A Defense of Hedonistic Kink (Rough Take)

Posted: August 11, 2019 by Isaac Cross in Uncategorized

This “Rough Take” post has been published without review, editing, or revision. Rough Take posts are designed to communicate thoughts and ideas that haven’t been fully developed in order to spark discussion and responses which may fuel later, more refined articles. 

What is Hedonism

Hedonism is an ethical theory that pleasure (we’ll define what we mean by pleasure in a minute) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.

In the more casual usage, hedonism means indulging in the senses. People use it to describe those who are unashamed of their love of food and music and sex and aroma and everything else that feels good.

And hedonism gets a bad rap.

The primary objection relates to the first, more formal definition. Of course there are other sources of meaning and other worthy pursuits in life besides just feeling good as often as possible. Living in the moment, achieving meaningful accomplishments, mastery of skills, preservation of knowledge. Any number of things can be a source of meaning and fulfillment. So that criticism is valid. (Google Robert Nozick’s experience machine thought-experiment for more on that)

But lets never mind the formal definition and focus on the other, most common use of the word. When we leave the formal definition behind, we no longer have to defend the position that pleasure is the only or at least the most important goal in life.

Instead, the modern hedonist says that we should strive first and foremost for pleasure, as did their predecessors, but with an additional emphasis on personal freedom and equality.

And for the average person ascribing to hedonism, this could result any any one of a variety of lifestyles. But I want to talk about the path that might lead one to kink and BDSM. And I want to talk about the derision that hedonistic kinksters face in a BDSM/Leather community that so often (and so ironically) emphasizes formality and rigidity and conformity.

Fucking Guilt

A person approached me recently, a masochist. She was concerned that her masochism was a mental defect and that, therefor, it was immoral to indulge in it.

I’ve heard that before. And god, it always breaks my heart.

When we experience pain* (We’ll need to define pain later, too), a lot of things happen in our bodies and in our brains. Among those totally normal things that happen is that a cocktail of chemicals are activated which make us feel high to prevent the pain from overwhelming our minds. This high often manifests as arousal. For some people, like me, we reach our tolerance for (or, perhaps, our willingness to tolerate) pain before we are able to reach the high place where the pain becomes pleasure. For others, the high hits before they reach that limit. Those are masochists.

And I personally think that the masochists are the normal ones. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I think that if we could get such a study approved by a Human Subjects Board, we would find that the majority of people can reach a suitable high before reaching their pain tolerance.

But that study would never get approved, so we’ll never formally know for sure. But let’s step aside for a minute and talk about pain and pleasure.

What is Pain/Pleasure

Let’s define pain as any physical or emotional experience that is unpleasant or uncomfortable. A fair definition, I think.

By this definition, we experience pain when we go to a scary or sad movie. We experience pain when we work out. We experience pain when we move away from family.

The most vanilla person in the word willingly experiences these things because they believe that something on the other side is worth it.

Most people are masochists. They just have different preferred flavors of pain and different rewards that make the pain worth it. For some, that reward is pleasure. So lets define that as the opposite of pain: any physical or emotional experience that is pleasant or comfortable.

For most masochists (whether it’s the crier in the theater or the screamer on the cross), the pain is fleeting but the pleasure resonates.

The pain isn’t the point, the pleasure is.

And this brings us all back to a central question. Is pleasure worthy, in and of itself, of pursuit?

A Defense of Hedonism

I think it is.

Like modern hedonists, I put all the necessary asterisks on that. First and foremost, we ought not infringe on the freedoms of others, or harm others in our pursuit of pleasure. And of course, you need to make time to keep your life together along the way. But those qualifications aside, Yes, pleasure is worth seeking.

All sorts of different things can feel good or make you happy. Fucking do those things. Get out of your head, let go of your western, puritanical guilt or whatever fucked up baggage your parents or your religion or your society has hung around your neck. All of that is bullshit.

If it feels good, it doesn’t harm anyone, and it’s not getting in the way of your life…

Then it’s a good thing and you should do it as often as you can.

And with that, we’re to the real point of this post.

Hedonistic Kink

People arrive at kink in all sorts of ways. They’re looking for all sorts of things. One of those things is pleasure. For some, that might be all they want out of it. They don’t want capital L leather. They don’t want to be part of a club or uphold traditions. They don’t want to find a new form of spirituality or look for a deeper meaning to the pain. They just want to do things that feels good.

And here’s the thing. After spending well over a decade traveling the world, teaching, coaching, and learning from kinky folks everywhere. Here the big truth.

That’s most of ’em.

Most kinky people just want to feel good.

But our community is dominated by the voices that want it to be something else.

Those deafeningly loud, unceasing voices that want their kink to be a religion and expect you to convert. Those people run our clubs, teach our classes, moderate the groups. Those people are the first to great someone on their first day at the dungeon and welcome them into the Church of Kink. Those people are posting a million times a day everywhere on the internet about how much the young people are ruining kink or how sad it is that “the old ways” are being lost.

Those people are killing the community they purport to love so much.

Because 95% of the kinky people want nothing to do with that. And when that’s all they see in our clubs, they see and hear that this community isn’t for them. That’s why the population of our clubs are growing older. That’s why our leadership is so damn white (well, one of many reasons). That’s why our community from top to bottom is so fucking poor.

We hang a giant neon sign outside of our community that says that we are just another religion and you better be ready to do this kinky shit the way we do it or you won’t be welcome here.

And as a result, that guilt-ridden masochist that I mentioned earlier might never find other people like her to reassure her that she isn’t immoral for indulging her desires. She might go on believing that what she is is fundamentally broken and wrong.

FUCK THAT SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


SO this is a defense of hedonistic kink. And this is a desperate call to action.

Lead with the fun.

When you are telling new people about kink. Tell them how fucking fun it is. Tell them how good it feels. Tell them how much pleasure there is to be found.

Tell them that people find pleasure in many ways. If their way is spirituality or traditionalism or whatever, that is wonderful. But also reassure them that if all they want is hot sex, that’s absolutely wonderful too.

Show them the path to the deep dive of emotional exploration.

Show them them the endless array of physical sensations.

Show them the buffet of amazing neurochemical experiences.

Show them that, before it is anything else…

Kink. Feels. Good.
Pleasure. Is. Good.

And god fucking knows we need more GOOD in this world right now.

Get your head out of your own ass and be a cheerleader for good.

Before this “community” dies of self-imposed starvation.

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