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.

WHO drops BDSM, fetishism, transvestism off the “sick” list! Part 4

I just want to explain why perverts should be carrying me round in a sedan chair for the rest of my life. 

The sedan chair life. I’d prefer my porters to be less male and less dressed, but the technology is right.

The first Australian Survey on Sexual Health and Attitudes (ASHR) findings were reported in 2003.

At that point I became part of the story. I was struck by the presence of a question about bdsm in a national survey, and by the utter beauty of the huge, randomly selected sample that the Australian researchers had reached. I love data!

However, I learned that the ASHR team had made no analysis of how the responses of people who had participated in bdsm in the last year differed from those who hadn’t.

So I contacted them. I explained that I was fascinated that they had a data set that could for the first time test the claim that bdsm is pathological, using a large-scale sample of the population in general. I met with the Australian team, Anthony Smith, Chris Rissel, Juliet Richters, Andrew Grulich, and Richard de Visser, who were a little amused by my very specific enthusiasm for their bdsm data.

Anyway, I suggested further data analysis to compare the responses of their bdsm and non-bdsm respondents, focusing on indications of mental and social health like the response to questions about education, career and income, whether people were in a relationship, how they reported their sexual happiness, and their self-assessment of their own physical and mental health. The data could also reveal whether bdsm people were more or less likely than non-bdsm people to have been forced into sexual activity when they were children, or as adults.

The team thought this analysis would probably turn up something that they could publish in a scientific journal, even if they weren’t as interested in bdsm as I was. None of us expected that the findings would make anything like the media impact that resulted. 

This is from The Age, in Victoria, Australia. But we were in The Times, the NY Times, the LA Times, probably every major newspaper in the world

The key finding was that bdsm people showed no sign of being socially or personally dysfunctional, and every sign of being well-adjusted and happy. This made TV news and newspaper headlines across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Mid-East, Australasia, Africa and so on. Much of the coverage was written in newspaper-ese, with headlines like: “Smack happy”, “You can’t beat bdsm”, “Bound to be happy”, and so on.

There was a lot of that sort of thing. Our news cheered many people who enjoy bdsm, but we made the world’s sub-editors absolutely ecstatic.

From my point of view the results contained their share of disappointments. For example, since bdsm relies on verbal and symbolic communication for much of its power, I’d expected that people attracted to bdsm would be more educated than average. However, there turned out to be no significant differences between bdsm participants and others, in terms of educational attainment.

So my self-flattering expectations were as wrong as those of the people who expected to find us haunting the mental hospitals and the jails.

Thomas’s pina colada milkshake is better than yours. Splooshie!

That’s the beauty of evidence. It’s a piece of piss to make up theories that “justify” bigotry. But evidence is a hard-shelled beast. Watching beautiful theories encountering evidence can be as messy as watching a wagon loaded with pina colada hitting an armadillo.

 

WHO drops “diseases” BDSM, fetishism and transvestism off the sick list! Part 3

The World Health Organisation (WHO) produces an International Classification of Diseases and Associated Health Problems (ICD). This is a diagnostic manual for the medical profession, internationally, and it also has a lot of impact on people making laws and social policy in countries around the world. 

Recently, a new version of the ICD was released, that, for the first time, dropped bdsm, fetishism and transvestism from its list of “paraphilic disorders”. The word “paraphilic” essentially means “it’s sexual but they’re doing it wrong.” 

Background

Why the change? There’s been pressure on WHO from assorted advocacy groups representing LGBTQ people, and bdsm activists, to get their ICD changed, so it doesn’t enable and encourage legal discrimination against people in any of those categories. So WHO knew they should take a look at the issue. 

But what made the change possible, or inevitable, was the research. Most of the “bdsm, fetishism and transvestism is bad” came from religious and other prejudice against people who are different, and that side of it had no intellectual content at all.

Really, Freud just wanted to look like Hemingway

A lot of the “theory” that supported the view that bdsm, in particular, but also fetishism and transvestism, were bad came from the Freudian tradition, for reasons I explained in my previous post. 

It’s not that the Freudians of today are especially likely to be bigots, or that people who aren’t Freudians now take Freudian writing very seriously. However, for historical reasons the vast bulk of academic writing on bdsm, at least until around 2004, was Freudian and hostile to bdsm in particular.

Naturally, a committee reviewing that literature may not take any one essay seriously, but they have to note that the majority academic stance has been one of hostility to sexual “deviance”.  

