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.

When your sin is to change – How BDSM impacts (y)our reality

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sin a big word. Loaded with images from age old religious convictions, we often connect sin with God, Church and all kinds of forbidden forms of sexual expression. For this reason, sin is not a popular term in the BDSM-world. We are more a practical community, focused on human needs and humane ways to find a safe way to get our needs met. Why then sin?

In this blog entry we will examine the connections between sex and sin as seen from four different angles: the religious view, the societal view, the feminist view and the sex-positive BDSM view. Together this will provide us with insight of the past, present and future of BDSM actions. And of course, the sin to change …

From sin to sex – unavoidable from a religious point of view
For many of us who still have been raised in a Judean-Christian context, the step from sex to sin is only a small one. Assuming that the Old Testament was written in Babylon; the Bible can be seen as a collection of religious texts that date back roughly 2-2.5 millennia ago. As such – seen from a literal perspective – they accordingly represent the views of the individual authors and the cultures they lived in.

So seen, there is nothing wrong with these ideas; they are part of history and some of these values have been proven useful and other have not. Otherwise, there seems to be something wrong with these ideas, as they are still regarded as an authority by many followers of the one Christian faith. And for those who see a larger entity or power behind the texts that we have, the views on sex that the historical authors once had, are often seen as binding for all ages.

But it is not this kind of more or less Christian concept of sin or sex I wish to address, but rather the effect that change has on tradition. Any acceptance of new convictions brings along that we now reject other convictions, because we no longer hold them valid. So seen, traditional views on sexuality, perversion of sexuality and the morals of sexuality are not easy to change as long as the institutions that maintain the moral, religious or legislative power do not likewise see this change of mind as necessary. Therefore, for a majority of the world, their sexuality is not based on freely living out what they desire, but rather to conform their sexual identity and urges to the strict guidelines of the religions they adhere to.

From sin to sex – hardly avoidable from a societal point of view
When religious convictions regarding sexuality govern large parts of the world, they also do in most societies. Due to the separation of Church and State in the free West, some critique on religious authority has started to grow since the renaissance and lead to the current situation of declining numbers in Christian converts, the rise of fundamentalism and many wars between science and religion.

In the free West, human rights have become the basis of public morality, but still religious convictions do play a major role in the assessment what sexual behavior is acceptable for society and what not. We only have to look at China, where despite being an essentially atheist culture, nevertheless the sexual freedom is very limited. As with many not so open societies, political views have taken the place of religious texts and even when sex offenders are called offenders and not sinners, the result is the same; rejection of who those people are and punishment for what they do.

In a way, even in the free West we needed quite some time to free ourselves from prejudges. Less than forty years ago same-sex orientation was seen as a mental disorder. Sadomasochism still is by many in our ‘open minded’ society. And the mechanisms are always the same; those who  have the power to influence moral findings use all the power they have to continue their own story of what is right and wrong.

From sin to sex – sometimes avoidable from a feminist point of view
Feminism brought many good things to society. The best thing was that they brought back the awareness that when female rights are ignored, society as a whole cannot prosper and grow. As such feminism was a mechanism of change which – amongst others - did address female sexual rights – regarding birth control, regarding the own legitimacy of female sexuality, regarding respect and safety for females as sexual beings.

So seen, did feminists add to necessary changes in society, but its effects could have been much larger if not religious convictions would have claimed control. With this I mean the idea of female superiority – which is not there – or the idea of regarding all institutional power - and particularly abusive power – in Government, Church and society, as strongholds of male interest.

Together with this battle of the sexes, also the view on what female sexuality was or should be got very thoroughly deconstructed and reconstructed again. As any theorist or activist is influenced by their individual upbringing, sub-culture and experiences, feminism fell apart in many different groups that consequently started to battle for the label of ‘true’ feminism.

There was and is still more openness for change, growth and maturity, but the energies now seem mostly spend or directed at New Age religious movements. Once academics discovered feminism, the warriors of the first two waves were regarded as too radical and normality set in as usual.

From sin to sex – avoidable from a BDSM point of view
Leaning on sex-positive feminism, many same-sex persons and kinks started to free themselves from the shackles of religion, tradition and Freud. Sex is no longer seen as sin, but sin is seen as holding on to truths that find no warrant in reality. Sin is in a way seen as failing to be the person one could actually be when one would be liberated and free.

The mechanisms that govern such a process are based on views like the above mentioned sex-positive feminism, but also on new insights in genetics (with regard to the gender issue), evolution theory (with regard to the development of sexual behavior) and in sexology (about how sex actually relates to us being human).

From depth psychology we have learned that most of our psyche is still subconscious. We learned about how desires function, how society and religion influence our behavior and how we can connect religious issues and concepts like sin, guilt and freedom with rational concepts like Archetypes of God, the Great Mother, the Shadow and the eternal male Animus and the eternal female Anima, to name just a view.

