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.)


Fiery, faerie sex 1

There is a word for having a fetish for fire: pyrophilia. It involves setting, or watching, fires for sexual arousal and gratification. 

Fire is dramatic!

It’s supposed to be different from pyromania, which is compulsively setting fires for other, non-sexual, reasons.

Me, I’ve been a psychiatric nurse, and I’ve studied psychology as part of an undergraduate degree. So although I’ve seen how the diagnostic system works in practice, I’m not any sort of expert at all. 

Still, I know there’s evidence that for various reasons (academic publishing pressures, the fact that getting conditions into the DSM makes it easier for patients to claim financial support for treatment, among others) psychiatrists are – perversely – rewarded for finding new diagnoses. So behaviour that has a range of motivations may get labelled as if the motives can be separated into, for example, sexual and non-sexual. 

Flames of passion, and so forth, didn’t become cliches for no reason at all

Still, a very small number of people have had their genitalia hooked up to various devices measuring sexual arousal, and responded more strongly to images of fire than to images of an attractive person of their preferred gender. The fire is hotter than the hottie. 

Still, in most cases it seems that there’s a range of motives when someone starts a fire, especially one that places lives and homes at risk. 

One motivation is hostility to the people who are likely to suffer from the fire’s impact. Even if they’re unknown, the arsonist may think of them as “rich bastards”, or “adults”, or whatever. They may also be a hated racial minority.

As well, there’s anger, especially in young men, that they’re not getting the things – female company, money, fame, respect, etc – they think they’re entitled to. There are other motives.

At the same time, fire is warmth, it’s energy, it’s wild, unpredictable and free. Though it can be tamed. Those are sexy qualities.

Guess who likes fire? Jerusalem Mortimer, that’s who

If I’m with a girl on a beach, and I pile up some driftwood and make a fire, and we sit together staring at it, the chances that we’ll have sex are as close to 100% as makes no difference.

Setting a safe fire, and enjoying it together, is one of the basic human sexual scripts.

And from hotties to flames of passion, burning love and fires of desire, so much of our sexual language uses fire images and metaphors. We’re just… drawn to fire. 

I’ve got a bdsm-flavoured fire story of my own to tell, I mean a true one. I’ll write it in the next couple of weeks.  


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.

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. 

Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 12: Summing up 1

The general case against beating children

There are good non-bdsm reasons for not hitting children. We know that it doesn’t work, that it makes kids more violent, and that there that there are other, more effective ways of disciplining children. That should be enough to end the practice, right there.

But we also know that it operates in a racist way: that children from ethnic minorities are the most likely to be beaten in schools. We also know something that may be marginally more horrific, which is that children with a disability are the most likely to be beaten.

In short, it’s cruel, it’s deliberately degrading, it doesn’t work, and (despite my respect for the teaching profession as a whole) the schools that allow “corporal punishment” have amply demonstrated that they are incapable in implementing it “fairly”, that is, without racism or bias against people with a disability.

It needs to be outlawed. Now.

The bdsm-related case against beating children

The bdsm case against child beating is that ritualised beating, especially on the buttocks, is sexual. Forcing sex acts on a child is sexual abuse. “Corporal punishment” is child-molesting.

Vile book by vile people is all about the child-beating (also punishment starvings). It is implicated in the deaths of three children.

Vile book, by vile people, advocates child-beating (also punishment starvings). It is implicated in the deaths of three children.

People who argue against this usually make two claims. The first claim is that school and parental beatings are different from sexual beatings. Because they hurt too much to be sexual.

All they’re saying is that they don’t know anything at all about sexual spankings. Sexual spankings can be delivered using a paddle or cane, and be far harder than anything that could legally be inflicted in a school.

Doms soon learn that some submissives can have an amazing ability to take and eroticise pain. In my own experience as a dom, the upper limit can be my own squeamishness, and not the submissive’s desires and response. There is no identifiable point at which a spanking is “too hard to be sexual”.

People who say, “Beat children hard and then they won’t be turned on,” are revealing some ugly things about themselves. One of those things is that they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.  

The other claim is that beating is only sexual for a tiny minority of the population, as if it’s okay if it’s a sexual act in a few cases, because it’s worth it for all the yummy pain, fear and humiliation it inflicts on children.