The Australian nation-wide studies

But more recent research was starting to contradict that view. There are studies showing that men who took part in bdsm were less likely to accept “rape myths” than men who weren’t into bdsm, for example. 

Australians are much like the rest of the world. Except that they get their orgies and their sports events confused.

But the single most important piece of research was from Australia: The Australian Study of Sexual Health and Attitudes. That’s because they didn’t do qualitative research, or get your sample from a small bdsm community.

That kind of research is valuable if your goal is to increase understanding, but it doesn’t have much political impact. 

The Australian surveys in 2002 and 2014 were nation-wide random sampling surveys, each with a sample size of 20,000 people. There was simply no room for making any suggestion of selection bias. The surveys found that about 5% of the population, or 1 in 20 people, had taken part in bdsm, or bdsm-lite bedroom games like “teacher and naughty schoolgirl”, in the last year. 

When the survey result were analysed to compare the people who said they’d taken part in bdsm with the people who hadn’t, every single prediction based on the Freudian “explanation” of bdsm went crashing down in flames. 

People who’d taken part in bdsm in the last year (from here on I’m going to call them “bdsm people”, or “us”) were no more likely to have spent any time in prison. Their education and income level was simply normal, no better or worse than average. Their reported enjoyment of sex was slightly higher than average. (They were probably reporting that enjoyment accurately, because they did tend to have sex slightly more often than average.)

In other news, bdsm people were no more likely than the rest of the population to have been sexually coerced, either in the last year, or ever in their life, including when under-age. (There goes the “bdsm is caused by childhood sexual abuse” theory.) 

Respectable couple. Payin their taxes and lovin their bdsm

So bdsm people were as healthy, as sane, as optimistic, and so on, as the rest of the population. We’re upstanding citizens. We don’t commit crimes, or wind up in hospital, any more than the rest of the population.

Only two differences emerged: we tended to skew slightly younger than the population who hadn’t done bdsm in the last year, and we were noticeably randier. 

(The 2013 survey came up with essentially the same result.) 

So there is simply no factual basis, or social interest, in treating bdsm as a disease or disorder.

It simply wasn’t a sustainable position, intellectually, economically or politically. Once there was political pressure on it, and research, it had to change.

There hasn’t been a similar study that’s asked about fetishism or transvestism. But that Australian research project shifted the WHO committee more than anything else.

Couldn’t find a pic of Freud pulling something out of his arse. But have you noticed that guys with cigars tend to look like assholes?

It had been demonstrated that virtually the entire academic literature on sexual “problems” was essentially bullshit, utterly discredited by empirical research, and based largely on ideas that Freud had (excuse the slightly Freudian expression) pulled out of his arse.  

So the WHO committee had both the political will and the intellectual weaponry to make the change and stand by it. 

Notes

I have a contact who’s in contact with the people reviewing the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases and Associated Health Problems (ICD).

This account is drawn from what that person told me, with some other sources.

There’s one more post about this to come. 

WHO drops “diseases” BDSM, fetishism and transvestism off the sick list! Part 2

The previous post is here.

The World Health Organisation has declared that bdsm, fetishism and transvestism are not “diseases” or disorders. Its latest issue of the publication “International Classification of Diseases”, or ICD-11, has dropped these categories from its list of “paraphilic disorders”. This represents an end to years of struggle by bdsm advocates, LGBTIQ activists, also academics who pay attention to actual evidence.

This post looks at what those sexual tastes and orientations were doing there in the first place. 

The Freudian hangover

They were in the ICD in the first place for two entirely spurious reasons. The first is simply  bigotry and social disapproval, often but not always religiously based. The second was non-empirical theorising by pre-scientific writers on sex and psychology.

Freud is perhaps the most important culprit, because he managed to found a cult around himself and his musings, so that his influence lingered far longer than, really, it should have.

Also, Freud’s ideas about bdsm were so alarming, to those who took them seriously, that his followers had to give the “problem” of bdsm close attention. 

The consequence was that from 1930 to 2000, most academic writing on bdsm was by Freudians. (I’ve used academic databases, and counted.) To most psychologists, bdsm was simply a sexual taste, that some people have and some people don’t, and they didn’t look much further than that. But if the head of a cult declared it was a threat to all life, cult followers need to spend a lot of time writing about it. To a man and woman, what they wrote was evidence-free word-spinning.