Taking those mechanisms into account, sex-positive thinking has brought us a revaluation of sexuality which effects in less condemnation and more patience, acceptance and understanding for both modern and historical views.

From sin to sex – The sin to change …
The sin to change is taking the chance of improving your sexual life. This can be seen as a sin, when your society does not agree with that change. For BDSM this is still the case for most of us. Many of my friends outside and in the Dominion cannot fully out themselves; too hard the consequences regarding our jobs, neighborhood or families.

When Sir Cameron goes out with two of more women, you see the people think. Once you cuddle all of them, a hand here, a kiss there, you literally see their worldview displayed on the screen of their facial expressions. Disbelief, disgust, envy, curiosity; to name just a view. Which is all okay, of course. No one should think that these persons are not entitled to their opinion, but it sucks big time, when you go out with your subs and then get remarks like; “do you wear something under that?”, “do you need a real man?”, “may I try her ass too?” (males do ask things like that) and “why do you do that?”, “have you been a victim, or manipulated?” or “dumb sluts!” (which are typical female remarks).

Out on the street you can expect intolerance, after all, we are the abnormal with a sick sexuality. Yet even the BDSM scene itself is again getting less tolerant as it was in the nineties. For this I see a few reasons.

  • First we have the enfolding curse of pornography that uses sexual images to govern our sexual experiences and does not communicate that masturbation fantasies are not a good recipe for relations and sexual interactions that are not based upon fucking like animals.
  • Secondly, 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.
  • Thirdly, 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.

In a next blog, I will work out these three points in order to see what challenge we face and how we can use pornography, egoism and curiosity for the better of all of us.

Summarizing we can say that sin and sex have a common past. Sin and evil are intrinsically religious concepts that are used to show how we can live a life in honor of the Deities such religions represent. Control over sexual behavior also meant control over the population, consumption and satisfaction. It that what comes naturally, is converted into a culture of shame and guilt, the priests and prophets have a valuable coin that can be cashed in any time they choose.

Resistance against change in sexual behavior can thus be seen as an attempt to conserve power. An understandable but not always reasonable mechanism. At the end, the facts usually wins. If not, the casualties will be high; as history has shown, when most perverts have been victims and have been pathologized in order to avoid having to change the leading opinions.

The solution will be to avoid both terminology like sick or discriminated, but to dynamically use the concept of ‘sin’, ‘evil’ and ‘bad’ to explain where history and tradition got it wrong. Because humans are very sexual beings, the number of listeners will grow. Perhaps if we learn to channel sexual energy properly, a better world will get closer – at least it will have a lot more fun.

Enjoy and stay healthy

Sir Cameron

Psychology tool bag - Powerful ideas for training bottoms

Monday, June 30, 2014

One of my mentees asked me a good question: “What is your most powerful psychological training for subs?” The reason behind it is obvious; as a good top, the submission of our bottom(s) is one of the two thing that makes us happy. (The other thing would be orgasms). This blog entry is about finding a few markers that can be used while topping. A psychological tool bag, so to say.

Where is bottoming about?
The question is what is to be achieved by psychological training, as not all bottoms are alike: one likes to be trained as a pony, others want to be a classical serva or just being punished in the context of a kinky roleplay. Furthermore, normal persons are resilient against a too obvious form of manipulation, so it has to be something refined in most of the cases. Or at least a training that takes the existing psychical renitency into account.

Remember, that all I am talking about concerns consensual BDSM. Using psychological ‘tricks’ without outspoken previous consent of both/all partners, can be seen as a form of abuse. Particularly the mental side of abuse is a nasty thing that is often misunderstood. I also think that this is the reason why sadists are potentially the worst kind of abusers; because they will attempt to fuck the mind too. 

So, no abuse, or abusive manipulation. It is not that I think that many tops have an issue with this, but I just want to be thorough and emphasize that only safe, sane and sound BDSM can give us a rationalization for what we – as kinky folk – actually do. 

Plotting the scheme
Now, where are we? If we know our bottom(s) – and at least in the preparation of a play this kind of information should be gathered – we have a good idea about what they want. The first thing is to see if we – as tops – feel up to it: does their fantasy met with ours. In the scene it might be regarded as ‘weak’ when tops feel not up to something (e.g. rape-play), but I think tops have limits too and are by no means obliged to ‘perform’ on the whims of their bottoms (for some reason the phrase ‘fuck yourself’ comes to mind). The second thing is to decide if the fantasy of the bottom can be realized immediately, or if further preparation is needed. I understand the question regarding the most suited psychological training related to this second question: how to prepare and lead.

