Mina Button's blog

kink and feminism and stuff…formerly known as Absinthe Cocktail.

One from the vaults: Pony Play on “Bones”

This was originally posted at my old, now-abandoned blog under a different pseudonym.  I’m playing with the idea of occasionally re-posting old stuff that I’m especially proud of here, largely because I want to have it all in one place.  Old blog can be found here.  Also, this post contains “Bones” spoilers.  Consider yourself warned.

So…um…for some reason, I decided to watch the pony play episode of “Bones” the other day. It was on Netflix instant, I’d read a brief mention of it at Tiger Beatdown (which is an awesome, awesome, extra double plus awesome feminist blog that you should totally read) and I was bored and casting about for something to do.

For those unfamiliar with it, “Bones” is a police procedural type TV show involving…unsurprisingly…a lady who is a forensic anthropologist and studies bones. And she solves murders by examining the evidence found in/on said bones, with the help of David Boreanaz, whose character’s defining characteristic seems to be that he’s kind of a douche. I’ve tried watching this show a few times, because I love a good police procedural, and mostly have found it boring. But when I heard there was an episode about pony play, well, of course I had to watch it.

Pony play, for those unfamiliar, is a variety of animal-type role play. Since it’s not one of my own, personal kinks, I’m vaguely terrified that if I try to explain it I’ll horribly offend any pony players who happen to stumble across my humble blog. My main exposure to pony play has been in Anne Rice’s erotica, so I’m inclined to take it with a pinch of salt. That, and I really like the snazzy boots.

That pony play was specifically the focus of this episode was kind of beside the point. The pony scenes were very…well…tame. Mostly conventionally attractive dudes (almost all the ponies seemed to be dudes) wearing a huge amount of insanely expensive specialized leather gear being led around by ladies in sexy riding outfits, prancing and making horsey noises. I was pretty disappointed that no one got smacked with a riding crop or pulled one of those little pony carts Anne Rice was always going on about.

But aaanyway, this was the worst example I’ve seen in a while of the “kinky people are freaks and murderers” trope that is constantly infuriating me in my consumption of mysteries and police procedurals. Brennan, our forensic anthropologist heroine, is basically the only cop-type who’s even slightly non-judgmental towards our pony players, but she still comes out with gems like “Fetishism is a way of indulging in sexual activity, without actually engaging emotionally with the other person as a fully formed human being.”* Which, um, even if you’re using the hyper-judgey definition of fetishism that turns up in places like the DSM-IV-TR, is not necessarily a technically accurate definition. She then goes on to talk about “masturbation fetishes,” to which I can only say LOL WUT?

So the show goes on with its unsurprising plotline of “one of these weirdos must be a murderer” and, surprise! One of them is, in fact, the murderer! Just to make it extra, extra hackneyed, it’s the victim’s play partner/toppy person. Because that’s an original plot line.

It’s seriously gotten to the point where I’ve become so desperate to see some sort of TV show where there’s a murder and kinky people are involved and one of them isn’t the murderer that I got really excited about that one episode of one of the innumerable “Law & Order” spinoffs where the domly dom dude turns out to just be a Lord Master Domly Asshole type who nonconsensually smacked the victim with a riding crop and not the guy who followed her out of the party to rape and murder her.

The last straw for me with this episode of “Bones,” though, came at the very end. Douchey special agent David Boreanaz is sitting in a diner-y place having coffee with Brennan, when he unleashes this lovely speech:

Why? I’ll tell you why. Here we are. All of us are basically alone, separate creatures just circling each other. All searching for that slightest hint of a real connection. Some look in the wrong places, some, they just give up hope because in their mind they’re thinking ‘Oh, there’s nobody out there for me.’ But all of us, we keep trying over, and over again. Why? Because every once in a while, every once in a while, two people meet. And there’s that spark. And yes Bones, he’s handsome. And she’s beautiful. And maybe that’s all they see at first…But making love? Making. Love. That’s when two people become one…Yeah, Bones. A miracle. Those people- role-playing and their fetishes and their little sex games- It’s crappy sex. Well, at least compared to the real thing. *This speech is mostly done as a voice over, played over shots of the other characters interacting with their partners. All the couples shown are 100% heterosexual, which is so full of issues and so angry-making on its own that I could write a whole separate post just on the fact that these are the couples being shown as “right” and “real” and how icky and homophobic that is.

But I seriously couldn’t get past my blinding rage at this show that would not only characterize kinksters as freaks and murderers, but that would end with a speech dismissing all non-heteronormative, non-vanilla sex as “crappy” and not “the real thing.” How dare you, faceless writers of a dumb TV show, tell me that my sex life is crappy!? How dare you dismiss the best relationship I’ve ever had as not being a real connection? The vast majority of the people I know who are into some form of kink are incredibly close, connected, and communicative with their partners. Negotiating issues that come up in kinky, BDSM-y relationships takes tons of effective communication and trust (which is not to say no vanilla people ever communicate or negotiate effectively, just that I think it’s much less the norm to negotiate as much in non-kinky encounters and relationships.) I’m still ragey just writing about this, their explicit condemnation of my own relationship and my friends’ relationships…which makes me think harder about their implied condemnation of non-hetero relationships…which makes me even more ragey! It’s an unending cycle of rage.

[Roderick] didn’t get why I was so angry, why I took it all so personally. I had a hard time explaining, but I’ll try to go into it in more detail about why it always feels so freaking personal when I watch or read stuff like this in another entry.

*Direct quotes are lifted from a transcript of the episode that I found here.

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