Group rape, ‘taharrush gamea’, BDSM and sanity … after Cologne

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This blog entry is part of the series on BDSM and society

-         We mourn with all victims of sexual abuse -

During the 2016 New Year celebrations hundreds of woman in Cologne and other cities in Germany, got introduced to a new form of public humiliation and sexual harassment of women: ‘taharrush gamea’ and it is a form of sexual amusement for men.

‘Taharrush gamea’ forms a big problem in several Middle Eastern societies, like Egypt. Similar to other forms of group rape in societies where a culture of rape, patriarchal structures, anti-feminist thought and sexist males leads to customs that do not respect the equality of females, their rights to sexual self-expression and bodily integrity.

Besides that ‘taharrush gamea’ is problematic, because it thrives on sexual and criminal acts that are non-consensual, it is also an expression of the above mentioned underlying thinking patterns that can be seen as patriarchal, macho and possessive. But as some of those patterns also form the spice in consensual BDSM, so do we have reason to be worried?

We shall see what the problems are: with ‘taharrush gamea’ and for BDSM and why we have to commit to both sanity as too clear communication of consent and our right of sexual expression of kink.

(As always: This blog is about exploration, not doctrine …)

What is our problem?
The phenomenon of ‘taharrush gamea’ is in my opinion a form of group rape where women - against their will – are intimidated, touched in intimate places and often sexually abused, all in the public space. The abusers are usually a group of Islamic men that find pleasure in degrading women by abusing and harassing their victims, while such men at the same time admire their bodies and sexually desire them.

For those of us that perform BDSM as consensual activity, the phenomenon of ‘taharrush gamea’ is clearly something that is a false expression of power exchange, resulting in non-consensual sex, violence, degradation and abuse; it is the kind of action that we – and other sane persons – would call sick. Just as all kind of rape - whether this happens in the back of a bus in India, in African suburbs, or by soldiers in one of the many wars all over the world - is sick.

The basic idea behind sexual violence against woman is that males are superior to females, or they feel inferior to them, so they must prove their superiority by degrading and objectifying the female body and soul to an object of use. With ‘taharrush gamea’ we can add the idea that female sexuality belongs to males and by taking the ‘property’ of other men, the superiority of the aggressor is displayed over the victims and their families. Feminism, universal women rights and respect for the female sexuality are the proper answers, and - I suppose - we should add consent.

Now, as I see it, this new phenomenon of taharrush gamea confronts us as society with serious tensions. But also regarding BDSM I see two major problems when the wrong kind of sexual submission of women now gets into the focus of mainstream media, then will now not chosen submission be questioned too? So, a) how sane are we kinksters to get our kick on actions that so closely relate to abuse? And, b) how will we be able to defend our thing, in a world that gets an increased sensibility for the connection between submission, human rights and female sexuality?

Causes and stances
It is obvious that in a humane society all forms of abuse must be tackled, the thing I fear, however, is that the reaction on female unfriendly mechanisms, like patriarchy, sexism and discrimination, can also turn against role play that involve inspiration from such and similar mechanism. The reason is that with ‘taharrush gamea’ as an expression of cultural failure, similar expressions – like gangbang parties in a BDSM club - may not sufficiently be distinguished, particularly not in a society that re-evaluates its own moral identity and is still largely focused on heteronormativity and monogamy.

Again, it will be a discourse regarding values. Previously I wrote:

“When it concerns BDSM, is will be clear that the ‘good old’ family values will be challenged at the least.”

As family values, we identified: monogamy, fidelity, chastety and morality. Regarding those “good” old values, we can say that underlying assumptions like male supremacy and female submissiveness were and are sort of an understatement in earlier times. As with any idea where status difference is presupposed, it will come as no surprise that when sexism, macho culture and patriarchal structures have a dominant stance on culture and society, the family values were not equally valid for all sexes; particularly in cultures where the phenomenon of ‘taharrush gamea’ thrive, we see that the ideas of male superiority and sexual dominance go hand in hand.

Potency is an expression of power and thus overpowering women, is stealing power from these women and their families and sexually exciting on top of that. By lowering women, by shaming them and their families, by displaying their vulnerability and intimate body parts, those who gain power from that are – seen from a feminist point of view – powerless, as it is not given to them as persons who seems worthy of receiving power, but stolen by abuse and fuelled by self-delusive views on superiority.

Yet, also in Western culture we see gross injustice and sexism; a cheating man is a lady-killer, where as an unfaithful woman is a slut. As a sexual sadist, I love sluts and I am also acquainted with rape-fantasy and know its formidable sexual stimulation, as well as its narcissism. To submit another person, to shame them, to use them for my own pleasure and to toy with their pain, vulnerability and sexual energy is something I get my kick from. The big difference is however, that sensible sadist do care about their bottoms, lovers and play partners and that their satisfaction is part of their motivation. Ultimately, we all want to do the kinky stuff we are engaging in.

From this it is easy to understand, that those who engage in sexual harassment of women in a public space are driven by different and quite contradictory ideas, which are built on the premises of false superiority and misunderstanding of the way on how societies that endorse human rights actually work.

Abuse of weaker persons is not a sign of strength or an honourable thing. Abuse of women who belong to other families or lovers or husbands, is not making you a true master, but show that you regard women, their bodies and their sexuality as commodities that you can own. Mastery on the other hand is when others line up in the desire to serve you, voluntarily and without force, aggression or pressure.

Those whose view on humanity actually belongs to times long past are in need of an enlightenment similar to what we have seen in the Western post-Christian world, which step by step has led to improvements in female rights and as a consequence led to improvements, like the right to vote, to divorce, to use contraception, to have an abortion, to have equal working rights and payments, to receive social benefits and child support and so on. At the same time, also the position of other weak groups in society, like children and fugitives, has improved.

With regard to ‘taharrush gamea’, a particularly sad thing - on top of the pain of the victims and their families and friends - is that the perpetrators violate the sacredness of sexual intimacy between human beings. Their selfish, narcissistic and delusive sexual excitement actually only shows inferiority and also gross disrespect for healthy male sexuality and deprives the culprits from genuine pleasure in a sound loving and caring environment.

Threads and chances
If we as kinky persons play according to safe, sane and consensual rules and clearly communicate that we love our play partners, and not want to harm them, we will stay on the right track, even when we still have to be careful to play as safe as we can.

The danger is that conservative powers and overly zealous feminist views get back or get even more influence on law making, media and education to promote their view on sexuality and by returning to a more narrow view on sexual diversity, prevent alternative genders and sexuality to enfold further and instead make them flee back in the closet again.

