Bdsm and vanilla consent #3

There’s a legal case that began earlier this year. It’s kind of trivial, but anything involving a Disney employee being sued for spanking-related sexual harassment is noteworthy.It’s just a shame that it doesn’t involve one of the guys in the mouse costumes.

Anyway, Kellie Rodriguez, is suing the comedian Ron Pearson, for sexual harrassment.

She alleges that she was in the studio audience for a Disney show, where Pearson was the warm-up act. She says he’d been checking her out before the show, and when there was a segment for audience participation he made sure she was called. While she was up on stage, he spanked her bottom repeatedly (while she was standing with her back to him) and then kissed her. She alleges.

I’m not commenting on the case itself.

But what strikes me as interesting is that Ms Rodriguez is alleging two kinds of non-consensual sexual assault. One, the kissing, we’d call vanilla, or “not bdsm”. The other, the spanking, we’d say was very light bdsm. Of the two, it’s the (alleged) kissing that she says affected her more, because her children, who were in the audience, saw a strange man kissing their mother and were upset because they couldn’t understand what was going on. 

I had been thinking – Greedo aaargh made the same point, in his comment on Vanilla and bdsm consent #1 – that the standards of consent in bdsm are so much higher because what’s at stake in bdsm is greater. That is, there are more risks, especially for the submissive, in bdsm sex than in “vanilla” sex.

But that isn’t necessarily true.

In most bdsm no-one is really hurt. A rope mark from bondage or a blushing bottom from a spanking may not last as long as a vanilla love bite.  Getting kissed in front of your family could (again, not referring to the Disney case)  have greater consequences for your life than spending an evening chained to your bed.

The emotional consequences of fucking someone can be more important and have greater potential for benefit or harm, than the emotional consequences of spending a night as that person’s slave, but without intercourse.  

So the comparative riskiness of vanilla and bdsm sex is one issue in why the standard of consent is higher for bdsm than for other kinds of sex. But it can’t be the only issue.