Friday, April 27, 2007

Sigh. I’ve been trying so hard not to pick fights with the anti-porn, anti-BSDM crowd. I’m pretty sure that nothing positive ever comes of it, so why waste the energy? But then they come out with shit like this…

And unfortunately Graham, as I am a woman with a healthy sense of self esteem, and who knows her own mind, (has anybody ever told you you're incredibly patronizing? - if not let me be the first) I will have to decline your kind invitation to a fetish club, not least because my rubber suit's in the wash. And because you don't really seem like a laugh a minute guy if I'm totally honest. You see I know what I will find there and it will not be people caressing each other with silk scarves or eating strawberries. It will be people humiliating & degrading each other, it will be people physically injuring each other, because they get a sexual thrill out of it. It will be people calling women 'slut' and 'bitch' and much much worse than that. It will also be people role playing rape and child abuse because that goes on too. But you don't like to mention that because you know it's not good marketing. It may even be people strangling and killing each other, which you also seem to think is perfectly acceptable - hey it's just an accident after all! Here for instance is a quote from a BDSM lesbian I found on a dating website.'I want you in the gutter face down, that bitch deserves every busted rib and bruise she got'. This is accompanied by a picture of this woman's partner with a flayed back. There is no mention of silk scarves or strawberries. Charming!


The highlighted part is the important bit, the rest is just for context.

Now, where in the name of all that is good is this person getting her information about BSDM from? Is she really under the impression that murder is a common occurrence at your average BSDM club? That BSDM people kill each other on a regular basis, for shit and giggles? That every club has a fleet of ambulances sitting outside just waiting for the inevitable casualties to emerge? Does she think it’s like a Cecil B De Mille movie in there? Perhaps she saw Hellraiser and thought it was a documentary? That must be it…people who do BSDM are actually Cenobites!
(Note – I do not wish to be a Cenobite, especially if I have to be in one of the crappy sequels, but I wouldn’t mind borrowing their outfits every once in a while)
And if we’re supposedly killing each other off on a regular basis, why do our numbers not seem to be diminishing? One would think that there wouldn’t be too many of us left at this point, what with the constant murder and all. We ought to be an endangered species at this point.
Now here’s the thing. I’m very much at the lighter end of the BSDM spectrum. I don’t like degradation, so I don’t do it. I don’t call people “slut” or “bitch”. I never have. I don’t like scenarios that look like rape, and therefore I don’t participate in them.
I will however defend other people’s right to do those things, as long as they can find willing partners to do them with, because I have a clear enough sense of boundaries to realize that what I like and dislike is not necessarily going to correlate with what other people like and dislike. People are funny that way.
Another thing that I think these people are a little confused about is how the dom/sub dynamic works in general. Let me give a little example of how it actually works.
So, I used to have a boyfriend who loved breath play. I’m kind of in the middle on that – I can get a kick out of it, but if I’m not doing it I won’t miss it. For me it’s a spice rather than the main course. It’s not something that I tend to initiate. So how did I end up in a situation in which I was doing breath play on a regular basis, you ask?
My sub wanted me to. This is how it happened. One day we were fucking and I was on top of him, straddling him. I was holding his hands over his head and he took one of them and pulled it down to his neck. Being a smart girl who is able to read body language, I wrapped my fingers around his neck as much as I could and squeezed. He went all boneless and started moaning. So, I brought my other hand down and wrapped them both around his neck, which worked much better as I have rather small hands. He got very happy indeed. Then he begged me to do it harder. So I did.
Then he had the most intense orgasm I’d ever seen from him.
Hmm, says the young dom (I was 19). He seems to get a kick out of this. I rather like being able to make him make that noise he just made, and the begging was a lot of fun. We will have to investigate this further.
What I eventually figured out is that what really pushed him over the edge was to have his airway restricted just as he was about to come. Of course, being a dom I made him beg for it every time. I quickly discovered that the most effective way to produce the desired effect was for me to be on top leaning down with both thumbs pressing on his windpipe. I also discovered that I really, really liked the whole him going all boneless and melty thing, and that I also liked seeing the marks of my hands on his neck. We both discovered that said marks tended to be rather alarming to concerned friends and relatives, so I bought him a choker necklace, which served as a sort of collar that only he and I understood the meaning of. Problem solved! It was also kind of pretty. And fun to play with in public and make him get all squirmy.
Now, what is the point of this story? From the point of view of people who are not familiar with BSDM it seems to be assumed that the dom is the one who decides what will be done at all times. This is not the case. In many cases the dom takes their cues from that seems to get the sub off. It’s about reading the other person’s body language. It’s about figuring out how to reduce the other person to that helpless, melty, boneless pile of goo state that is oh so much fun to watch.
Or at least it is for me.
This may not be how it works for other people. In fact, I’m certain that it isn’t, because when it comes to anything sexual people are wildly variable.
But it’s not an uncommon scenario, I suspect. A lot of what happens in BSDM is about what the sub craves. It’s not a one person does unto another situation in most cases. It’s a physical and mental conversation.
Now why is that so hard to understand? It seems to me that if any of the people who write stuff like our dear Emma above actually took the time to talk to people who do BSDM they would figure out that the whole dom/sub thing is a two way street very quickly. They would also figure out that most people stick to the more mild stuff, and that therefore behaving as if the average BSDM person typically indulges in hardcore activities that frequently necessitate a trip to the emergency room doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But apparently that’s too much like hard work. So much easier to just imagine that things work the way they do in your own imagination.