But their belief, or at least claim, that only a tiny minority of the population is likely to interpret a beating sexually is wrong. That’s a matter of established fact.

About 10% of child-beatings at school are likely to be sexually charged for at least one of the participants, the punisher or the beaten child. So, of the approximate 326,400 child-beatings in US schools, each year, about 32,600 involve an adult or a child who is directly aware, from their own reaction, that this is a sexually charged act.

Tomorrow we’re going to explore a question whose answer seems comically obvious. But it is worth thinking about it: So a significant proportion of both teachers and children are responding sexually to child-beatings in schools: what’s wrong with that?


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 11:

Does child-beating in schools “cause” people do become involved in bdsm as adults?

In one sense the answer is “yes”. 

Charles Moser’s research on a bdsm community in California found that about 5% of the community members had became aware of their sexual interest through a childhood spanking. About one in 20 (that ratio keeps coming up in this context!) bdsm participants were launched on their bdsm career by being spanked by an adult, when they were a child. 

Disciplinary condition at the Shelbyville Baptist School were especially strict because ... Jesus.

Disciplinary conditions at the Shelbyville Baptist School were strict because … Jesus.

Although that’s a minority of bdsm participants, and it’s not the only experience that makes people aware of their response to bdsm, that means it’s still common for adult participants in bdsm to have had their first bdsm sexual experience, which they remember as a sexual experience, while being beaten as a child. 

So how many people are we talking about?

If we apply Moser’s finding to the 16,000,000 people who take part in bdsm or sexual spanking in the United States alone, that comes to 800,000 Americans.

Given the strong advocacy for child-beating from the US Chrstian right, which  hates everything they consider to be “perversion”, it’s ironic that so many people have the US Christian right to thank for their bdsm sexual awakening.  

Bdsm “trigger events” 

In another sense the answer is “probably not, exactly”.

That’s because some people have some genetic susceptibility to interest in bdsm, but they need a trigger event, something to show them bdsm and its erotic possibilities, before they develop that interest.

A similar process – genetic susceptibility plus a trigger event to bring out that genetic potential – applies in the development of phobias. I’m not comparing bdsm to phobias in any other sense, of course.

Child-beatings in schools are only one kind of event that can trigger an interest in bdsm, and particularly in sexual spankings. If you remove child-beating from the mix, there would still be plenty of other triggers that a bdsm-susceptible person will notice and respond to.

Potential bdsm triggers include passages in books, scenes in movies, in TV shows, in fashion shows, images on advertising billboards, and so on.

A rough night in Castle Anthrax. Spankee doctors Winston and Piglet

A hot night in Castle Anthrax. Spankee doctors Winston and Piglet

I know a woman who discovered her interest in submission during a screening of, of all things, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was the scene where a bunch of Glasgow girls dressed as novices (hah! I’ve been to Glasgow) demand to be spanked.

The woman was surprised to find she thought it was even sexier than it was funny. It stayed with her.

She kept on saying the punch line, “And … after the spanking, the oral sex!” at odd moments for years afterwards. Caught my attention, anyway.

The point is, the trigger event can be something that other people don’t see as sexual at all. 

When “corporal punishment” is finally banned in all schools, and parents are educated about spanking’s sexual payload, bdsm won’t disappear or even shrink. People who have a propensity to notice and react erotically to bdsm triggers, including spankings, will mostly become bdsm-aware through some other stimulus instead. 

But it’s better that people pick this sexual interest, bdsm, voluntarily in their own time, and not through a dangerous punishment ritual forced on them by an adult.

Some bdsm-related reasons why beating children is a bad idea 10: children’s reactions to being beaten

How often will both the teacher and the child be aroused during a “spanking”?

The 5% rule means there are likely to be 816 instances a year where both the teacher and the child are mutually aroused by the spanking experience they are sharing. 

However, the true number is likely to be more than that. Because children who discover an arousing situation are liable to search it out – or make sure it happens – so they can experience it again.

It's a great porn scenario, and it can be a fun role-play for those that role-play. But let's make it fictional, huh?

It’s a great porn scenario, and it can be a fun role-play for those that role-play. But it belongs in fiction, not the real world. Love her specs, by the way.

Likewise, teachers choose who they beat. Only a small proportion of school children and young people in schools get beaten. Children selected for beatings tend to be from minority ethnic groups or to have a disability.

