Rihanna’s New Video – True Kink or Not?

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Dear Rihanna,

I think it’s charming that you tried to make your new music video, S&M, so sexy & fetishy that it’d get kicked off of YouTube and, therefore, become even more popular. However, I (and a few of my other kinky friends) have a few issues with it.

First, what did you do right? You used some quality gear in the shoot. Your latex designer was tres’ fabulous…and you certainly do look yummy in your attire (my favorite is the dress you’re wearing when you walk your dog…woof, I say, woof). And thank you for actually having someone who knows their way around a piece of rope to handle your bondage needs.

Your video makes kink look fun – and oh, how fun it is, for those of us who love it. Wriggling around in rope, bound snugly by your partner, is a decadent sensation. Playing with lovely sensations of latex, leather, and metal, can be sensually arousing as well as sexually deviant. And that’s the point of a fetish, isn’t it? A fetish is a single object – or concept – that inspires lust in the viewer. We get it. You’re shiny, sexy, and naughty…but we’d love to see you show off your strength a little more authentically!

The video’s imagery falls a bit flat for me, though. It feels a lot like what kink might look like if it were solely inspired by one of those candy stores in the mall – brightly colored and full of empty calories. There’s really nothing new here. Before you did this, there was Lady Gaga and her far more extreme (and dark, and sexy) videos. Before her, Christina Aguilera rocked out some seriously pervy videos. And before her…way before her…was Madonna.  And before her, the post-punk toughness of Joan Jett laid claim to the black leather crowd’s hearts. And so on, and so on. Kinky chanteuses are nothing new, to most of us. And I’d daresay that those kinksters out there who actually do this are similarly unimpressed. As much of a non-pop culture aware person as I am, I still think Lady Gaga’s videos play the perv card a bit more effectively than you have.

(And in a last minute observation, David LaChapelle, iconic photographer of all things edgy and startling, thinks you plagiarized it – and I can see where he might think that.

The appeal of kink is about the forbidden; it’s about delving into your fantasies and dredging them up, along with our fears and our spirits, into the (mostly dim) light of the play space. Kink is about the bad boy image and the naughty woman; it’s about James Dean on his motorcycle, and Rizzo in Grease. Hell, it’s even about Liza Minelli in Cabaret and Cirque du Soliel’s “Zumanity”. It’s about breaking down the barriers of what is acceptable, so that we can find that which is intrinsically important in our sexuality, and in ourselves.

So, try it again. With a song that proclaims even more strongly that you are in control of your sexuality. Use motifs and tones that set the mood. You are a young woman who is beautiful and hopefully has control of her own direction and her own world, especially after standing up to Chris Brown and moving on with your life. Show it. Use it. Kink is about being exactly who we are, with no apologies and no excuses. So just do it. And let other women see what a strong survivor looks like.

By the way, the phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me”? I heard that back in middle school, and I’m over 40. Enough said.

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