Morgan Peschek, the Kinky Autistic

Category: POV Podcast

Author: Aria Vega

Morgan Peschek is a UK-based sex writer, and the blogger behind A Kinky Autistic. Morgan started writing about sexuality around the same time they were diagnosed with autism — which offered them an exciting and underexplored angle.

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Podcast Transcript:

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Aria Vega [00:00:00] [Voiceover] This podcast contains explicit content. Listener's discretion is advised. POV by Lustery explores culture, politics and creativity in the sex industry, one point of view at a time. I'm your host, Aria Vega. Morgan Peschek launched their blog, A Kinky Autistic, about four years ago. As the "kinky autistic" in question, Morgan uses the site to explore various facets of that experience via essays, erotica and poems. It's a project they've wanted to take on for a pretty long time.

Morgan Peschek [00:00:34] [Interview] I got interested in writing about sex and sex education when I was like maybe 15, 14 - 15, because at home my mom was always really open, and we always had a relaxed, shame-free, judgment-free dialogue. Then I went into school, and found that— especially as we got older, and we started talking about periods and boys— found that a lot of my peers didn't know the things I knew. I thought at the time that it was just a weird private school thing, because I went to private school and then I left private school, and I went to a normal sixth form college, which is for ages 16 to 18 in England. I realized that those peers there also didn't know what their cervix was, or just things that I thought were very fundamental. I was like, Someone's got to fix this! I also had that kind of naive, maybe autistic, maybe just me, but this naive mentality that I was going to grow up to save the world. I kind of felt that from quite a young age, I was like, I've got to save the world in some capacity. First, I was going to be a rock star, but that requires a lot of hard work in a consistent way. And this blogging, especially blogging within a sphere of people who are all very kind and supportive to one another. I don't have to be consistently every single day at it if I don't have the energy for that. So yeah, that's how it ended up making sense for me to just get on the Internet, and shout about things that I think people should know. I also I don't experience embarrassment in the way that my friends always seemed to. I realize now that that's an autistic thing, but when I was younger, I just thought that I was that person that was just immune to embarrassment. So I was the person that asked all of the questions in like the sex ed sessions that we got in school. I was always the one that would say the thing everyone was skirting around. If everyone's going like, Oh, you know, when you've got your... Oh when it's the time of the month... and I'd just go, When you're bleeding from your cunt... When you've got your period. I was just very matter of fact about things and I've been told that quite reassuring to talk to, like there's a very much a vibe that I'm not going to judge people, which I hope people get that vibe from me, because I only judge people when they're like proper dickheads.

Aria Vega [00:03:31] I'm so glad that you're talking about this, because as I've become more aware of my own neurodivergence, it's something that I have been able to find more and more connections to my profession about. I find enjoyment in talking about things that make, that people are generally socialized to think of as being not polite, and that it contributes to a sense of...I think it's part of why I'm the kind of person, I'll meet someone and 5 minutes later, I know their life story. I kind of just like seem to give off that vibe!

Morgan Peschek [00:04:05] Yeah, that happens to me! The number of times I've heard, "Oh, I've never told anyone this before..."

Aria Vega [00:04:11] Yes!

Morgan Peschek [00:04:11] I'm like, okay, I told my shit to like the bus driver. My boobs and life story are all over the Internet, but I'm really glad that you're sharing.

Aria Vega [00:04:27] [Voiceover] Part of what drove Morgan to be a sex writer was the dearth of knowledge out there about how autistic folks have sex.

Morgan Peschek [00:04:34] [Interview] Because of the way that autism is treated and responded to, a lot of the resources that I was offered, and stuff like that, was pitched to a much younger age, and that's often the case. There are resources for autistic children and not adults, and that on its own as well as everything else in society, can be really infantilizing. So the first impression I got was that like autistic people shouldn't be doing sex, or they shouldn't be actively enjoying sex, that they're just simply not too grown up, simply not grown up enough for that. They're simply not, they don't have the introspection required. So that was where it kind of started was, I was quite defiant about I can be autistic and kinky. Then the more that I thought about it, the more that I thought, No, I'm kinky because I'm autistic. Or at least if a person is born kinky, which is a whole other debate, then the reason I'm able to explore it and enjoy it and participate in kink and realize that part of my identity is because I'm autistic. So I don't absorb as much cultural shame as I think some people do, and I also obviously have had some brilliant people around me, including my mum, who have encouraged me to just do what I'm doing. So I started out kind of thinking like, No, I can be kinky *and* autistic, I can be autistic, *but* I'm still kinky. Then it turned into, I can be autistic and also I'm kinky, and that became quite an important thing for me to kind of try and say to other autistic people, [which] was that there is no oxymoron in the phrase "kinky autistic." Like you can you can be both and they can be interconnected or not. But that is the that is a phrase that makes sense are kinky, autistic.