Also, they tend to be the vulnerable children.

They won’t be the children who have powerful, well-connected parents, but they will be the ones who have a single working parent, or parents who are highly unlikely to have the skills or the networks to challenge the authority of the school.

We also know that within those minority groups some children are likely to be singled out and repeatedly beaten. (That makes nonsense of one of the key supposed justifications of child-beating: that it has a “deterrent effect”.)

Some of the children will be repeatedly beaten because they are “badly behaved”. Beating a “badly behaved” child may sound like easier work than trying to find out what the problem is, but any teacher with any experience knows that hitting a child only means you have to hit them again, because it doesn’t change “bad behaviour”.

There can be multiple motivations in play. As we’ve noted, the children who are picked for repeated beatings are those whose parents are least able to do anything about it. 

But there’s another issue. The priests and lay brothers (and others: this isn’t just a problem in religious schools) who raped children after beating them, selected their victims for powerless and “attractiveness”. A child who is in one of the vulnerable categories is therefor more likely to be beaten if he or she is perceived to be “pretty”. 

There are also the children who have a nascent sexual response to their beating. This may be hard to explain to people who don’t include spanking in their sex lives. But the fact is that anyone who has spanked a few people of the sex or sexes they prefer knows when the spanking is working and their “victim” is turned on. It can be a subtle thing, a matter of a certain kind of silence and attention, of small body movements and so on during the spanking, and the abstracted emotional tone they have afterwards. 

Teachers who have bdsm sensitivity will recognise those and similar signs. That child and that teacher, who is in denial about their own attraction to spanking, or is aware of it and unscrupulous, will meet again, and re-enact that ritual, in an odd form of erotic courtship and release.

This isn’t common. It’s somewhere over 0.25% of all school beatings. The odds are that it won’t any particular parent’s children who get caught up in that cruel and unfairly balanced erotic ritual, but it will be someone’s children. 


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 9: How many adults, and children, get aroused by spankings 2

An adult and a child are turned on by a spanking: what are the odds?

Let’s take the United States. Beating children and young people in public schools is legal in 19 States. In those States, 272,000 children were beaten in public schools in 2004/05.

The number of actual beatings is much higher than that. One reason is that only some children get beaten, and they tend to get multiple beatings in the course of a year. The children who get beaten in the US tend to be disproportionately black or Hispanic, or to have a disability. Moreover, having been beaten once is a good predictor of getting beaten again. When the same child is beaten repeatedly, the statistics won’t record that. They only record that that child was beaten at least once.

I’m going to be very conservative, and add 5% to take into account the repeated beatings of one child. So that’s a conservative estimate of 285,600 beatings in public schools.

The paddle-happy private schools

On top of that you have the schools that aren’t in the public school system. Schools in the private school system tend to be in conservative areas, and overwhelmingly they are not racially integrated. Also overwhelmingly, they tend to be religiously conservative and very committed to the “duty” of beating children.

I have to admit that I thought this Simpson's meme was funny, in context. But it also squicked me a little: there's nothing funny about beating children

I have to admit that I thought this Simpson’s meme was funny, in context. But it also squicked me a little: there’s nothing funny about beating children

10 per cent of American schools are private schools, but actually, private schools are concentrated in the 19 States where “corporal punishment” is legal.

But I’m going to be conservative, again, and assume that they’re only 10% of the schools in the 19 “corporal punishment” states, although in reality they’re likely to be a lot more than that, in those States.

Records aren’t collected for those schools, but all sources agree that private schools carry out far more “corporal punishment” than public schools. So, again being extremely conservative, I’m going to factor in a rate that is only 5% higher than for public schools. That comes to 40,800 child beatings a year in private American schools.

So, taking all that into account, and having used estimates that are likely to substantially understate the true number, we have approximately 326,400 child beatings a year in American schools.

So how many bdsm-sensitive people are involved in school child-beatings?

Applying the 5% rule, that means that in about 16,320 of those cases the teacher or disciplinary officer concerned was turned on, or trying to avoid being turned on, by the “paddling” they were delivering.

By the way, in Texas it’s still legal for a male teacher to “paddle” a female student on her buttocks, and Texas has recently raised its school leaving age to 19.