And now to another matter. There have been a few times recently when I’ve said that fetish X freaks me out, or that I don’t like some of the terminology that we use to refer to certain acts, and I’m getting the feeling that when I say those things people are assuming that I mean “anyone who does those things is sick and wrong” or “no one should do that, ever!”. This is not the case. I’m a pretty direct person – if I actually meant “I think X is sick and wrong and no one should do it, ever” that’s what I would say. And I’m not a big fan of forbidding things in general. HOWEVER…
Everyone has stuff that they just don’t like. Everyone will have something BSDM-wise that tweaks their personal “icky” button, or that makes them feel freaked out or uncomfortable or that they’d basically rather just avoid. And that’s OK. Someone saying “I really don’t like fetish X and it kind of freaks me out” or even “sometimes when I hear people using term Y it really pisses me off” or even “discussions of fetish X trigger something nasty in me that I can’t quite explain” does not mean that the person is saying nobody should indulge in fetish X, ever. It just means that they, personally, do not like it. And that’s OK. None of us should be required to like EVERYTHING. Everyone has their personal no-go areas, and I think it’s important that we all be respectful of each other’s and not regard as an enemy anyone who does not share our particular kinks.
I also think that we need to accept that many mainstream people are always going to be shocked, appalled, whatever by some of the stuff we do. As long as those people don’t actually try to restrict our activities, they should be allowed to think or feel however they want. We can’t force other people to be kinky, and they have a right to their feelings just as much as we do. They even have a right to say that BSDM freaks them the hell out and they don’t want to be involved with it in any way.
What they don’t have a right to do is say things like Emma who I quoted above and have those statements go unchallenged. By all means we should point out when people are saying things about BSDM that are untrue and sometimes plain absurd. But I really don’t think that calling such people prissy, repressed, anti-sex freaks is going to help, no matter how tempting it is to do so. After all, isn’t that just the mirror image of what they keep doing to us?


Trinity said...

....and for me breath play is one of the big no-nos because if you fuck up, someone CAN die. Where slut and bitch are not gonna kill anyone. And most bottomy people I've met like to be called those things.

Just goes to show you everyone's got different notions of risk and appropriateness.

Cassandra Says said...

Which was my point entirely. What I keep hearing from the other side is that there are or there should be universal standards as to what is and is not OK, and that just isn't the way things work. Everyone's standards are a little different - sometimes they're a LOT different.

It also goes to show that all BSDM people have things that they won't do, and that we're all very much concerned with safety in one way or another. None of us take this shit lightly.

Zan said...

I've totally given up trying to explain BDSM to people like that. I just have. I'm not going to do anything that could kill someone and I'm not letting anyone do it to me, so leave me alone already.

And I just don't understand how calling someone a dirty whore, when they want you to, is really damaging. I mean, it's part of the play. It's not like I really mean I think you're selling yourself for 10 cents a pop. Geez.

Cassandra Says said...

Call me a rosy glasses wearing optimist, but I can't give up the idea that at some point if we just explain things clearly enough they'll realise that we're not all demonically possessed.
About the language thing - note that I'm not saying that people shouldn't do it. I'm just saying that I, personally, don't like it, so I don't do it. I really don't understand why my saying that provokes such a negative reaction.

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

I'm a pretty vanilla person, but even if I were into BDSM I don't think I'd like someone calling me a whore-- but mainly because I was called one quite a bit earlier in life, and those wounds are still rather fresh.
Whatever you want to do, though, is whatever you want to do, and I'm not standing in the way of that.

Trinity said...

"It also goes to show that all BSDM people have things that they won't do, and that we're all very much concerned with safety in one way or another. None of us take this shit lightly."

Yes. Which is why I stopped running around telling all of my friends who do breath play "OMGWTFSTOPIT!"

Though I have a friend who does autoerotic asphyxiation, and personally every time I see that I want to cry. It just worries me So. Damn. Much.


Cassandra Says said...

I don't think I've ever actually told anyone to stop anything, even things I REALLY don't like. One can give one's opinion, but ultimately that's about it.
(As long as all parties involved are consenting adults, of course)
People who do auto-erotic asphyxiation worry me, too, because if something goes wrong who's there to help? If they do it when they're alone at home? People have indeed died that way.

Even then I wouldn't say "stop that!" though. Much as I might want to, it's still their body to do with as they wish.

In truth part of the reason I ended up doing the breath play with the ex so frequently was that I knew that if I didn't he would probably try the auto-erotic stuff, and I didn't want him to get hurt. Not that I didn't get a kick out of the control part, or the sense of possession, but the actual breath play isn't a big thing for me - it was always more about what he needed.

But no, all doms are evil, we don't care about how our subs feel at all...

Trinity said...

"In truth part of the reason I ended up doing the breath play with the ex so frequently was that I knew that if I didn't he would probably try the auto-erotic stuff, and I didn't want him to get hurt."

That makes sense.

"But no, all doms are evil, we don't care about how our subs feel at all..."

Course we don't. If we did we'd count as human or something. *sigh*

belledame222 said...

I think ketchup is disgusting, but that doesn't mean i think people who enjoy it are "sick and wrong..."

Cassandra Says said...

I hate condiments as a whole, other than vinegar-based dipping sauces and soy sauce mixed with wasabi. And yet notice that I am not starting an anti-condiment movement.
Speaking of which - dinner time! Seems like a nice night for sushi, since it's finally getting warm outside.

Renegade Evolution said...

the consumption of fish is vile. VILE. Just say no to fish!

But sex? Hell, we all gots our "squick factors", but to each their own and such (with consenting adults and all)