Aria Vega [00:06:33] And as a matter of fact, there may be a correlation between these two groups of people. You wrote this great post on your blog entitled, "Why Do I Keep Finding Autistic People in my Kink Communities?" Which really helped me, by the way, too, to write an article that explores this exact question. You describe both sensory and social factors that contribute to the confluence of these two groups of people. Can you elaborate a little bit on what you've observed about that?

Morgan Peschek [00:07:07] So I find that in kink communities, especially where it's like actual interpersonal and personal interaction rather than online, I think people who are neurodivergent, and particularly autistic people, I think that part of it is that it's much easier to socialize around an activity or around a structure of some kind where there's rules. Maybe it's like a class and breakout sessions and stuff like that, or it's, Here's where the BDSM is happening, and here's where you can go and it's quiet, and it's all very much more structured than a lot of other socializing. And especially if you then look at events that are high protocol, where some people have one role and some people have another role, and that very explicit outlining of, This is what we're going to do today has, I think, a lot of appeal for autistic people. And then also it provides some really great frameworks for exploring one's own feelings and communicating those, because you've got things like yes-no-maybe lists, you've got things like, On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does that hurt? How much would you like it to hurt? That sort of device. So there's constantly conversation in kink communities about how we can communicate better, and there's this acknowledgment that you don't have to be born perfect at communicating and socializing. There's a lot of things that make it a more comfortable environment for autistic people. Then you get into sensory things, and I struggle to see BDSM as anything other than adults playing with sensory experiences and power exchange together. That really is the crux of what I like to do in kink is like,Hhow does this feel? How does this feel if you do it to me 100 times? How does this feel in combination with this? And that can include for me, How does this feel, power exchange-wise? But often I find that if there's a power exchange framework, then a lot of my sensory perception is kind of informed by that. So yeah, just investigating the interactions between those two is really interesting as well.

Aria Vega [00:09:55] And when you're attending any sort of kink related event, I wonder, do you find it easy to identify and connect with the other autistic people?

Morgan Peschek [00:10:05] I very often spot tells that I think are indicative of autism or other neurodivergence, and I usually go to events with my fiancé, so like we kind of nudge each other and we're kind of like, Hmm... sometimes, but but also a lot of the time it comes up in conversation. I mention it because I'll either mention my blog, or it'll just be relevant in negotiations, or I just can't go 10 minutes without telling someone I'm autistic. I'm like, Hey, did you know I'm autistic and I'm great? So yeah, it comes up. And again, because of the environment of communication, and a lack of judgment then usually people will share with me that they're autistic, too. And I think that's part of it as well, is that there are probably like proportionally more autistic people at a kink event than another event. But also there is the creation of an environment where people feel safe to disclose a part of their identity that can come with a lot of prejudice and such. People come into kink spaces with an awareness that they're going to meet some atypical people, as well. So the reception that you get is often less surprised than you'd expect it to be. You go along and actually it's just like, Okay, does that mean that I need to behave differently in response to you? Is there anything I need to know? A lot of the time the structure is very like, Okay, what do I need to do with that information? And that really just works brilliantly for a lot of autistic people, no like, "Oh, that must be so hard for you," but just, "Okay, do you need me to change the lighting? Do you need me to not touch your back?" Just whatever.

Aria Vega [00:12:03] [Voiceover] Morgan had a hunch that they might be autistic long before it was confirmed. That wasn't until their younger sibling had been diagnosed, when Morgan was 8. One reason why this sibling's autism was detected first is because they were assigned male at birth, unlike Morgan. Such children are 4 to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism, then those assigned female at birth.

