Should there be a higher age of consent for taking part in bdsm than for other sex?

Consent is the key to bdsm. Consent is the difference between bdsm and assault, just as it’s the difference between lovemaking and rape. Still, “consent” isn’t always easy to define. For example, anyone who has given consent because their judgement is impaired by an intellectual disability, a psychiatric condition, or because they are too drunk or drugged to know what they are doing, is not considered to have consented in legal terms, or in the ethical codes recommended by most bdsm organisations.

BDSM is very alert to consent issues, partly because we need to make consent very explicit and specific, to avoid submissive coming to harm by being pushed into practices they didn’t really consent to.

And partly, I think, because we – I think; I’m just guessing, extrapolating from myself – find the gestures and words of consent are sexy in their own right.

The words “I want it”, which are sometimes pronounced, “punish me; I deserve it”, are some of the sexiest sounds in the universe, round my way.

Age of consent laws

Most governments specify a minimum age at which a young person is considered able to consent to sexual activity. The age varies from one legal system to another. It’s 16 where I live, and 20 where the poor South Koreans live. 

Look, Helen Mirren once starred in a film called “Age of Consent”, and spent a lot of screen time being naked.
So this is a relevant, non-gratuitous illustration. Really!

People sometimes argue for higher minimum ages of consent for various kinds of minority sexual activity. Like there used to be – probably still are, in some places – discriminatory age of consent laws for gay sex compared to heterosexual sex. So that a young woman can use her cunt as she sees fit from 16, while a young man who is gay (also his lover) would have to wait till the young man was 18 before his asshole was legally, um, accessible. 

I’ve sometimes heard that bdsm should have a discriminatory age of consent. When a 16 year-old girl or boy says, “Whip me, Master, or as the case may be, Mistress”, does that 16 year-old know what they are doing? 

I think the answer is “probably not, not really, in most cases”. But I think the same is true of sexual intercourse, and there are good reasons why we allow kids to make their own mistakes and their own successes, from around that time.

Oddly, although most legislators are likely to find a minor’s participation in bdsm more alarming than intercourse, many bdsm activities may not be covered by age of consent laws because there may be no genital contact of any kind, or even undressing. However, other laws, for example the lesser charge of indecency to a minor, would presumably apply, and anyone who fell foul of those laws would be unlikely to get much sympathy from a jury, or (not that it matters) from me. 

Anyway, I don’t think the consequences of bad sexual intercourse choices are actually less significant than those of bad bdsm choices. In sexual intercourse potential bad consequences include pregnancy, getting raped after withdrawing consent, falling in love with a bad, destructive person, disease, and so on. The consequences of bad bdsm choices, especially submissive choices, overlap with those, except that there is probably less risk of pregnancy or disease, and higher risk of being pushed into scenarios harder and faster than they should. 

But consequences like rape and, say, a spanking that expands into a serious assault, are already covered by the law: they are illegal regardless of the age of the victim, and therefore not really relevant to discussions about ages of consent.  

Did I mention that”Age of Consent”  film with Helen Mirren? (Based on a Norman Lindsay novel, it’s a better film than you’d expect from the title.)

I suspect the idea that kinky sex leads to greater harm is partly based on simple distaste for kinky sex, and not on objectively thinking about consequences. 

There’s also a principled objection to having discriminatory age of consent laws, which is that they are discriminatory.

More importantly, perhaps, there are practical objections. There’s no age of consent that fits the individual circumstances of every young person. We have to accept that the law is only trying to set out a general protective principle without stopping young people from experimenting and experiencing.

A government that issued a range of different consent ages for different sexual activities would make lawyers rich but have no effect on what young people do.

Information for young people is the best protection.

Disclaimer

This is what I think, at the moment, from first principles. I’m open to argument, either way. 

Fitness, fucking and domming

Right now, I’m the most unfit I’ve ever been in my life. 

This is a very bad thing. I’m used to being thought of as good-looking, and what I see in the mirror at the moment is not that. I see a man, probably with a nice enough face, with a gut on him. 