I know beyond any doubt that if I did “paddle” a 19 year old girl’s ass while she bent over a chair, there would be no way in hell I could avoid reacting sexually to that situation. No matter how hard I tried not to. But I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. It’s pretty much a form of rape.

Unfortunately, an adult such as a teacher can’t just be quietly, internally aroused, so that no one else will pick up on it. An aroused person releases pheromones, which are detected by others in their space, like the person being “paddled” by the aroused person. Even if it isn’t consciously noticed, that release tends to alter the other person’s (the child’s, in this case) interpretation of what’s going on, their reactions to it and their behaviour.

But what about the children?

Still applying the 5% rule, it means that in about 16,320 of those cases the child or young person is interpreting what’s happening sexually, and responding to it sexually.

The people who think, “if you do it hard, there won’t be a sexual reaction” simply don’t know anything about how bdsm works. The victim might be more hurt than turned on at the instant of each swat. But then they have a long time to think about the experience, relive it over and over, and slightly change the memory of it.

I’ve punished a reasonable number of submissive women, where the intention was to cause only pain and no pleasure. I’ve learned, therefore, that there is no amount of pain, especially delivered to the buttocks, that can’t be interpreted erotically. That’s especially so when there’s a formal ritual, and the victim is made to present their own body and cooperate. How much it hurts at the time has nothing to do with the body and mind’s reactions.

Total number of sexualised spankings in schools?

That’s a total of 32,640 child-beatings a year, in which either the teacher or the child is aware of the “spanking” as a sexual event.

If parents or law-makers are happy with that, then the parents are carelessly ill-advised about the welfare of their children, and the legislators, though they’re going along with public opinion in their States, are being dangerously irresponsible. 


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 8: How many adults, and children, get aroused by spanking?

The Australian Sexual Health and Relations Surveys, 2002 and 2013, taken together, reached some 40,000 people, using random sampling. Among the questions those 40,000 people were asked were:

  • Have you participated in bdsm in the last year? and
  • Have you taken part in role-playing games, like teacher and naughty schoolgirl, n the last year?

Taking the results, and making some estimates, we find that 2% of the population took part in bdsm with a further about 8% taking part in sexual games that involve elements of “command and I will obey you”, and spanking. That looks like 10%.

However, we don’t know exactly how those role-players played their roles, and we don’t know if commands (i.e. dominance and submission), or spanking were involved in every one of those games. So to be on the conservative side, we’ll count about half of that response, or 4%. 

Now, 4% playing sexual games with, “come here!”, and “you need a spanking, don’t you” elements, plus the 2% who took part in what they directly referred to as bdsm, should add up to 6%. However, about half of the bdsm group also said they’d taken part in role-playing games. To avoid double counting those people, we bring the total down to 5%.

Okay, it's not a spanking, but it's part of that Thing We Do. Folsom Street Fair, of course.

Okay, it’s not a spanking, but it’s part of that Thing We Do. Folsom Street Fair, of course.

So that’s one in twenty of the population. That means that something that affects us, or is affected by us, can’t just be dismissed as a problem for a few isolated weirdos.

Also, and on a more cheerful note, it means our odds of meeting a compatible partner are a lot greater than many people have thought. 

To put that in context, that means there are about twice as many of us as there are exclusive gays or lesbians. On the other hand, we’re out-numbered about two to one by bisexuals.

That means there are:

  • about 16 million of us weirdos in the United States
  • about 3.2 million of us in the UK
  • about 1,8 million of us in Canada
  • about 1.2 million of us in Australia
  • about 225 thousand of us in New Zealand
So we're everywhere, as they used to say. But a hell of a lot of us seem to turn up in Folsom Street.

So we’re everywhere, as they used to say. But a hell of a lot of us seem to turn up in Folsom Street.

That’s a hell of a lot of people, isn’t it?

Even more encouragingly, over 60% of us are switches (I’m not, I’m afraid), so your odds of having a good evening with the right person are pretty good.

I’ve only applied the figure to Britain and its predominantly white former colonies, because there’s enough cultural similarity between those countries to make it reasonably safe to do so.

I could probably make a guesstimate for France, Germany and Italy too, but that’ll do for now.

Tomorrow’s Wicked Wednesday, so I’ll be posting something sexy.

But there are more stats on Thursday, considering this question: An adult and a child are turned on by a spanking: hey, what are the odds? 


