Games Perverts Play

Posted: July 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hello perverts! very soon I will be launching a brand new online writing project, called Games Perverts Play! I will be announcing the first call out for submissions (of essays and/or erotica) around a particular theme. I hope it inspires you to send me some of your work, in this fascinating and problematic area of kink, porn, fantasy, reality, gender, feminism and paradox.

I chose the name ‘Games Perverts Play’, because kink does involve very intricate ‘games’ and rituals. The title refers to a very interesting psychology book by Eric Byrne, called Games People Play. The book is not without its faults: I don’t agree with its approach to gendered power, for example, but as an introduction to the very real ‘power games’ people play in life, I think it is excellent.

I first read Games People Play when I was dating someone who turned out to be very controlling and eventually violent towards me. He loved the book, and even quoted it at me, whilst he was kicking the shit out of me. He also quoted it in court, which didn’t impress me or the registrar. I will write about this particular, perverse experience of Games People Play later. First why not check out the book yourselves?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Games-People-Play-Psychology-Relationships/dp/0140027688

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games_People_Play_(book)

Comments
  1. I’ve read the book, very uncritically (I was still a young teen at the time), found it very interesting.

    Just one thing, though: I’m not really happy with the use of the term “pervert” to refer to consensual kink. The derivation and common usage is very strongly associated with wrongness (for example, “perverse” means “twisted and wrong” and is used of just about anything, not just sexuality). To call something perverted, or a person a pervert, has for me very strong connotations primarily that what they do is wrong and should be corrected and/or forbidden. It is the essence of saying “Your Kink Is Not Okay”.

    Perhaps oddly, considering this, I don’t have the same associations with “perv” and “pervy” but I think that is because relatively non-kinky and mainstream folks seem happy to self-identify as “perving” over some lust-object, and use the terms in a more jokey way so they seem less harmful.

    If any more proof were needed that this is an issue, it should be remembered that an MP voiced support for National Fetish Day when it was first announced, but on being told that its slogan was “perverts wear purple” quickly withdrew that support.

    But anyway: “kink, porn, fantasy, reality, gender, feminism and paradox” are not areas that I associate with “pervert”.

  2. Hi Snowdrop
    I guess in one sense I am trying to ‘reclaim’ the term ‘pervert’. But also I am interested in that other meaning of ‘perverse’ as in twisted, contrary, contradictory. I don’t like the terms ‘perv’ or ‘pervy’ as much as I like good old-fashioned perversion and all its fucked up political, moral and psychological implications!

    Viva les perverts I say!

  3. “Viva les perverts” – I don’t know how to respond to that. Either it’s drawing a line between the “rebellious” and the “safe, compliant” kinky folks (and implying it’s only cool/genuinely kinky to be on the rebellious side of that line), or else it’s asking me to identify in a way that makes me deeply unhappy.

    From where I’m at, the “fucked up political, moral and psychological implications” of the word “pervert” are that kinky people deserve to be treated the same way as paedophiles and rapists and that kink is a harmful and evil twisting of human behaviour that should be eradicated. That, to me, is the level of meaning of “twisted, contrary, contradictory” that “perverse” carries – in general terms, I feel that it carries deep connotations that something is sickening, disgusting, and harmful. I’m sorry, but in the phrase “good old-fashioned perversion”, for me “good” and “perversion” are antonyms, making the phase an oxymoron.

    So although I think the project sounds fascinating, I do not feel I will able to contribute because of the harmful associations that that word in the name has for me. I simply do not experience my sexuality as being wrong, twisted or harmful – instead, it took me many years to feel okay with myself because of messages that told me it was those things.