I have a feeling that this is worse for doms than for most men. There seems to be two competing factors:

1 Women are, by and large, more forgiving of not-great male bodies than men are of women. But – 

2 A dom is expected to have his act together. If he can’t discipline himself, how can he claim the right to rule and discipline someone else? 

Because of Rule 1, I’ve seen a lot of men in pubs, trying to pick up women and often succeeding. The men are beer-gutted hoons, or bogans.

These are New Zealand and Australian terms, but I don’t think I need to translate them. They’re onomatopoeia.

The girls are fragrant, pretty flowers ranging between elfin-slender and pretty-girly-plumpness.But Rule 1` empowers the men to at least try it on. 

The disparity in attractiveness doesn’t seem to do the men much harm. 

I think it matters more for doms. I’ve heard women submissive complain about soft-bellied doms, and… at the moment that’s me.

I played Saturday morning footy in the park today. It was a hell of a shock to the system, because everybody was fitter than me. But I am a proud man, so I pushed myself and tackled people, and tried for goals, and so on. I think I scored one. Everybody else did better. 

Then I went home and gasped for an hour before I could rouse myself to have a shower.

Anyway, I’m reducing my stomach.

When a woman is across my knee, the only fleshly thing around should be her ass. 

Tender

Every good submissive needs aftercare. After a punishment, or a session. 

The body is suspicious of pain. It wants to know why it hurts, and how to interpret that assault.

A submissive who’s been punished hard, or used hard, and now has welts and bruises, needs to know that he or she is loved and cared for, valuable and special. 

That has a practical reason. It prevents or at least limits sub drop, the state of self-doubt and depression that can come in and bring the submissive’s emotional and physical state down, after the landing from flying through sub space. It’s like an ecstasy reaction, and like the eccie hangover, it sometimes comes immediately the effect wears off, and sometimes it comes a couple of days later. 

So the Dom needs to give the submissive a lot of love and affection and tangible signs of caring, to reduce the drop, and give the submissive some things he or she can hold on to, and use to fight the negative feelings that can follow a session.

That obligation can’t be discharged in one session. Some submissives need immediate aftercare only, but others need immediate aftercare, and a second course one or two days later.

Tenderness is a crucial part of aftercare: the hugs, the soft, loving words, the treats, the warm bath where the dom shampoos the submissive’s hair, the love-making afterwards.

But it’s more than aftercare. I think, anecdotally, that all doms in a long-term bdsm relationship love their submissive. With the physical and emotional intensity of bdsm, and the awesome power of the submissive’s surrender, it’s hard not to.

Sometimes we show that love in a harsh, cruel way, knowing that the submissive needs our harshness in order to take flight. And sometimes we’re just tender, because that’s how we feel.  

Tenderness is kind of underrated in bdsm literature, especially the sexy porn literature. But in reality, it’s essential. 

Why might left-wing people have more bdsm fantasies than right-wingers?

There was a study released a few days ago on the sexual fantasies of Americans. You can find a link to an article by the researcher here. The study took in 4,175 people across the 50 states, and asked them about people, places and things that turn them on. 

We won’t dwell on the “people” side of it, except to say that a lot of people wanted to fuck Sarah Palin, which is weird. So, IMHO, are the people who want to do Hillary. I was also surprised by the fact that Bill Clinton was fancied by more people than Obama. That’s got to be the weird American race barrier, because otherwise that seems kind of inexplicable.

Democrats fucking

Anyway, the interesting finding was that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to have fantasies about partner-swapping, orgies and other non-monogamous sex, while Democrats were more likely than Republicans to fantasise about bdsm. 

The article in Politico doesn’t tell us how the researcher, Justin Lehmiller, selected his sample. He also doesn’t tell us what the actual numerical differences were, between Republican and Democrat fantasies.

That’s why my heading includes the word “might”. Ordinarily I’d take the whole thing with a grain of salt, but I’m prepared to at least discuss it because it falls into the category of “possibly suss research that happens to fit in with my own anecdotal experience”.

Republicans fucking

Anyway, Lehmiller’s explanation for the difference he claims to have found is  the attraction of “taboo.” Republicans are big on “family values”, so non-monogamy is forbidden and hot, for them.

