We are people who see the power of a storm and say, “I want that in my heart.”
That force is the heart of a scene: an interaction in which individuals choose to alter ordinary power dynamics between each other in order to create altered states of mind and body.
That “altered state” doesn’t inherently need to be something extraordinary. As is often noted, an act as simple as a (desired) hug creates a slight change in neurochemistry through an increase in dopamine.
I use the idea of “alteration” because frankly, I’ve never found a great working definition of “kink”. I remember a time when many of us called it “What It Is That We Do (WIITWD)”, specifically because we felt that attempts to define this by actions—hitting, binding, obeying, coming—would constrain kink into overly-limiting classifications and pigeonholes, making it weaker and less personal.
I think this has happened.
My own indicator is the exchange of “power”, because it’s one of the clearest common denominators. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re creating a situation where one side is wholly dominant and the other is wholly submissive. It just means that you’re using something in our everyday lives, the interchange in power between individuals, as a specific tool of changing your mental and emotional state.
Example: You can receive a flogging without submitting to the person administering it; but the situation is still a shift in normal power roles. There aren’t a lot of scenarios in which one can ordinarily consent to being beaten. (And when I look at exceptions in which I’ve participated, like boxing rings or certain initiations, I honestly see many of the drives we find in kink.) I’m not saying that everyone needs to define as “top” or “bottom” or any other direction; I’m just saying that we’re always engaged in the interplay of interpersonal influence. Much of the time, it’s deadly serious—like the authority of a police officer of a boss. In kink, we get to work with it in ways we choose, and that is something incredible.
Why do we seek a “storm”?
I’m not asking us to discard the terms we already use for attempting kink. But when we speak of “playing”, “having a scene”, or (as I’ve sometimes heard) “doing a thing”, we minimize some of what’s going on. I like the metaphor of a storm as a reminder of kink’s potential.
Saying something is a “scene” is a really efficient way of discussing some sort of kink activity, since theatrical scenes are flexible units; they can be something as small as a few lines of dialogue, or as large as the entire show. But using a theatrical word also suggests that we are acting, escaping, stepping onto a stage instead of participating in the world. Now, dramaturgy is one of the most powerful ways to effect mental and emotional change in humans. I’d never disregard its very real effects. But if part of what we do is theatre, there’s also a core of it which isn’t “acting” – it’s very much a reality.
Likewise, “play” can be a very meaningful thing—mammalian young tend to learn through play, for example. But while we absolutely don’t need (or want) to make everything we do deadly serious or humorless, I think we might want to reexamine thinking of it as “play”. If we’re going to recognize that our “play” has longterm effects and influences, we might want to take another look at how we understand those interactions—what it means to walk consciously into the heart of a tempest.
Just try this as a thought experiment: the next time you negotiate or enter a scene or some play, consider what it’s like to be in the center of a tempest, feeling the full force of the gale around you. Think of that sense of dynamism, that movement, that energy. Consider how much raw vitality is available to you. Within the boundaries of your consent and limitations, regardless of your role, it’s yours for the taking. Take it.