Taking into account that both the fantasy and the experience level of top and bottom are very much dependent on the individuals involved, it is hard to give a general advice on what kind of psychological training works best. The most important thing is to find out: a) what kind of bottom someone wants to be, b) to asses in how far this is doable and then c) set out a route to get there. I realize that most dominants just want a bottom to be shaped after their own imagination, but unless a top absolutely knows its own desires, the forming of others can be tricky. For a while it will be fun, but the day will come that either top or bottom find no longer that satisfaction in the play for which they started it. By continuous negotiation it can be achieved that mutual interest are being respected, so – in an altered form - the BDSM-show can go on. Egoist usually do not play very long.

Renitence and roles
If a top or bottom has a lot of experience, there will not be much training required. Most of the times, it will likely be a matter of connection and chemistry. For beginners the issue of training does involve the gathering of playing experience by playing a lot. Once the consent is there, once the mutual desires are shared and the road is planned, the actual training can start.

Coming back to the issue of renitence. Remember that in the form of BDSM which we play in the Dominion of Lord Cameron (DOLC), the play is seen as role play. We are tops and bottoms in a particular situation, or even all the time, but we are not always playing. So seen, training a bottom must not – but can be – a full time job. We are neither always eating, nor swimming, nor kissing. What I mean is that we have to distinguish between being a top or bottom and the expression of being a top or bottom in a play; do we play because we are a top, or are we tops because we play?

From this last question, we can see that role play is complicated. When in addition the distinction between fantasy and real play is taken into account, we come a bit closer to some answers. We have stated our wishes and negotiated a goal; yet while being on BDSM-road - in vicious action I hope – we meet with limits, borders and inner convictions that result in blockades, a change of heart or renitence. As such this is logical human behaviour and we play in order to learn and grow. To achieve growth we have learn to manage certain emotions, get a clear view on how our initial expectations relate to reality and to understand what is difficult for us and why this is so. I regard renitence as nothing but a clue to the solution provided by the one that is going to be even more profoundly bottomed.

Now, what about those tips?
One task for tops in psychologically coach their bottoms is to be found in communication where and why their behaviour needs training. This requires trust and leadership. So, essentially the first strong marker for powerful psychology is the right mind set, and this includes being interested in the development of your bottom and in wanting to lead your bottom. Of equal importance is the willingness of the bottom to accept guidance and correction. If every step or submission needs to be battled for, something is going wrong. Of course, you might have to put that bottom down occasionally, and they will bounce back in return, but you need to be sensible to grasp the dynamics of a play and thus distinguish it from real internal resistance.

This brings us to the second strong marker for powerful psychology: your bottoms feelings are okay. Bringing someone to their designated place is tough, but great work, as such. But we have to understand that while we travel on BDSM-road, we will occasionally have to take a break. Feelings get in our way. This does not occur because feelings are stupid – even when they can be – or that feelings are unimportant. Not at all; feelings are there for a reason; and that reason is that our feelings and that of our bottoms have something to say to us. If we feel lonely, we require attention. If we feel lucky, we might want to share it, or enjoy it in private. If we are feeling scared, we simply may have had a negative experience in the past that we perhaps are no longer even aware of. Yet, such feelings of fear, uncertainty and distrust are not entirely negative. At least, not as long as we understand their role as signs that can help us to better leadership. Understanding feelings and knowing how to manage them is thus paramount to good topping praxis.

The third strong marker for powerful psychology is: trust your gut feelings. As BDSM in the view of the Dominion (OLC) is a rather pro-active form of (sexual) self-expression, trusting your instincts is something you have to be enabled to. To afford to rely on your gut feelings presupposes that you can actually rely on them. Self-knowledge and self-trust are key to good topping. When you are quiet within and surf the emotions of your bottom, you have to ‘feel’ the currents change, ‘hear’ the wind getting stronger or weaker and to ‘taste’ the salty tang of the sea of passion on your ‘virtual’ tongue. If your intuition sucks, you only have your head to rely on. This can work up to a certain extent, but Sir Cameron and his bottoms know that for the real deal, a lot of shadow work needs to be involved and that Sir Cameron being a ‘dark’ Lord is simply because he understands the power of the dark side.

As many foundational motivations in BDSM come from deep inside of us, it comes as no surprise that our intuition and instincts play such a prominent role. I therefore advice any top that wishes to get under the skin of the bottom and deep inside the bottoms head, to study the Jungian psychological concepts of the Shadow and the Anima/Animus complex. Not only will you better understand the depth of BDSM-play, but also you will have a tool to work with. Knowledge is power and much of the power of tops is founded in knowing to do the right things at the right time. Again, I regard intuition as most striking, but also theoretical knowledge and the knowledge that comes from experience are all of vital importance.

