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Some days you get to be the pigeon. Some days you get to be the statue. And some days . . .
October 1, 2006 10:50 AM   Subscribe

[NSFW] Much of contemporary liberal thought rests on the idea of the Social Contract. In this scheme, we agree to give up a certain amount of freedom in exchange for the protection and opportunity that society provides. Our individual lives mirror this. We defer to others when politeness requires it. We assert ourselves and our needs with pleases and thank yous. Most of daily life has some power dynamic to it, expressed with the subtlety that civilization demands. And what is implicit in daily life is made explicit in the role-playing of BDSM, based on the idea of a Power Exchange, where one party explicitly agrees to give up a certain amount of power to another. For most people who are into this, the “scenes” are circumscribed by rules, usually discussed beforehand, such as appropriate safewords, time limits, etc. For a small subset of this group, the typical safeguards are cast aside and the slave surrenders all aspects of his or her life to the master. The female submissive Polly Peachum has written about this lifestyle in her essay “Violence in the Garden” about her life as a 24-7 slave and the sexual dimensions of that relationship.
posted by jason's_planet (219 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, um, is there some kind of libertarian BDSM based entirely on markets?
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on October 1, 2006


"...is there some kind of libertarian BDSM based entirely on markets?

Trophy wife?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:07 AM on October 1, 2006


People who desire 24/7 enslavement- from either side of the power relationship- are essentially and royally fucked in the head. There's really not much more to it than that- they can rationalize all they want, but they're emotionally and psychically crippled, and this fucked up lifestyle is a pathetic and failed attempt to sort their shit out.
posted by hincandenza at 11:12 AM on October 1, 2006


We need more adult baby essays.
posted by meehawl at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2006


A couple of thoughts come to mind after reading polly's diary:

1)As a woman and a feminist, I have to say, "Who cares if she lives this way?" I doubt that most women want this kind of lifestyle, but it's not worth getting up in arms over or taking to the streets to protest. If she wants to live this way, so be it. It's her problem.

2)I have to wonder if this whole master-slave BDSM lifestyle, in general, is more a white folks' phenomenon? Perhaps the idea of being someone's "slave" has limited appeal to folks whose ancestors once were slaves. Just a thought. How she rationalizes her desires back to her childhood is beside the point. The phrase "crazy white woman" comes to mind. I say this as a white woman (non-crazy on most days). :)

3)Polly states -- I cannot just walk out of the relationship. If I did, he and I both know he would have every right to get me back by whatever means he could, as I really belong to him absolutely, and not just when it is convenient for me to belong to him.

Well...the truth is that if you really really to leave, the law is in your side, so this is a bit disingenuous.
posted by bim at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2006


Slave, I command you to use paragraphs.
posted by bonaldi at 11:30 AM on October 1, 2006


Even more graphic is pain slut (this girl actually has pictures of her self and her bruses, etc). Before I found that site I always though 99% of the 'true bsdm stories' were just people's fantasies.

found via ask if you're wondering.
posted by Paris Hilton at 11:46 AM on October 1, 2006


People who desire 24/7 enslavement- from either side of the power relationship- are essentially and royally fucked in the head.

I know Polly pretty well. She's neither fucked in the head, nor is she emotionally and psychically crippled. On the contrary, she's one of the smartest and most able people I've ever known.

But I suspect that even she'd agree that your gross generalization would fit a good 90% of the people who profess to desire such a lifestyle.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2006


Polly's site and photos:
http://www.submissivewomenspeak.net/polly.htm

Polly is named after:
Three Penny Opera
Polly Peachum: Peachum's daughter, she marries Mac the Knife after knowing him for only five days. Her parents have him arrested and Polly is dismayed to learn that he has another wife, Lucy. She takes over his business after his arrest and likely takes his money at the end.
posted by Postroad at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2006


I wonder how people from parts of the world where sincere life or death sexual slavery are a recurrent risk would consider this lifestyle.

It's also interesting to me that she uses the word submission to describe her situation, it seems to me as if subjugation is a more apt description. When she says "49 percent of American women studied have submissive fantasies. Like me, they have dreams of being captured, spanked and whipped, controlled, used like a toy." I wonder why she's trying to justify her lifestyle and I wonder if she realizes that of that 49% the vast majority don't even fall into the fold of the BDSM subculture.

Of course, as interesting as it is to get the perspective of a voluntary slave I can't help but recall what seems to be one of the furthest ends of this spectrum.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:00 PM on October 1, 2006


On the contrary, she's one of the smartest and most able people I've ever known.

Smart, articulate and a good writer doesn't necessarily imply that she's not fucked in the head.
posted by bim at 12:04 PM on October 1, 2006


My suspicions were raised at the word "writer".
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on October 1, 2006


Much of contemporary liberal thought rests on the idea of the Social Contract.

Liberal thought? Isn't this the structure of society in general going back to the days of feudal society?

