The rainbow flag
Sometimes people in the bdsm community – that would include me – talk about discrimination against people who are known to be involved in bdsm.
For example, there was a Cabinet Minister in New Zealand who was outed by right-wing nutters as belonging to a bdsm club. That ended his political career.
Women who have any sort of public profile can’t afford to be open about being dom, or submissive. People wrongly think a submissive is a doormat, and no women who is outed as someone who enjoys getting a good flogging in bed, or being tied up, artfully, is going to get to have a political career. (There are many out lesbians in politics where I live, but no out submissive women.) They won’t get to be Businesswoman of the Year, either, no matter how great their achievements are.
The BDSM Rights flag
They’re also more likely to get raped, by guys who think that a submissive is a victim to be preyed upon. And in court, they will find that if they are submissive, they don’t have a right to complain about being raped or beaten up. There’s a British case where a woman was brutally raped, but her rapist’s defence established that she was into submission.
The judge said to the jury, “What was this young man to think, when he discovered a riding crop by her bed? When he saw those magazines?” The jury found the young rapist not guilty, and the judge commended their verdict.
And so on. There are a lot of out gay men in Parliament where I live, on both sides of politics. But if I stood, and someone pointed out that I’ve been known to flog and cane women, and so on (see this blog for further details), the fact that it was for those women’s pleasure wouldn’t matter at all. I’d be de-selected as a candidate so fast it’d make my ears rotate. Widdershins.
Adult couples outed for practicing consensual bdsm with each other, in private, have lost custody of their children as a consequence.
So we are subject to discrimination.
And after Orlando, I thought, is it unthinkable that someone fired by by some mix of religious frenzy, hatred and (perhaps) self-loathing, could go and shoot up a bdsm club, mainly involving heterosexuals. And I had to say that it’s not unthinkable.
In the local bdsm club, I’ve seen submissive women fucked publicly by their masters (under the table, where the club staff can’t see them), men and women almost naked on the whipping frame, male and female doms leading their boy or girl on a leash, and so on. So, yes, I can imagine some holy nutcase with a gun deciding to cleanse the earth one pervert at a time, by blasting us all to hell.
Holy book (one of them) and Golden Shower
We’ll politely ignore, for now, the fact that the holy books of the Judaic, Christian and Muslim monotheisms specifically endorse keeping man and women as slaves, and women in particular as sex slaves.
But, hey, they only endorse non-consensual, real slavery and rape. When there’s consent and mutual pleasure involved, that’s perverted.
Anyway, let’s ignore that.
But there are distinctions between the shit rained upon LGBTI people and bdsm people. For example, I remember when I was new to the internet, going to an IRC bdsm chat-room. An American woman took a fancy to my … typing, I guess, and enticed me into her own chatroom.
A little later I started getting hate messages from Nazis, attempted hacking attacks, flooding and various other kinds of cyber-bullying. Then one of them looked at this chatroom I was in, and he apologised. The American woman had named her chatroom #bendover, and the Nazis had thought it was a gay room. When they realised that it was a bdsm room, and mostly involving women submissives and male doms, they had no problem with us.
I can’t say I felt good about that. I feel better when Nazis hate me.
The rainbow and loving
But it does illustrate that people into bdsm have various advantages over gays and lesbians, and so on, in relation to persecution. I can go out with a slavegirl, who is wearing my collar and a slavegirl anklet, and a flappy little tartan skirt with no knickers, so she knows she risks giving a flash of recently-caned arse of she isn’t careful, holding hands, and no-one will notice.
Except maybe someone else who’s into bdsm and can see and read the signs. We risk getting smiled at, in a conspiratorial way.
But if I were a gay man, holding hands with my loved one, outside the city and a few safe suburbs, would mean risking getting beaten up. The risk of getting killed just for that is small, but it’s not zero. A lot of people hate and fear all kinds of sexual differences. Gays, lesbians, transgender people and intersex people cop the worst of it; there’s no doubt of that.
So we, as fellow perverts in the world’s eyes, need to make sure we stand up for each other. That damn rainbow, we’re part of it whether we like it or not.
There’s also the issue of cross-over. Gay men and lesbians make up a tiny proportion on the population as a whole, about two-three per cent. But they make up a bigger proportion of the bdsm community: about 8-10 per cent. So we need to be together, politically.
The attack in Orlando, and other violent or repressive acts of homophobia are aimed at a minority sexuality that I’m not part of. But they’re still an attack on all sexual difference: I could have been in that club, or a similarly motivated killer could have come to mine.
Gays and lesbians are fighting for equality, particularly in relation to marriage, and people involved in bdsm are fighting to remove ridiculous anti-bdsm censorship laws. Though boringly straight, I’ve written submissions to Parliamentary Select Committees in relation to gay decriminalisation, and marriage equality, and I’ve been on marches and so on.
The rainbow and living
I’ve written a book that (among other things) summarises the current state of research into the effects of porn, and of bdsm porn in particular, which tends to tear the ground out from under the people who want to censor and silence our media. I hope it’ll have some impact. Both kinds of activism are part of the same project, really.
Anyway, attacks on one of us, or one segment of us, are attacks on all of us. We need to share griefs, and share our determination and energy to fight back.
Because the people who hate us, hate us all, more or less equally.