This brings us to the fourth strong marker for powerful psychology: learn and practice. Studying BDSM theory is one of the ‘raison d’etre’ of the Dominion (OLC). When knowing what it is that we do, we can not only take responsibility for it (empowerment), but also develop the skills that need a touch more perfection. Besides having the mind-set of a top, acquiring skills is the second pillar of successful topping. BDSM is something that requires a continuous adjustment of imagination towards reality. Feeling the sting, using that snake whip, hearing that bottom lose orgasm control; these things cannot be learned from books alone (and not even from my blogs). BDSM play is practical play the rest is imagination.

Summarizing we can say that practical experience, trusting your guts, management of emotions and being into your bottom are the markers we have been looking for. For those who expected a guide on how to convert that cute decent housewife or market merchant into a docile servant and sex slave may be less happy. Now, Sir Cameron has brought bottoms that never kneel to their knees – and he got a kick out of it – and he has brought bottoms to their limits and beyond – because after all, they want to fall and loose it. Yet, there is simply not a way of copying this or that, as any relationship between top and bottom has its own rules. All we can do is to trace universals.

The biggest insight – for me - is perhaps that the question for psychological ‘tricks’ is in itself a sign of hesitation. A good and healthy sign it is, because knowing what you do and why you do it adds to our safety net - but we have to get beyond the rational part. Once we are top, we should become that viciously sexy pirate that kidnaps the Damsel in Distress, the Inquisitor that let those bottoms confess their sins under torture, the Master that controls that ass and the mind behind it, the Mistress who is truly divine to her slaves, and freely let them drink her ‘blessing’. 

Once we have internalized the tools, once we know them by heart, once we also know their limitations, we can step into that flow anytime, because it now flows through us; the flow whose currents lead us to strange new places and to wonderful bliss; the flow that at the end slows down and brings us to forever land, where little songbirds fly and dreams really do come true.

In remembrance of Eva C. ----

Sir Cameron

P.S. Enjoy and stay healthy

What if your partner does not consent?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

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

Lately I watched a documentary on transgender persons that touched me very much. I have to admit in advance, that the Dominion in general and Sir Cameron in particular is very open minded to most sort of sexual deviance and wishes to be supportive to transgender, transsexual and cross-dressing persons.

Yet, what we shall discuss in this blog is not the theory of gender and sex, nor the possible sexual orientations of LGBTQ persons, but that of their relationship with their partners. For as far as BDSM is concerned, I think we might learn a lesson by the old instrument of analogy. After all, whatever brand of sex or sexual identity you are in too, consenting partners will always be an issue; particularly with kink as it forms one of the criteria by which we regard ourselves as sane or as sick.

As ever, we are exploring, not rejecting. Please feel no offence when we address things that might hurt you; it is not intended.

The fear of being a 'not-normal' person
This might be a tough thing to understand, but whatever issue comes up that involves a gender role, sexual orientation, fetish or kink, most people in our society, neighbourhood, friends and relatives still react on any deviation with disbelief, rejection, repulsion or fear. How much this may hurt, I have always pleaded to remain tolerant, also to those who are not showing tolerance towards us.

Beside, even amongst kinky insiders, old age beliefs regarding gender duality and the classical male-female roles are still very much alive. One of the most frequent questions I get when I admit that I – as a sadist - play kinky scenes with both men, women and transgender persons, is that if I am a homosexual person. My answer is always the same; my whip has no gender.

Yet, I of course understand the need for labels and I use them frequently in this blog. As BDSM theorist one can simply not write adequately without them. On the other hand, a label as a theoretical description is mainly for clarification of a particular urge or behaviour, as a person we are always much more than just this or that.

Are such questions wrong?
Basically, I do not think so. For a start we may simply conclude, that by asking such a question - regarding sexual orientation, perversions being sick or the fear that we will get off track even more – can be a genuine one. It may be that our worldviews collide, it may be an expression of worry, it may be an expression of intolerance; but it is a mere fact that many people carry misconceptions and by being insulted we lose the opportunity to explain. In addition, we force ourselves in the defence, a role that gives us less power and less satisfaction, as we most likely react negative while we feel hurt.

This is one of the points that will be very much depending on where you as a kinkster or person that is outing a sexually different role do live; what place, what culture and in what family circumstances.

The younger generations who grew up with more sexual freedoms as their parents might find many things a bit far-fetched or not an issue at all. I pleases me if that is the case, because it means you are freer as many in the scene actually are or can be.

In the documentary there was a transgender person who outed transsexually as male to female, and who had real fear of being a homosexual. Now, we all know that is nothing to be afraid of, but for this woman, being regarded as a same-sex oriented man felt wrong. So, I do emphasize, in her case, her fear was understandable. Unfortunately, she was married and had children. So once she outed her spouse and her child refused her choice, rejected her sexuality and eventually kept calling her by her old male name. Which, of course, is an utter insult and shows how intolerant, discriminating and hateful people can be, even those you love and care for.