Democrats believe in equality so the inequality of dominant/submissive roles is forbidden and hot for them.

I don’t think that’s it.

In practice, bdsm isn’t the place you’d go if you want unequal relationships. You want “traditional patriarchal Christian marriage” for that shit. Bdsm insists on equality as a starting point, from which you negotiate unequal power, and it insists on explicit consent. And the power is never really unequal. If the submissive isn’t getting what he or she wants, their Dom will become their ex-Dom in about the time it takes to speak the words, “Fuck you!”

If you believe in clear consent, bdsm is one place you’ll find that. Someone could argue that that’s what draws left-wing people to bdsm. I suspect that only plays a minor role, though. 

But there are good reasons why conservatives don’t much like bdsm. In particular, bdsm is anti-authoritarian. In bdsm people play “power difference” for sexual pleasure. Conservatives tend to think that’s very disrespectful to the rightful authorities. Particularly men of the church, who prefer their power over sexual matters to be non-consensual and unquestioned.  

Anarcho-syndicalist giraffes are way sexier than either donkeys or elephants.

I think the reason why Democrats are more likely than Republicans to have bdsm fantasies is pretty much the opposite of Lemiller’s “taboo” theory. That is, social acceptance off bdsm is relatively new and it is still happening. But it’s got a firm toe-hold in the culture.

Just as Democrats were faster to pick up on gay rights and dignity issues, they are more likely to feel that governments should keep out of bdsm consensual sexual activity. In the process, they are making bdsm less taboo.

That is, Democrats are more likely to fantasise about bdsm hotness (if that’s the case; note reservations about the research) not because it’s their “forbidden”, but because for them it’s less forbidden.

The responsibilities of fictional characters in erotica

A lot of people have attacked the fictional character Christian Grey for being a bad dom. Of course, he’d be a terrible dom if he was real. He stalks lip-biting inner-goddess Anastasia, spanks her and takes a strap to her arse, all without her consent. 

I’m sure he behaved badly in the second two books as well, but I haven’t been able to read them. Call me a snob and call me a cab, but after skimming Volume One I was out of there. 

If Christian Grey were a real person bdsm communities would have warnings about him, for his weird, unethical and non-consensual behaviour. He’d finish up getting charged with assault and being in the centre of a massive media scandal: “Billionaire in kinky love-nest rape!” That sort of thing.

However, as a fictional character his behaviour is a lot better. He’s made a lot more women come, with Fifty Shades in one hand and their bits in the other, than any thousand real doms combined. Even if you include me. That’s a significant contribution to human happiness, and you can’t ignore it.

As a fictional character, my main criticism of Christian Grey is that he doesn’t do nearly enough spanking and commanding and binding the Anastasia of Steel. I skimmed Fifty Shades Freed looking for the bdsm scenes so I could critique them, but I never found any. I’m sure I just didn’t look hard enough.  

In the interminable schoolgirl spanking saga I’m writing, there are two headmasters, and they initiate certain of their students into various kinky sexual practises. Obviously, if they were real and lived in our world, they’d both belong in jail.

They’re not breaking age-of-consent laws, and the age gap between them and their charges isn’t all that great: about eight years.

But they’re in a position of authority and there’s no question at all that they’re misusing their authority in ways that, uh, conflict with the criminal code in any civilised society. 

On the other hand, these two imaginary men are written to give pleasure to their readers, and my impression is that my spanking headmasters, like the “naughty schoolgirl” scenario itself, appeal particularly to a female audience. I am that audience’s humble servant. 

There is, eventually, a happy ending to the Jennifer-and-Maddie saga, but at the rate at which time moves in my stories, that ending will probably arrive some time in 2021. In the meantime, my point is, I’m happy to write it and make it as sexy as possible. While being fervently against corporal punishment and sex between teachers and students in the real world. 

 

I’m not saying that fictional characters have no ethical requirements at all. We erotica writers who consider ourselves to be on the side of the angels (especially the sexy, spankable, fuckable angels) don’t write bestiality, or eroticise rape, or write scenarios involving people under eighteen, though the age of consent where I live is sixteen.

