There once was a band called the Ravens, and no one seems quite sure why they changed their name to the Kinks. Ray Davies once said he wasn't fond of the name, and blamed it on producer/manager Larry Page. Rock writer Jon Savage, author of The Kinks: The Official Biography (1984), had his own theory about it:

"[They] needed a gimmick, some edge to get them attention. Here it was: 'Kinkiness' something newsy, naughty but just on the borderline of acceptability. In adopting the 'Kinks' as their name at that time, they were participating in a time-honoured pop ritual fame through outrage.

Now I wasn't there and I can't vouch for Savage's version of history Davies, for his own reasons, tried several times to halt its publication but "naughty but just on the borderline of acceptability" is as good a definition I expect to find for "kinky," not least because it implies a certain universality: there are darn few who insist upon what George Carlin called "good old American man-on-top get-it-over-with-quick" each and every time.

Aside: If your immediate response was "Oh, boy, he's going to admit to something," prepare to be disappointed. I am by no means utterly devoid of kink, but I have no reason to think my own slightly-off-center notions, such as they are, merit any extended discussion in these pages. As Fran Lebowitz once said, "If your sexual fantasies were truly of interest to others, they would no longer be fantasies."

Which is perhaps not quite accurate: said fantasies were presumably of interest to Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, authors of A Billion Wicked Thoughts, for which they analyzed "a billion web searches, a million Web sites, a million erotic videos, a million erotic stories, millions of personal ads, and tens of thousands of digitized romance novels." A New York Post article about the book asserts the following:

The underlying thesis, which Ogas and Gaddam believe will be proved correct: There's no such thing as a sexual deviance. People who are attracted to mirrors, or to beards, or get turned on by ants in their pants these are cases that, until now, have been diagnosed by clinicians who've seen patients. The Internet gives us a far better sense rough, but still of what is a likely anomaly and what is a far more common predilection. "We discovered things even Kinsey didn't know," says Ogas.

I don't know if I'd go that far. In fact, Dr Ogas suggests that none of us would go that far:

Just about every human being man, woman, straight, gay, bisexual, transsexual has a fairly developed sense of sexual intolerance, believing that some legal sexual interests are just plain wrong. These deep-seated, irrational, and often gender-specific and ideology-specific varieties of intolerance are almost certainly one primary means Mother Nature used to keep us focused on safe and fertile modes of sexual reproduction.

Laws, of course, vary by location. And where there are laws, there are people working to change those laws, or at least to enforce the ones of which they approve. Says Dr Ogas:

Several women have written to us insisting that the varieties of dominance porn found on the Internet drunk porn, hypno porn, sleep porn, spanking porn, exploitation porn, teachers seducing students, coaches seducing cheerleaders (along with the erotica that self-identifies as rape porn) are "actually rape, by definition. It's a legal fact." Ignoring the difficulties in applying legal definitions to works of fiction ("Hamlet, Batman, and Simba the Lion King are murderers, by definition. It's a legal fact."), it's certainly unhelpful to use such a moralizing, ideological label when trying to figure out the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms of sexuality.

Even moralizers object to this sort of thing from time to time. Robert Stacy McCain, on an effort to change the statistical definition of rape:

[T]heir major grievance is that the current definition of rape doesn't generate enough statistical victims. In other words: Forget about preventing or punishing crime, let's argue over a "perception" which needs to be "modernized."

And speaking of a perception in need of modernization:

[I]f a guy works at the Department of Labor and decides to wear a mini-skirt to work Monday morning, his boss can't say a word about it, under penalty of being accused of "unlawful discrimination and harassment."

As though it were somehow better that a post-transition M2F is being drummed out of her job and for the time she has remaining, she has to use the handicapped restroom because the sensibilities of someone higher up are somehow offended by her very presence.

But this, too, is to be expected: my kink good, your kink bad, even when it's not a kink at all. As a species, we are remarkably uniform in our solipsism. "Erotica," says Dr Ogas, "is like dog-whistle politics: we each know and respond to our own specific interests, while others' interests are dull, gross, or offensive."

And playing to the base, as our politicians do, always appeals to our baser nature. It's the way we're wired, all day, and all of the night.

The Vent

  1 May 2011

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 Copyright © 2011 by Charles G. Hill