My last post reminded me that this is a discussion group for the older folks like me to help out the newer folks to our kinky, alternative sexual lifestyle. So here is a 'reprint' of an article I wrote that you might enjoy, the History of Kink.
This is a BIG subject. It will require a bit of over-simplification so bear with me.
It really begins with sex itself. There are those who would have us believe, as religious doctrine, that sex is bad, a terrible sin, and can only be a little OK if it is limited strictly to reproduction (genital to genitals of the opposite gender), i.e., having kids, and then only within a religiously sanctioned marriage. Strictly speaking, to them, there is no such thing as fun sex, recreational sex... and certainly not gay sex!
More and more evidence is piling up that such a view is, frankly, unnatural. Funny, since that is the word, 'unnatural', too often used by those 'puritans' for any sex but for the aforesaid genital to genital, married, monogamy, strictly for having kids. There are even laws still on the books that forbid any "unnatural sex acts", period.
I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes: "Chastity: the most unnatural of the sexual perversions." -- Aldous Huxley, author of "Brave New World", 1932
But the history of the human race, as best we can tell now, is that we were evolved as the sexiest creatures imaginable. Our big brains being first used and evolved to 'court', to find good sex partners. But that brain, like the peacock tail, became far more elaborate than we needed to be the 'top dog', top of the food chain creatures. It was designed to flirt.... to sexually tease... to sing (see rock star's groupies), to create seductive poetry, design seductive clothing and fashion, to catch the best and the most mates. It just also happened to also be very good at designing jet airplanes.
Now back about 10,000 years ago, after nearly 100,000 years as modern humans in our present genetic form, we discovered agriculture, or more precisely, how to domesticate plants and animals. We then, as a result, made the greatest medical discovery of all time... where babies come from! We are not born knowing that.
Before that we just thought that sex was for fun, as shown by the many well studied so-called primitive tribal groups around the world. Tribes that did not know where babies came from until missionaries came along and told them... right after they told them to put some clothes on!
This 10,000 year old medical discovery resulted in a major problem. Powerful men, chiefs and priests, wanted to know just who were THEIR kids. There was no birth control so they invented sexual repression. Modesty clothing, marriage, exclusive, life-long monogamy and no more sex for fun!
All that was, as best we can tell, pre-history, before anyone started writing things down. Now, remember, this IS a big over- simplification but accurate for the most part and brings us to KINK.
When you virtually shut down the most powerful sex organ in the world, the human brain, with sexual repression, you get sexual dysfunction. See Freud.
To 'turn-on' that sexy brain again, to make sex OK again, we invented kinks or what I call, in a broad sense, fetishes. I use 'kink' and 'fetish' as mostly interchangeable even though many would fairly argue that gay sex is not a fetish but a kink. Now 'Kink' is defined in the dictionary, among other things, as "a mental twist; queer notion; whim", while "fetish" is defined, among other things, as "any non-sexual object [I like to add 'or act'] that excites erotic feelings" (Webster's New Word Dictionary of the American Language, 1971).
We NEEDED kinks and fetishes to 'turn-on' again our powerful sex organ/brains. Now it becomes clear that today the most popular and wide-spread 'kink' or 'fetish' is romance! Think of all those non- sexual things (flowers) and acts (poetry) that turn many of us on as much or more than 'mere' nudity... nudity for sexual arousal being another 'kink' or 'fetish'.
BUT for OUR purposes, we will talk about the history of what we might fairly call, alternative kinks or BDSM fetishes like the erotic power exchange or bondage or the eroticizing of pain (mental like humiliation, or physical like spanking and flogging) or leather itself as a sexual turn-on, a fetish!
The Yahoo discussion group, Leather History, is a great place for discussing this subject and for getting many sources to find out just what our history really is... and what it is not. It has some of the best known names in our community contributing and their archives are a good place to browse. And we do now have a great place for such, The Leather Archives and Museum to preserve much of our kink history.
A great timeline for us can be found, courtesy of the Museum and Tony DeBlase, at: http://www.backdrop.net/bdsm-history/timeline.html
I think you might enjoy browsing the over 65 printed pages of detail there starting with 7000 year old rock carvings of sex role playing to the 2001 publishing of "The Trainer", by Laura Antoniou. It has not been updated to proclaim with joy the US Supreme Court case declaring, finally, that private, non-commercial sex acts between consenting adults are protected by the US Constitution's Right of Privacy.
Despite sexual repression since history began, from cross-dressing Egyptian Queens and old Sumarian Kings and their gay lover Generals 4500 years ago; to lesbian love poems on the Greek Isle of Lesbos and famous Greek philosopher Aristotle's 'ponyboy' sex play with his mistress or the arguably greatest military general in history, Alexander the Great and his life-long gay lover, Hephaiston, almost 2500 years ago... it is fair to say without doubt that we have been very kinky for a very long time, 'legal' or not.
Now in more modern terms our modern kinky alternative sexual movement began more recently. Despite what too many con-artists and foolish people have said, there are no "Houses" of BDSM going back hundreds or thousands of years in Japan nor Europe... and there was BDSM before the 'Old Guard', LOL, of the late 1940's and 50's. The 'rebellion' has been going since the beginning of sexual repression but the modern western BDSM trappings began to take shape in the so-called Enlightenment and was first reflected in literature by the famous Marque De Sade with his first major work, "120 Days of Sodom or The School for the Libertines", in 1785. It is from his name that we get the word 'sadism'.
The Victorian era of the 1800's is full of underground kink and fetish play. In 1879 we get the first erotic magazine, "The Pearl", consisting of erotic flagellation stories. It ran monthly for 18 issues among high society types.
An Austrian nobleman named Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, after writing other male sexual submissive works, wrote a famous book, "Venus in Fur", sometime around 1889, in which he described his perfect FemDomme/malesub life and the first BDSM slave contract. It is from his name that we get the word 'masochism'.
But it was early psychologists Richard von Krafft-Ebing and his book, "Psychopasthia Sexualis" in 1886 and later editions into the 1920's, in which he coined the terms sadism and masochism. He also began to set the stage for a broader understanding of sexual alternatives or fetishes and kinks.
Much of our recent American versions of BDSM began with the emergence of the biker culture in the late 1940's and 50's, reflected in a 1954 Marlon Brando movie, "The Wild One" and from a book published in France in 1954, called "The Story of O", by a women first called Pauline Reage (real name just recently revealed as famous French literary critic, Anne Declos) about a sex slave training school. It is those sources from which much of our styles come. Leather caps and jackets, collars, and 'slave training', for example.
There are huge numbers of important historical detail left out in this summary but for the most part that brings us to the 1970's and the explosion in sexuality often called the sexual revolution. The beginnings of gay liberation, women's liberation, the beginning of swinging (called wife-swapping at first) and modern kink. This explosion continued until the AIDs scare of the mid-1980's and returned in many ways for Kink with the development of the Internet.
'SSC', Safe, Sane and Consensual was adopted as our motto and general guide in 1987 and spread on the early net bulletin boards. Much of the words and terms we use developed from discussions on those boards. Terms like D/s (dominance and submission) and BDSM (from the older B&D, bondage and discipline, and S&M, sadomasochism merged with D/s in the middle) and many of our concepts developed and are STILL developing from often heated discussions on Internet discussion lists and like the discussions here.
Where we go from here is really up to all of you and people like you. Social movements are like that. So go forth and... have fun sex again.
LC-- Fiat Justitia, Ruat Caelum, "Let Justice be done, though the Heavens may fall." -- Original poster