Those who have been following some of my comments about BDSM and a review I wrote recently, will know that I’m not always complacent about what I call “the over-enthusing feel-good brigade” and also the “competition with sex and brutality scene”, but what in all reality is the basic sludge on which grows both the unawareness of newcomers, systemic rape and an atmosphere of severest Omerta.
Abuse and rape is frighteningly prevalent within the real BDSM scene, and what is worse, it also is so accepted among authors writing about BDSM, authors who ought to at least acknowledge at some point that what they are writing is wrong, who if they don’t are directly aiding and abetting rape and abuse culture.
Strong words? I suggest you read the series of these 7 blog posts, as well as the two other articles, because you need to grasp how truly pervasive and encompassing rape and abuse is within the BDSM scene to understand my often repeated ire.
It’s really easy–as an author–to be responsible: have the submissive turn around and sue, write about the Creepy Dom, the rapist or the abuser being run out of the club, the town, the connection with their submissive. Have the submissive talk to an experienced BDSM activist who explains to them they were raped/abused or that there really is no such thing as TPE in reality, regardless of what a few extremists want you to believe. Easy. Bloody easy.
Or quite simply don’t call it BDSM! That’s also easy enough. Kitty Thomas for instance manages to write quite consistently about non-con power exchange without once betraying BDSM in the process. She shows you it can be done and done well. Respect!
But don’t do what so many, many authors do, write allegedly realistic BDSM and fill it with abuse and rape to the point that it faciliates the belief of newcomers or vanilla bystanders that BDSM is indeed abuse. That safewords can be got around–much like a no is never a no to a proper alphamale, right?
As Kitty Stryker, Mollena Wiliams and Maggie Mayhem have stated, they do not know a single female submissive in person who hasn’t been abused, raped or sexually assaulted. Not one. There also are quite a few male subs who were abused and raped. And they all get the silent treatment or are ostracised for speaking out. They get shamed, and the scene closes ranks with their abusers, online and in person. That’s not just happening to people who speak out about their own experiences, that’s absolutely also happening to people who criticise that which enables such behaviour.
As I will readily attest. It has happened now repeatedly to me that whenever I pointed out that someone, be they author, reader or other kind of participant in an online BDSM group, is describing or writing or spreading abuse and rape as acceptable behaviour the usual response is any one (or all) of these:
1. Accusation of YKINOK (Your Kink Is Not OKay) and lack of respect
That’s the most prevalent kind of reaction. It’s also rather insidious. It immediately devalues your comment as being disrespectful and paints you a plodding yesteryear oaf who isn’t accepting of people’s kinks and hence committing the worst kind of breach, the one committed by the kink-shaming vanilla public. Once you get painted this way people will cease to listen to you, and so often it needs just one person pointing the finger at you and you get the full blast of peer pressure and disdain.
Very few people stop to contemplate what they are doing there. If you translate it into a non-BDSM context, this is a lot like saying that everything which takes place sexually between two people has to be perforce okay. That the sole fact that it happens to be sexual makes it one hundred percent okay. Now, we do know usually that this isn’t the case, right? The average normal person knows that having sex with underage partners, forcing your wife or date even though she says no, sticking fingers up arseholes or vaginas without being invited, or grabbing the breasts or penises of your co-workers isn’t okay just because it’s a sexual act.
But heaven help you if you point out that certain BDSM behaviour is abusive or outright rape/assault. Because automatically the little term “BDSM” makes this something which has to be a kink and hence “right”.
As Thomas Macaulay Millar so ably pointed out: wrong!
Well, in sexuality communities, if you criticize anyone for anything — anything — that turns them on, somebody is apt to say, “hey, you’re saying YKINOK” — Your Kink Is Not Okay. Well, having ethical rules means that some people’s kinks are not okay. It should be pretty easy to agree that Jeffrey Dahmer’s kink is not okay; Dennis Rader’s kink is not okay, and Jerry Sandusky’s kink is not okay. I can hear the screaming now! “You just compared me to serial killers and pedophiles!” Well, no, I am a BDSMer, so I just compared us to serial killers and pedophiles. The similarity is obvious. Their sexual self-expressions were outside the norm and stigmatized, too. The difference between our kinks and theirs is just as obvious, too: consent. If we don’t stand for consent, then there is no difference between us and the serial killers and child molesters.