But still, there is a difference, a space, between fantasy and real life, and it’s a space that erotica writers spend a lot of time in. It’s fluid and it’s complex, like the best sex, and we need to defend our freedom to have erotic fantasies that are perfectly sexy without necessarily being perfectly ethical.

We know the difference between fiction and fantasy, on the one hand, and the real world, in the other.

We need to take action in the real world to challenge the beliefs and indulgences that make it far too easy for men to rape and get away with it, and to give support to organisations that support women who’ve been subjected to rape and other violence.

At the same time, we need to defend our right to have erotic fantasies, and to share them with others.

Erotica is a powerful tool for improving human happiness, and for helping people to find and explore their own erotic selves without censorship or condemnation. 

Pleasure is, at least, undervalued. It shouldn’t be shamed.

On the non-funniness of sex

A thing that puritans, especially religious conservatives, often say is that sex is funny. He, and it’s always a he, will talk about how he and his wife like to have a good laugh when they’re having sex. They’re always laughing. 

I don’t believe them, or if it’s true I’m sorry for them, especially the woman. Sex is a peak of emotion and raw physical body need; there’s no place for “funny” in there, at least if you’re a participant wanting to commit yourself and enjoy yourself. 

Sex matters: humour is sexual anti-matter.

There are exceptions, of course. If my partner is trying to do something ambitious and she accidentally sticks her elbow in my eye, say, I’m going to laugh, to relieve tension and let her know it’s ok. But that’s going to be quick, a moment, to keep the sex going. That moment itself, and an “ah, stuff happens” laugh are momentary to keep the overall mood going.

In itself there’s nothing sexy about the problem, or my response. 

The funniest thing that ever happened to me during sex involved trying to put a contraceptive diaphragm into the twat of a lovely girl who thought the stars were god’s daisy chain and used that form of contraception. I coated the diaphragm with spermicide, which got it mildly slippery, and tried to slip in in. 

Yeah, it’s simple, so long as you or your lover are a cut-away cartoon woman…

But diaphragms have springy sides, and sure enough it escaped my fingers and sproinged off to the other side of the room. Flew like it yearned to be free. So I picked it up, washed it, and coated the fucking thing with spermicide again.

I lined it up to the squishy cunt of my lovely girl, who thought that every time a pixy sneezed a flower was born, and slid the first few centimetres in. Triumph, and hardening cock. Until the fucking thing sproinged free again. Hit a different corner of the room.

So I collected it, cleaned it, and applied slippery spermicide again, and came back to the bed.

Readers, this happened four times before I successfully got the thing in. Into the yummy cunt of my lovely girl who thought that the weeping of angels causes the rain. And, readers, believe me when I say my cock was soft.

Believe me, these things can fly. And they want to.

It was funny, sure. And my patience and ability to not get too upset was probably a good thing. But sexy? If sex is Madrid, and it might be, then that was Christchurch, a ruined city on almost exactly the other side of the planet from sex. 

Anyway, we were in our twenties, so motivation was extremely high, and we managed to recover and get down to fucking.

But the lesson I learned was this. Spare me, please, from all things funny during sex. 

I think the “sex is funny” crowd actually don’t like sex. They are uncomfortable with the emotional and physical nakedness and need, and by the way that cocks get hard and spurty, and cunts get plump and wet and slippery, and people make strong faces they’d never make if they were self-conscious. So they say it’s funny, all those bottoms bobbing up and down.

But the claim that sex is funny is just an acceptable way of saying what they really think, which is that sex is disgusting. There’s no dignity in it, and precious little self-control and self-presentation.  And it’s got… bodies.

So when I’m doing sexy things, I hope to be a lot of things, intense, kind, cruel, competent. But funny? No. Fuck off with your funny. 

Postscript

I’ve never really expressed my cold, congealed contempt for the Literary Review‘s annual Bad Sex Awards. Maybe that’s a post for another day. 

Slave names

I once spent a week with a woman who’d contacted me because she liked my writing. But  there were major differences between us. I tend to see bdsm as loving, and not at all demeanning. She liked to be demeaned. She liked to be treated like a dog, when we were doing bdsm or fucking. 

