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"Is kink the new girl-on-girl kiss?"

on Thursday, 31 March 2011. Posted in Media Updates


Rihanna is the latest in a line of pop stars using S/M as an edgy symbol of empowerment. Too bad it doesn't shock

Have you heard? Rihanna likes rough sex. Just in case you didn't get the message from her recent single "S&M" -- which contains the subtle lyrics, "chains and whips excite me" -- she clarifies her position, so to speak, in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone: "Being submissive in the bedroom is really fun." She adds, "I like to be spanked. Being tied up is fun."


Oops, sorry, still there? I dozed off for a second. Signaling an interest in mildly kinky sex has become pretty banal. Madonna and Janet Jackson have been there, done that -- and now we have a whole new generation of starlets who are acting like they invented the riding crop. Like the women before them, the latest set of kink-loving pop stars are using it as shorthand for female sexual empowerment -- the kind that, importantly, is still commercial and alluring to straight men. S/M is like the new girl-on-girl makeout. Forget "I Kissed a Girl" -- I fully expect the next breezy summer hit to be something along the lines of "I Was Spanked (And I Liked It)." As with most mainstream depictions of women's erotic power, I find it sad and totally exhilarating, all at the same time.

In case you've missed the recent flood of bondage-themed ephemera, allow me to fill you in. Rihanna is just the latest entrant with her ode to sadomasochism. The song itself is very sexual, of course, but the music video is more TV-friendly. She's shown trapped behind a wall of saran wrap in front of a bunch of tabloid reporters who are wearing ball gags. A nasty journo scrawls "slut" in capital letters in his notebook; a headline about her "daddy issues" scrawls across the screen. She takes bitchy gossip blogger Perez Hilton for a walk -- or crawl, really -- on a leash. It's S/M as a metaphor, a way for Rihanna to punish and humiliate the haters. She's saved the more literal S/M for her lyrics, wardrobe and interviews. ...

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