This is the kind of pain many kinks and LGBTQ can understand, as most of us have experienced this kind of reactions and thus we know how it hurts.

Why is consent such an issue?
In my last 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. 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.”

I have to admit, that we – including polyamory, kink, LGBTQ - sometimes still are regarded ‘sick perverts’, even when we play sane, safe and sound and in full consent with our play partners. And here is a novelty that we use in the Dominion. It is not a real novelty, but nonetheless an extension of what is generally regarded as consent, in the sense, that we involve all the partners we are in a relationship with.

This means, that when you are in the position that your partner does not agree with your urges, you will have to negotiate in order to keep your relationship alive. It should be very clearly communicated that this goes both ways. We regard it as poor play when we cheat on our partners, as we give up on them, pursue only our private pleasures and not the wellbeing of our partner(s) and our relationship with them.

We can still love our partner, take care of them, have sex, pay for the mortgage, play soccer with the kids, even when our sexual preference changes. Basically it is an inner development that we more often as not have not sought or opted for. Change is an inherent property of life and not all chances are pleasurable or desirable.

Feelings of guilt, loneliness, anger, pain and despair are understandable and often also justified. What is not justified is the refusal of change. If you e.g. discover at 38 that you are a bi-sexual submissive, this does not mean that your partner has similar feelings, nor should they have. What you however should expect is to be taken seriously with your urges. Love is not unconditional, nor loyalty, but honesty always works best.

Consider, when you bottom with a person of your sex, in what do you actually ‘cheat’ if your partner does not wish to top, nor a sex-change, so in what is that person justified in feeling betrayed? And why is being faithful always connected with sex?

Most likely, the clue will lie in their vision regarding the mutual future, in their perception of the quality of the relationship or in their beliefs perhaps. All perfectly understandable, but it turns out to be a very individual motivation, driven by what your partner loses, feels being taken away from them or by what they regard as sexually unacceptable.

As any person, your partner – and remember partners usually partner for a reason – is entitled to their opinion, but so are you. In an equal partnership, or a partnership of equals there is no other way to deal with change as to speak and argue about it. By seeking to communicate your own needs, you show that you take both your urges and your partner seriously and meanwhile also value your partner’s opinion and consent. By keeping silent, by ‘cheating’ and by living a double life, you harm yourself, your relationship and your reputation. It is not worth it.

By being open to your partners, you show the wish to be at par with them. If they simply reject you and throw you out of the house, they do not see that the other way around. Just like we do towards them, our partners have the obligation to take care of us. By labeling us as perverts, sick or sinners, they are actively seeking justification to move away from their own promises.

In that case, we can regard the ‘label’ as an expression of intolerance, irrespective or it is socially, politically or religiously founded. We can do so, because we hurt no one, take our responsibility and make use of our right to sexual self-expression. There is no reason to feel less humane as others, no medical reason, no ideological reason and no practical reason, as we do not bother them at all.

As with religious intolerance, we can also regard sexual intolerance as an act of fundamentalism.

Yes, but …
No but’s here, I think. Not enabling consenting adults to privately live out their own chosen sexual identity is simply not an act that shows respect to nature’s diversity, the freedom of thought and the very human pursue of sexual happiness. Period.

When your partner, your parents, your friends, your colleagues, your children cannot accept you as who you are, while privately acting as a consenting adult, they are simply being fundamentalist. They may have their reasons for their convictions, but what they actually are doing is to say that their ideas, their beliefs, their urges are more important than ours, that we are not equal in worthiness, that we are not equal in our freedoms and that we are not equal in our rationale.

It will be obvious, that fundamentalist still regard their views as superior, and they may, but they do not have to become a fundamentalist. I know many people who think that my way of life is not working – yet, they do not wish to condemn me, to reject me or to limit my freedoms, as long as I respect their freedoms too.

I have personally been in the situation that my partners eventually could not live with the fact that I am who I am. Some rejected me because I am a sadist, even when I had no BDSM-relationship with them. Other rejected me because I am polyamory, even when I had been open and honest and even sexually faithful and loyal with them. It was not even by my acts that I was rejected, but simply because of my convictions.

Who is poor?
The answer will be obvious; the fundamentalist is poor, because they have not a factual basis for their assumptions – like scientific evidence, a psychologically relevant diagnosis or non-consenting behaviour that harms others – but only an opinion.

We should – in general - respect each other’s opinion, for as far as we have a warranted argument for it, and we even could respect opinions that are unfavourable to us, as long as we are not being forced to live according to their assumptions to what is a healthy sexual expression.

