of sadist, masochist, sub, dom/domme, top, bottom, mistress, master and slave) have not just had more experiences, and are not the only ones open to new experience, they've actually been more conscious of experience happening (the aforesaid receptive element)."
It was wonderful that Phillipa Perry expanded her mind too and gamely got into a vac-bed. But she did it a bit like it was a children's party, with the Road Drill Dom master monitoring, who to be fair – and having hung up his Road Drill – kindly cleaned and dried the latex bed for her.
Perry then entered the rubber sheets a) fully-dressed, while b) working (journalistic piece-to-camera) while c) not entering a 'scene' with the dom or d) at least trying out any sensory play. It didn't live up to her expectations, she said. Well, no surprises there then: a reminder, eh-hum, *clears throat: that these are sexual practices.
But in celebration of sexual difference, even the worms guy had a special place.
Albeit the Ch4 default outrageous sketch. And once you saw the worms guy doing his thing (or or in reality, the worms doing his thing) then you could never unsee the worms guy doing his thing. Interesting how they left a lot of other things left still unshown. And we've discussed extreme stuff here too.
Such is the nature of journalism and the minefield subject of kink: You're not going to please everyone with a programme about individual sexual or perverted pursuits. It's not easy, yet Perry and Ch4 have not only made life slightly easier for many chasing their deviant dreams, they've helped show that kinksters actually set the standard for bravery, self-emancipation and human happiness.
Take care and kink well