Anti-kink and transphobia have no place in Paganism

Z Budapest’s latest hate-filled screed makes me really angry.

[Update: actual link to actual comment]

It was feminists like Budapest who made it hard for people, especially feminists, to come out as kinky in the seventies, eighties, and nineties. With their statements that you are a failure as a feminist if you engage in kink, especially dominance and submission play, they made a lot of kinky feminists feel alone, marginalised, and ashamed. It is hard enough to come to terms with being kinky in the prevailing culture without having your own communities attacking you. People in kink-excluding communities, who have to remain in the closet, live in fear of being exposed as kinky, and feel marginalised, alone, and attacked. Their membership of the community feels conditional upon not coming out as kinky. Endless research studies have shown how damaging it is for LGBT people to remain closeted – surely the same applies to kinksters?

Similarly, the biologically essentialist view of being a woman held by many second-wave feminists made it very hard for those who are gender-variant. Their rhetoric about all penetrative sex being rape obfuscated the issues around rape, made things difficult for lesbians who enjoy penetration, and for heterosexual and bisexual women who enjoy sex with men. Even other lesbians in relationships were attacked for “aping men”.

This is in spite of the fact that kinksters have been part of the queer liberation movement from the outset. In spite of the fact that the BDSM community is very strong on consent (obviously there are some who don’t walk the talk, but that is the case in all communities). The watchwords of kinksters are ‘Safe, Sane, and Consensual’.

The power play in kink involving dominance and submission (D/s) subverts and undermines the power dynamics of conventional power structures. Many people find the role-play aspects of BDSM liberating. All the women I know who are involved in D/s (whether dommes or subs) are powerful women in their own right. And D/s has very little to do with gender, in any case.

The use of pain as a tool for spiritual and psychological transformation is an ancient shamanistic practice, and its effects – psychological, spiritual, and biochemical – are well-understood. There is a reasonable amount of research on this.

In addition, various therapists have written on the psychological aspects of kink, and why it is not harmful for those who enjoy it.

I would argue that kink, polyamory, and monogamy are sexual orientations in the same way as homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, and pansexuality. That means that for a kinky person to try not to be kinky is just as painful and impossible as for a gay person to try to be straight.

It may not be your cup of tea, but at least make an effort to understand it before you write it off. In the BDSM community, there is a saying, “Your kink is not my kink, but that’s OK”. If only other communities were as accepting and welcoming of diversity as that.

Generally speaking, the Pagan community is accepting and welcoming of diversity, including sexual orientation, polyamory, kink, and gender variance. Let’s keep it that way.

I call upon conference organisers not to book Z Budapest as a speaker while she continues with this hate-filled rhetoric against trans people and the BDSM community.

Further reading on BDSM

Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective – Signed Copies Available

I am pleased to announce the publication of my theology of touch, Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective: Divided for Love’s Sake, from Routledge! I hope it will be of interest to anyone studying contemporary Paganism, LGBT issues, and/or body theology.

Eros and Touch from a Pagan PerspectiveSynopsis:

Within the past twenty years, contemporary Pagan leaders, progressive Christian and Goddess theologians, advocates for queer and BDSM communities, and therapeutic bodyworkers have all begun to speak forcefully about the sacredness of the body and of touch. Many assert that the erotic is a divinely transformative force, both for personal development and for social change. Although “the erotic” includes sexuality, it is not limited to it; access to connected nonsexual touch is as profound a need as that for sexual freedom and health. In this book, Christine Hoff Kraemer brings together an academic background in religious studies and theology with lived experience as a professional bodyworker and contemporary Pagan practitioner. Arguing that the erotic is a powerful moral force that can ground a system of ethics, Kraemer integrates approaches from queer theology, therapeutic bodywork, and sexual minority advocacy into a contemporary Pagan religious framework. Addressing itself to liberal religious people of many faiths, Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective approaches the right to pleasure as a social justice issue and proposes a sacramental practice of mindful, consensual touch.

How to Get This Book: Request a Library Purchase

I know many of us can’t personally manage the steep institutional prices hardcover academic books are offered at, but I urge you to ask your university or public library to purchase Pagan studies books (not just mine!) so that they will become more widely accessible.

Routledge has a recommendation form for your librarian, and of course most libraries have their own purchase request form. (For examples, here are forms for my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, and my local library, the Boston Public Library. Your library no doubt has one too!) If you do make such a request, please let me know — it’ll be great to know there’s interest.

How to Get This Book: Rent the Kindle Edition

Kindle editions can be read on your PC, smartphone, e-reader, tablet, or other device. Rent the Kindle edition of Eros and Touch from a Pagan Perspective for a period of up to 120 days, at less than $1 a day! Plus, if you decide to buy the book during the rental period, your rental fee will be applied to the purchase.

How to Get This Book: Buy a Signed Copy, Get a Gift

If you are in the fortunate situation to be able to buy new academic books, please consider purchasing directly from me! For the full cover price of $125, I will sign the book to you personally (or to a friend or loved one, as you specify) and include a free copy of Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies as a small thank you. Paypal to chkraemer13 (at) gmail dot com, or contact me at that address to pay with a check.


Please pass on this post to groups and institutions who are interested in LGBT issues and religion, Pagan and body theology, or religion and sexuality. With luck, the hardback will sell enough copies so that Routledge will agree to release the book in a reasonably priced paperback.

In the meantime, enjoy this excerpt on Academia.edu, which includes the entire introduction.

Happy Samhain, everyone!