And is there anything in the links about connecting BDSM to social society? In social contracts you usually get something in exchange for your tax masochism. I don't see the connection here except the general idea of "you're society's bitch maaaannnnn"
posted by destro at 12:06 PM on October 1, 2006


Funny -- my parents had a friend from church who was like this, but with Jesus. Jesus would constantly give her arbitrary orders that she would have to follow. It was kind of like that SNL skit where the family had to pray and get God's permission to have a glass of milk.
Like Polly, she was a smart, articulate lady. Like Polly she had developed a sophistication justification for her odd relationship to Jesus. Deep down, she really, really wanted some external authority to be in charge, and instead of BDSM, she picked Jesus.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:07 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Smart, articulate and a good writer doesn't necessarily imply that she's not fucked in the head.

I don't suppose it does.

Let me put it this way then: the only way in which she's fucked in the head is if you automatically assume that wanting the things that she wants, makes her so. In every other way, she's actually extraordinarily well-balanced.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:10 PM on October 1, 2006


Let me put it this way then: the only way in which she's fucked in the head is if you automatically assume that wanting the things that she wants, makes her so. In every other way, she's actually extraordinarily well-balanced.

Peter, this is your opinion, but not everyone else has to see it your way. And while I appreciate the fact that you've met the woman, that still not enough for me to agree with your assessment.
posted by bim at 12:14 PM on October 1, 2006


Let me put it this way then: the only way in which she's fucked in the head is if you automatically assume that wanting the things that she wants, makes her so.

Fine. Yes, I do assume that. Legitimately, IMHO.
posted by bim at 12:15 PM on October 1, 2006


Of course everyones a bit fucked in the head really, not everyone is very honest about it.
posted by Artw at 12:19 PM on October 1, 2006


People who desire homosexual sex are essentially and royally fucked in the head. There's really not much more to it than that- they can rationalize all they want, but they're emotionally and psychically crippled, and this fucked up lifestyle is a pathetic and failed attempt to sort their shit out.

METAFILTER OUT OF MY VAGINA, is all I'm saying.
posted by Simon! at 12:22 PM on October 1, 2006


Fine. Yes, I do assume that. Legitimately, IMHO.

Sure. But it wasn't that long ago that people similarly assumed that men who had sex with men were similarly fucked in the head as well.

How is your prejudice with regard to Polly's desires any different to the prejudice of those who believed that gay men were also a suitable case for lobotomy and ECT?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:23 PM on October 1, 2006


Of course, Art, of course.

You've got be at least a little fucked up to be interesting. And lord knows everyone has their fantasies.

There's a whole spectrum of fucked upness that we're considering here. ;)
posted by bim at 12:23 PM on October 1, 2006


Certainly better put, Peter, but mine included the word vagina in all-caps, so I'm pretty sure I win.
posted by Simon! at 12:27 PM on October 1, 2006


Metafilter: People with vaginas are fucked in the head
posted by Artw at 12:29 PM on October 1, 2006


Mine included the word vagina in all-caps, so I'm pretty sure I win.

You'll not hear any argument from me on that score, Simon.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:30 PM on October 1, 2006


In practise, slaves have contracts, many of which include days off, renegotiation and/or renewal points and limits. There are also people who provide the equivalent to battered women's shelters for slaves who want or who need to leave abusive (by the slave's judgement) relationships.

The BDSM communitites traditionally police themselves pretty well, and pretty closely. This appears to be changing, in my opinion.

I've met black slaves, masters and mistresses. When I've asked them about this, they've told me that race adds an extra dimension to play for them, among other things.

One dom I knew said she was lost and worthless without her sub, and that she thought the strong people in her family were her submissives, not her. She struck me as pretty introspective and honest.

Which is to say that BDSM is frequently not what it appears to be on the surface, and that I really doubt any FPP or discussion here can do much more than pander to stereotypes and titillate folks.
posted by QIbHom at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2006


How is your prejudice with regard to Polly's desires any different to the prejudice of those who believed that gay men were also a suitable case for lobotomy and ECT?

1)Good question. Perhaps its the matter of totally abdicating one's essence or free will, or, for lack of a better term, soul to another person that I find indicative of being fucked up.

2)And regarding lobotomies and ECT and gay men (or gay women such as myself), this is really is a straw man fallacy as far as what we're discussing goes.

My opinion as to whether or not I think that Polly has a screw loose has no significant deterimental impact whatsoever on Polly. Polly lives as she wants. I have no power to force her to get a lobotomy or ECT. I wouldn't dream of it. I don't think that anyone else has suggested that here (except you). But we are entitled to differ with your opinion.

As I said before, Polly's desires are no skin off my rear end. It is what it is. As long as her desires don't harm someone else, she can do as she pleases.

Now Ted Bundy, another smart and articulate person, had unusual desires that moved beyond affecting only himself or a consenting partner. So not all desires are created equal nor should society treat them as equal.
posted by bim at 12:40 PM on October 1, 2006


Perhaps the idea of being someone's "slave" has limited appeal to folks whose ancestors once were slaves.

Hm. Slavery has been wide-spread, and it's likely that everyone's ancestors were once slaves.

