Separating Art From Artist

A stock photo of paints, pencils, etc on a messy desk, cause you know, every artist is a hot mess

There is some bloody good art in the world. Loads of it, in fact. And some of it is made by horrible people.

Maybe “horrible people” is a bit strong, but people make choices that harm others, and artists are no exception to this rule. Sometimes these are horrible-people-level bad choices, and sometimes they’re misspoke-in-an-interview-level bad choices, but the fact remains that artists, like everyone, have the capacity to do harm, but unlike everyone, have a much bigger audience to whom they can do it. Doing harm to people is, of course, bad, but good art is good, and so we face the question: can I still enjoy the art? Or am I being a heartless bastard?

There is often a call, when a celebrity or author or actor or whoever fucks up, to “separate the art from the artist!”. It’s my view, though, that art is always shaped by its artist, that every tiny bit of every one of their works has them baked into it, and that you literally cannot “separate” the two. What this call actually seems to mean is, “Consume the art and stop complaining!”, which is a very different kettle of fish. Yes, sometimes the art is bloody good, but should an artist’s behaviour affect art they made before their shitty actions? Can I still enjoy the art, or am I being a heartless bastard for even wanting to?

When I’m trying to decide whether or not to carry on consuming the work of any particular artist, I like to ask myself three questions:

  1. Is it my place to forgive this person?

First things first: does it matter what I think? This post was inspired by J. K. Rowling’s recent transphobic word-diarrhea, and in that case, yeah, I get a vote; I’m trans. In other cases, though, like those of racism or of sexual assault, I prefer to listen to the people who are actually being harmed, and always err on the side of caution when it comes to supporting the artist in question, even if they apologise or donate a bunch of money somewhere or hire a skywriter to scrawl, “People of colour are okay, actually!” across the sky. If it isn’t my place to offer an artist forgiveness, that’s where my line of thought ends – but if it is, I keep thinking.

2. What real-world difference does my consumption of this art make?

Vivaldi may or may not have been a nonce. One could argue that I’m not really hurting anyone by jamming to Spring, because he and all his victims have been dead for a very long time, but I like to look a little closer: who is seeing me knowingly enjoy the work of a nonce? More broadly, I ask myself: Will my consumption of this art hurt people’s feelings? Make them feel alone in their struggle, or like I don’t care about their pain? Will it make them think that their bad behaviour is maybe a little more okay? Where is my money going, and will it be empowering more shitty people to do more shitty things? Essentially: will I be doing more harm?

3. How badly do I need this art?

Like I said before, this post is about JKR. I was huge into Harry Potter back in the day, devouring the same seven books over and over again, muttering along with the movies’ dialogue, planning my first Harry Potter tattoo – the works. Harry Potter was my solace for a lot of my life, and it helped me to find community when I was otherwise struggling to. The thought of losing Harry Potter hurts – but, really, it’s already lost. I clearly don’t need this particular art enough to ignore its artist’s transphobic bullshit, because I find myself now thoroughly turned off by every Potter reference I see. And it’s obviously not the same art I thought it was when I was younger, if we’re subscribing to the notion that an artist is baked into their work, because art coming from someone with a worldview that allows for transphobia is very different to art coming from somebody else.

I actually can’t imagine a scenario where I would ignore harm done to others for the sake of a good book or banging tune, but I like to ask myself this last question just in case – and also to remind myself that, actually, it’s no big loss if I have to cut the artist in question out of my life.


It hurts when an artist who made something we love behaves badly. It feels like the art has been taken away from us, even though what’s actually happened is just that we’ve learned more about who that artist is as a person. It stings, and it can be tempting to grit your teeth through the pain and keep enjoying the art. I’m not saying you have to follow my lead in asking yourself these questions and ditching artists who do harm, but I am asking you to consider the impact of your art consumption and to, you know, care about other people. Please?

My Stalking Kink Part 3: The Origin

Stock image of a pink and orange explosion on a black background.

Content note: This post refers to being groomed and sexually abused online and briefly makes mention of the death of a parent and emotional abuse by father figures. Feel free to give this one a miss if any of those things will be hard for you; your wellbeing always comes first <3


My stalking kink is one of the few whose origin I can easily identify. It’s a two-factor thing, but this blog post is going to have three sections: fiction and culture, wanting to be wanted, and whether we should care about the origins of kinks at all.

If you haven’t yet read the other parts of my Stalking Kink series, part one, The Abstract is hyperlinked here and part two, The Paradox is hyperlinked here. If you’ve been avoiding this series for any reason (it doesn’t interest you, it freaks you out, you know all that there is to know on the subject of stalking kinks already…) then don’t worry, because this is its final instalment – and next week, we return to our regularly scheduled smut.


  1. Fiction and culture

My stalking kink blossomed organically alongside my adolescent sex drive. You see, when I first started exploring sexy things, I began with fanfiction, like many teenagers (especially assigned female ones) did and do. I already identified with the characters at hand, so smutty fanfiction felt more emotionally intimate than your typical PornHub fare, and reading it rather than watching it made it feel, among other things, more intellectual and less conspicuous than video-type porn.

