Article about BDSM scene not being any more egalitarian than anywhere else.

(112 Posts)
FastidiaBlueberry Sat 26-Jan-13 19:58:46

I suppose I'm not surprised by this. I don't have anything against BDSM sex per se, but I do think it's absurd to pretend that it's somehow less likely to involve abuse and coercion than any other kind of sex.

article here

Stropzilla Sat 02-Feb-13 19:17:57

AFAIK if someone doesn't stop at the first sign of the sub using a safeword, that person will very quickly lose any potential partners as ignoring safewords is not tolerated.

Having said that you shouldn't put yourself in a situation with someone you don't trust. Just like with anything else. And why the assumption we're all into pain? I may be a sub but pain really doesn't enter into it for me and God help anyone who doesn't respect that. I'm not there to be abused.

Sometimes I think I have more power as a sub. After all, you have to be willing to give up power and can just as easily take it back if I choose!

Not particularly. Over my 20 years or so of involvement, I have found most people to be non-abusive and decent human beings. I've heard it said (though have no data handy) that the percentage of abusers on the scene is about the same as off the scene. After all, plenty of abusers have no interest in BDSM whatsoever.

It's also worth bearing in mind that a lot of us reasonable human beings on the scene deplore abuse as much as non-BDSM people do, and that we act to help people who are being abused. As someone said upthread, if you are pestered or assaulted against your wishes in a BDSM club, it's usually easy to get your attacker reprimanded and evicted from the premises, whereas in a 'straight' nightclub the bouncers tend not to want to know.

FloraFox Sat 02-Feb-13 18:18:17

Sgb but other social groups don't involve acting out the abusive behaviour. Anyway surely the scene is a magnet for abusers?

TeiTetua Sat 02-Feb-13 18:06:05

"Yes, there are some abusive people to be found on the BDSM scene. But I would really struggle to name any kind of social group or hobby group that could be absolutely guaranteed free from predators, bullies, manipulators and people with harmful-to-others personality disorders."

Indeed. But then your last paragraph pretty much explains what's special about BDSM--that the whole setup lets some people dominate over others, and so a man who genuinely hates women might join in, thinking he has free rein (Hah!) to put his ideas into action. "We're not like that really" may be true, but it's not a game I'd want to play. Too many reminders of people's worst side.

Yes, there are some abusive people to be found on the BDSM scene. But I would really struggle to name any kind of social group or hobby group that could be absolutely guaranteed free from predators, bullies, manipulators and people with harmful-to-others personality disorders. (I have direct experience of individual radical feminists being thoroughly unpleasant...)

BDSM is something that some people are very interested in and others not interested in at all (except, in some cases, being very interested in condeming and preventing it). It's something I've been involved in for 20 years; I'm a dominant, not a submissive and my understanding of the submissive(male or female) mindset is not from direct experience. However, some people I have talk to like the escapism aspect, others like the challenge aspect, others still are into the physical sensations. (Why do some people like extreme sports or rollercoaasters or horror films, for example?).

Mind you, FWIW and this is only a personal assessment: over about the last 10-12 years the number of male dickheads appearing on the scene and appearing to use 'Oh it's BDSM' as a justification of abuse seems to have increased. However, conversely, the growth of the scene via websites and chatrooms and discussion forums has also led to people being able to reach out to one another so that a woman being abused by a nasty 'male dom' can be advised by other people that he is a dickhead and she can LTB, without a whole load of additonal judgmental scaremongering that percieves BDSM itself as the problem.

snowshapes Sat 02-Feb-13 14:04:16

hi, I realise there have been many other things going on on this board, but I have been thinking about this, and said I would come back to your comments.

Beachcomer, I read the blog, thank you. I tend to agree with the analysis, but the sample were self-selecting in so far as it is people who were involved enough or interested enough to seek out an ad and respond. I'm wondering about the many people who get involved in their own homes and relationships and don't need to seek out a partner.

One More Chap, my initial response, which I didn't get around to posting, to your question ' do you have a problem with that [F/m, M/m, I presume] because they are ... what, imitating a M/F power dynamic and supporting it as valid?' - was no, I have a problem with it because it is violence. But then when Beachcomer mentioned BDSM being 'rapey', it clicked that this is my main issue with M/f.

To the question of agency, I always find this a difficult one. Everyone can exercise agency, even in the most degraded and poor circumstances. The point is about the circumstances and context in which agency is exercised and what it means on various levels.

And questioning whether it is a valid choice turns the debate around, because if you say, no, I don't think so, it sounds like you are denying women a choice or doing down the choices they do make. I would question what that choice actually means, how much of an informed, self-aware choice it really is at an individual level, but far more, my issue would be with a man (because it is mainly men) who makes the choice to hit and sexually degrade a woman for pleasure, however that pleasure is defined.

So, yes, late back to this, but something I have been thinking about for various reasons.

snowshapes Thu 31-Jan-13 04:45:10

Have read, will come back and comment at a sensible hour

Beachcomber Wed 30-Jan-13 23:17:29

I'm quoting someone else here but this says it for me;

BDSM is the fetishisation of the power differential that exists between men and women. It is a patriarchal practice and as such, deserves scrutiny from a feminist perspective.

No one is saying you can’t engage in it if you want to, and no one is saying you don’t really really enjoy it. But feminist it is not. It’s getting off on your own disenfranchised position in society, and don’t expect feminists to not say so.

OneMoreChap Wed 30-Jan-13 10:04:29

* snowshapes*
It kind of makes more sense that a man, used to power, might give up his socially dominant position for sexual kicks, but exercising it? I do find that problematic.

I read that there fewer women are keen to be dominant IRL, which is why there's such a pay to play thing for submissive men.

