Kinky stuff

I was thinking I’d blog about the oddness of internet friendships, but I’ll get to that another time. Earlier this week, William Saletan at Slate.com published this article about BDSM and why it will never be mainstream. It’s an interesting article, although be warned if you click on any links. Not that they’re NSFW (although I think that’s true in at least one case), but just know what you’re getting into. Some (I haven’t checked most of the links in Saletan’s article) may link to explicit material that could bother you. If you don’t want a lot of BDSM detail, then you may be better off just ignoring the links.

Is there anything “wrong” with BDSM? Tough question. Generally, my answer is no. I think that anything two (or more) consenting and informed or knowledgeable adults want to do is fine. If you want someone to spank you, fine, but I’m not into that. I won’t stop you, won’t judge, won’t tell you not to or even speculate on any childhood reason you might like it. If you want to be tied up — or do the tying up — again, fine. If you want to be hurt, or do the hurting, that gets a little fuzzier and squicks me out.

In those cases I think information, knowledge, and trust are absolutely essential. If you have all of those, if everyone involved a) knows what they are getting into; b) knows the preparations and possible consequences; and c) can rely on their partner(s) to use and respect safe words, then okay. Again, I don’t want it, but that’s okay.

What Saletan’s article tries to get at, and this NYT piece (which Saletan links to) explores, is how “normal” this all is or isn’t.

I’m not sure “normal” matters. There are a ton of people out there with a ton of different sexual preferences, so the “normal” range is likely going to either be pretty wide to encompass a lot of stuff, or it’s going to be pretty narrow, leaving a lot of things on the outside. So maybe normal or accepted aren’t even terms to use, although we have to use something.

So, in my opinion, I’d have to say that probably most people enjoy dabbling in various aspects BDSM and my guess — only a guess — is that light bondage and spanking are probably the most common activities. Does that make them normal or mainstream? Maybe. Does it matter? I don’t think so, particularly.

When you get into inflicting pain, be it physical or emotional, I think you get farther away from the normal range. Most of us, I think it’s safe to say, do not want to be hurt. We take over-the-counter medicines for various things, because we don’t want to hurt, and that kind of hurt is much less than what one might experience with some parts of BDSM. Nor do we want to be hurt emotionally — we don’t want to be called names or insulted.

Yet some people, in limited or controlled circumstances, get turned on by these things. And I think you have to be very careful when violence or pain are involved in an activity that is ultimately designed to bring someone pleasure. I get, at least on an intellectual level, the idea that giving up control to someone can be exciting.

It’s a little taboo, really, isn’t it? For what, close to one hundred years or more, going back to Susan B. Anthony agitating for women’s suffrage, we have been told that women can and should be strong and independent. And there is nothing wrong with that. I think it’s an important message. It’s led to other things, if only indirectly. We don’t see spousal rape as acceptable because it occurs within marriage; we don’t believe that husbands have the right to beat their wives; we believe woman can choose their own marriage, or not, and to have kids, or not.

So no wonder, I think, that women — and men — who wish to be involved in an activity that involves giving up control to someone, mental and/or physical, fear what others might say. Especially when it comes to sex. Society has changed a lot on how sex and sexuality is viewed, but BDSM still isn’t quite out there in then open.

I tend to think it never will be mainstream, especially because when you get to the discipline, submission, sadism and masochistic aspects of BDSM, you are looking at violence. Violence may be common, but it’s not exactly “mainstream.” And asking to be treated violently is a sensitive and I think dangerous thing. I can only hope that those who want such things pair up with an understanding and reliable partner who will honor limits and safe words.

I’ve never written anything with BDSM. Well, okay, Island Encounter had some slight elements of feminine domination. So that’ll teach me to never say never. However, I won’t write it — and I don’t edit it for other writers — because I’m not familiar with the scene and don’t want to be. I don’t edit BDSM stories because although I could help with punctuation, I wouldn’t know enough about the content to say if it’s right or not. If I had an idea that called for it, I’d probably look into it, but I’m not sure I’d ever have that kind of idea.

Because I, personally, prefer things more “even” in my stories. I do not find violence or insults arousing, and it’d be hard for me to write that. I’m not sure I could relate to a character who liked such things, and it would no doubt come across in a story. Does that make me “vanilla?” Probably, but that’s okay.

I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with someone who wants to be spanked or paddled, or to do it to someone else. But I also think that you can’t demand such behavior be accepted as “normal.” As Saletan argues, that kind of sexual preference is a choice, unlike a person’s orientation. We all have preferences on various things, some of which are “normal” and some are not, and we can’t demand that everyone like them.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by juliabarrett on March 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Interesting. I do prefer my heroines to be strong, powerful, independent, confident. I’m not much into the inflicting pain upon those you love thing – especially since I’ve had real pain inflicted upon me as a victim of both physical and sexual abuse. It ain’t sexy.

    Reply

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