Last week on Dan Savage’s The Savage Lovecast, Dan reported on a new Canadian study on the Journal of Sexual Research that found that many of the sex acts previously considered ‘abnormal’ or ‘paraphilia’ are actually desired and/or practiced by a majority of people, or at least a significant minority.
It kind of makes you wonder if these acts are, in fact, so abnormal these days.
A few examples of sexual kinks still clinically considered abnormal, but which enjoy a pretty high public acceptance rate:
voyeurism: 60% of men and 35% of women enjoy it;
exhibitionism: 35% of men and 27% of women like it;
massochism: 21% of men and 28% of women are into it;
frotteurism: 34% of men and 21% of women
Despite these very high practice and acceptance rates, clinical psychologists would still consider these behaviours deviant. This is a big problem. Being labelled deviant by the health care profession is a pretty big sticker (remember homosexuality in the 50s) that comes with a massive stigma and real world prejudices and discrimination.
Societal norms are telling us that these fantasies and practices are fine, yet our doctors are telling us we’re deviants. Clearly one of these views is out of whack. So, first we have to ask- if these are deviant behaviours, from what are they deviating… from what societal norm are we deviating if so many people enjoy – like us – these kinky practices? The answer is clearly no!
Societal norms evolve over time and what used to be deviant becomes mainstream. And as these practices mainstream, as long as they cause no harm to others, we need to evolve our social treatment of these behaviours.
Voyeurisms, frottage, exhibitionism… they’ve entered the entered the mainstream and its time to welcome them there.