Morgan Peschek [00:12:25] [Interview] My mom was reading everything she could get her hands on about autism, and I was kind of also picking up like, Okay, this is the thing, some people are built different and this is what we call it. And again, like because I had the example set for me of like, there's not really much shame attached to it, and then when it became kind of apparent that I was definitely also autistic, my mom was like, Okay, do you want to get a diagnosis? And for a little while I didn't, simply because I had seen that you have to sit and answer a load of questions and it's really boring. And I was a kid, and I wanted to get on with things. I was doing okay academically, but clearly was just suffering in every other aspect of my life. So I got diagnosed in the end when I was 14, and that was around the time that I was already starting to kind of think, Hang on a minute, why don't my friends know what a cervix is? So yeah, they did kind of like co-occur, but also I by the time I got my diagnosis, I was already very confident I was autistic, and I was already very confident that I didn't mind. It was kind of a blessing and a curse that my sibling got diagnosed so much earlier than I did, because I got to see what resources they received and what kind of looked more or less helpful. And I also just got to see my mom treating them like exactly the same as before they got their diagnosis. So this is the same person, we just have a new piece of information.

Aria Vega [00:14:03] Right, we just understand them a little bit better now.

Morgan Peschek [00:14:05] Yeah, and that's actually been my mom's approach, and the approach that I learned to most things. I've had a lot of people come out to me as trans because, you know, being queer. Whenever someone comes out to me as trans, I'm like, Okay, you are still the same person that you were 30 seconds ago before you said that, but I now know a new thing about you that will inform how I can treat you nicely and respectfully. The same is true with a lot of autism stuff. It's just, Okay, now we've just got some extra information to work on.

Aria Vega [00:14:45] Perfectly put. Like you're saying, something that neurodivergence and autism has in common with kink and BDSM is that they're both really misunderstood. They're both these really non-normative experiences. And I imagine you've encountered a lot of ignorance in your attempts to elucidate these subjects. You talked about the... You've come across a lot of mindsets that infantilize neurodivergent people. What other types of things are folks unclear on? What other kinds of misunderstandings are you bumping up against?

Morgan Peschek [00:15:20] I find in my personal kind of play that a big thing is just not knowing how to be supportive and really, really wanting to, but just being at a loss even what questions to ask in terms of, I'll say I'm autistic and they'll be like, Okay, what does that mean for you? And it's quite vague. Actually, the information they want is, does that mean particular things are more difficult for you, does that mean that there are particular things you are seeking from this? It's all the same questions that really you would ask in a typical negotiation, anyway. But yeah, I think just the key is listening to the answer and not trying to impose what you think the correct answer is. Because a lot of people, like I wrote about this in a recent blog post, autistic-friendly or autism-friendly cinema screenings, where they dim, they turn down the volume and they change the lighting. And actually, for me, that's not helpful. I need the volume to be very, very loud because my auditory processing is challenged. So there's a lot of presumptions about what a person is going to need. This might just be a personal thing, but I feel like a lot of people outside of kink will see you being passionately excited about the fields of sex education and kink education and stuff like that, and they certainly act a certain way. I actually had someone tell me once I said to them, Oh yeah, sex and kink are a special interest of mine. And they said, No, that's not a special interest, Morgan, you're just a dirty bitch. Which is also true, but that's not the point!

Aria Vega [00:17:11] Oh, you're a good sport, goodness gracious.