I personally experienced that it is okay when one of my female friends has her boyfriend kneel for her, as that is seen as liberating to her female sexuality, but when I have my submissives serve me and I treat them like the sluts they desire to be, I get accused of being a macho-pig and having no respect for women and it will be presupposed that I suffer from a sick sexuality and worldview. That my sadism and the joy of my bottoms as bottoms is also sexually liberating to all of us, is not as easily accepted. My fear is that phenomena like ‘taharrush gamea’ does not add to a social climate where more tolerance for sadism and consensual play with gender roles is thriving. And this is a thing that worries me: it worries me that my whips could be forbidden, that erotic spanking will be regarded as domestic violence, that rape play or enjoying a sex-slave will get me in trouble with the law and authorities.

We must of course take a stance against sexual violence and abuse of any individual, regardless of gender, age or culture and as kinky folks, we should expressively do that. But we should also take care, that sick behaviour does not render the liberation we worked for in the past thirty years useless by letting conservatives and starry-eyed idealist turn back time and put their old values upon us.

Remember, this is just thinking out loud. As always, I wish you good luck on your journeys, in- and outside of the dungeon: be cautious and play safe and with a heart.

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

How do BDSM and Commitment relate?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

This blog entry is part of the series on BDSM and Sexual Identity

Much with regard to BDSM is focused on describing praxis, like play or the sometimes herewith involved sexual activities. Also the technical part of how to play and perform are basically aimed a practical issues.

This blog will more focus on BDSM as activity between people, and more particular on their commitment. Often BDSM is seen as consensual activity, power exchange and alt-sex, which can all be the case in healthy leather play, but not only power, sex, violence or trust are essential, also is commitment. Commitment, first to yourself and to the relationship you have, second to the roles you play.

We shall also see, why I think that commitment in the SSS-triad should be connected with S, rather than with S or S.

(As always: This blog is about exploration, not doctrine …)

About relations
Ever since working on an article regarding the ‘analogia proportionis’ and the ‘analogia proportionalitatis’ - both Latin phrases related to the theory of the ‘analogia entis’ - I have been aware of the link between the words, ‘to relate’, ‘relation’ and ‘relationship’.

Personally, I find these ‘relations’ between the meanings of a word very interesting. What I will try to do today is to look if the terms ‘commitment’ and ‘relate’ can teach us something about the important distinction between identity and role.

As this blog is not about the philosophy of language, I will not go into the meaning of words, how words relate to reality or truth, but rather with Wittgenstein simply phrase that the meaning of a word is its use in a language.

When we use the verb ‘to relate’, we express that something or someone is linked, connected or correlated to each other. A relation can denote a coherence, a proportion or an affiliation, a relationship can often bear similar meaning, but seemed to be reserved for interpersonal bonds. This latter coming close to what we see as a commitment.

About commitment
Basically, I will here just use what Jack Rinella wrote in his ‘Master’s Manual’ in the Chapter about Contracts and Commitments. The first thing Rinella does is pointing out, that a contract is a written description of how people will behave as a couple. On the other hand he sees commitment as the underlying inner condition.

Traditionally commitment is seen as a motivational thing. Something you engage in, support and want to promote and stimulate. With regard to commitment in a relationship between lovers or spouses, commitment has often carried the whiff of exclusivity with it. Rinella here mentions: “family values, including monogamy, fidelity, chastety and morality.”

When it concerns BDSM, is will be clear that the ‘good old’ family values will be challenged at the least. From feminist and polyamory activist, we know that we can and should reclaim some – if not all – of these values, by deconstructing them and – de facto – remove their ‘relationship’ with certain doctrines and worldviews and put them into a new context.

Commitment to identity …
Continuing from where we just left, by playing BDSM in safe, sane and sound ways, we distinguish ourselves as sexual minority sub-culture. We relate to values, but these are now more based on psychology, exploration, curiosity and freedom.

Rinella sees the first and primal commitment that we as players have, towards our own identity as sexual beings and quotes from Shakespear’s Hamlet ‘To thine own self, be true’. As your sexuality and your sexual identity is yours, so is your commitment with regard to how we wish to live out our sexuality.

If we play with others, we – normally – first relate to these others. I say normally, as there can be others involved in actual play, like anonymous fuckers in rape play or gangbangs. Philosophically, in such cases, one could bring up the difference between relationship and occurrence or happening. But we also – more practical – can say that previous to such play a negotiation or agreement of some sort was made.

So, if we play with others, we relate to these others. In this sense we are not only committed to exploring our own kink, but we do it together with others who similarly wish to express their sexuality in such a way. This is what I call the commitment to your identity and as sane players also to the identity of your partner(s). This of course includes consent, care for the wishes of others, their personal integrity and safety of body and emotions.

… and roles
This said, I will now turn to the expression of our commitment in play. Is the relational commitment to ourselves and others based in our sanity, the next question is how sexual identity and play relate. The way I see it, is that in play we explore parts of us by focusing in on them and express them in particular roles, rituals or actions.

For Rinella three operative words come to mind: “clarity, honesty, consistency.” Knowing what you want and what not. Be honest enough to communicate this properly and sometimes say no. Consistency can be seen as being true to yourself. So even if experiences can and will occasionally change your preferences, you should be consistent in pursuing clarity and honesty in your play.

Yet, I think we can add something more regarding commitment. As BDSM role play enables us to be – in a way – someone, or something that we normally are not, or not as intense. Roleplay is a method of exploring our sexuality by simplifying relationships in roles that are just there for the moment – and yes, in 24/7 slavery it is different –they say, but I beg to differ; as, e.g. a concept such as serial roleplay comes to mind.

Commitment to the role we play is also an identification process. In a way, we attach a part of our imagination to a model or role, so we can by playing this – a treat we learned as a child, in order to understand how some roles relate to the world, to others and to ourselves. It is the way we learn and grow and relate to what we identify with.

Take e.g. being a bully. Most kids are not a bully, but they may want to be one some now and then – when they are angry - but social conventions mostly prevents them. When playing out my sadist side, I can tell you it is extremely cool to be a brutal nasty bastard and to whip that whimpering slut until her eyes show that look which I want to see and expresses: you are my master.

Very dry analysists will now point out and say that this look is not really towards me, but towards the role I play and how that is dependent how it is perceived by the recipient. And we know that, just as we know that a bottom sees her side of the show and not particularly what I think she is reacting on. But, somehow we connect and communicate anyway and we also know that there is still that part that goes beyond the role and when I identify with my role as malevolent being, there are genuine parts of me get involved in the role too. The role is the vehicle of our amusement.

The relation between the – say – two sides of our play: the cold interrogator and the poor victim, has its own dynamics. The energy flows from one pole (victim-role) to the other pole (perpetrator-role) due to an intentional inequality. Commitment to your own role is constituting to that of the other. Here it is more a matter of how one part relates to another part in the role play.

Concluding we can thus say, that a relationship between parts (of roles) that are played out, can be distinguished from the more inner commitment or relating to others and our individual self.