However, there are dominant women - and do you have a problem with that because they are ... what, imitating a M/F power dynamic and supporting it as valid?

Is this a bit about what is a truly valid choice for women, and do they have agency to make that choice?

Beachcomber Wed 30-Jan-13 09:44:45

I mean BDSM is presented as subversive when there is nothing subversive about it at all. It is horribly conformist.

Beachcomber Wed 30-Jan-13 09:42:19

I agree with you snowshapes. I find the use of 'slave' situations or torture or anything military/nazi absolutely horrifying . Do these people have no respect?

And it is all so rapey. (When it isn't actually rape)

Nine Deuce wrote some good articles on the subject of BDSM a while back.

rageagainstthemanchine.com/?s=BDSM&submit=Search

What she writes about the men who wanted to do BDSM with her is very revelatory of the mind-set.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Wed 30-Jan-13 00:11:04

Interesting musings snowshapes.

snowshapes Tue 29-Jan-13 22:50:45

>>And it eroticizes the submission/domination power dynamic upon which male supremacy is founded<<

I guess that is what I am struggling with - that it eroticises a power dynamic which has profound consequences for every day life, beyond the scene - I mean, in general and not (only?) for the couples taking part.

I'm thinking of things like that terrible flogging of the girl in Swat a few years back, or of whipping of slaves on plantations. It might seem far removed, but is it really?

I guess if you step out of the scene as a submissive woman, and look around you at the advantages and privilege your male dominant partner has, I find it hard to see how you can let yourself be physically beaten and controlled, when social structures do it metaphorically. If that makes sense. Metaphorically is not the right word, I mean, not literally, but in terms of keeping women down.

It kind of makes more sense that a man, used to power, might give up his socially dominant position for sexual kicks, but exercising it? I do find that problematic.

Just musing on this some more. I will leave it now, though, I'm too tired.

Andro Tue 29-Jan-13 17:14:36

OneMoreChap-the BDSM scene is still thriving around the world...with all gender combinations.

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 16:49:06

There were a range of bathouses, and in some there was quite a BDSM scene. ISTR an accidental fire where a couple of men were killed, whilst restrained.

As I say my reading is quite out of date, and I don't know what - if any - the scene is like there now.

Beachcomber Tue 29-Jan-13 16:43:09

I don't understand what you mean. Gay men having sex in bathhouses is not BDSM.

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 16:37:25

Unsure how the male gay bathhouses in SF in the 70 erotcized female oppression per se; like the phrase "the submission/domination power dynamic upon which male supremacy is founded", and as I said "you can view that from a feminist perspective".

Most scene players I've met would disagree with that reading.
[Disclaimer: I have no interest in that sort of play, I can see no reason why anyone would enjoy pain, and couldn't smack a woman even if she wanted me to...]

Beachcomber Tue 29-Jan-13 16:32:37

OK - so it eroticizes male violence.

And it eroticizes the submission/domination power dynamic upon which male supremacy is founded.

In other words it eroticizes female oppression - and lots of feminists find that pretty offensive and anti-woman.

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 16:14:27

Beachcomber
See this is why BDSM is so patriarchal and serves to prop up patriarchal thinking...And lots of feminists think that BDSM should be discussed because it erotisizes violence against women and a lot of it is violence against women.

Surely it also eroticses violence against men and a lot of it is violence against men.

My reading's way out of date on this, but if nothing else isn't there a thriving gay BDSM culture? Certainly used to be in San Francisco in the 70s/80s and while you can view that from a feminist perspective, it's hard to say it's intrinsically anti-woman

Beachcomber Tue 29-Jan-13 13:13:04

See this is why BDSM is so patriarchal and serves to prop up patriarchal thinking. Because as soon as you analyse it (I'll analyse what I like thanks Branleuse) people start saying 'but I like it so I don't want you discussing it'. And then the discussion gets shut down because people want sex to be off limits for political discussion - despite the fact that we live in a sex hierarchy.

BDSM is not practised in a social vacuum on another planet by people who have not been socialized by patriarchy.

And lots of feminists think that BDSM should be discussed because it erotisizes violence against women and a lot of it is violence against women. There are plenty of stories of women being abused, raped, safe words ignored, pressured to not use safe words, passed around other men, etc. And of course 'the scene' attracts nasty bastards who get off on abusing women and are provided with the perfect cover for their activities because it is consensual.

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 23:08:55

Thanks, Andro, helpful comments.

>the line is where there has been no study/appreciation of a good D/s relationship <

I think that makes sense. I actually think that is a fairly important point.

To your last paragraph, I do get what you are saying. The problem is really what it has taken for me to recognise my own needs, not everyone has a clear sense of self to start with for various reasons, so I wouldn't see it as that black and white.

But yes, I totally understand that people have different perspectives. I'm just trying to understand the ways in which a healthy D/s relationship might work, and why under other conditions, it could be damaging, or an expression of damage.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 22:45:50

which suggests a clear line between those in the scene and those outside it. Not being flippant, but how is that line drawn?

There isn't a clear line in practice; many people explore the fringes of BDSM a think nothing of it (a couple of silk scarves or a blindfold on naughty weekend away for example), yet few would want to explore the D/s lifestyle or heavy bondage.

I would suggest that the line is where there has been no study/appreciation of a good D/s relationship - but that's arbitrary at best.

I take your point about the control aspect and will only say this; for you it has negative connotations and that's fine, you know yourself and your own needs. Others find a strong positive in handing over that control...and many of them would no more be able to understand your perspective than you do theirs.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 22:26:57

over and out. silenced.
i dont need to defend what Im into anymore than you do about what you like.
noones business.

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 22:22:17

thank you snow

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 22:18:04

JustAHolyFool, I hope you are okay.

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