I do not force anyone to have a sex-life like I have it, or even a sex-life at all (and there seems to be quite an unhappy lot in that situation, despite the abundance of opportunities and love available). I do respect the public place and do not display overtly obvious perversions – at least not to the extend as normal television programs or advertising do show stereotypical heterosexual binary gendered macho crap that contain the many lies that make the – at least small - majority of our fellow citizens rather frustrated when it comes to sex and relationships.

Only in this blog, I get rather outspoken. And those in opposition to it, the cross that delivers you is at the upper right corner of this screen.

In this blog I argued about the importance of consent. Not only between those we play with, but with regard to all persons we have an (intimate/romantic) relationship with. I suggested that the pursuance of sexual happiness is legitimate and humane. In order not to do this at the cost of others, I stressed the importance of communication and the mutual respect that we as partners should have; this includes that our partners know what we feel and what we do. Finally, I emphasised the notion of equality in having a right to one’s opinion. When we do not agree, we should part as friends. When we find a work-around, our relationship has gained, not lost. Being open, flexible and vulnerable, is always more difficult, but ultimately better as sacrificing a working relationship for mere ideology.

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

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

On BDSM-Dominance, -submission and Physics

Friday, February 14, 2014

“BDSM-D/s and Physics” is part of the series on BDSM and philosophy

Recently a sub wrote me that there are as many styles of dominance as there are dominants. On face value this seems to make sense, but is it also true? Where should the borders between individual style and structural difference amongst dominants be seen and who is capable to determine a broad validity of the findings?

Yet, what we perceive as dominance, is as any BDSM term necessarily a concept that by its very nature is limited to its practitioners, beholders and opponents who are all set in their individual socio-cultural context including their own convictions about what is ethical behaviour and what is not. In this blog entry on D/s and Physics we will try to figure out what actually influences dominance and submission.

The limits of definitions
While visiting your local or online kinky scene, you will meet different persons, each of them with their individual kink and – what is even more important – their view on kink and that what it is that constitute to ‘real’ BDSM.

As a self-acclaimed BDSM-theorist – because that is what I do when I write essays and BDSM-Blogs like this – I reflect on BDSM from a particular point of view. Yet, I do of course not mean to argue that my theoretical approach is the only valid one, of necessarily a better one, but – and that is what in my opinion separates a mere belief from knowledge – by focusing on the structural side of BDSM instead upon the mainly individual experience of it, I hope to trace, find, understand and explain a few of the sides of BDSM that many of its practitioners – if not all – have in common.

When we take BDSM as it comes to us, we see diversity, but we also see a few specific ways on how BDSM does and does not function. In phantasy and real life, when we engage in BDSM we use the views we have and value that what is happening accordingly. As such, we all understand BDSM and a very practical definition of BDSM would accordingly be (1) BDSM is what feels like BDSM. It will be oblivious that this might be an approach that works for each of us individually, as it is per definition, a very individual feeling by which we relate to BDSM.

But in an attempt to raise BDSM above the personal arbitrariness I will try to come up with a view on Dominance that does not limit this to an individual view. Theoretical reflection on BDSM is not explaining how BDSM or D/s should be or should feel in your experience, but it is rather an attempt to explain what precisely it is that constitutes a BDSM experience in general; which is a much broader interpersonal view. In order to say something sensible in this regard, we shall first look at those properties that seem to qualify BDSM as seen showing up in the conversations between insiders and outsiders; this would be following topics: power exchange, consent, paraphilia’s and sexual preference.

How does power exchange work?
For an answer we would normally start by looking at how the dominant takes away the power from the submissive, stress the consent, etc.; thus arriving at a more or less functional description of power exchange. But I think there is more to say to it.

First of all, what is power? And secondly, why exchange it? In my view these two answers are connected by the very physical notion of strong interaction, which is one of the four forces of nature that lets us perceive the temporal reality of things and occurrences. In nuclear physics we say that two (fundamental) particles exchange energy in the form of another – real or virtual – particle.

To see power as energy, as a flow, as a current or a force is very rewarding in order to understand what is going on in a dungeon. The reason behind this is because the exchange in power is not only involving a structure of command and obedience, but also the notions of sexual tension, feeling energized or drained, flowing into alternate mind states and not to forget the warmth caused by physical actions, like beating, changed body chemistry or fucking.

From the latter we will probably getting an idea why we agree to an exchange of power, but also here there is more to add. Power basically is a force that causes change. As such the exchange is done in order to change;

  • a change in position (of more or less power)
  • a change in energy level (because  power exchange is a sexy and turns us on)
  • a change in perception (as we use roles that differ from our normal situation)

This means that the above mentioned distinction can help us to shed light on why dominance in a BDSM context can be regarded from so many different angles.

When does BDSM qualify as paraphilia?
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. 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.

A free exchange does itself demand consent, but even when consent is given, this does not mean that everything that we wish to do is also healthy or normal. For this reason our community developed safe guards like, safe, sane and sound (SSS) or risk aware consensual kink (RACK).