The clue regarding the SSS-riddle
We can and should be committed to safety and soundness in our play and behaviour. Yet, commitment for me has to do most with sanity, particularly as expression of an inner motivation of which safety and soundness are manifestations.

As sanity is often related to mental health, this inner attitude of being committed to both a BDSM relationship as to BDSM play. Commitment to a cause, shows that it is a reasonable choice for which we have other motivational arguments, just as we could have opted not to commit.

Just as we last time have seen that a safeword, as such, is founding for consent and thus sane play, we now can conclude that commitment as inner motivation add to the identity of whom we are when we play. Both as a consenting individual, as in the roles we play.

Remember, this is no rocket-science, just thinking out loud. And as always, I wish you good luck on your journeys, in- and outside of the dungeon.

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

Consent and Safewords

This blog entry is part of the series on BDSM and philosophy

Recently a lovely friend of mine and I disagreed on the use of safewords. When pondering on the cause of our difference in view, I consulted others, both tops and bottoms. What I found out is that some ideas have an edge to them, particularly the concepts of RACK, SSS and Total Power Exchange (TPE).

Consenting partners will always be an issue; but the idea of the continuity of consent in kink is in a way a pain in the ass, particularly in situations of altered mind states. For BDSM consent nevertheless forms one of the criteria by which we regard ourselves as sane or as sick.

(As always: This blog is about exploration, not doctrine …)

What the heck is RACK?
Wikipedia describes this as follows:

“Risk-aware consensual kink … is an acronym used by some of the BDSM community to describe a philosophical view that is generally permissive of certain risky sexual behaviors, as long as the participants are fully aware of the risks. This is often viewed in contrast to safe, sane, and consensual which generally holds that only activities that are considered safe, sane, and consensual are permitted.”

Are questions about safety wrong?
Basically, I do not think so. For the factual consequence of what RACK tell us is that we cannot ever exclude all risks, mistakes or bad scenes, in other words there is not such a thing as a safe place. Even when RACK and SSS (safe, sane & sound) are often presented as contrary, it depends on how you use and interpret the different stances; either position can be regarded as  a conversation, an intellectual interchange, which neither leads to truth nor sets one on a course to find it. But on the way we can learn and get smarter.

Why is consent such an issue?
In a previous blog I stated that; “generally speaking we can regard kink as sick when we lose control over our urges and get other people involved without their consent. So we can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy BDSM depending on the presence of mutual consent and the span of control. Not consenting BDSM is dangerous and can lead to the kind of situations that are used by non-kinks to label that what we do as ‘sick’.

For those who love BDSM and are not ‘sick’ - but simply have a healthy curiosity for the somewhat out of the ordinary sexual praxis - the rationality of what we do by consenting – even when some of the acts involved can be irrational – gives us an argument over against the views of BDSM as sick, mental or abusive.

The problem is, however, that the regular non-BDSM concepts of slavery, total power exchange and submission precisely challenge the notion of consent. The origin of BDSM play is often found in fantasy. As in our dreams, we have consenting partners by definition, otherwise they would not be there and doing those things we crave for. In a way, we make them up on the large screen of our minds projections. And for doing this, for this imagination we take the necessary images out of our head, our memory, our experience.

In your dream, capturing, seducing and raping that adorable person you work with is perfectly fine and sexy. In reality however, you probably not have them answering to your unbelievable hot urges, but rather have them sewing you, resulting in losing your job and land behind those kind of bars we explicitly do not want to see in front of us.

Simply stated, the difference between fantasy and reality play is consent. In the SSS credo this is captured in the notion of ‘sane’. Doing nasty and pervert things between consenting adults is fine, as long as safety is an issue too.

Where imo RACK and SSS differ is the amount of risk that can be accepted and safety that is needed. I will exemplify that with the notion of ‘safewords’.

Wikipedia describes a ‘safeword’ as:

“… a code word or series of code words that are sometimes used in BDSM for a submissive or bottom to unambiguously communicate their physical or emotional state to a dominant or top, typically when approaching, or crossing, a physical, emotional, or moral boundary.

Some safewords are used to stop the scene outright, while others can communicate a willingness to continue, but at a reduced level of intensity. Safewords are usually agreed upon before playing a scene by all participants …

Safewords of BDSM fall under the guiding philosophy of safe, sane and consensual. Those who practice the more permissive philosophy of risk-aware consensual kink may abandon the use of safewords, especially those that practice forms of edgeplay or extreme forms of dominance and submission. In such cases, the choice to give up the use of safewords is a consensual act on the part of the bottom or submissive.”

There we have it. Giving up safewords is not safe (according to SSS), but might be regarded as consensual (in RACK), particularly in edgeplay or TPE.

So with my friend, she likes to be in total control, but what does this mean? Does such a thing as total control or total power exchange exist?

With the help of the notion of consciousness I will try to shed some light on things as control, consent and identity.

Consciousness is the state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. So whatever control might be, it must be conscious and consciously applied in BDSM-play.

But like most things labelled with adjectives like ‘true’, ‘real’, ‘total’, ‘complete’ the question is what the scope of meaning of such words is in the practical context of BDSM-play.

Total control is a in a way a futile concept, as we are not even in control of our own thoughts, most of our actions are steered by our unconsciousness and nervous system, not by our thoughts. Also total power exchange is immediately limited by consenting persons that exchange power.

For me - as top – sane use of power involves both control and awareness, but also letting control go and be dependent can be sane practise. Thus both TPE and sanity are rooted in consent.

Consent of whom?
The idea that a safeword would be some kind of topping from the bottom is definitely misleading, but I guess this will always be an issue between the RACK and the SSS camp.

One way of dealing with this issue is to look at different levels of identity. To our core identity belong things like gender-identity and sexual orientation. Naturally, when we consent in BDSM activity, such identities play a major role. The basic respect for the integrity of another person we play with, as a fellow human being, is paramount to consent. Before even one bit of power exchange can start flowing, it is obvious that giving consent to this process presupposes sane persons on equal footing that get involved in play, by their choice. Consent thus functions as mechanism to preserve identity and integrity of the persons that wish to get involved in BDSM play.

Consent is therefore founding for any form of BDSM according to both RACK and SSS. So when we link consent to identity, we may connect BDSM with exploration regarding our sexual preferences and urges. BDSM role play is thus in a way ‘at variance’ with both identity (which we exploring on) and with mainstream culture. Playing roles thus enables us to learn, grown and own our experiences, as a person.

The clue

We take those risks, because our psyche craves for realisation of both the conscious parts of our identity and the hidden, dark and unconscious parts. BDSM-play is thus transgressing in nature, and therefor risky. The clue is that consent can change. And even then, as seen above, a safeword will sometimes not help. I have had bottoms in my power, seeking my will and not caring about consent. That can sometimes be seductive, but that is the nature of playing with power. You can use it according to your own perception, but tops get into their BDSM-role too. So when our self-perception changes, also our limits can get fluid; including limits that define us as sound or sane - and that is very un-safe and risky.

