Mansplaining

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Mansplaining was Christianised by the New York Times as the buzz-word of 2010. I had never heard about it, but today I encountered the word twice. For me that functioned as a clear sign that I had to put it on my agenda. As my views might interest others, I opted to post it in my blog/writings. It is addressed to a fictive and fellow feminist kinkster, so please keep that in mind while reading.

Dear sister,

As a kinky feminist, you will agree, that "mansplaining" as such is annoying in the sense that it forms an expression of the alleged paternal supremacy. And it is the sad truth, that our society - for the most of it – remains full of examples where men try to explain something to a woman in a condescending way, starting from an attitude of overconfidence and not taking that woman’s own base of knowledge, expertise and intelligence into account in a proper and adequate way.

Yet, as a word that uses a specific gender – in this case male - mansplaining runs the risk of being a double-sided sword, then:
  • first, it might be regarded as sexist towards men in general - and thus be misandrous - and;
  • second, it might be regarded as essentialist in the sense that men should possess - or lack - the attribute of occasional mansplaining in order to be perceived as a man, and;
  • third, it may be, that men - as a victim of their own paternalist upbringing, culture or religious stance - behave in a mansplaining way, because they mistake that for actually proper behaviour in a genuine attempt to communicate something valuable out of good intention.


This latter use of mansplaining is, of course, still undesirable, but it should be regarded as a cultural default in some cases. And mansplaining as being a genuine expression of paternalistic cultural bias does not require radical scorn in such cases, but rather education and the careful raising of awareness for women rights. Especially in kinky environments, traditional roles are used instantly, instead of realizing, that we need to start as equals and intrinsically remain equals, even when in play, inequality may be intended.

On top of that – and a bit leaning on the above mentioned point three - as a feminist sadist and daddy-dom, I have to add, that mansplaining can be a constructive and enticing part of the role-play that I - together with my bottoms - wish to employ in, not dissimilar to using dirty talk, humiliation or force in an – of course – full consensual play setting. Let’s call this consensual mansplaining.

In this way, mansplaining can be taken for a form of deviant behaviour that functions in a specific context that draws its energy flow from the power-exchange that comes with given roles. Similar to the use of 'slut' 'anal-whore' or 'princess' are words that should not be carried outside the safe play environment, also the praxis of consensual mansplaining can be regarded as inherent to certain kinky roles and play-forms.

Proposals

As much as I oppose the general oppression of minorities, I have severe hesitations to apply feminist discourse to kinky settings. Shadow play, the left-hand-path, TPE; these are not the expressions where politically correct mental statements do apply to, but rather these are the free and unfiltered urges that sprout from our unreflected (animal) past or intentionally activated desires centred around primal sexual power-play.

For that reason, I plea, that: (A) philosophical, anthropological, psychological, religious and feminist reflection towards kink, is something we should endorse and promote in kink theory or reflection on kink, but like with any other world-view or scientific framework we ought to realize that such starting points often lack compelling warrant when we wish to use them for primarily non-logical praxis, like kinky sex or play.

Consequently, the human character of safe, sane, sound and consensual kink may likely not be fully grasped by mere rational reflection alone. And this, for the whole reason that our sexuality as such, is human behaviour that mirrors our pre-rational evolutionary past, our unconscious dispositions and our rational tendencies alike. Sexual behaviour is therefore not depleted from rationality, but it also contains and instrumentalizes the human dimensions of non-rational instincts and emotions.

Forcing any non-kink discourse over actual BDSM-play activity as such, runs the risk of being reductive in nature, because it could easily form an instance where rational arguments are valued above non-rational needs, like the need for humiliation, pain or pervert sex. Luckily, consensual kink is not a value-free space, as already the notion of explicit consent presupposes a rational and committed pre-play negotiating between adult equals. Yet, applying any kind of normativity to kink, should nevertheless be practiced with care and consideration, as logical argumentations are by no means the sole driving force of human behaviour - and particularly not when it is about kink or sex.

Therefore, I further plea that; (B) we specifically place experiential kinky play in a laboratory-like context; the kinky professor fucks around a little, and in doing so, finds liberty and discoveries that cannot be found outside this safe play-space. As such mansplaining a bunch of silly sissy girls in a play context, is both liberating and fun and in this context, mansplaining has nothing to do with reduction of women or exaltation of male faculties – per se -, but is simply playing with limits, roles and social conventions within the boundaries of the agreement between players.

Conclusion

One can object to this praxis or not, but the freedom of sexual expression of two consenting adults must have priority over patronizing (pun intended) feminist discourse that transfers rational arguments to explicitly not logically meant deviant activity between sane players.

This said, I again agree, that sexist male pricks that uninvited send lectures, dick-picks and other display of their allegedly dominant self-image to kinky women, displays very unwelcome behaviour and makes our communities less safe. At the same time, extreme femdom and feminist influence, or even alleged female supremacy, should be weighed on the same balance, as any form of gender related dominance and submission. As kink is not served by switching from paternalism to maternalism, we should instead creatively use and employ both of these cultural impulses in safe play and keep it there, for as far as we as imperfect humans can manage to do so.

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 -


Introduction
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

And the cancer is spreading: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-22/britains-grooming-gangs-part-2

How do BDSM and Commitment relate?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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


Introduction
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.


Example
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


Introduction
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.


Conclusions
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.


Conclusion
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