I don’t mean like really fucking an actual, real dog: I’ve no experience in fucking canines. It’s not just that it’s illegal and there are ethical consent issues. I’m afraid I’ve never fancied one.

I admired my dog Elric, because he was clever. Also, he was once bullied by a huge German Shepherd, who mock-mounted him as an expression of dominance. Elric thought about it, decided he didn’t like that, and while the German Shepherd was still preening, Elric put his front paws on the Shepherd’s back and mounted him, making doggy pelvic thrusts against the Shepherd’s arsehole. 

I still remember the amazed fury in the German Shepherd’s face. He couldn’t believe it, but he was as angry as a dog gets. A fight broke out that Elric would have lost, badly, if it had gone on for thirty seconds. Luckily I was wearing knee-high leather dom boots that day, and I waded in and separated them, kicking the shit out of the German Shepherd until he backed off, and occasionally booting Elric when he tried to keep the fight going. How I got out that with my skin intact, in retrospect I’ll never know.

Something protects idiots, and Elric and I were both that. But despite that, we never got round to having sex, Elric and I. So when this woman wanted to be fucked as one would fuck a dog, I really was at a loss. 

Woofsie!

But in practise it turned out to mean that I lashed her with a short single-tail whip and called it a dogwhip, and I shouted a lot of commands you’d shout at a dog: “Roll over!”, “Down, girl!”, “Sit! Stay!” and so on. Then I’d say things like, “You filthy, stinky dog! You useless mongrel bitch! You worthless carpet-pissing, slipper-chewing, lazy, should-be-spayed, stupid farting ANIMAL!” 

And she would groan with arousal. I was quite proud, actually, of being verbally inventive in a genre I’d never even thought about before. But I’m a Dom who likes to please. Anyway, all human experience is good. That which does not bore us makes us strong. 

Anyway, she wanted me to name her, and call her, “pigcunt” . So I did. pigcunt the dog.

Soon after, I met a girl who was much closer to my worldview and style. We became Master and slave. And she insisted that I give her a slave name. So I called her “curious oyster”

She was endlessly hungry for knowledge, which explained the ‘curious’, and she had a remarkably pretty and demanding cunt, which is what ‘oyster’ meant.

Usually I called her oyster, because it seemed sexy to me, and her, that she was named after her cunt.

The next submissive girl I really loved I called “pixie tinkerbelle”, because that reflected how I felt about her. The name was because she was full of mysterious and unexpected knowledge and skills. Also, she needed spanking at every and any given moment. 

But a few days ago I was talking to a guy who’d been a switch but was wanting to slip into the submissive role because he’d met and spent some time with a dom woman. It had gone well, and they were about to enter a live-in Mistress/slave relationship. She’d ordered him to come up with a slave name. He asked me what I thought.

I thought he should indicate whether he wanted a demeaning or a loving slave name, but after that it’s a dom’s job to observe their sub or slave and give them a name based on what the dom sees in them.

I hate people who tell others in bdsm that they’re Doing It Wrong, but I sort of thought the dom woman was doing it wrong, maybe from a lack of confidence. But I suggested that he should help her find that confidence. The naming was her job.    

 

Also goodbye Elric, my beautiful labrador-samoyed cross: I never did get round to fucking you (and wouldn’t in, oh, a million years), but I sure loved you. 

(Yeah, he was named after an albino Melnibonéan prince. I was reading Moorcock a lot at the time I got him as a puppy. Late adolescence. ) 

Anecdote: Dom life, and being a “good” man

A while back I was running a law project. It helped get representation for people who were being fucked over by cops, generally because they were black, or young, female and blue-haired, or gay, or poor, and so on. It meant getting into confrontation with cops a lot. Sometimes it meant having to confront them physically, because they’re used to being able to beat people up without much risk of their victims being believed or having the power to do anything about it.

So although I hate confrontation, let alone violence, I found myself getting into violent confrontations on a fairly regular basis. I wasn’t an adrenalin junky at all; but I was a justice junky.

The big thing was to have people with cameras, and people who looked useful in a fight and not scared of cops. That meant that cops wouldn’t do the violence they’d intended when they set out. So there’d be stand-offs. A quick anonymous bashing, with their number badges off, wasn’t an option. So it usually ended peacefully.