The power we have been given, by consent, can turn into dynamics that are not steered by respect for the integrity of the other person – the factor that makes consensual play sane. The idea that the top is in ‘real’ control, might reveal itself as mistaking the darker side of our top-role for justified and allow power with to change into power over – and the herewith connected notions of abuse, violation and deprivation of self-integrity of the bottom. After all, coercive sexual interaction is part of many kinky roles that the BDSM community likes to fantasize about or tries to realize in active play; being kidnapped and kept captive by that vicious female pirate or being interrogated and searched for drugs by that mean couple of custom officers.

So playing rough and edgy roles can be tremendously rewarding, but it can also be scary and result in a change of mind. Passwords are an expression of non-consent and a change of mind of one of the players must have a way to be realized and heard. For me, besides trust and consent, also pre-scene negotiations and safewords can help to diminish the risk of our play going awry; in fact for me playing without an exit strategy would indicate we have to do with unsafe play partners. Within RACK, we have not simply “safe”’ but rather fifty shades of "safer" and "less safe”. Having a safeword that is available to both tops and bottoms, we make it safer as it forms one (last) straw that enables us – when we still can – to claim our right to conscious self-definition, a thing we all consented to in the first place.

The idea that a slave is then having power, is simply acknowledging that real power is not taken, but shared and given over freely. This is willingly and consensually done by another person, which presupposes the inherent quality of having power to share or accept in the first place. Playing a slave and being a slave are two pair of shoes.

Playing a master/mistress by seizing control once a bottom has lost it, places all the responsibility on the top and luckily most of us can handle that, as we are adult and sane persons that play with kinky urges. Like the continuity of ‘consent’ is sometimes for a while out of our control, so can we for a short while feel and experience how it is to be ‘on top’. We then perhaps accept that the consent of our bottom(s) as being exchanged to us for the duration of the scene. Again, as a friend said; “Tops should then safeword for their sanity when it is their conviction that the bottom has had too much.” Being a top is first and foremost an inner attitude and a matter of self-definition, experience, knowledge and technical skills are only the result thereof.

In this blog I argued about the importance of consent for both RACK as SSS. Not only have we seen that consent is the founding base on which BDSM-role play is resting, I also suggested to connect safewords with consent, so that the pursuance of kinky and sexual happiness always stays legitimate and humane.

In order not to do this at the cost of others, I stressed the importance of understanding that risk cannot be avoided, but that the respect for the integrity of our partners may include their basic right to self-determination and self-identification on which a given consent is based in the first place: power to choose is a given and just as founding as consent is. Finally, I emphasised that the notion of playing and being master or slave is in a way a discontinuation of both consent as power. This brings us deep into the land of archaic imagery. For my part, I opted for safewords, as total power, true domination or real control are just adjectives blurring the crucial border between facts and fiction.

As always, I wish you good luck on your journeys, in- and outside of the dungeon.

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

The dark side of BDSM - and what vanillas can learn from it

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In the blog ‘When your sin is to change – How BDSM impacts (y)our reality’ we found three points with regard to the diminishing tolerance in and towards the BDSM culture. Today we look further into the phenomena that “many newcomers to the scene are attracted by the sheer sexuality of what we do, but on the other hand are not really aware where this attractions is based upon and what it actually is what they seek.

The combination of sexual curiosity, tolerance issues and unclear motivations, form an explosive trio. In several weblogs on BDSM, feminism and sexology I notice an increasing attention for violence and abuse. I will argue that this is due to a loss of tolerance. By trying to shed some light on the darker side of BDSM, I hope to come up with some material we, as a kinky community, can work with and improve on.

Observing BDSM and its effects: is it sound?
Anyone that observes BDSM subculture will notice a few mutual things. Firstly, it will be the fact that in many – if not all – cases the sheer sexuality of what we do will trigger primal instincts in most of us. Secondly, it will be clear that BDSM is much broader as sado-masochism and it in a sense is also not. Thirdly, the contrast between what happens in an actual BDSM scene on the one side and things like normal vanilla sex, public morale and social behavior on the other side, will likely put BDSM in a shady light. But is this rightly so?

Yes, it is true, BDSM can be very primal and even primitive. Actually this is one of the reasons why we do BDSM. But even when BDSM has many faces, friendly and terrifying, the control and punishment issues around power-exchange are nevertheless typical for the harder forms. There are tops and there are bottoms and their role is mostly not one of equality, but show a strikingly disrespect to what is commonly regarded as healthy. And it is true, a Master wishes to see that slut on her knees, ready to obey and serve. Thus by contrasting BDSM with ‘normality’ it becomes clear why in the past – and in the presence – BDSM is seen as a deviation from the norm; it is kinky, perverse and sometimes sickly paraphilic in the perception of the unfamiliar observer. We as kinksters may not like to hear this, but that is the way it is.

However, even when all those labels would apply, does this mean, that we have to say that BDSM is not sound? Of course we kinks say no to that and nowadays in the post-Christian West even most psychological professionals regards consensual BDSM to be perfectly fine. But what does it mean to be fine? Is there still not something unusual about it? Something dark even?

The literal dark side to BDSM and kinky play
One thing that comes to mind when visiting a fetish club, a leather party or a loosely organized munch is that many people are dressed rather dark: little black skirts, leather clothing, boots, dark sunglasses and black ties and suits. Black seems not only to be an intrinsic part of the Gothic world, but of the kinky scene too. Besides the clothing and appearance of the kinksters, also the environment is in a way ‘dark’. We speak of dungeons, crosses, chains, cages and of course the whole bunch of ‘nasty’ tools, like clamps, whips, floggers, crops and ropes. Don’t forget the royal size butt-plugs, the handcuffs and the hot candle wax, needles and slave collars. So hot, all of them! Add to that the typical roles of brutal sadist, mad scientist, pirate, kidnapper and relentless slave holder; you get the idea: BDSM is as dark as it can get.

Now, some will reply, that this is just part of our role and role play; we need the fitting surroundings and we need that particular mind set to become the vicious top or tragically pervert daddy. Just as some bottoms will be the perfect victims; whimpering, crying and full of markings due to bondage, spanking or the cane so vividly swung by their tops. And this is all true, but still dark.

Then, some will reply, that when it is all about ‘decoration’, ‘showing off’ and ‘leather, wet-look and latex’ and a bit of spiced up sex, is it more than just a game? We in the Dominion of Lord Cameron know it is. The outside appearance, the visible and tangible sides of what we do, is - as it says – the outside appearance. Beneath that, or rather, underlying the outside, there is the inside, that what we feel and the way that what we do impacts us. But is that dark?

