The doors of revelation have opened on Hollywood’s culture of sexual harassment and abuse. You’ve probably heard about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis CK – among many others. 

But this column isn’t about men being outed for abusing their social positioning and physical strength to sexually harass less powerful women and men. Suffice it to say, I am thrilled about this time of reckoning.

Read more: The Weinstein Effect: how powerful men across the globe are being confronted about sexual harassment

No. This column is about a theme that hums along under much of the reportage on these exposés: the perversions of sex.
 
The case of Louis CK is the easiest to unpack. 
 
LCK is a comedian who’s made a career joking about his ‘sexual perversions’ and his issues around masturbating. 
 
When female colleagues started revealing that he’d propositioned them, exposed himself, and masturbated in front of them, the media called him an exhibitionist and his public masturbating perverse. 
 
But these are not perversions. 
 
Being an exhibitionist isn’t a problem; many people like being watched. Getting off on masturbating in front of someone isn’t an issue either. 
 
It’s not that Louis CK wanted to act on these fantasies, it’s that his actions were compulsions that he needed to assault unwilling participants with. 

     


The heat didn’t reside in being watched, exposing himself, or even being shamed – he could’ve set all of this up in a consensual play with someone. 

No, these were elements of the bigger kick: the ambush; knowing he was transgressing a boundary. 

And this is what makes him a predator and that’s the perversion.

Men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have apparently taken themselves to therapy for their ‘sex issues’ – but these are not ‘sex’ issues. These are issues of power using sex to assert itself; these are issues of psychopathy. 

Making the distinction between sexual expression and predatory behaviour is vital if we’re going to move to a sex positive and inclusive society, where sexual expression isn’t used to explain rape culture. 

At the very least, we must make this distinction so that people don’t feel like freaks because they have an ‘out there’ fantasy or five. 

Read more: These 4 common sex positions can actually be dangerous

In the world of sex play, the human mind is complex enough to construct a million different ways to get off.
 
Some people like pain and humiliation, some sexual fantasies challenge what is socially acceptable – or even legal. 
 
But the line between what is desired and what is a lived experience, no matter what its extremity, rests in one thing only: conscious consent between adults in an agreed space. 
 
If you ever worry that your kink is crossing over into sexual misconduct, that’s the benchmark. 
 
LCK knew he had a problem, he made a career out of joking about it, and still kept whipping his dick out. 
 
That’s not about sex; that’s about aggression and an abuse of power.
 
If you want to act out on a desire, but the idea of a consenting adult helping you to do so in a controlled play is a turn-off for you, it might be time to get help.   
 
Follow Dorothy Black on her blog or on Twitter.