Don’t kink-shame Amy Coney Barrett

But she also needs to leave her freak at home.

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Her mouth says, “no” but her eyes say, *unhinged screaming*. (Photograph: AP)

I was raised a Catholic in San Francisco. So I know both Catholicism and serious kink. Amy Coney Barret does not practice a lifestyle recognizable as Catholicism, but she’s definitely kinky. And hey. No judgement, judge. However you get off is fine as long as everyone involved is consenting adults.

Barrett and her husband belong to this group called “People of Praise,” which is described as a Catholic group but reads far more as a fetish lifestyle group. I’m kind of grossed out that they’re using Catholicism to explain their fetishes but I really don’t want to judge people in how they find pleasure. Barrett’s clearly into roleplay.

The group has a strict social and financial hierarchy in which only men are admitted to the higher levels and to which women must inevitably “submit.” So, again, really trying not to kink shame here, but that is explicitly NOT Catholicism. I can see how there would be a bit of confusion with the medieval history of Catholicism, but if Amy Coney Barrett were originalist both in law and religion she wouldn’t “submit” to her husband.

But submission does play a central role in various BDSM relationships. In fact, it made the acronym. Some BDSM relationships or play doesn’t even make it out of the bedroom. Which is fine. If you’re kinky it’s not like you have to be kinky all the time or lose your kink status. Others though can pervade all aspects of life with doms controlling all major decisions and sometimes even trivial decisions in a sub’s life including eating, sleeping, and even toileting.

And then there’s pony play, but again, I’m trying not to kink shame.

You can also have BDSM communities where people play together polyamorously or form monogamous sexual or romantic relationships and have additional platonic relationships within the community. The point of such communities is to foster safe play and ensure everyone’s consenting, so I do think that “People of Praise” does not rise to the ethical standing of an average BDSM community, but the need for such a strict hierarchy outside of a Catholic Order negates it as a Catholic religious group.

And this is not to say that Catholicism is perfect. It’s really not. There are major issues with how it is practiced and the hierarchy it has developed. But true Catholics would not and do not consider “People of Praise,” Catholic.

Now, here’s the deal with Barrett and her kinky lifestyle. If that’s how she wants to live her life that’s fine. She can get as many spankings as she likes. If she wants to be in one of those extreme BDSM relationships with her husband, as long as he’s consenting, then it’s fine. It’s also none of our business. In a relationship like that you need to have consent from all involved. She’s trying to involve the American people in her fetish.

Girl, we didn’t consent.

It seems from various Senate hearings that Barrett does know that other people aren’t into her lifestyle because she has said she won’t impose her religious beliefs. (Well, she said it, but she also said she was an originalist and had some rather interesting interpretations of what the “original intent” of the Constitution actually was.) My point is she does know that other people might not agree to participate in her lifestyle if she asked. So that she is trying to force us all into this without our consent is deeply problematic.

Here’s the deal with sexual relationships and frankly, with any relationship. You get enthusiastic consent or you stop. The tea metaphor is pretty great for this. If you offer someone tea and they say no, you wouldn’t force them to drink it. If they say yes but then fall asleep you wouldn’t pry open their mouth and pour it in. If they drink half the tea but decide they don’t want to finish it you don’t force them to. Same goes for pretty much everything else in life.

I had a classmate who would always stop by my lab on the way to get coffee and ask if I wanted to join her. I’d often say yes because it was a good break from staring at lasers, but when I said no she didn’t freak out grab me by the scruff of my neck and bodily haul me to the coffee shop. That would have been odd. And this is a simple concept. In all relationships, ask.

I’m not sure exactly how Amy Coney Barrett would classify in BDSM terminology. I think she might be a power bottom, but honestly, I myself am not that kinky. (And to the members of my family who read this: I am sorry.) But whatever she is, she definitely understands what consent is and that she needs to get it before imposing her lifestyle onto all of America. If she wants her husband to have complete control and the final say over her body okay sure. Girl, you do you. But I don’t want to be party to that.

Americans didn’t consent to a Trump Presidency. He lost by 2,868,686 votes in 2016 and despite his attempts at voter suppression and election interference he may lose the 2020 election by even more. So it’s patently absurd that he named any judges at all let alone to the Supreme Court.

But putting the absurd orange elephant in the room aside for a moment, Amy Coney Barrett does not have our consent. I believe that the Democratic Senators are going to hold her off. It is bleak, but I’ve seen Klobuchar and Feinstein and Duckworth and Harris run out of lollipops several times each and I think they’re going to be able to hold the Senate off. I also think that the GOP Senators may actually just let this slide and not push the confirmation because the only way they keep the Senate is if she’s not confirmed.

The reason for all of this is that democracy is government with the consent of the governed.

And we do not consent.

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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