However, I first started reading (and getting off to) fanfiction in around 2011, which was near the peak of the popularity of one hugely influential young adult novel series: Twilight. I was mostly reading fics from the Harry Potter and Kingdom Hearts fandoms and I regarded Twilight with disdain, so never actually interacted directly with it or the fanfiction it spawned… but the same can’t be said for the authors of the stuff I was reading. Twilight introduced, or at the very least fuelled, a trend of passionate romantic and sexual desire being conflated with possessiveness and, yes, stalking in young adult fiction. Even if I wasn’t reading it, I was reading things influenced by it, and I too was absorbing the message that stalking was a valid expression of desire.

I naturally moved away from believing that on a conscious level as I gravitated towards feminist media and feminist media criticisms. Feminist YouTubers and essayists convinced me that stalking and possessiveness were dangerous and abusive behaviours which often escalated and which were not remotely romantic, a belief which my Logic Brain still holds. But in repeatedly wanking to fanfiction where possessiveness and stalking were plot devices used to convey desire, especially in the formative years of my sexuality, I created a Pavlovian association between stalking and arousal.

A good eight years later, the thought of someone stalking me still gets me hot under the collar.

2. Wanting to be wanted

Fanfiction wasn’t the only thing that shaped my adolescent desires. When I was 15, I was groomed online by someone older than me. My first ever orgasms were achieved through his instructions. I explored my sexuality almost exclusively under his guidance.

He used the common abuse tactic of going “hot” and “cold” on me, sometimes showering me with affection and compliments and other times ignoring me, implying I was needy or otherwise putting me down. It left me confused and wounded and always striving to be “good enough” to meet his unknowable and impossible standards.

You can see where this is going, right?

On top of the borderline personality aspect of my mental illness, the fact that my dad didn’t stick around even before he drank himself to death and the typical teenage fear of dying alone, I was convinced I was unwantable, undesirable and unlovable. It is a conviction that has stuck with me, even now I have three loving partners and some admirers besides. I know for a fact that a lot of my stalking kink is rooted in a desire to be wanted at any cost and to the point of dysfunction.

3. Should we care about the origins of kinks?

Put simply: it depends. It depends on a number of things, including how problematic a kink’s origin is, whether using a kink to cope with its origin is preventing us from finding lasting closure, and how much we’re enjoying the kinky practices that have emerged from dubious origins.

In this case, I think it kinda matters. The fiction and culture aspect is more interesting than indicative of any real problems, but the part of my psyche that still sort of wants to be good enough for my abuser, even in a roundabout way, is a part that I’m wary of feeding. I don’t want to reinforce to myself that I have to be sexually or romantically desired to be a worthwhile person, or that sexual and romantic desire only manifest themselves in the dysfunctional ways that my stalker kink wants them to. It’s important to my long-term healing to maintain an awareness of those things and to avoid slapping the band aid of kink onto the psychic wound of being groomed and sexually abused. That isn’t to say that I can’t explore this kink at all; it just means I have to explore it carefully, and make decisions that take into account my emotional, psychological and physical safety rather than just ones which will fulfil some aspect of my stalking fantasies. I have a responsibility to myself and to the people I play with to be self-aware and cautious with something so psychologically charged.

On the other hand, even kinks with deep and complex origins like my Daddy kink are psychologically safe for me to practice. Yes, I grew up with one dead father figure and two abusive ones, but nothing is going to entirely negate my need for the approval of nurturing, authoritative older men, especially whilst society operates as a patriarchy. As long as I choose Daddy doms based on whether they’re safe, kind, caring people to play with, rather than simply for their Daddy-ish qualities, and as long as I acknowledge that this kind of play is no substitute for introspection or therapy, I consider it to be safe and even healing to explore my need for male approval within the framework of kinky roleplay.

I wholeheartedly believe that it’s the responsibility and choice of every kinkster to decide how closely they want or need to examine their desires, and to make choices from there about which ones to act out within kink. I’m a fragile person with a complicated past, and I don’t want partners to do me any unexpected harm that might in turn worry or harm them, so I’ve done a lot of introspective work to ensure that I know why I want to pursue kinks and whether those whys are healthy. I don’t believe in the implication drawn from the motto “Safe, Sane and Consensual” that kink has to be sane, or practised by sane people, but I do adhere to the “Risk Aware Consensual Kink” model, and I consider psychological introspection to be a part of making sure I’m aware of the risks of a scene or dynamic.


I really hope y’all have enjoyed this miniseries on my stalking kink! I recognise that it might be a little obscure, but I love hearing about kinks that aren’t my own and I know that other people feel the same.

As always, I always want to hear your thoughts in the comments or elsewhere, and I’ll see you all next week for Smut Saturdays #12!