The politics of people who take part in bdsm

Still a right-wing shitbag, though.

I was at a munch a while back. I got into an argument with a guy who was a strong Liberal Party supporter (the right-wing party here, currently in government) about economics. He supported tax cuts to the rich, eliminating government involvement in the economy,  and so forth. He said these were classic Adam Smith ideas.

I’ve read essays about Adam Smith, which said he wasn’t simply a neo-liberal monetarist, but envisaged something a lot closer to the welfare state that his followers are busy dismantling.

So I argued that those aren’t actually a set of policies that Adam Smith would support. Our argument got a bit obscure. I’d say I lost, actually. I haven’t read Adam Smith directly, and he’d read The Wealth of Nations, so I couldn’t cite chapter and verse. I’d have been better off arguing that that tax cuts to the rich, and so forth, are terrible for the economy, because they make most people too poor to buy the extra things that keep the economy going above subsistence level. But though that’s true, the munch was a social occasion, and people tend to get angry when you get on to topics like that. So I picked the more academic issue.  

Anyway, most of the other people at the munch disliked the government, but mainly because it’s been pandering to the Christian right on gays and lesbians, funding to Christian schools and paying for Christian activists in non-Christian schools. That sort of thing. So our economics argument was boring, and they politely ignored it. 

From my point of view politics is mostly about economics: you need to tax those who can afford it so you can provide government services that make life better for everyone, especially health, education, welfare, public housing, and necessary infrastructure. Businesses do better where there’s a decent level of social infrastructure in place.

Other issues, even including things that I have passionate feelings about (for marriage equality, and against censorship, for example), are important, but less important than whether people can get jobs that pay them enough to live on, and get wage increases.

So that’s my politics. I’m largely socialist on economic issue, and pretty much anarchist on social and sexual issues. Anything sane adult humans want to do with other sane, consenting adult humans is ok with me. People having the right to say or write or hear or read what they want: that’s ok with me too.

(Racist, sexist, nasty, and generally horrible speech should be countered and mocked, not suppressed. Happy to argue that, in some other post, if people want.) 

Generally I hate Nazis. But this guy seems to know what he’s doing

As a bdsm pervert, I sometimes get annoyed by writers, especially those involved in pseudoscientific schools like psychoanalysis, making grand statements about the politics of people who take part in bdsm, or want to. The gist of those sweeping claims is that we’re all Nazis. We like leather boots and dressing in black: so did the SS! Case closed!

That gets old, and it was irritatingly silly and insulting the first time.  

As far as I can see, we people who involve ourselves in bdsm, or dream of it, cluster to the centrist left. There’s never been a research project on how people who do bdsm vote. So I can only base my claim on anecdotal evidence like my munch, and some logic.  

First, as I’ve argued before, turning power into a toy of erotic play is inherently subversive. It undermines power, and refuses to take it “seriously”. Power in bdsm doesn’t go to the man, or to the richest person. It doesn’t go to the person with the most impressive job or title. Power goes where cocks and cunts want it to go. and only stays there while the people involved are sexually pleased by that arrangement. Power in bdsm is sexual, it’s voluntarily given or assumed, and even if the play raises welts or draws blood it’s playful.

Bdsm culture emphasises informed consent. I think that emphasis is the reason why people who practice bdsm are, research studies have found, notably more sex-positive, more aware of consent and less sexist than the general population. 

We are more likely to be in the sex-positive feminist or feminist-supporting faction.

BDSM eroticises voluntary power differences, but it also eroticises consent. There is nothing hotter, to me, than a submissive’s bowed head and “yes, Sir”.  

Still, apart from general social and sexual liberalism, I’d guess that people who do bdsm aren’t, in general, far to the left or right of the rest of the population. Thpough we’re more likely to be in the anti-authoritarian faction of the left or right. But bdsm doesn’t force people into any political box.

Feminist women in bdsm may reasonably feel irritated when other feminists insist that their politics must be anti-feminist because of their sexual needs and choices.

So bdsm people are more likely to be liberal than authoritarian about sex, because authoritarian sexual attitudes are likely to do us harm. There may be a general lean to the centrist left on other issues, too.

Otherwise there’s no clear intrinsic political bias to bdsm, whose practitioners may be radical, conservative or entirely apolitical. People practice their bdsm, and their politics, as they do other things, according to their beliefs and the kind of people they are.