The visible dark side to BDSM – on the surface
For someone scratching on the surface of BDSM, the show may just be eccentric behavior, or - on the contrary – precisely the play will be regarded fake, as the submission or dominance is consensual. Along the same lines, people within the kinky community see some version of BDSM praxis as normative – often their own things – whereas other BDSM forms are being downplayed. Why is that?

My personal impression is that because I consensually hang my submissives on a cross for whipping or other punishment, it is not regarded as the ‘real’ thing. To this I can only reply, consent or lack of it, does not make that what we do real or unreal, but consent is what makes BDSM sane, just as the lack of consent makes it sick. Believe me when I use that whip and swing that cane, my strokes are just as nasty. They hurt and cut and bruise, even when my bottoms do wish to have them. And it is by my power, that they kneel and get mocked. And it is due to their and mine perversion that they orgasm while being humiliated and abused. Whoever sees this as ‘just’ a game, an illusion, should question why they refuse to simply call BDSM for what it is; shadow play, dangerous and sexy alike.

Only a few of my non-kinky vanilla monogamous friends have seen me play as Sir Cameron. And from those few, only one could understand what was going on and this caused our friendship to intensify, or added rather a new dimension to it. With this one friend I now feel better accepted, while the others were only confronted with their personal limits regarding sanity or sound behaviour. And of course, they are entitled to their own opinion. Just as we are. Just as BDSM does sunder.

Starting from this last confrontation, that of kinky stuff with mainstream sexual ethics and praxis, it will be clear that BDSM is at least strange to most people. This makes kinky folk to strangers among their peers too. We play safe, because we do not permanently want to hurt another human being. We are sane, because we take care, know what we do and use a sound and proper technique to do it. But we are still an outsider group – which is also one of the dark sides of being kinky; we run the risk to be pathologized, labelled and discriminated. Many of us downplay such experiences, accept it as the intolerance of others, but this does not make it less real. We are ab-normal.

With abnormal, or deviant, we mean that it is not only due to our behavior that we are different, but also with regard to our underlying urges. It is a tad weird, if you get aroused by the whistle of a cane or the sound of a whip. It is a bit strange, if you like your genitals pierced with needles or take a golden shower. And it is this difference in how we experience and perceive those things that set us apart from those who do not find it sexy, or fun, or lovely.
Whether or not our urges are genetically or socially based, for most of the kinks it is clear that it is something inside of them. And as it is inside, it might take a while before it comes out. And when it comes out later, the shock is usually heavier, as it collides with many convictions we have; it also might not at all be according to the lines that we see ourselves function. We may have jobs that we can lose when we get ‘caught’. We might lose friend or family, our partner and even children. So why do we go along then?

The invisible dark side to BDSM – below the surface
To be yourself is one of the greatest challenges we can face. Becoming who you are, enfolding your potential and talents is a life-long job too. Most of us do find their way; study, get a job, have a promotion, get a partner and perhaps children. Most of us learn to take responsibility for our health, finances and relationships. We grow, as all people do.

But when you are kinky - or LGBTQ – there is another issue we have to deal with. It is the thing that we are in a way, different. To cope with this difference is easy for some and hard for others – up to the extent that their lives get ruined when coming out. Below the surface of kinksters there is a dark ocean of feelings, lusts and anxieties that tend to destabilize and confuse us.

It is hard to accept that you are a pervert. We are trained to be normal, we are expected to be normal, but sometimes we just are not. Denial of our perversion, not seeing that we are factually and also sexually different and sometimes have acceptable wishes and sometimes deviant wishes. Yet, being different does not render us wrong, inhumane or sick. When we function normally and can integrate BDSM in our life without harming other persons, when we play safe, sane and sound, we are okay. Persons with other ethics may argue here, but that will be, because they do only partly understand what it means to ‘be’ different, or that they are biased because of their worldview.

The invisible dark side of men – beyond BDSM
In BDSM theory we often find psychological and sexological theories being used to explain the development of consensual BDSM and its way of getting free from being ‘sick’. Currently the main work on this ‘verdict’ is the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM). In the latest issue DSM-V consensual BDSM is no longer regarded as a mental disorder. Even when it is still acknowledged that some paraphilias are statistically seen perfectly deviant.

What happened is that psychiatrist, sexologist and evolutionary biologist took a more practical stance on what is going on. Human sexual behaviour, preference and fantasy was acknowledged as being broad and diverse in praxis. The ethical or religious evaluation is one side that played a larger role in the past, but that psychology cannot provide. Our concept of normality is to a large extend biased by our cultural heritage. When we actually look at what kinks do and how they do it, the variance in human mating behaviour and human sexual urges is a fact. Psychology opted not to judge whether or not this behaviour was a result of sin, DNA or upbringing – even when these factors are explanatory still relevant. Instead DSM-5 accepts safe, sane and sound BDSM as acceptable when it is consensual and not harmful to others or the paraphiliac itself.

When we however use the insights that sciences like psychology has provided us with, we can see a lot of interesting things happen. Even when the way sexual urges are displayed may vary among kinky and vanilla persons, fact is that we all have sexual urges. Even when kinks act on those urges, many vanilla persons do not act on their urges. About 2/3 of the adult males have fantasies about seducing a teenager. About 70 percent of females have sexual fantasies that involve some kind of dominant pressure to get involved in sexual acts or even rape.

I am not arguing that fantasy and reality are one and the same. Obviously they are not. No sane person wants to be raped, most adult men, do not have sex with teenagers. The underlying reasons are just as obvious; we respect the bodies and the integrity of other persons; we only engage in consensual sex. At least, that is what we believe we do. Statistics however show, that sexual abuse is a bigger problem in mainstream society, as it is in consensual kink. Of course the BDSM scene is vulnerable to abusive unethical people, so it is our job to look out and practice safe and sound BDSM, to protect ourselves by avoiding situations that are possibly dangerous.

Not only abuse is an issue in mainstream sexuality. Also the doctrine of monogamy is and this is also the main source for divorce. For most people, monogamy simply does not work. Not only does it not represent their fantasy, it also can be frustrating when other things as our sexuality do not longer denote for what it is that we seek in a relationship. Even when seen from our sexual urges, a side step may be explainable, after all, we all need intimacy, love and bodily contact and sex simply is a great way of having all or most of this. Sex is something very personal and feeling sexy also makes us feel more loved, more accepted and more valuable. The big issue however with side-steps is that they normally do not involve the consent of all the partners. Which makes it cheating, lying and a most fleshly display of disrespect to our lovers.

So, we find that the notion of consent is an ethical one. Real love does not need cheating, real BDSM does not need ‘sickness’. Furthermore, we find that sexual urges are often around taboos, forbidden things or shameful desires. What the major difference is between consensual kinky people and vanilla persons, is that by playing roles, the kinks have found a safe, sane and sound way to very real do what their fantasy is telling them to be utterly hot. Equivalently, consensual swingers, open relationships and polyamory forms do offer sexual vanilla fantasies to be put into consensual practice. I guess, nobody would call this ‘not the real thing’. Consequently, BDSM is a real thing, because real people play with real feelings and desires.

