From Secrecy to Pride

Negotiating the Kink Identity, Normativity, and Stigma


  • Johanna Pohtinen, MA, Doctoral Candidate University of Turku


identity, kink, community, sexuality, affect, stigma, normativity, shame, autobiographical writing, ethnographic fiction


In this article, I discuss how the kink identity is constructed in a society where kink is defined as non-normative and stigmatised. I do this through an af- fective reading of my research material: autobiographical writings by kinky identified individuals. By looking at the affects, I have been able to recognize those elements that are integral to the kink experience. Affective states, such as fear of being found out, frustration, loneliness, hope, and excitement were expressed in the writings. Kink is negotiated with regard to normativity and stigma through mechanisms which may produce behaviour such as staying in the closet and secrecy about the individual’s kinky desires. Due to the stigma, people may even denounce their own preferences as wrong and unacceptable, and accepting one’s kinkiness may be described as a journey requiring cour- age. Kink communities function as safer spaces for the kinky, where the neg- ative experiences and affects may even turn into kinky pride. Furthermore, the secrecy and the fear of being found out may also function as the very fas- cinations of kink. To further highlight the affective states regarding kink, I employ a method of ethnographic fiction that is based on my own embodied and affective knowledge of kink.




How to Cite

Pohtinen, J. (2019). From Secrecy to Pride: Negotiating the Kink Identity, Normativity, and Stigma. Ethnologia Fennica, 46, 84–108.