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The Kind of Exhibitionism I’ve Grown Leery Of

·706 words·4 mins

I’ve been on the kink scene formally for about a decade now. And overall, it’s been a very positive experience. I’ve developed relationships (friendly, romantic, and otherwise) that are incredibly important to me. More intimate than most of the ones I’ve forged in the vanilla world. And yet, being on the kink scene hasn’t been without its difficulties.

I found I was an easy fit with the subculture. For better or worse, I entered life with a mind that was arguably more open than most. Growing up in my conservative family, this caused all sorts of problems. As a child, I was uncharacteristically compassionate to neighborhood outcasts that my family considered weirdos.

I gravitated towards people who seemed different than me. To figure out what they knew that I didn’t.

And while this scared the hell out of my parents and most of the folks in my small town, it was an attitude that served me well when through a series of improbable events, I found myself on the kink scene.

When I was new to it all, fresh-eyed and open-minded, the phrase “Your kink is not my kink, but your kink is okay” (a.k.a, YKINMK or YKINMKBYKIOK) seemed a bit overkill.

Who would kink shame after all? By and large, most BDSM practitioners are outside of the mainstream, beyond the limits of a lot of comfort zones. I quickly found myself in the role of welcoming party, helping new kinksters shed their shame about whatever thing floated their boat.

You Were Hitting on Me? Oops.

And then I happened to meet a string of people with some poor-ass boundaries. The first time it happened was with a friend who would send me photos of himself in risqué outfits. I misinterpreted the gesture as a friendly one. And knowing that he struggled with self-esteem and depressive issues, I was supportive. “You look great!” I’d say enthusiastically.

But as it turns out, he was eliciting a sexual response from me. And he took my words to mean that I was turned on and wanted to do more with him. Only he didn’t tell me that. It wasn’t until he made a very awkward forward advance at me — one I turned down — that I connected the dots.

Oh fuck. He’s been hitting on me. And he thinks I like him back.

I told him directly that I don’t think of him that way. That I wasn’t sexually attracted to him. He acted confused. Noted that the attention from me had thrown him off. Implied that I’d led him on. I was annoyed at the implication but hung in there, and we talked our way into what seemed like an acceptable place.

I wish I could say it ended then. But it didn’t. Over the next couple of years, he continued to misinterpret any positive friendly attention I showed him as sexual interest. It was like a kind of kinky Groundhog’s Day. Periodically he would forget that I wasn’t into him. Even as I told him over and over that I wasn’t attracted to him. Directly but kindly in ways that caused as few waves as possible. Because we not only had mutual friends but even partners in common. I had to find a way to co-exist peacefully with him in the same little world.

And sadly, he wasn’t the only one.


You would think, as a voyeur, that I’d love exhibitionists. And for the most part, I do. I love watching the thrill an exhibitionist gets before a willing enthusiastic audience. The raw pleasure they feel when they bare themselves.

And most exhibitionists I’ve run into are absolutely fine. They understand consent and boundaries.

I’ve Grown Leery of Exhibitionists Who Lack Understanding of Consent or Boundaries #

I’ve grown leery of a certain kind of exhibitionism– one that expects a response. When they don’t just want to show their goods but also want a specific reaction from those viewing them. And don’t necessarily care if their target is consenting.

It isn’t what they’re putting out, it’s what they expect to get back.

Like, cool, fly your freaky flag. Get down with your bad self. You have my blessing.

But do I have to salute?


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