How dark is dark?
What we call dark often reflects the images that we have learned during our childhood. Education, religion and other socio-cultural values tell us what is good, bad and ugly. There is a reason to ‘battle’ against these things; they are real. We humans have a dark side to us, each and every one of us. In terms of depth psychology this is accounted for with the ideas of subconsciousness (Freud) or a personal and collective unconsciousness (Jung).

Below the ‘surface’ we find the source of our anxieties, complexes and neuroses. It is a pool of forgotten, repressed or still hidden things that we label as ‘primitive’, ‘animalistic’, ‘dark’ or ‘evil’. Depending on which theory you use, BDSM is likely to be explained as the welling up of images, ideas and emotions from the non-conscious to the conscious. This can express themselves in anxiety, dreams or sexual fantasy. As such, being a sadistic villain, a raping pirate kidnapper, or the damsel-in-distress who is waiting for Prince Charming on the white horse to say her, are all expressions of similar things. These are the parts of our psyche that are hidden, emotional and often irrational.

When we grow up, we learn how to deal with these impressions. They help us to flee when danger comes up. They help us to give in and surrender, when we need to lose ourselves in our partner to find shelter, love or pain. The unconscious steers our life to an extent that exceeds what we expect to be the case and indeed is most of our behavior not very rational at all. Evolutionary theory however, thinks that our conscious and our rationality is the mechanism that sets us apart and what makes humanity to the unique species that we are.

Rational reflection on our sexual urges belongs to that uniqueness. When we question who we are and why we do the things we do, we principally have taken responsibility for our actions. Those who make use of ethical systems that do not take evolutionary biology or the findings of modern sexology and psychology into account, run the risk of clinging to ‘first repressed and then converted’ emotions themselves and judge things they do not fully understand on borrowed authority.

I can only speak for the repressive form of Christianity that I once myself was involved in. Just as most philosophers and psychologists, do I think that the religious dimension of human history itself is part of us and our heritage that on itself had and still has its function. It is up to the free individual to pick their system of beliefs, but for those Dominion of Lord Cameron it is clear, that freedom and power are perhaps just as illusionary as religious truth or scientific evidence. What we can see, taste and feel however, is that being humane to other humans is beneficial to those involved. So for us consensual BDSM helps us to find ourselves and our place in the world and sets us free and by role play lets us safely be the Ancient Hunter from the past, or Babylon the Whore herself.

From all we have seen, we can conclude that BDSM can very well be rational human behavior. And there where it is irrational, there were we merge with our roles, it is still planned and controlled by setting out a path, a scenery and a surrounding to play our roles with full conviction, while still being safe and secure.

We have also seen, that as BDSM is a very particular set of deviant needs, we are not wrong in acting on our impulses, but we have to take care to follow the rules that makes it worthwhile for all partners to be engaged in kinky play. By sticking to rules and by reflection on who we are and why we do what we do, we also can be exemplary in pursuing our sexual needs. As an adult, rational and caring pervert, we can avoid the booby traps that many non-kinky relationships suffer from. As such, it is not what we do, that makes the difference, but the way how we do it; consensual, ethical, safe, sane and sound. Add that to normal vanilla sex and many relationships will improve, while trust and care and respect can flourish there where our needs are adequately met.

Play safe and have fun – Sir Cameron

Is there Morality in BDSM and Corporal Punishment?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Morality or ethics is not something many kinky folk are concerned about. Of course, they want to do the right thing - most of the times - but as mentioned in the previous blog: “We are more a practical community, focused on human needs and humane ways to find a safe way to get our needs met”, than that we are a bunch of fancy philosophers that contemplate on the eightfold way of bondage or the epistemological consequences of dirty talk.

In this blog we will examine the second point that was raised the last time when we looked at the diminishing tolerance in the BDSM scene; “we see an attitude when truth, morality and justice are involved that can be seen as an increasingly relativist position. As anyone has his own truth and nothing is generally valid, you can be as egocentric as it goes.”

Starting from this, we see if we can find a handle to morality that fits both modern demand and still leaves us free to pursue our lovely sexy kinky habits. If so, we can truly say that BDSM is good.

Are BDSM and corporal punishment immoral?
From the above quotes we have seen that the leather subculture has certain characteristics; firstly, we like to live and play out our kinky urges. As we are mostly lust and sex driven in this pursue, this is the dominant factor. Secondly, we are rather practically focused; concerned with the ‘when’ and ‘what’ and less interested in the ‘why’ and ‘how can we’ kind of questions. Thirdly, as a result of postmodernism most kinky folk have an attitude that is perhaps not entirely egoistic, but there is a general light-heartedness when it comes to the justification, rationalisation and morality of that what it is that we do. The hedonist pursue of sexual bliss is of course acceptable, as long as we do not lose our focus, that BDSM is first and foremost a social activity, where two or more persons get involved in play that requires both trust and care. Already here we find the seed for BDSM ethics.

Besides that; the question if BDSM is immoral, is a tricky question anyway, and this for two reasons:

1) When most in the scene are not concerned about ethics, but just do what feels right to them, can they then properly account for what they do? And should we? After all, we cannot expect that getting involved in BDSM has to come with the duty to professionally account for the ethics of the scene, particularly not when considered that BDSM is rather broad an activity. This on itself does lead to a relativist position or a one-sided view that is to overcome.

2) When most professional ethicists are not involved in BDSM, can they really understand its power and its dynamics from the inside out? In a way they probably could, but nowhere will the academic be more biased as with what she regards as perverse. A similar thing goes for many feminists when they would meet me with a teen-slave girl at my side and Sir Cameron would start talking about him being a feminist. How can you value women, when you whip them? How do you rationalize that? How can you speak of justness and morality?

When the above does make clear that inside the scene there is no real interest in the ethical question and at the outside there is no sympathy or need for an affirmative ethical yes to kink, then how do we arrive at satisfactory answers?

Can human nature or evolution theory account for morality?
For those who have read the previous posts on evolution theory and BDSM, the idea that this can provide us with arguments that justify ethical kink may not come as a surprise. Eventually, we will have to find some arguments and nature or evolutionary development can show the way in many things regarding sexology, but unless you wish to use statistics to explain our behaviour and employ statistic normality as a base for morality, nature just is a given that can be known through facts and experience. And on top of that, nature is very diverse. Let us in this respect consider parts of the social, feeding and mating behaviour of the other four of the great apes;

a. The Orangutan is a mostly solitary living fruitarian that when involved in mating rituals, stays monogamous for a while.
b. Gorillas are predominantly herbivores, live in troops and inside of that group only the dominant alpha male has several females to mate with.
c. The chimpanzee is an omnivorous but mostly frugivorous ape that lives in groups. Regarding mating rituals Chimpanzees are promiscuous but can also form temporarily or longer lasting monogamous pairs.
d. Bonobos are omnivores and tend to live in a broad community where mating is, among others, used for socializing and solving conflicts. Bonobos also perform face-to-face genital sex, tongue kissing and oral sex as the only primates besides man.

