Kink, pop culture, and feminism collide

The popularity of the BDSM-laden Fifty Shades of Grey series has created a lot of buzz lately about the “mainstreaming” of BDSM and kink. Perhaps as as response to all this new and interesting dialogue, Bitch created the “Thinking Kink” series on their blog. Launched in June, the “Thinking Kink” series highlights the ways in which BDSM is portrayed in pop culture — and what these depictions mean for feminism.

The series begins with an introductory post, which explains:

I want to look at whether BDSM’s infiltration of the mainstream media is a feminist triumph, a positive move for the kink community, or just a wallet-fattener for studio execs. I want to examine how BDSM runs the risk of being hijacked to forward anti-feminist agendas, and consider if its appearance in the media serves to bolster or dismantle rape culture, or simply give us all some entertaining PVC-clad escapism . . . I’d especially like to know if itโ€™s possible for there to be an empowered representation of women who choose to be submissive, rather than the standard tropes of women in BDSM either being victims or dominatrixes.

The subsequent post dismantles common myths about BDSM. Then the series delves into more specific territory, with a post about the portrayal of BDSM in Sex in the City and a critique of the 30 Seconds to Mars video “Hurricane.” There are less pop culture-y posts, too, like this pair on the meaning of female submission: “Does Female Submission Mean Oppression?” and the counter-argument, “No, Female Submission Doesn’t Mean Oppression.” Male submission and masculinity are addressed and analyzed, as are female dominants and switches. The series has also discussed the meaning of the word “vanilla” and the importance of safewords.

Then, of course, there is a review of Secretary, the boundary-breaking 2002 movie depicting the blossoming of a D/s relationship (pictured).

Throughout the posts, there are abundant quotes from many great authors and bloggers, like Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy (authors of the The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book), Jay Wiseman (author of SM 101), Midori (author of Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink), Cliff PervocracyClarisse Thorn, and Mollena Williams.

Follow the series (which is still ongoing) using Bitch‘s Sex and Sexuality category.