Morgan Peschek [00:17:16] I was just like, okay, yeah. Know you're not getting this, but yes, to me, it's just such a big, expansive, fascinating field. I think that most questions you've got about human nature could be answered by just looking at the kink community, because there is so much variation in the way that we interact with each other inside and outside of scenes. I think that you get some of the more some of the biggest extremes of self-expression in kink a lot of the time, and certainly I've always been a person of extremes, and it's difficult to pin down where that's the autism and where that's the borderline personality disorder and where that's just, you know, I'm a Leo and I'm a bit extreme. But definitely for me, the fact that people are pursuing things that seem extreme is exciting. I'm always curious about the extremes, the possible extremes of things. So like, when I found out that I could get a finger inside my vagina, I was like, You mean people could get fists in here? That's why I was fascinated by that, though, just as a concept, anything that is big, anything that is like really dramatic has always appealed to me. I think things that are almost cartoonish representations of real life, like you get very trope-y, teacher student scenes... I can't think of a better example than a teacher/student scene where, in porn and in play that actually happens in real life, there's this kind of archetypical, exaggerated character of teacher, usually sexy teacher with the unbuttoned shirt and whatever else, and this like extreme caricature of the sexually interested student. We have a lot of quick ways of indicating that and I could get— this is going to end up turning into a whole rant about my linguistics degree, that the way that people use things as shorthand, like I'm going to wear this short tartan skirt to indicate that I am playing this role of a submissive, vulnerable person who is interacting sexually with someone who has more power than them. I always found that really fascinating. I've always been really intrigued by the ways that we have existing narratives that we will then take and make our own, like Daddy dom/little girl stuff. You can have a Daddy dom and your best mate could have a Daddy dom, and those relationships could look so different, because you could be like, Actually, I want to be a soft little princess, and then the other person's relationship could involve something really different. But we've still got these kind of like narratives in common to talk about the experiences of power exchange, and playing at vulnerability or actually being vulnerable, which is kind of what it is in the endAria Vega [00:20:39] You have drawn all these incredible parallels between the experiences of socializing as an autistic person and the social aspects of kink and BDSM. Whether that's a power exchange or what have you, there is this similar need for negotiation and disclosure, and learning how to respect each other's needs and desires, especially if those are different from ours. And also the extent the extent to which this is a spectrum, both of those are a spectrum of experiences. No two Daddy dom/little girl arrangements are exactly alike. No two autistic people experience the world exactly the same way. There is just this this need for constant communication. And I lit up when you mentioned the linguistics degree, because I just said, Of course! It's because it's... Linguistics is a search for meaning, and and everything that we're talking about is all of these different ways in which we search for deeper meaning in our experiences and each other. Yeah. What do you make of that link?

Morgan Peschek [00:22:01] Honestly, it all folds into the same sort of thing for me because yeah, I've always just been fascinated by the way that people... The way that thoughts turn into words, and then the way that those words are received and then get turned back into thoughts by another person. The same is true, obviously, in kink, where it's like thoughts are heard and then either words are spoken or actions are taken, and then they are received, and I've always been really interested in how dynamic and I guess very human is to create meaning together, rather than to create meaning and then later impose it upon another person. But also language, for me, it was the easiest and most accessible way to start sinking my teeth into like bigger discussions about the human condition, and the way that humans interact with each other. Because I've never been very sciencey, so I've always been a "words bitch" as I as I call myself. Whenever my friends need something proofread, I'm like, Yeah, I'm the words bitch! That's my official title. So yeah, I've always been just really interested in humans and finding the ways that humans use words, humans use play, humans use various other ways of interacting with one another. What that says about being a human and what that says about how we can interact with each other in ways that are more and more compassionate and accurate and like equitable and just... Yeah, I think language permeates everything, but it's, you know, maths permeates everything. Lots of other things permeate everything. And it's just that language for me was the easiest way to really get into the everything that I was trying to look at.

Aria Vega [00:24:21] [Voiceover] That's sex blogger Morgan Peschek. You can find their blog at akinkyautistic.com, and they're on Twitter and Instagram @KinkyAutistic. Got any thoughts to share about sex, kink and neurodivergent? I'd love to revisit this topic and create more of the content that's so sorely lacking on the subject. If you'd like to appear in the show, hit me up with an email or a voice memo at askaria@lustery.com Or you can find me on Twitter @vegadreamcast. You can always remain anonymous. If you're into the show, please leave us a five-star rating and a review. POV is brought to you by Lustery, and this episode was hosted by me, Aria Vega. It was edited and produced by Kathryn Fischer and Adrienne Teicher, and our showrunner is Paulita Pappel. Lustery is the home of real-life partners filming their sex lives behind closed doors. If you're 18 or older, you can find us at lustery.com, and we're on Twitter and Instagram @lusteryPOV. Bye now, lovers!