Freud believed a lot of fairly odd things about bdsm, but one of the most dangerous things he wrote was that “masochists” seek to avoid pleasure, and since all life seeks pleasure, then “masochists” must be in the service of some sort of death force. This death force is fundamentally opposed to the life force.

The less sexy meaning of “please don’t spank me, Daddy.” Anna Freud walking  with her father, spanker and psychoanalyst Sigmund.

It seems likely that the only “masochist” Freud ever actually talked to (though he claimed otherwise) was his own daughter, Anna, who he used to spank over his knee when she was a little girl. Later, she went into analysis with her father, and they talked about the erotic feelings he’d aroused in his own daughter, in a “therapist/client relationship”.

Any modern therapist belonging to a professional association who did something as unethical (for multiple reasons) as that would get struck off so fast it’d make their ears spin.

Anyway, the one piece of evidence Freud had was that spankings can bring out an erotic, pleasured response. Ignoring that one piece of evidence, he built up an apocalyptic theory that “masochists”, as haters of pleasure and life, are trying to bring about the end of all life. Later, he decided that “sadists” are also part of the death force, as well as being the cause of Nazism. So bdsm is of tremendous importance, and it is disastrous. 

Apocalypse now! Zombie “sadists” and “masochists” celebrating their victory over the life force

(However bdsm people shouldn’t feel singled out. Freud also claimed that the Eqyptian king Akhenaten escaped his death, scrambled across the desert, converted to Judaism and became Moses. The fall-back position was that Moses was a priest of Akhenaten. Either position has to ignore the 500 year gap between Akhenaten and the rise of Judaic monotheism.

Have I digressed yet? And, Freud wrote, the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare.)

However, if Freud was right about bdsm, then you can make some empirical predictions. For example:

  • people who practice bdsm are more likely to have spent time in jail, because of their anti-life, antisocial sexuality and their propensity for death and violence; 
  • people who practice bdsm should be earning less money, because their anti-life, anti-social sexuality would stop them from holding down a good job;
  • people who practice bdsm should have less education, because their anti-life and anti-social tendencies would stop them from staying in school, let alone going on to higher education;
  • people who practice bdsm should enjoy sex less than most people, since all the masochists are seeking to avoid sexual pleasure.

These and other predictions were eventually tested. Not, it goes without saying, by Freudians.

For the results, tune in the same time and place next week.

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.

The Rise of the Cocky Billionaire

Well, I’m a billionaire in Thai baht. I’m rising because I had a bad cold and now I seem to be getting rid of it. I’m cocky because I’ve got a cock. I am be-cocked. My cock works well,  rising in the presence of submissive women who want my attention, and later it sets, like the sun.

So that’s how I got “cocky” and “billionaire” into my title. I know, though, that “billionaire” and “cocky” are two words that make me avoid a book, especially if they appear on the cover. 

With “billionaire” it’s partly because it suggests the book is going to be derivative of the “Fifty Shades” books, and god knows that’s a terrible model. There’s also the way sex gets mingled with a kind of right-wing economics. No questions are asked about how the billionaire got his money, and that’s the most real human-interest part of “billionaire” to me. As well as, are they paying their share of taxes?

Instead there’s a sort of Ayn Rand approach, that the very rich have no obligations to the society they live in. They’re just desirable because they can take a girl around in their private jet or yacht, and they can take her shopping. 

There’s something faintly insulting to both men and women is this sexual idolisation of the billionaire. It suggests that a man isn’t a dom because of his personal qualities, but because of his wallet. He dominates the heroine because he’s rich. Similarly, it suggests that women aren’t attracted by personality, humour, eyes, and so on, but by wallets. That’s a shallow and cynical take on human nature, and also, thank fuck, a false view. it doesn’t remotely resemble the world I live in or the dominant and submissive couples I know.

Then there’s the “cocky” thing. The attributes of the “cocky” man seem to be that he’s good-looking and really, deeply knows it. So when he does something obnoxious to the heroine at their first meeting, and she responds angrily, he knows she’s aroused by him to the point of soaking through her jeans. 

So he says, “I know you want me,” to this woman he’s just met, and then, “but you’ll be begging me for it later.” And he saunters off. 

A “cocky” man, encountered in real life, would be what is usually called “an asshole”.