Much of what is being done in the kinky community can be a topic of discussion when it comes to being ‘sound’ or ‘sane’. From the side of the dominant or top, this evaluation requires a profound knowledge of what is going on, what to do and what not. Beside experience, good skills and a caring attitude, also good negotiations before playing is advisable. Particularly, as the use of power and force can result in seduction, manipulation and scheming. By the management of power a dominant can be defined.

Sexual road maps
Our sexual preferences constitute to our BDSM praxis. As always, differences in sexuality - in its orientation, in its expression and in its intensity – show that sexual characteristics are rather individual and person related. We would therefore be ill-advised if we would go on regarding a particular role or sexual urge as intrinsically worse or better; even regardless from the fact that BDSM needs both roles in order to play effectively.

Our urges are fuelled by what we seek to achieve, by what we dream and phantasize about and by our own mental constitution. A mentally disordered person with paraphilia will have different views of what is desirable as a sounder couple.

But also unexperienced players may have many visions in the safe and consenting frame of their private minds, yet BDSM reality may differ profoundly. As with any activity, we need to check ourselves if we are up to it. Driving a car while having been drinking heavily is a dangerous option. So when it comes to sanity in our play, we need to be honest and attempt to objectively evaluate our current condition. Are we ready? Have we a clear idea of how we will play out the scene? Do we have enough time and proper conditions? What about our safety?

Particularly here, I see the many styles of dominance relating to being a responsible adult or not. Tops that do not distinguish between the history of O from the fifties of the last age and the sex-positive feminist views that go along with many ethical stances by BDSM practitioners, do not qualify for playing with submissives. Unfortunately many still do, using the argument that a submissive or a slave needs to obey, needs to give in and needs to show respect. Basically this is true, provided we know what we are doing, how to do it and how to enjoy what we do by having a good time.

Our mind is leading us; it follows the energy and our instincts. Using our mind in BDSM is just as essential as in any other part of our life. Unrealistic phantasy, not planned scenes, unchecked assumptions and delusional self-image can and will do harm to otherwise sensible BDSM play.

In a later article I will go into more detail into what kind of dominance we theoretically can distinguish. For now this should do as food for our thoughts.

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

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

YANK & the Thunderdome; Do we need another Hero, or just an Answer?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

YANK’ is part on the series on BDSM and sociology

(Definition YANK: Yet another new Kink-Community. Keywords: BDSM community, old age, gender-role, freedom, sex-positivism, postmodern feminism)

Looking for something we can rely on
There's got to be something better out there
Love and compassion, their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
All the children say

We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome

(Partial text of Beyond the Thunderdome; written by T. Britten and G. Lyle)

What was lingering …
It has been a while since my last series of posting in this Blog. The reason is, that Sir Cameron is busy with his Dominion; a virtual realm in which the participants attempt to live a rational BDSM-lifestyle. Even when few of you know about this or are interested in the Dominion of Lord Cameron, it is relevant nevertheless, then as YANK it confronts me with limits, opportunities and many things to consider. Future blog entries will focus on these dynamics and transfer them to your daily life as a kinkster.

So it is today; whether it is the Dominion, your new ‘relationship’ or your Munch-group; we are looking for something … beyond the Thunderdome.

We are the Children, they left behind
The post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie) sort of suits the struggle and battlefield we find during the coming out of the kinky community; a process that has been going on for over forty years now.

It is obvious; the steel cage known as Thunderdome would fit well into our fantasy play, also the primitive and raw way of clothing and acting in the movie reflects the emotional garbage of primal urges that we aim to live out in full splendor. Yet, so many kinksters I meet lately come, to stay in the wordings of the song, Out of the ruins (of vanilla society) Out from the wreckage (of not functioning relationships) and tensed in the awareness that they Can't make the same mistake this time.

An understandable skepticism is what I meet when introducing the Dominion of Lord Cameron; yes, there is openness, interest and curiosity, but also a kind of disbelief, resignation even. Of course, we give it all, or nothing.

While reading the reflections of two academics (Meg Barker and Rosalind Gill) on the blog Bitchy Jones's Diary, they mentioned a few things that reminded me of the reactions that we meet when speaking about our dreams and life-style as expressed in the Dominion-ethical-philosophy. It is the feeling of lost opportunities as Meg Barker mentions:

“the sadness and almost sense of betrayal that the kink community wasn't better than that when there’s so much potential for it.”

In the next few paragraphs I will grossly follow their thoughts.

Why do we expect kink communities to be better?
A genuine question I think. The answer may be that these are not old communities that carry the scent of the old age with them; they are seen as fresh and exciting so accordingly we expect better of them.

But, as Rosalind Gill states, ‘it seems that there is a lot of covert policing going on, they are steeped in ideas of what is and isn't permissible, gender roles and dress codes’.