  4. thanks Snowdrop I appreciate your concerns.
    I think if you have read my blog you will know that I do not think kink is harmful, but that I am aware that in sex we sometimes go to places that are harmful. In my writing I look at rape, gender violence and power. I don’t separate off my kink experiences from the real society context in which we live. I am not saying the kink causes the harm; far from it. I am saying that I don’t like to look at sex in isolation from the social context in which it occurs. ‘Perversion’ as a term covers that social context as well as the more healthy forms of ‘perving’ that you and I understand. I really recommend Remittance Girl’s piece:
    ‘The Uncomfortable Truth About Kink’ that looks at some of these conflicts.
    wwww.remittancegirl.com

  5. also I get called ‘sick’ and ‘vile’ because of my kink, especially by feminists. This project is in part a way to challenge those accusations, not just by enjoying a healthy, kinky, feminist lifestyle, but by writing about those complex contradictions that mean some people who call themselves feminists think I am ‘sick’, and that I, a feminist pervert find feminism as it is presented to me very often, completely anathema to my beliefs and my lifestyle.

  6. Hi snowdrop I am continuing the convo because I think what you say is really important.

    ‘I simply do not experience my sexuality as being wrong, twisted or harmful – instead, it took me many years to feel okay with myself because of messages that told me it was those things’.

    I think maybe what I am interested in is those ‘many years’ of struggle most of us have had to feel ok with ourselves because of the ‘messages’ that told us we were sick and wrong, and still do. I don’t want to talk about kink as just it is what it is and everything’s fine because it’s not. Not in our society anyway. Do you see what I mean? It’s like the feminist carnival, only widening the doors /opening the floodgates maybe!

  7. I see what you’re getting at, but I think the problem is one of language. For me, the word “pervert” can only mean bad things. My problem is that the words you’re choosing don’t mean to me the same as what you’re trying to say.

    “In my writing I look at rape, gender violence and power. I don’t separate off my kink experiences from the real society context in which we live. I am not saying the kink causes the harm; far from it. I am saying that I don’t like to look at sex in isolation from the social context in which it occurs. ‘Perversion’ as a term covers that social context as well as the more healthy forms of ‘perving’ that you and I understand.”

    My problem is that the word “pervert” doesn’t refer to that social context, it’s a part of the social context. It’s a word that is used to define what is Not Okay. It is itself a part of the messages that what I am and do and feel are unacceptably sick and wrong. I cannot identify as “pervert” without also identifying as “unacceptably sick and wrong”.

    After all, “pervert” is the word homophobes use to describe gay people, and back when gay sex was illegal, it was used openly to refer to gay people as being wrong.

  8. Hi Snowdrop
    But isnt that the same with words like bitch and slut and whore and cunt and ‘filth’ and ‘degradation’ and ‘rape’ play and ‘dirty’ and all the other words we use in kink that we find horny partly because they relate to actual language that demeans us? I am not sure why ‘pervert’ should be left out of the mix…

  9. lissy says:

    Ahhh reclamation of language! Increasing the level of feminist discourse since Kathleen Hanna was a girl! And lissy as always finds a fence to sit on… reclamation of language is a personal thing and intellectually I agree with Quiet_Riot but emotionally I’m with Snowdrop when it come to the word pervert.

    Its not my preferred identifier… I swing between intellectual embracement of the term and emotional squickiness. In kinky company I’m not happy to be called a pervert, but I’m not offended… my partner uses pervert a lot and sometimes I think he uses it in conversation with me just because he is a sadist and likes to watch me squirm…

  10. Hi Lissy.
    I choose pervert precisely because it is problematic and doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone. This project is all about challenging ourselves and others, and dealing with the bits of kink and sex that make us feel uncomfortable, personally and politically.

    I like the sound of your partner! I am no sadist but I do like using language that I know will have an effect on someone.

  11. But isnt that the same with words like bitch and slut and whore and cunt and ‘filth’ and ‘degradation’ and ‘rape’ play and ‘dirty’ and all the other words we use in kink that we find horny partly because they relate to actual language that demeans us? I am not sure why ‘pervert’ should be left out of the mix…

    For me, it definitely isn’t the same. I respond to “degradation” in a similar way as I do to “pervert”, to be honest – for me, it’s a word that speaks of abuse, not D/s, and I can’t make my understanding of the word fit into what I do (even when I go for humiliation, objectification and the rest of it – the things people sometimes talk of as degradation play).

