The St. Olaf Kink club, a group dedicated to raising awareness on alternative sexual preferences, held a demonstration last week that pushed some observers out of their comfort zone. Not many details are available about this club, as they are not listed online and don't possess an email address in the common St. Olaf database. Although perhaps bizarre to some, the demonstration held in Fireside, which focused on how to tie knots for acts of bondage during romantic interaction, should not be criticized. It was harmless and, ultimately, may in fact be beneficial.
Kinky sexual tendencies are like any other facet of sexuality and gender in American culture: they're made to be seen as taboo and sometimes downright obscene. This mentality is in no small part due to the relative social conservatism of the United States and the strong religious presence in American culture. Spending too much time on a college campus perhaps can make it seem that the general population is more progressive than they actually are.
Even with this bias, the trend in national culture surrounding issues typically seen as private seems to be shifting. Issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity, formerly taboo, are gaining both societal and governmental acceptance. These issues have started to become much more socially palatable. With this principle of social acceptance of the personal choices of sexuality on the rise, almost all alternative sexual preferences should fall under this umbrella, granted that they are safe.
In fact, alternative sexual preferences aren't all that uncommon. According to a survey conducted by the Journal of Sexual Medicine, many things found to be "kinky" are desired or are at least found appealing by about 50 percent of men and women in the general population. There is some concern amongst a number of groups that certain kinky practices can be harmful. One particular group is the Liberation Collective, which believes that BDSM Bondage Discipline Sadism Masochism can lead to the legitimization of the abuse of passive partners. This abuse is most often directed at women. Similar arguments have been made with video games, movies, music and any sort of fiction or media consumption. However, there has been no widespread consensus that fantasizing or role-playing of any sort corresponds with such acts outside of the simulation.
In fact, there are studies to support a correlation between above-average psychological health and practice of BDSM. One such study was also published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. In this study, answers to questionnaire results of those with mainstream sexual preferences were compared to those of their kinkier counterparts. The study's findings indicated better overall psychological health in the kinkier group. The conductor of the survey, Professor Andreas Wismeijer, from Nyerode University, suggests the reason for this is that people who are into "kinky" sex are more cognizant and contemplative of their own habits because they exist out of the mainstream.
Intuitively, it seems if these sexual preferences are benign, they should not be ignored or suppressed. The St. Olaf Kink club helps bring awareness to a harmless and wide-spread activity. Although the demonstration may make the more modest blush, it is a symbol of progress in society, whether one prefers to be tied up or not.
Scott Johnson '18 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Gladstone, Mo. He majors in economics.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER