Who is Aoife Murray, what do you want people to remember about you?
I'm a 26 year old peer kink educator from Ireland. I teach people about practising kink in a consensual and risk aware way. I would love people to remember me because I created a safe and respectful place for them to learn. To see me as someone who helped them rid themselves of any shame they may have for their desires and reminded them to always prioritise wellbeing for themselves and partners.
What is the biggest impact on what you do?
I would say the biggest impact my work has is dispelling myths that kink practises are abnormal or something to be frightened of. After attending a workshop with me people will often say they were surprised by how much emphasis is placed on consent, open communication, and respect in the BDSM community. Behind the scandalous facade kink is all about exploring your desires in a way that promotes trust and intimacy between partners. Having a kink is definitely far more common than you may think. It’s a completely normal and healthy intimate expression.
What has been your biggest learning since you started?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that not everyone will understand your work, and that’s okay. The most important thing is to have a strong code of ethical values you adhere to when discussing these sensitive topics. There will always be those who don’t consider my work appropriate but I’m satisfied that what I do keeps people just a little safer. I get a message about once a week from someone who lets me know that a particular post of mine helped them explore their desires more safely or made them feel less alone, and that’s what makes it truly worthwhile.
What is the goal? The big vision of what you would like to achieve?
My goal is to support Irish people in exploring kink and BDSM. Ireland has a complex history of sexual shame so unfortunately our school based sex education is rather lacking - never mind discussing taboo areas of human sexuality and intimacy. This can lead to people seeking information from unreliable sources or jumping into play without setting out the necessary boundaries. While I don’t believe BDSM is for everyone I do think those who have an interest in it should have easier access to information. I’m currently the only Irish kink educator I know of, so it’s not a job I take on lightly. Hopefully my work will inspire others.
What is Feminism for you?
To me feminism is about challenging the notion that our gender should determine what we like or dislike, what career path we take, or our role in relationships. It's about saying that all people regardless of gender deserve that same access to opportunities.
Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?
When people sexualise a young girl’s behaviour, describe her clothing as indecent or remark on her body.
Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?
I was sixteen years old and I was incredibly frustrated with slut shaming I saw around me. I remember reading an article by Everyday Feminism on the topic and suddenly I had a word to describe my value system. Of course I wasn't magically transformed into the perfect feminist or cheerleader for other women but it really struck a chord with me. From then on I was a feminist.
Who is your biggest feminist role model?
I’m sure at this point a lot of people would list famous figures they admire, but I love seeing examples of feminism and female strength in everyday ways. I admire my grandmother who told me from the time I started school that one day I’d attend the university where she worked. Making sure her daughters and granddaughters got a good education is a huge priority to her. I admire people who dare to be themselves in a world that isn’t built for them. The wonderful activists I’ve met in my time in student politics who work so hard to make their communities more inclusive places.
What is your favourite Feminist quote?
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” - Cheris Kramarae
What is your proud feminist victory?
Spanning the full range of the madonna-whore spectrum by age 24. I became a family carer at 19 and a kink educator at 24. I’m proud of both those roles, they’re both a part of me.
What is your feminist recommendation?
- Book: Paradoxes of Gender by Judith Lorber
- TV show: Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Film: Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?
There will never be a perfect feminist, and there are no entry requirements. If you believe all people are equal regardless of gender then you’re one of us.