Why is that?

During the coming out of the closet of the kinky community, several parallels are to be found with other sexual minority groups, like the bi-sexuals, queers or transgenders. The first thing they have in common is the same old enemy of a society that functions like a Thunderdome that keeps the ‘figthers for sexual liberty’ captive and that, secondly, only let the victims go at great costs: ripped off from their roots, their beliefs, their communities and often alienated from relatives and friends. For those amongst my readers who think this is an exaggeration I suggest they should go out as a cross-dresser and see the nice and tolerant reactions from the ‘enlightened’ people in the streets.

Barker mentions rightly, that – like LGBTQ groups – kink liberation is “formulated on critique of heteronormativity and vanilla sexual practices, so we expect better of them.” The question is – again- why? Why should a movement that is driven by a counter-reaction, a protest, provide a better base for success?

A possible answer would of course be that by taking the critique on former views into account we might come up with a better functioning alternative. When studying the scientific developments - as they slowly deal with the functioning reality of kinky communities - there are indicators that we indeed have established an alternative sexuality and proper ways of expressing it. Encouraging is also the research of Richters in Australia that shows that engagement in BDSM was not significantly related to any sexual difficulties and concluded that BDSM is simply a sexual interest and for most is not a pathological symptom of past abuse or problems with “vanilla” sex. (Richters, et al., 2008)

Something we of course knew all along. And that may also be the core of our ‘problems’; the covert policing, the ideas of what is and isn't permissible with regard to gender roles and dress codes. The resistance culture eventually turned inwards and the orthodox were not orthodox enough (we must all be Mad Max) and the reformers are too feminist, too intellectual, too less old school.

But there is something to say to that; when I see how the ‘fifthy shade tourism’ is affecting my local kinky community, it is easy to see that what once were the ‘hero’s’ in respect to kink, now are regarded as ‘weird’.

As a group we no longer are first generation kinks, I am not, only few in my Dominion are. Yet, we are still struggling against the same biases of Thunderdome and increasingly more inside our ‘own’ BDSM community. Inequality between tops and bottoms is carried beyond the play rooms, as if 24/7 is the only sensible alternative. But even there, equality, love, respect and care between the partners are a mere necessity; it would not function any other way.

So in a sense, indeed the relationship issues are key in how we live together: the issues of respecting gender, sexual orientation and chosen form of relationship, may be more critical as the power exchange based dominance and submission themes.

As I cannot speak on behalf of the entire BDSM community and only for my own Dominion rulings, I will nevertheless advocate a few things that I regard as an assignment of the BDSM scene as a whole:

  1. We definitely need more research on and acceptance of queer, transgender and polyamory BDSM participants.
  2. Accordingly we require a change of mind with regard to the question what rules kink; sexual pleasure based on gender dynamics or dominance/submission based on power exchange.
  3. We definitely need more real representation of female desire when it comes to sexualizing men and not the behavior that ‘sells’ because it mirrors the male and phallus focused sexual desire.
  4. Reflecting on how the meta-narratives of public opinion makers and social institutions still limit our freedom to define our own actions and appearance.

Yes, I know that most of you readers think this sucks big time; and in a way it does, because for Sir Cameron it means more time writing and less time for playing his lovely bottoms. Yet, the alternative is that BDSM is domesticated by the post-modern discourse of the filthy-shades tourist generation: the discussions of multiculturalism and x-th-wave feminism are relevant for our future and therefore we must either engage or loose our freedom of self-expression.

Perhaps the sadness that BDSM has not delivered to many of us what we hoped to gain from it, is caused by the loss of dreams and ideals. This Blog, the Dominion, the ever changing and evolving stream of BDSM activities are perhaps not advocating dreams, but rather work. If we want something, we should go for it, or mourn like the left behind generation.

So, what do we do with our lives
We leave only a mark
Will our story shine like a light
Or end in the dark
Give it all or nothing

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

Literature & Links

- Barker, Meg and Gill, Rosalind (2012). Sexual subjecti´Čücation and Bitchy Jones’s Diary. Psychology and Sexuality, 3(1) pp. 26–40 (Meg Barker is a psychology lecturer at the Open University and a practising therapist. Rosalind Gill is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at King's College London and author.)

- Richters, J., de            Visser, R.O., Rissel, C.E., Grulich, A.E. & Smith, A.M.A. (2008). Demographic and psychosocial features of participants in bondage and discipline, “sadomasochism” or dominance and submission (BDSM): Data from a national survey. Journal of Sexual Medicine, Vol 5(7), Jul 2008, 1660-1668.

- Movie:

- Song:'T-NEED-ANOTHER-HERO-THUNDERDOME-lyrics-Tina-Turner/B639405FE74C5DF248256918002E909F