Sub Journal 010: Perversion and Normality

One person’s perversion is another’s normality. –Julie Peakman

This is the unofficial motto of my site and is the opening line of Peakman’s book The Pleasure’s All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex (podcast review, written review). The quote works in a couple of ways, but I think the overall message is that you’re normal for you. Whatever you’re interested in comes naturally to you so it’s natural. And if something’s natural then any shame or disgust is a product of other people’s opinions, which are shaped by culture, time, place, religion, etc.

The quote could be both speaking to someone who is judging another and also a reminder that just because your desires don’t seem ‘normal’ in this time and place doesn’t mean that what is considered healthy always was. The people currently practising acceptable sex are doing things that were considered quite odd five hundred years ago. ‘Normal’ is entirely subjective. You’re never going to please everyone so you might as well please yourself since you’re the one you have to live with on a day-to-day basis. (I mean this within the confines of being a law-abiding citizen.)

This quote also reminds me of a more serious version of ‘It’s only kinky the first time.’ If you naturally express certain aspects of your personality, sexuality or intimacy with your partner using particular acts, it’s not really kinky or unusual—it’s simply the language you use. It may not be the same language that is currently ‘acceptable’, but that doesn’t make it wrong. If both you and your partner understand and appreciate it, and it draws you closer together, then what does it matter if you don’t wish to speak the language of traditional intimacy?

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