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 7: teachers who beat, and then rape, children

[Trigger warning: this post discusses and provides sources on the beating and rape of children in schools.]

How does beating children affect teachers? (an optimistic view)

Let’s assume that teachers are much like the rest of the population. So about 4-5% of them are aroused by “punishment” scenarios. That means that if they’re required by the terms of their employment to beat a child or young person, those teachers find themselves in a deeply creepy situation, through no fault of their own. That’s assuming that they’re good people.

If they refuse to perform beatings themselves, or to refer a child to be beaten, because they see it as a form of sexual abuse they’re at great risk of losing their job at that school. If they out themselves overtly, they lose their career. Otherwise, they hide, and occasionally take their part in the school’s child-beating rituals, with as much of their sensibility shut off as they can manage.

They will try not to be responsive to the sexual elements of what they’re doing. And if they’re very, very careful, the child might not be aware. That’s one in twenty to twenty-five teachers, because teachers are no different from the rest of us.

Parents who are happy with their child or someone else’s child being beaten by someone who correctly thinks of the beating scenario as a sexual one, are insane. But that’s the best-case scenario.

Why it’s worse than that

That was assuming that all teachers are good people, and are able to deal with their sexual responses ethically. However, we know from the Commissions of Enquiry into sexual abuse of children in Ireland, Australia and elsewhere, that’s not how it is in the real world. 

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is still hearing evidence on the rape of children in institutions that used beatings as a way to “punish” children.

At schools run by the Christian Brothers and other Catholic orders, the rape of boys and girls frequently happened after the teacher had whipped the child with a strap or cane. The children was almost always placed bending over a table, or over a piece of laundry equipment, so they they were in a receptive position sexually as well as for beating. Their buttocks were often bared. 

Not every time but often, the children were anally or vaginally raped after being beaten.  

The setting for the child-beating ritual also enabled these rapes. Generally beatings were carried out in buildings like laundries, some distance from the main buildings and play areas, so the children’s screams could not be heard. Some of those who were under this regime, now adults, gave evidence that if they complained of the rape, they would be taken back to the place by a different teacher, beaten again, and again raped.

This is harrowing, awful stuff. It can be found in the reports from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Similar reports came from Ireland. It’s not surprising that the psychological toll on the officials who have to hear, record and transcribe this evidence is reportedly very high.

It’s possible that some of those teachers were corrupted by their school environments, but it’s more likely that most were already pedophiles who were prepared to sexually assault and rape. They would be sexually excited by the beating of children (not all of the children; they usually selected their victims and concentrated on them) under their care, and they would take advantage of the power to isolate and undress a child to commit rape. 

Organised pedophile rings and the making of “corporal punishment” videos

Pedophiles who are prepared to commit sexual assault or rape tend to go for professions that offer access to children. So the proportion of teachers who find that so-called “corporal punishment” is both exciting in itself and provides an enabling setting for sexual assault and rape is going to be higher than in the general population. Even when screening processes are put in place. 

I’m one of the only two people in my family who has never worked as a teacher. I have enormous respect for the profession and for the vast majority of its members. But “corporal punishment” is a cancer on the profession’s reputation. 

The existence of organised rings of pedophiles who specialised in making and swapping child “corporal punishment” videos came to light in 2002, with the arrest of many members of a group calling itself “The Spanking Club”, which was centered around teachers, school volunteers and people in related professions. The group members made and exchanged videos showing the real, often severe, beatings of children. 

Some of the videos featured the members’ own children, while others featured other people’s children. That “corporal punishment” in schools was legal and socially accepted made it easier for members of the group to access victims, and to persuade the children involved that their ordeal was “normal”, because adults are allowed to hit children.

Other such organised groups are reported from time to time. They are, literally, secretive criminal conspiracies. There is therefore no way of knowing how prevalent they are. However, it is possible to know that we shouldn’t, as a society, be enabling them.

“Corporal punishment” enables rape

It’s no surprise or paradox that the “corporal punishment” setting is one of the situations in which children in schools, especially authoritarian schools, are at most risk of of sexual assault or rape.  

The harsh truth is that parents who advocate for or condone “corporal punishment” for their own children or those of others in schools are increasing the risk to children of being subjected to sexual exploitation, sexual assault or rape.