Cooper Fleishman hopes that the Harvard Crimson article about BDSM is just a sign of things to come.
On Wednesday, The Harvard Crimson posted an article titled “Students Encourage Open Discussion About Sex,” which begins like this:
Sarah likes it when her hands are tied to the bedpost and a bar is secured between her knees, spreading them apart. During sex, her boyfriend dominates her roped body as she happily calls him “sir” and “master.” She asks her boyfriend to objectify her and call her derogatory terms.For Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, the pain from the ropes is not what turns her on. Sarah is kinky, which for her means enjoying losing control of the situation, and even control over her own body.
The article profiles a group organizing “munches,” or kink-oriented lunches, where students can get together to discuss sexual proclivities slightly left of the mainstream.
Most of the group members’ openly discussed fetishes fall somewhere “on the BDSM spectrum — an initialism that stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadism and masochism” — or as student Michael (names are changed), who calls himself a “dom,” says jokingly, “tying people up, telling them to do stuff and hitting them with things.”
Wow! BDSM is something that’s always flown under the radar, made popular by Bettie Page in the 1950s and then shoved into the locked dresser drawer during the McCarthy era. Our mainstream perception of acceptable, “normal” sex has never included whips and chains — or even ropes, restraints, spanking, breath play and other zesty additions to the bedroom that blur the pain–pleasure line — despite BDSM’s increasing prevalence in mainstream pornography, and so consensual sexual expression is often stigmatized by its underground status.
It’s actually kind of startling to see a campus newspaper cover kink so openly and in such an affirmative, supportive light — and it’s sad how alarming it is to read happy-kinkster confessions outside of sites like Nerve.com and sex-positive Tumblrs.
The Harvard Crimson itself hasn’t exactly earned a reputation as a sex-positive newspaper. Notorious Harvard sex blogger Lena Chen, a Crimson editor, earned ire from her own colleagues for her provocative, graphic, since-disbanded Sex and the Ivy blog. One 2007 Crimson editorial even called Chen “morally reprehensible.”
But open discussions of sexuality deconstruct our preconceived notions of what’s normal, the “munch” group argues. And “everyone’s secretly kinky.” So why hide it, why deny its popularity? Should kinksters feel ashamed? Of course not.
Perhaps to prove the group’s point, this article was written without embellishment or editorialization, letting real people speak freely about what turns them on. It actually feels refreshing. Usually the alternative press gets all the cool stories. Campus newspapers are supposed to be stodgy and insubstantial — nothing like this. Let’s hope it’s a precedent.
Originally appeared at HyperVocal.