I don’t think it’s any surprise that “Faleena Hopkins”, the woman who took out a copyright on the word “cocky”, (which she did not coin, and she was not the first to use it in an erotic romance title) and started threatening to sue other writers who use the word, reviewed Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugs” on Amazon and said it was her favourite book. 

Most doms I know are trying to be decent human beings, and most submissives react to the person and not their wallet. And they struggle to work out how to be dominant and submissive together. That’s the most realistic bdsm story. It’s also, I think, the sexiest.

Maddie, consent and roller coasters

In the last episode of Maddie’s story, she expects and is keen to give a blow-job, and finds herself throat-fucked hard instead.

I had my doubts about writing it that way, because our Headmaster character hadn’t given warning, let alone asked for consent: “Now, girl, are you up for a nice hard throat-fucking?”

And leaving the action waiting while she considers her right to say, “No way, buster! I’m a fictional girl and I absolutely do not do that sort of thing.” Or, “Yes, please!”

But I decided not to include discussion between them on those lines because:

(1) it’s erotica. It’s meant to be sexy, and not necessarily to provide sensible, followable role models; 

(2) it’s understood by both of them that Maddie wants to learn and experience bdsm things, and in that sense she’s already shown her enthusiastic consent to anything short of damage/harm he does; and

(3) both characters, as well as most readers, would find it hotter with the consent conversation left out. 

 

The story itself is utterly implausible, in the sense that it couldn’t happen. No teacher could do that, even to willing age-of-consent girls, without getting caught. He’d be in court and in the front pages of newspapers in no time, and then he’d be in prison. Also, the only part of the world I know of where girls of 18 are subject to corporal punishment, which can be delivered by a male, is Texas.

And probably Alabama, come to think of it, though I’m not going to look it up in case I see a photo of Roy Moore. He brings me out in technicolour yawns, that hagfish. (Look them up.) Not even the Islamic states are as fucked up as some States in the good old US of A, y’all. 

Anyway, the way I see it is that the story takes place in a sort of alternate universe, one more ruled by sexual desire than ours is. Think of it as science fiction. 

 

That said, I think Maddie is perfectly psychologically plausible in our universe. She’s based on women I know, and things they’ve told me about their early bdsm experience. And shown me. (Those experiences didn’t involve headmasters, I should say.)

Maddie is excited by her submissive experiences because they’re coming at her like the loop the loops and hairpin turns of a roller coaster.

She hasn’t consented to each individual turn and loop, but she consented to getting on the roller coaster (she bought a ticket, even), and she’s on for the ride, letting it go where it wants: wheeeee!

Maddie’s a person, though she’s just a fictional one, and she is making choices.

Defending the politics of bdsm 2: Bdsm and the state

The puritan feminist argument against bdsm includes the claim that bdsm works as part of the support for patriarchy, or male control of institutions and, of course, women.

Patriarchy in action? It doesn’t really look like it

The puritan case is partly based on the claim that bdsm is men dominating women. To make this claim you have to ignore the existence of lesbians and gays, and women dominants and male submissives. You also have to ignore the fact that we now know that the majority of both men and women involved in bdsm are switches, and will take either the dominant or submissive role according to mood and desire.

Some in the puritanical faction are aware of this, and try to wish it away by waving a sort of verbal wand at it: any “eroticising of power differences” supports patriarchy because, well, because.

One way of testing this is to look at what actually happens in most Western states.

We see that the institutions that do most to promote patriarchy and the subordination of women get encouragement from the state in every English-language-speaking country in the world, as well as most of the non-English-speaking Western states.

The Catholic and Baptist churches in particular, with their long-standing and still current opposition to having women in leadership roles, and opposition to women having control of their own bodies, particularly in relation to reproduction, get extensive funding from the state. That funding comes in the form of direct grants, in the form of tax-free status, in the form of (usually historical) gifts of land, and in the form of favored status when it comes to bidding to provide Government services. 

Church naming rights and livery; 100% tax-payer funding

Something that’s not understood by most people is that when Catholic spokespeople talk about providing hospitals the Catholic Church doesn’t provide those services with its own money. Those institutions are 100% funded from government health spending, even though they don’t offer all the services (eg abortion, and contraceptive information) that a publicly funded hospital should be offering.

In many countries the churches have special dispensation overriding laws relating to discriminating against people based on their religious belief or sexual orientation, particularly in employment. 

