I've been reading and trying to learn about BDSM lately and I noticed something- a lot of people, especially feminists, really have a hard time with it. And that is ok. But, a lot of the thoughts they cited made me uncomfortable. So, I wanted to take a second to address the most common thoughts that gave me the icky feels.
As a side note, if any of these thoughts are ones that have crossed your mind: put down Fifty Shades of Grey. Now. Its not BDSM, its rapey. Super rapey. If you are looking for a good BDSM author I love Joey W. Hill.
1.) Doesnt this kind of behavior condition people to enjoy rape/abuse?
- As someone who worked in domestic abuse (which almost always pairs with sexual assault) I can tell you that the two have a VERY different feel and motivation than a sexual relationship between a sub/dom. In a nutshell- abusers/rapists want to psychologically inflict a level of harm on their victims. That is their version of power play- legitimately taking your voice away from you and violating you with you not wanting to experience it. Respect in rape and abuse simply does not exists. Also, the power is not distributed whatsoever. The rapist/abuser is seeking out all of the power. ALL of it. That is the point of the abuse/rape.
So, for BDSM relationships-
in true BDSM, not rapey literature, respect between the players is of optimal importance. Emotional/psychological harm is never the goal but something that is avidly avoided. The goal? Just to bring your respective partner pleasure in the way they have indicated to you they prefer to receive it. In the beginning of every BDSM relationship and during regular check ins the boundaries for both players are laid out on the table and then respected (when you give an abuser a boundary, they cross it with purpose and vengeance because you have just told them exactly how to really shake you). A safe word is identified which allows both partners to stop the interaction at any point- I mean dead stop. So, with that said consider where the power lies in a BDSM relationship. You identify the role you want to play, you identify what you like and what you are absolutely, under no circumstances are ok with and you have the power at any moment to stop the interaction. The power lies with the individual. Not just with the dom. Both people are in control, its just that one decides where they want to go, a few scenic routes they would like to take and the other does all of the driving and navigating to get them there.
2.) So, when is it rape or abuse?
- the simple answer is just- when it is. If a sub says they are not ok with anal but love being tied up and the dom ties them up and then analy assaults them- that is rape. When a sub says the safety word but the encounter doesnt stop- that is rape. When someone doesnt want a specific kind of sexual act done on them and it is done anyway- its rape. When someone is with a partner who isnt into BDSM at all and uses guilt, pressure and emotional abuse to get them to agree to get into BDSM with their partner- that is abuse. And rape.
3.) This seems degrading.
-Im just going to go back to my point about respect. In a true BDSM relationship everyone involved has to treat the other with respect. Always. And remember, the people in these type of relationships make a choice to get into them. They use their personal right to choose what they want and what they dont to say hey, this seems great. No one (unless its rape/abuse) is forcing them. In fact, they seek it out themselves. Like adults who are allowed to do that sort of thing. I frame it that way because I find it more degrading to perceive someones personal choice as 'wrong' or 'abusive' as degrading. People are allowed to identify and pursue what they enjoy and want so long as they are not harming others to do it. When someone questions your right to choose your religion, to choose your food preferences, your political beliefs doesnt that feel demeaning? Degrading even?