Maddie, consent, and throat-fucking

In the last episode of the Maddie saga the Wicked Headmaster character throat-fucked Maddie.

Oddly, that’s not a thing of mine, really. I do it if a submissive has told to me that that’s a turn-on for her. I don’t like to have to think of my cock as a choke hazard. 

Drop this, and it won’t break. Fact!

When I do want to deliver my best hard, fast and ruthless fuck, I prefer to be doing penis-in-vagina sex, because cunts are tough and evolved to take some fairly rough treatment. Much more so than the throat or the anus. I love having my cock sucked, and I’m charmed when a woman wants to show me clever things she can do. So I prefer having my cock sucked where my partner has some freedom of action. I also love anal sex, but there’s a definite limit to how rough you can be. 

So I didn’t want to write some throat-fucking erotica because that’s one of my key turn-ons. It came out of the characters. The Headmaster character was extremely turned on and wanted to come, quickly. That’s the reason that Maddie’s aware of, and she liked that sense of being used by him for his pleasure. 

I think that he also had a sense that Maddie would like that sensation of being helplessly taken. That’s already part of the vibe between them, so he stepped outside real-world bdsm rules but not the feelings and desires both characters have.

There’s a sense of care there, even when he’s apparently using her as a masturbation device. The way he pulls out after she gags and gives her time to catch her breath is a hint towards that. Though he doesn’t stop till a little bit after she gags, so she never has that unwelcome feeling that she’s in control.

So in their universe (which is absolutely not ours) he’s doing the right thing. There’s a kind of unspoken understanding between him and Maddie, and he keeps his end of the bargain.

I have a fairly 3-D sense of who Maddie is. She’s being very sexual and sexually driven, but she feels like a real person, to me. Partly because she’s based on real people, one in particular, who told me about acquiring an older Master when she was about Maddie’s age. (He wasn’t her Headmaster, though. No laws were broken, even in our world.) 

The headmaster at home, alone. relaxing In casual dress. Don’t panic!

The person who’s closer to a fantasy figure, I think, is her Headmaster, who has no doubts, is always sexy, and miraculously always knows just how cruel to be, in order to be kind.

Obviously, relying on “the vibe between us” wouldn’t be enough of a precaution, or enough consent, in the real world. I don’t think, in the real world, you get any points for introducing some new and challenging bdsm practice, and yelling, “Surprise!”

But fiction is a different thing. Characters can act on extreme emotional needs (as well as sexual needs) and we can enjoy their stories.

But we’re in our universe, which has all sorts of potential consequences, and they’re in their universe, which has fewer.

So long as we can tell their world from ours (and don’t do things like believing the Transformers movies are documentaries), I’m prepared, as Maddie’s narrator, to give them their heads and let them go where they like.

They just worry me sometimes, that’s all.


BTW: This post started as a response to a comment by Indigo Bird, here. Thanks for your comment! Indigo’s excellent blog on Art, Sexuality and Death, in later life, is here.

Sinful Sunday: Women and swans

This is going to be a series, about the weird sexual mythology surrounding swans and humans. There’s the swans in Swan Lake, who finally take on human female form. 

But the most famous shape-shifting swans are male. They include Zeus, with Leda, and Gottfried, brother of Elsa von Brabant, who in swan form carries Lohengrin, knight of the Grail, from Montsalvat in Northern Spain to one of the rivers that passes through Brabant in what is now Belgium. (Frankreich, back then.) That’s an epic journey for a river-based creature, and someone should write an opera about it. 

One interesting thing about swans is that they have penises, unlike most birds.

Anyway, with the help of my lovely model, and Amazing Special Effects, my Sinful Sundays are going to be taken up for a while with stories and poems about the whole human-swan connection.


Take it away, Mr Yeats!

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

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.

Wicked Wednesday: Juniper’s Adventures 53

I’ve removed this episode from the blog because it’s being published, and commercial publishers don’t much like competition from free resources.

In this episode Maddie is looking forward to showing her Master that she’s read lots of articles along the lines of, “Top 10 Fellatio Tips To Drive Your Man Wild!”

But he simply grabs her hair and throat-fucks her.

He knows that “being roughly taken” is a turn-on for her. But he hadn’t specifically gotten consent, though she doesn’t comp[lain. This is not one of those erotic stories that’s a bit casual about consent. They talk about it later and do  work it out between the two of them.



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.