Sexual authoritarians and bdsm 1

When people discriminate against people who take part in bdsm, or support the harassment of bdsm clubs, publications and so on, by police and other authorities, they usually believe that they are reasonable people acting virtuously. People ply themselves with reasons when they treat other people badly.

If you enjoy bdsm, Robin Morgan, feminist-except-for-women-who-make-choices-she-disapproves-of, says you’re a traitor to all women.

Harassment and discrimination happen because of political, religious, ideological and other frameworks that define certain people as outsiders, generate dislike for them and provide reasons for messing with them as individuals and suppressing their meeting places, books, videos and so on. Discrimination is hardly ever mindless, though it can appear so. Nor is it “natural”.

People make up reasons for hatred, and those reasons are generally rationalisations, intellectualized and argued, to keep the emotional dislike behind them out of sight.

But discrimination against and harassment of bdsm people comes from other, more emotional partskinds of thinking.

Conservative authoritarianism

One framework that drives legal and other activities directed against bdsm people can be called conservative authoritarianism, which is often religious in inspiration. The conservative authoritarian case against bdsm consists essentially of the premises that deviant sex is evil and that bdsm is deviant sex.

Bdsm is therefore, syllogistically, evil. If more arguments were needed, then there are the considerations that bdsm looks strange, often involves non-procreative sex, may involve people who are not married to each other, or are people of the same gender, and so on.

What’s more, bdsm is part of a category that includes oral sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, bdsm, fetishism, paedophilia, window-peeping and flashing, Satanism, group sex, polygamy and many other things. Tolerating any one of them will only encourage the others.

The Reverend James Dobson strongly supports the beating and whipping of terrified, non-consenting children, but if an adult spanks another adult for pleasure, that is, of course, the devil’s work

The distaste felt by conservative authoritarians for bdsm isn’t so different from their distaste for homosexuality, oral sex, and so on.

The impulse that drove a Massachusetts police officer to force his way into a private party in 2000 and arrest a woman who was spanking another woman with a wooden spoon is the same as the impulse that in 2004 led a Virginia policeman to arrest a 21-year old woman for getting oral sex from her boyfriend (the penalty for oral sex in Virginia is up to five years’ imprisonment), and in 2006 led Republican Ralph Davenport to put up a bill to prohibit the sale of vibrators in South Carolina.

No-one who promotes such laws, and no police officer who selectively upholds them, can possibly believe that these laws prevent any harm or protect any person. The laws simply reflect the reality that other people’s sexual expression can rouse emotions in some other people that can range from discomfort to terror, from dislike to hate.

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