The ‘kink-shaming’ of Donald Trump reeks of hypocrisy

Amid allegations of ‘golden showers’, where’s the tolerance for other people’s sex lives?

Not impressed: US president-elect Donald Trump. Photograph: Kevin Hagen/The New York Times

Not impressed: US president-elect Donald Trump. Photograph: Kevin Hagen/The New York Times

 

Twitter has long been an arena for the theatre of public shaming, and US president-elect Donald Trump is no stranger to the business end of Twitter’s gleeful spearings.

But this week saw things move into unprecedented territory for any president-elect. As allegations – as yet unverified – surfaced that Trump paid prostitutes to perform a golden shower (urination) show in front of him in a Russian hotel, Twitter went into overdrive.

The hashtag #goldenshowergate was soon trending, #Trumpfilms were clogging timelines (Never been P*ssed, Waterworld, you name it), and the memes were generally coming thick and fast. The kink-shaming could be heard around the world.

So far, so entertaining, except that many of Trump’s detractors – often referred to as members of the metropolitan, liberal, feminist elite – are, in the main, a rather sex-positive bunch.

Many of them will gladly defend a person’s right to whatever kind of sex life they prefer to practise. Many of those who baulk at Trump’s racism, sexism and generally bigoted carry-on are a live-and-let-live, progressive bunch who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a person’s decision to buy a sex worker, go to an S&M club, or have an otherwise diverse and colourful sex life beyond heteronormative norms.

Spectrum of kink

Could it be that, on the spectrum of kink, an alleged golden shower is a bridge too far? Or is this all just merely an excuse for some gleeful Trump-baiting? Is it because this particular (alleged) sex act seems to fly in the face of Trump’s overbearing machismo? Is it because kink in a wider sense is in some way often related to one’s views on power roles in everyday life? Or a little from each column?

There is much lip-service devoted to tolerance, broadmindedness and the doing away of petty judgments. Surely this should extend to people’s sex lives as well?

I’m certainly no fan of Trump, but I couldn’t help but find this week’s Twitter spectacle unedifying. Genuinely, I never thought I’d see the day where I would defend Trump on anything, and yet here we are.

The ripple of gloating schadenfreude in light of these reports reeked of parochial smugness. It was a throwback to a time when tabloid kink-shaming was commonplace; when those who engaged in any sex act beyond the heterosexual missionary position were seen as terrible, evil, perverted people. Do we really want to go back there?

Humans have long looked down on certain sexual interests, and, according to a report in Psychology Today, people have sex within the limits of their sexual development. We stick to having sex in familiar ways that keep us comfortable. Having sex beyond our sexual development creates anxiety and makes us nervous.

Flavour-free

As a rule, I’m okay with people doing pretty much whatever they want sexually with consenting adults. Kinks are a natural form of sexual expression for many people. And we need to move away from this flavour-free, heteronormative relationship model, because there are plenty who don’t fit into it.

I’ve interviewed polyamorists, asexual people, fetishists, fantasists, or people who routinely buy the services of sex workers. In a society that often finds their lifestyle choices questionable, they have spoken of their sexuality with articulacy, intelligence and conviction.

Often, it’s troublesome for them to admit they have sexual interests or preferences outside the cultural norms. And through these conversations, it’s become clear that the kink does not maketh the man.

It does not constitute a moral glitch. It’s often a small part of an otherwise rounded life and personality.

Sexual preferences

I’ve no interest in golden showers personally, but I’ve even less interest in policing people’s sexual preferences or behaviours. And if we are hoping to build a nicer, more tolerant society, perhaps this is the direction we should be edging towards, not cackling when someone is reported to have been caught with their trousers down.

Trump appears to be less than impressed that such unverified claims have surfaced. “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” he tweeted. At the very least, Trump can take solace in the fact that #goldenshowergate isn’t likely to put a crimp in his reputation in the long term. After he mocked a reporter with a disability in November and those infamous “grab the pussy” remarks, one thing is clear: no matter what allegations and stories surface, you can’t keep a great – or even a not-so-great – man down for long.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.