There’s someone else who expressed this no less forcefully–and correctly:
I believe that the culture of confidentiality and “your kink is OK” as has existed in the scene for years has fostered an atmosphere where not only are there few if any repercussions for any of these kinds behaviors, but people actually go out of their way to defend the indefensible, all supposedly in the name of not judging others or their kinks. And then we vilify anyone who dares to speak up against any of it in any way, as if they are the problem.
This whole “your kink is OK” thing that we espouse in the kink community is actually kind of hypocritical, in my opinion. We almost all have opinions about the advisability or sanity of at least one or two things that other people do, and these are routinely spoken of in private, among friends – but no one is willing to actually stand up in public and say the exact same thing, either in front of anyone who practices whatever the activity is, or to the community at large.
The BDSM subculture is, in fact, one of the most intolerant and judgmental groups of people I’ve ever come across – or at least certainly no less judgmental than any vanilla group. The judgments are just about different things, and on the whole, we do have a lot more tolerance of extremes than vanillas do, and the bar is higher.
It’s ironic, though, that while we attempt to be all inclusive of everything that everyone likes, in the process, what gets shut out is the right to freely state our own real opinions of some of those behaviors without facing a crucifying wall of attack from others.
It’s as if when you sign up to be kinky in the public scene, you have to turn in your rights to stating and sharing your own opinions of what others may do.
This is from KinkyLittleGirl’s website. I couldn’t have said it better and it is a relief to see at least some voices of sanity surface.
2. It’s not real, it’s just play-acting and fantasy, don’t piss on our parade!
That’s the second reaction you get, when you keep insisting that abuse, rape and sexual assault ought not to be regarded or be depicted as being BDSM.
You get told in no uncertain terms and often by people who even are lifestylers themselves that you are spoiling their fun, that they know full well they are reading fiction and that it’s exactly this mindfuck that they want. These people are however not at all who I target with my comments, or not mainly, though they of course would profit a lot from a true culture of consent.
Who I am talking about are all those newbies, those recently interested in BDSM who still hide and read books rather than go to playparties. But also, oh so very also, I am talking about the vast amount of vanilla readers who consume BDSM-themed books as a tickle to their libido, for the titillation of the dark and forbidden. These are the readers whom you find stating in reviews that they “learned something new and exciting about BDSM” or “I’ve finally understood what edgeplay (TPE; D/s; M/s; SM) is about”.
The problem is, they haven’t. Absolutely not!
Instead they take a fantasy of BDSM to be a realistic manner of how to conduct oneself, how to judge play, how to see the roles of players and their actions. All these people are–as a direct consequence–incapable of telling abuse from acceptable BDSM activities. Not only will these people now be of no value as safety anchors and emergency help to anyone into BDSM play who they happen to be friends with, no, their own boundaries and limits will be severely fucked with, to the point of where they–as witnessed many times–apparently rationally try to discuss fine points of slave conduct, TPE or severest body-altering torture without even batting an eye or being aware that they are discussing both abuse and fantasy (or what ought to be fantasy) at the same time. Absolutely no wonder, that the BDSM scene currently has that huge, mind-boggling amount of subs who get sexually abused, assaulted or harassed!
Where the old leather might grin and acknowledge that they are just reading a warped fantasy, these people have no ready gauge of experience. As stated, I’ve seen it time and again. Once you point out the fallacies in their assumptions they realise they’ve been had. But is that really necessary? For the fantasy and its effect it is absolutely not necessary to include the acronym “BDSM”. The Marquis de Sade and Herr Sacher-Masoch, and also Pauline Réage, had absolutely no problem writing the gold standards of sadomasochistic fantasy–without ever using the acronym BDSM.
Given just how prevalent disregard of consent is among the BDSM scene, given that so many people suffer through rape, abuse and assault instead of having a good time, I certainly can’t accept authors who advertise punishment of safewords, re-negotiation during the scene, making safewording difficult and attributing failure to it, especially if these authors maintain they are lifestylers and know how things should be. That places them just where these articles have them. The same goes for authors who maintain their writing about slave contracts, constantly breached consent agreements and manipulations of people quite incapable of informed consent is anywhere close to the real thing.
It is absolutely infuriating by the way that those authors who write truly realistic BDSM get told off for being too soft, too nice or “not really into BDSM”. What a warped mindset!