In anthropomorphical terminology we would say, we have monogamous, polygynous and polysexual apes that live either solitary, in a paternal troop or in a maternal group, while being vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. From this point of view the variety in how humans eat and copulate and socialize is just a mixture of what we find with other great apes.

I know actual people living those different things in all possible combinations, thus rather showing the natural diversity, instead of providing a justification for normal natural and abnormal unnatural behaviour. The idea that there is a right way to live together and to have sex together, is itself questionable. The fact that the question for ethics do arise in the first place is however of much more interest; after all, ethics seem to be an evolutionary trait that humans developed. As such, the question for ethical justification can be regarded as an attempt to find out how humanity functions best and how we achieve maximum evolutionary benefit out of ethical rules when sexual behaviour is concerned.

Back to sin …
In the previous blog about ‘BDSM and Sin’, we have seen that religion, ethics and social rules are closely connected to our worldview. We can distinguish their respective influences, but they do not come separate: a religion not lived by its members is dead, ethics with no subject cannot be known, a society without having their rules based in any form of belief or religion or ethics is hardly imaginable, so we are stuck with the mixture.

We have also seen that the ethical mechanisms which govern sexual behaviour more often as not are being put to use in order to support a particular view on sexuality, like cementing a religious or otherwise founded authority and to keep (repressive) institutions in place. So when we talk about BDSM in a (non-sinful) ethical context, we have to find a way around history and its obvious deficits in its dealing with human sexuality.

For a long time I have searched for suitable options, like watering down the scope of religious authority, or by trying to use atheist arguments, or even egoism – but then, BDSM can of course never solely by and for yourself, which basically means that we need social rules, which on itself are embedded in morality ... Clear, but where to find them?

The nature of ethics
One of the characteristics of morals is its ability to show why we should follow them. For this, we obviously need practical support for our morals; in the sense that it does work. It does not need to work flawlessly or perfect, but it has to show its merits as people show the tendency to drop behaviour that does not lead to the desired results. A good example of a working ethical concept in BDSM is the familiar ‘safe, sand and sound’ credo, which has proven to make the community a safer place than it was before. The issue with this kind of rules that are based on practice, is that they are not regarded as generally valid. And – inevitably? – ethics that are not universally valid are seen as relativist.

The question mark behind ‘inevitably’ already makes clear that the claim of universality is indeed a questionable one. It seems however, to be the claim that is the trade-mark of constitutionalized morality; in that view morality is not only intrinsically universal as a human trait, but also universally valid in its object or in the propositional content of its assertions. An example can clarify what is meant here: not only is claimed by most monotheistic religious teachings that e.g. sexual fidelity is a human ethical rule that is valid for all times and societies, but it is also seen that this is best lived out within a – long term - monogamous relationship. Meaning that we cannot e.g. have sexual fidelity in a polyfidelity community – which is obviously a false conclusion, as we can.

We have opted for the view that morality is a universal trait in the sense that most properly functioning human beings to some extend carry moral values that are used to get right from wrong. Humans, so it seems, are ethical beings. Concerning this functional use of ethics, as a human tendency, I have a cautious yes. But with regard to the alleged ethical truths, it seems much harder to argue in favour of their universality.

Behind the concept of universally valid truths, beliefs and dogmas, lies the assumption that we can relate them to something universal. Most of the times the connection to a divinity, a religion, an ideology or a popular worldview is regarded as justification to attribute truth to such conceptions. Now is it – due to lack of a universal frame of reference – impossible to decide what assertions of truth are universally valid, if any. With regard to some laws of nature, we know that the laws are valid, thus true. But this use of the word true can be misleading in the context of true morals. We have the logical use of true and false, or the ethical use of right and wrong, but truth is a sort of slippery thing.

Ethics and truth
The point is that many ethical problems are such in character that a simple true or false in the logical sense cannot be made. The reason is that when we look at one assertion at the time, like (p1) Monday it rained and (p2) Tuesday is was sunny, we could say, that indeed it rained on Monday, so the statement (p1) is true. But it did also rain on Tuesday, so the statement (p2) is false.

It does not work like this with ethics, as from statements that are expressed in propositions we can say whether or not their propositional content is true (or false), but ethical judgements are complex and do not come in single independent assertions. On top of that from behaviour, sentiment or feelings we cannot easily make similar truth claims. We cannot attribute logical truth to ethical answers in the same way as we apply truth with propositions – then for a proposition to have meaning, that what is asserted needs at least to be true. Nevertheless, it is also clear that certain moral principles must work, and in this sense be true, otherwise no sound person will felt bound to that principle for guiding their life. We thus expect morals to be true, binding and lasting.

The idea behind universally valid ethics is that we perhaps cannot prove the truth of an ethical position, but that we can logically deduce the rationality of it. The advantage – so it is argued – would then be, that anyone could reach a similar conclusion based upon logic and not on (irrational) sentiment. We would thus be justified in holding something for right and other things for wrong when we can find compelling logical arguments to support our claims.

Beyond philosophy
The introduction of justice and (logical) justification into ethics might at face value be a rationalistic tendency – and it for sure started like that – yet, the problem with the concept of logical justification does not lie in the rationality of the arguments as such, but in the expectation that they are universally valid and in the depreciation of sentiment (as it seems rationalists through the ages felt somewhat uncomfortable with sentiment).

With BDSM being very much an endeavour that requires gut feeling, sentiment and intuition – besides a proper attitude and technique – any morality based upon mere rationalism reduces human experience to the part that we rationally can account for. Yet, from BDSM as praxis, we know that unconscious and repressed motives urges players to do what they do to a much larger extend as logical arguments do. After all, we do not get turned on by arguments, but rather by seeing, touching and thinking.

The idea that human behaviour is anything near being rational is plainly delusive. Consequently, we should distrust any ethical system that does not take into account that we are animals, evolved animals for sure, but nevertheless. Therefore, we should have rational argumentations, but not a rationality that is directed against or suppressive towards the non-rational side of humanity. Sex has never been a rational thing, but a biological issue, with rationality, ethics and emotions attached to it for sure, but reproduction is reproduction.

Beyond rationalism
We have just seen that there is a tendency to explain human behaviour with morals that favour rational arguments over sentiment. Universal concepts have reigned over large parts of humanity when it comes to sexual preferences, sexual tendencies and sexual identity, but none of these ethical conceptions seemed to have been built entirely on logic, but rather on religious or political views.
When for a justification of ethical sexuality such ideas of universally valid concepts are dictating, which are based upon worldviews that deny the relevance of modern scientific theories - regarding evolutionary theory and the finding of sexology, e.g. concerning DNA hard wired gender identity or sexual preference – we are definitely entitled to check if such presuppositions do actually find a confirmation in reality. It is my opinion that they do not adequately do so. Nor logic nor empirical facts support such claims.