But it was risky. I’d do macho posturing during the head-to-heads, and afterwards if there were girls watching, but it always scared the shit out of me.

Anyway, there was a girl whose landlord wanted her out. The landlord had cop friends who were prepared to act, illegally, as eviction agents. I defended her, and was both virtuous and heroic. I put myself in harm’s way for her because that was my job, and in the end I won, and the cops backed off and left her alone.

Talking afterwards, at her place, we were kind of attracted. Which means I fancied the arse off her and she thought I might be all right: I’m just declaring the average.

But because we’d met in a context where I was a sort of heroic community activist, and I thought she fancied the virtuous version of myself, I gave her a lot of feminist posing. It was real, I mean, they were things that I really thought, but the result was that she decided she didn’t fancy me.

I did eventually see her naked, though.

It was eight months later. I was visiting a friend of mine, who I hadn’t seen in a while. Someone had tried to burn down the apartment he was living in, but he was an artist and he thought the charred beams improved the place. So he was still living there.  

Anyway, there came some unmistakeable sounds from one of the bedrooms: Thwap! followed by a hard breath.

Then THWAP, followed by a low, female moan. Then THWAP! followed by a high-pitched pain/pleasure noise. Some girl was getting the cane, and she was enjoying herself.

Anyway, a bit later the door opened, and it was my blue-haired girl, the dye gone so she was back to her natural red, skipping naked out the door with fresh cane stripes across her arse, to make a cup of tea for her mistress. She was utterly, exuberantly happy.

So, I’d hidden my dom side from her, because I’d thought she didn’t want that. What I got for my carefulness was a teary vista of her naked, freshly caned body. I mean that about “teary”: she was so beautiful and sexy that I cried that night.

I mean, when I got home.  

Oh. But she made me a cup of tea.  

WHO drops “diseases” BDSM, fetishism and transvestism off the sick list! (Part 1)

On 18 June 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a new version of its International Classification of Diseases and Associated Health Problems (ICD). The new version, ICD-11, included a substantially re-worked version of its section on “paraphilic disorders”. 

“Paraphilia” is an interesting word, by the way. It seems to have gained currency fairly recently. (I’ve got a 1983 Oxford Concise Dictionary lying about, and it’s not in it.) It was an attempt to provide a more “neutral” word than “perversion” for non-standard sexual tastes.

Two perfectly nice girls declared sane, at last. It’s a 1930s photo, so they waited 80 years. Tess, right, says, “Yay! I’m getting a bigger violin!” Violet, left, thinks Tess will be drawing a longer bow. 

But “para” as a prefix means “beside” or “beyond”; so there’s still a buried assumption that the paraphilic person has “missed” the proper target in developing their “philia”, that is, the objects of their sexual desires.

So prejudice sneaked back in, even when the people using the word were presumably trying to avoid it. Never mind. They tried, anyway.

In all the editions of the ICD up to the 11th, the paraphilic disorders section included sexual sadism, sexual masochism, fetishism and transvestism.

This year, they’ve all been removed. Sexual sadism on non-consenting victims is still included, as of course it should be.

 

I’m going to give a history of how and why this change happened this time next week. (My next three posts are going to be sexy rather than analytical, so I won’t have time to get back to this topic till then.) 

Oh, all right, here’s the quick version:

In the meantime, the short-short version is that three factors in particular fed into this change: 

1  A similar change in the ICD’s sister publication, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) in its most recent version, the DSM-V;

2  Activism by bdsm and fetishist communitiers and spokespeople, particularly in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and in the United States;

Trust me. I’m a doktor. 

3  Research showing that people who take part in bdsm are otherwise indistinguishable from everyone else. Except for being younger and hornier than the population as a whole.

The most powerful evidence came from the Australian Study of Sexual Health and Attitudes, 2003 and 2014.

Which I was involved in. Hence the gratuitous selfie on our left of the learned Doktor Mortimer taking a bow.

(Not a real doctor; just a real actual worm.)

The next post on this topic is here.