Tag Archives: BDSM

Open Question

[cw: self-harm talk, D/s and pain play talk]

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On linguistic prescriptivism, moral standards, and “real doms”

an artsy black-and-white picture of a lightbulb

It’s not a real article on BDSM without an artsy black-and-white photograph.

It’s come up on this blog once already, and I’m sure that won’t be the last I see of it.

When D/s practitioners dare to talk about the subject of abuse in relation to the kink community — which usually turns to pontification on “the difference between BDSM and abuse” — plenty of folks, it seems, reach for appeals to authenticity by making claims about “real doms” or “true doms” and what does or doesn’t apply to them.

“A real dom takes responsibility for their actions.”  “A true dom is not abusive.”  “An actual dom cares about the safety of their sub.”  A dom is only a dom when they don’t make me look bad.

Presumably, the goal of pieces like this is to erect ethical standards for people who take the role of dominant and/or to “defend” so-called “real doms” from being grouped in with abusive “fake doms” and “pretenders,” but going about it this way is completely backwards.

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Stop talking about “the difference between BDSM and abuse.”

You want to know how to get folks like me to trust you?  It’s not like this.

Although I was familiar with it already, I encountered this phrasing far too often while looking for suitable pieces for this linkspam on kink, and then having this conversation convinced me I might as well write a separate post about this.  So, here we go.

Stop going on and on about “the difference” between bondage, D/s, pain play, impact play, and abuse.

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technique, theory, and criticism kinkspam

(kinkspam = “kink” + “linkspam.” bad joke.)

Through persistence, I’ve found some of the kinds of things I would have wanted shared with me when I started here and here (and long before then, really, but those posts offer my personal context re: why I’m interrogating kink).  In the interest of anyone else who may find themselves in a tangential position, I want to share these with y’all, too.

Or in other words: *LMM’s Washington voice* Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

[general subject matter: abuse, ethics, bondage, and (un-)D/s]

Disclaimer: this linkspam has been curated with a sex-averse reader in mind and includes detailed notes, descriptions, and content warnings for most links; I’ve tried to make this post safely navigable for abuse survivors, but bear in mind, if you venture out by clicking the other links you may find through these, all bets are off.

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Discourse on BDSM and abuse comes in two flavors: “I don’t even know how abuse works” and “I hate trans women.”


It can look like that, too.

There are lots of abuse survivors who stay.  They stay for lots of reasons.  They stay because they aren’t convinced anything wrong.  They stay because they’re threatened when they try to leave.  They stay because they’re manipulated.  They stay because they’re in love.  They stay because they think they’re just not communicating themselves well enough.  They stay because they can’t envision a better alternative being within reach.  They stay because abuse is normalized and condoned.

So when you’re making the distinctions to explain how not all D/s is abusive, you need to reach for some more complex tool than barebones “the sub chooses to form and remain in the relationship.”


things I’ve been thinking about

To make you feel good — a post by swankivy about touch & coercion and her personal experience with a manipulative boyfriend.  I feel like this could provide some context for why I have misgivings about the phrase “enthusiastic consent.”  I know what it’s trying to get at — genuine consent, non-coerced actual consent, consent consent and not begrudging uneasy hesitant agreement to cave — but I feel like tacking on “enthusiastic” just creates the expectation of emotional performance, which hits a nerve for me as someone who’s been put in that position a lot as a kid.  Maybe more on that another time.

Why “Just Leave” Doesn’t Work — an explanation for those who take the “just leave” approach to abusive relationships.  Really important stuff to understand.  Also relevant to the simplistic “it’s not abuse if they accept it” excuse I kept encountering as a way to handwave critical thinking about D/s.

There’s a War On (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7) — an old series on BDSM and abuse (!).  I’m excited to have found (re-found?) these posts because I’ve been looking for something adequate on this topic for a while now.  Trigger warnings on this like whoa; it’s about harm and consent violations (of sexual & nonsexual kinds) and at times gets pretty graphic; there’s discussions of and mentions of basically all the terrible stuff you can think of.  I’m pleased to know this series exists, because it’s needed and the commentary ranges from actually decent to even good, but I’ll also note that the main point can be basically summed up as “There is abuse that happens within BDSM contexts and the community is crap at dealing with it.”  It seems to be written for an audience who wouldn’t agree or take that statement at face value, or who are seeking more details about what exactly goes on and how exactly the community is failing.  Important writing, but again, it’s rough.

This post by aceadmiral and the recent reblog chain discusses representation of nonsexual relationships and same-gender relationships as a site of conflict.  I have Thoughts and I want to write a whole post on them but that may or may not have to wait, and for now I’m just linking one of the posts here.


#asexualequestrian

A couple of years ago, I wanted to get a present for another equestrian, so I decided I’d get a fragrance thing that smelled like leather (like a saddle), as kind of a joke.

Looking through Demeter’s catalog, I actually found several different leather scents to choose from — Leather, Saddle, and Riding Crop.  Nice.

I investigated them each, thinking Riding Crop would be just as appropriate as Saddle…

…and on the item page, the preview image showed a woman’s tall high-heeled boot next to the bottle, and the item description calls its name “a naughty name” for a fragrance.

The name of the fragrance is Riding Crop.  That’s it.  That’s all.

???

Riding crops aren’t “naughty,” though.  I know they’re associated with sexual BDSM, but riding crops aren’t inherently naughty.  That’s like saying a set of car keys is naughty.

Here I am trying to buy horse-themed gifts and y’all are making this awkward.


kink-vs.-church talk?

I have a question for y’all while I work on some other posts.  I’ve seen multiple iterations of this thing where… kinky stuff and Christian churchiness are treated like two opposing poles on a spectrum (???), on par with hot and cold.

Example: the copilot once told me about how, at the public munches she used to go to, the way you would make sure a new person was in the right place was by asking, “Here for Bible study?”  Cue laughter.  Silly one-off joke, right?

But I’ve also seen a lot of this style of tumblr post where the first person says something like “imagine [kinky or unusual sexual situation]” and the second person responds “imagine finding Jesus and going to church.”

Presumably, not everyone who reblogs those posts is an evangelical Christian who makes a practice of telling someone, in all sincerity, to go to church and find Jesus.  It doesn’t seem to be used as a general response to anything the speaker disapproves of, either (people don’t get told to go to church in response to, say, being transmisogynist).  It’s something I’ve only seen in the context of kinky and weird sexual posts.

And I’m just… really confused.  Because… how does that even make sense?

I mean, I know it’s because kink is coded as “naughty” and church is coded as “good,” even for sex-positive nonChristians, but… um… y’all.

Y’all.

Traditional Christianity is chock full of dominance/submission talk.  I remember finding this “C-Rock or 50SoG?” quiz making fun of it for that over a year ago.  And even if Christianity weren’t drenched in D/s vibes to begin with, there’s really nothing to mandate that they’d be mutually exclusive.  Not to mention the weirdness, to me, of atheists and other nonChristians selectively endorsing church just to take a swipe at something else they don’t affiliate themselves with.

Anyway, somebody come talk to me about this.