What I observe is that similar circumstances for similar people result in similar ethics. The philosopher Richard Rorty once described ethics as not concerned with dilemmas between loyalty and justice, but rather as conflicts of loyalty towards larger groups and loyalty towards smaller groups. Another thing that Rorty addresses is the issue of redefining justice as loyalty to a larger group instead of something that is universal. Moral dilemmas are in this view not seen as a conflict between reason and sentiment, but rather as conflict between loyalties toward different groups. This means that for us to belong to a group, we have to share the same moral values, if we do not, we cease to be part of that group.

If we e.g. assume that there is no transcendent being – a.k.a. God – who by revelation tells us how to behave in the bedroom - we would be left with nature (as ‘creation’ a smaller ‘group’ as a Divinity transcending the universe). Similarly to the sexual behaviour of other great apes, we could convincingly argue that kink is partly genetically founded and thus a perhaps uncommon, but nevertheless natural behaviour for humans. It would rather be statistics that say what is normal and what by exceeding two times the standard deviation is abnormal, not ethics.

Kink and abuse
When kinky behaviour is an integral part of humanity, we can ask where the difference lies between whipping slaves in the 16th century and BDSM-Mistresses whipping their sex-slaves. What is the difference between rape and rape-play? In a way it may be that the actions look very much alike and for certainly the experience will have larger emotional overlaps, but there is a fine difference; this is found in the presence of consent as a result of rational agreement. This is what BDSM sets apart from abuse. And together with feminism, we find many religious doctrines towards women and their sexuality in principle more abusive as BDSM de facto is.

Contrary to the brutality that we sometimes do display when we are in a scene, the reality of safe, sane and sound BDSM is rooted in the consent of all the participating players. This consent is not mere consciously made, but also an expression of our own free will to participate in role play in order to get our needs met. This means that both sentiment as rationality are involved and seasoned BDMS players take good care that not only emotions like lust or greed or violence are the ones that motivate us, but also genuine interest in the wellbeing of our partners.

By taking care for each other kinks add ethical motivations to the play and show responsibility towards fellow human beings. Of course you can also play unethically, e.g. when you do not protect yourself and your partners against possible diseases or when you or your play partner is cheating on someone else. As any act also sexual acts are subject to social rules, when BDSM would be unethical, it would have no rules at all. So the question is not if morality is not a human trait, or not if BDSM had no ethical consequences, but rather what arguments can be given to justify our actions.

Kinky ethics
When morality is part of human behaviour and there are no universally valid ethics to be found, the question is how to arrive with ethics that would have our ethical obligations met. If we take up the concept of consent once more, but this time taking it to a broader field, we will soon arrive at the conclusion, that any group and their social behaviour has much to do with consent. When two parties differ about what the proper behaviour would be, they talk, negotiate and find a solution that is acceptable. In this sense, the power a manager has over her employee’s is not much different from the power she has over her slave-boy in the night after work. In both cases there is a relationship that has authority and different roles involved, in both cases the partners involved are consenting; the slave-boy could anytime use his safeword to get out if he would; the employee has signed a working contract.

Any unforced agreement between free and sane individuals creates trust and a bond. We feel connected to a group because we can identify with what they do and who they are and what they represent. For this reason BDSM roles – except for 24/7 relationships – are mostly temporal role play. After the session is over the Mistress is mom and part time pharmacist again and the toy-boy goes back to his job as senior bank manager.

The above example shows, that by being able to choose our roles and to be able to have different social roles in different social settings, we show not only that we can differentiate between when what sort of behaviour is appropriate in what context, but also that we do remain our identity; we are neither fully this or that, but always act in accordance to the kind of relationship that is involved:  family father, car mechanic, lover and friend; as such, BDSM is just another form of a psychological role we play including the corresponding (ir)rational behaviour.

Yet, it would be wrong to regard BDSM as merely something primitive. It takes a lot of time to get close, to build trust and to learn how to please one another. It takes a lot of courage to do some of the things we do, like being vulnerable, like getting hurt, like being honest about your own desire. Name calling is just a primitive reaction in itself; for those who never have thought about BDSM beyond the usual prejudices: BDSM is about fun, about trust, about very sexy things that make us feel good and secure. This is what people in the scene are looking for, this is why they do what we do. Just as any alternative form of behaviour, we try to play by the rules that enable us to achieve our common goals. That these goals and our ways of achieving them are not mainstream does not per se render it wrong. That these goals are historically seen not morally sound, says perhaps more about historical ethics and their sources, as it does about BDSM in its modern guise.

From all we have seen, we can conclude that BDSM can very well be rational human behaviour. Where fundamentalist moralist differ from pragmatic moralist is to which extent they regard freedom of sexual expression a human right or not. Based on evolution theory, there is no need to discriminate on gender, race or sexual preference. Not at all, provided that this behaviour is not harmful to one self or others. The protection of our own kin is just as natural as it is with other animals. For this reason, universal human rights are a good example that ethics are needed in order to secure our evolutionary survival; it protects humans against inhuman acts and violation of their rights and integrity.

From the point of history, BDSM never had the change to evolve, because the social restrictions put upon kinky persons where so severe, that BDSM urges needed to be repressed. It is still so in those areas of the world were our personal freedom is limited by laws, religious convictions or powerful social groups. History also shows that we evolve, and this gives us hope that also our ethics will evolve until it encompasses all the different groups there are, but without the need to go beyond negotiating consent. No violence, no repression, no discrimination, no abuse.

We have also seen that I draw heavily on the concept of humanity as being meaningful in itself. Whoever means to be able to transcend this meaning and follow a ‘higher call’, should also realize that more moral wrong has been wrought by ‘higher calls’ as by BDSM – if any. Moreover, we might still consent regarding human personal integrity and freedom, even when some readers carry beliefs that they hold for better as the moral that I here argued for. Such believers might even have good arguments for their views, but as long as they cannot be rationally argued, by compelling evidence or prove, we are stuck with history, sentiment and repressed freedom and that has never proven to be a wise choice.

So, is BDSM good? In a way this will always be a point of discussion, but when BDSM is ethical and humane, why should it be wrong? Sir Cameron and his Dominion Members, the Friends, Submissives and Councils of the Court, as well as Members of the House Cameron, for our part, have chosen to live a BDSM lifestyle based on ethical non-monogamy and feminism. And as long as we act on those principles and form a community of trust, our BDSM is definitively good.

Play safe and keep heathy, have fun – Sir Cameron

P.S. These blogs are long. Thank you for reading it to the end. In the near future we will look into evolutionary mating behaviour and aggression.