    But for “filth” and “slut” and “dirty” – those words have positive connotations as well as the negative ones, I can feel comfortable claiming those names. Lissy I know wrote about “bitch” as having positive connotations (and I self-identify as a tubby bitch because it makes me feel good to do so). In short, you say this is “language that demeans us” but I don’t experience it that way.

    For me, an essential part of the meaning of “pervert” is “that which should be hated, destroyed or put straight”. I’m kinky, and I don’t want my kinks to be put straight! I, personally, cannot identify as “pervert” without also feeling that I have accepted that I deserve to suffer for who I am. That’s a phase of my life I am not willing to revisit.

    As Lissy says, “In kinky company I’m not happy to be called a pervert, but I’m not offended” – because I know that it’s meant to be taken as meaning “one of us”. But it is still painful for me anyway.

    I choose pervert precisely because it is problematic and doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone.

    That has the consequence that it’s also a word that excludes some people. I am one such person, and I hope I’ve explained why I feel excluded by it.

  12. you have snowdrop. It is fine if you dont want to participate. But in this field finding words that make everyone feel comfortable will be impossible.

    You said:
    ‘ Lissy I know wrote about “bitch” as having positive connotations (and I self-identify as a tubby bitch because it makes me feel good to do so). In short, you say this is “language that demeans us” but I don’t experience it that way.’

    I think there is a gender issue here. You say you dont feel demeaned by terms such as ‘bitch’ and ‘slut’. Maybe because you didnt grow up as a girl and woman where those terms are used to attack and demean girls and women? I think the term ‘slut’ has equally negative, social connotations about being a ‘wrong’ sort of woman that needs correction as ‘pervert’.

  13. I think there is a gender issue here. You say you dont feel demeaned by terms such as ‘bitch’ and ‘slut’. Maybe because you didnt grow up as a girl and woman where those terms are used to attack and demean girls and women? I think the term ‘slut’ has equally negative, social connotations about being a ‘wrong’ sort of woman that needs correction as ‘pervert’.

    Well, yes and no. Of course I don’t feel the terms to be personally demeaning to me, actually that was an irrelevant point (as you’ve just made clear to me – I should have checked my privilege before making those statements). What I was trying and failing to say was that I don’t experience them as inherently demeaning to others – it is just that society generally uses them in that way (just as the term “gay” isn’t inherently demeaning, but is often used in that way in society anyway). My experience of the words is informed by the arguments of feminists for reclaiming names (such as Lissy’s case for reclaiming “bitch”, and things like “The Ethical Slut” and so on), so my usage of the terms is informed both by being aware of social constructions and by these reclaiming arguments, which means that I make sure my usage is is limited to environments where I can be sure it will be read positively and not in the negative way that society often uses them.

    “…the term ‘slut’ has equally negative, social connotations about being a ‘wrong’ sort of woman that needs correction as ‘pervert’.” But “wrong sort of [person] that needs correction” is a definition of pervert. It isn’t a definition of slut, it’s a judgement about sluts – that they are, in fact, a type of pervert. That, in a nutshell, is the difference in how I understand the terms, and why I have a particular problem with “pervert”.

  14. HI snowdrop
    That’s ok you don’t need to check your privilege round here. You can say what you like. I just might challenge you on it.

    I don’t agree that slut is not intrinsically a demeaning term. I think it has always been meant as such and we had to claim it back.

    But let’s accept that we are going to disagree and you are not going to contribute to games perverts play. That’s ok too!

    I want it to be a space where people don’t feel they have to be careful about what they say I just want them to tell the truth about their fantasies and their experiences and their theories of sex and power. I actually find some kink spaces a bit too careful in how they tread around these issues. I know why they are but I am making a space that is less tentative. If you see what I mean.

    Even our kinky feminist carnival I think we can be a bit too careful of how we frame things and if things are going to ‘trigger’ reactions etc. I mentioned it on one of the posts to lissy. I think its a point at which we all disagree to an extent.
    But thank god we can!

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