The point is that this is an example of how governments in the West endorse and support organisations that promote patriarchal power. That’s nothing like how governments treat bdsm, and people who take part in bdsm.

Bdsm erotica, the stories we tell and the media we tell them in, is banned in many jurisdictions. Bdsm clubs and premises are frequently raided. Consenting bdsm is still a crime in many countries, most notoriously the UK. People have gone to jail for practising consensual bdsm, and others have lost custody of their children. 

A bdsm master or mistress’s authority is never backed by the power of the state. I’m not arguing that it should be (of course it shouldn’t); I’m making the point that governments support and endorse institutions that help uphold male power and control, and they don’t support bdsm that way.

If bdsm really were a part of the ideological support for patriarchy, it’s puzzling that institutions upholding patriarchy, like police services and other law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, the mainstream media, the churches and so on, all seem to be unaware of the fact.

Instead bdsm practitioners, media and organisations (eg clubs) come under surveillance, police harassment, mainstream media shaming, and direct legal bans. 

Bdsm does not promote male dominance (generally, though a few Goreans and domestic-discipline Christians may), and it is certainly not an ally of patriarchy. We like our dominance consensual and our dominants to be sexy. 

Defending the politics of bdsm: power at the mercy of pleasure

Inequality in bdsm works very differently from the real power imbalances imposed by patriarchy. In bdsm, people choose their roles according to their own sexual desires, not their gender. A woman or man doing bdsm may choose a dominant or submissive role, or switch from one to the other, purely according to what pleases them. In bdsm “power” is erotic and fluid.

We are powerful guys, and we are Serious

The arbitrariness of “power” in bdsm contrasts with the seriousness with which power is held in patriarchy. By turning the symbols and even the idea of power into sexual playthings that may be taken seriously but may also be picked up, swapped or put down at whim, there’s a sense in which bdsm mocks and undermines real power.

Bdsm’s mild subversiveness is reinforced by the paradox of how power relationships work in bdsm.

The person who holds the outward signs of power, in bdsm, is not so powerful in reality.

The submissive holds the chain

A dominant may wear lots of black, carry a riding crop and snap out orders, but he or she is still subject to the submissive’s power. In the orders they give, the bonds they arrange and the services they demand, dominants must remain within a range defined and consented to by the submissive.

If the dominant goes far or repeatedly outside that circle of consent, the submissive is likely to end the dominant’s illusory power without notice.

People sometimes use the term “power exchange” to describe bdsm relationships, but not as much power really changes hands as may appear on the surface. Whether they are male or female, submissives retain more power than they and their dominants pretend.

Similarly, the economics of bdsm relationships differ from those of traditional marriage. In traditional relationships the person with the higher income holds more power, and that person is still likely to be a man. In bdsm the dominant partner is not necessarily a man, nor the person with the higher income. In bdsm, “power” is never what it seems on the surface. It does not follow gender. Nor does it follow money.

It follows desire. It follows love and lust.

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm: Consenting inequality

Much of the puritan feminist case against bdsm involves contempt for consent. People from that faction may recognise through gritted teeth that women may consent to taking part in bdsm, but that consent isn’t really either genuine or important. These women are doing something that that feminist faction disapproves of, and that is what counts. 

But there’s something extremely dangerous about any kind of politics or “analysis” that ignores or disparages consent.

Caring about consent, rigorously enforcing it in law, and so on, is something that keeps people, especially women, safe in sex.

That includes consent to inequality. To take a non-bdsm example, when a man and woman are sitting side-by-side, maybe looking at a park, or the sea, or whatever, the man might put an arm over a woman’s shoulder and draw her to him. They sit a little closer as lovers, side-by-side.

His action emphasised their physical inequality. Being larger (probably), he can put an arm over her shoulder without discomfort, which she may not be able to do with him.

He can pull her mass towards him with relatively little effort, while she might need to haul quite hard to get him to move closer.

But assuming they’re both feeling loving and affectionate, that action will make them both feel loved, loving and comfortable, although it is founded in sexual inequality.

Consenting inequality is common, and it’s a different thing from inequality that reduces people’s choices and is imposed on them without their consent.

To conflate the two kinds of inequality, ignoring agreement, pleasure and affection, shows little concern for human emotions or human rights.

It’s also true that inequality in bdsm is different from most forms of inequality, but that will be for future posts.

(I’ve got my girl with me, and I’m not doing much writing at the moment. Sorry.)