Shifting stigma for kinky fetishists

Jillian Keenan offers an eloquent and heartfelt explanation of the shame and stigma management associated with unconventional sexualities, in this case a spanking fetish. While Keenan’s own story has a happy ending in that her partner accepts her kink and supports her self exploration and disclosure, she highlights the fact that others are not so lucky to find open-minded partners or accepting audiences. Keenan references Daphne Merkin’s 1996 piece in which she came out as what some people in the fetish community call a “spanko” and the continued backlash in which media pundits malign her as broken or malfunctioning even 15 years after the article’s publication. Further underlining the importance of the Internet to sexual minorities, one of Keenan’s compatriots states that before the Internet “The brave ones looked for personal ads. The rest of us were lonely.” With such uneven progress towards acceptance of diversity, authors with enough social cache to come out and be taken seriously provide other, more closeted, people a social service by dispelling myths and educating the general public.

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