Or is there some sort of generation limit?
If so, how many generations is it? Why?
posted by spazzm at 12:43 PM on October 1, 2006


Don't be dense, spazzm. You know what I mean.
posted by bim at 12:44 PM on October 1, 2006


Let me put it this way then: the only way in which she's fucked in the head is if you automatically assume that wanting the things that she wants, makes her so.

Unless, of course, her master is literally fucking her in the head.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 12:45 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


I once heard tell of a person in a relationship similar to this who declared that she would do anything her master said, no matter what, because she was his to do with as he pleased.

Someone asked her, "Well, what if your master decided that from now on you were just going to have plain vanilla sex with no BDSM play?"

She thought about it and said "I'd leave him in a second."
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 12:54 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Here's another connection between BDSM and the concept of the social contract: social contract philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was into being spanked.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 1:02 PM on October 1, 2006


Nutcase.
posted by A189Nut at 1:05 PM on October 1, 2006


Good question. Perhaps its the matter of totally abdicating one's essence or free will, or, for lack of a better term, soul to another person that I find indicative of being fucked up.

But if she chooses to abdicate her free will, surely that's an *act* of free will? And as you pointed out (and she's perfectly well aware of), the laws are such that she couldn't be compelled to do so. By remaining in the relationship, in the absence of coercion, she's voluntarily renewing her consent on an ongoing basis.

I know that she tends to resist this interpretation of her relationship, but that's by the by.

And regarding lobotomies and ECT and gay men (or gay women such as myself), this is really is a straw man fallacy as far as what we're discussing goes.

You're talking about consensual sexual desires as being symptomatic of mental illness and you live in a country that every year sends thousands of children to boot camps and other behaviour modification facilities for behaving in a manner that their parents feel is similarly inappropriate.

While you might not be proposing such measures, I've no doubt whatsoever that there will be many people who think it a perfectly good idea.

Now Ted Bundy, another smart and articulate person, had unusual desires that moved beyond affecting only himself or a consenting partner.

And you accuse *me* of straw man fallacies?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm with bim on this one.

These discussions all pretty much go the same place. A large share of people into "X" deviant behavior get offended that the majority see them as bent or disturbed. This is one of those "tolerance" is NOT "acceptance" kind of deals.

Sure. I "tolerate" Polly, and others that want this kind of stuff. I see no reason a law or other social restrictions be enacted to prevent such behavior as long as it is consensual (no matter how "fucked in the head it is" objectively or non-objectively).

I will NOT, however, accept it as NOT fucked in the head.

I will fight for their right to be kinky adults but I will never accept is "normal" and I will say it is a moral and psychological flaw. Yes a flaw. Becuase I would not want MY daughter to want to be a slave. Would you?

So then once we express our negative opinion said practitioners of "X" behavior then express a fervent counter opinion that the line between these different concepts be blurred and that I not use judgmental language towards them. This leads to some kind of discussion of a "special right" to not be ridiculed based on deviancy. And no such right exists. And then some poor attempt to equate a kink with gender preferences and homosexuality. And a discussion of "bigotry" ensues.

And again the distinction between "tolerance" and "acceptance" must be drawn. And we go round and round.

But a more interesting discussion is: where does all this come from? These days SM/BDSM and all that seem to be EVERYWHERE? If you don't own a ball-gag and a strap-on you are positively barbaric.

My theory is this: AIDS, over-saturation of sexuality in media, and fucked up families.

BDSM and other Kinks were not NEARLY so popular or attempting to mainstream-ize themselves before AIDS made a huge majority of the middle class folk afraid of plain 'ol penetrative vanilla sex.

Where plain 'ol fucking was, at one time, a taboo in itself, thus made the act attractive almost as an act of rebellion. We now have people simultaneously bored AND afraid of ACTUAL sex.

So we invent bizarre forms of non-sex AS sex. People who come from broken or dysfunctional families or abusive backgrounds who lack models for intimacy then tend to use non-sex sex as ad-hoc therapy to fix themselves.

Eh. It's a theory.
posted by tkchrist at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Amazing. Simply amazing to me that people aren't willing to understand. BDSM is pretty scary stuff, eh? There's nothing worse than looking deep into yourself.

It doesn't take being effed in the head to, as the original poster (well-written post, by the way), pursue "what is implicit in daily life... made explicit". There is most typically a clarity in structure, honesty, and depth in power exchange relationships that is dramatically different from many (most) relationships on the vanilla side. From the other side of the fence, it's rather telling to note who is repelled by the honesty of BDSM and TPE.

On the other hand, it's very often those who are intelligent and analytical who seek out a structured relationship - and yes, the epicurian side of sex.

I'm smiling here.
posted by vers at 1:20 PM on October 1, 2006 [2 favorites]


I'm smiling here.

Yeah. People who tie each other up, piss on one another, and enslave each-other are... simply more honest and intelligent.

Yeah. THAT's it. Oh. you happen to be ONE of them. Convenient observation that you can stroke your self like that. Your so enlightened. We are all very lucky you dain to inform us with the holy light coming out of your ass.

Epicurean?

Jesus. What the fuck ever.
posted by tkchrist at 1:27 PM on October 1, 2006


But if she chooses to abdicate her free will, surely that's an *act* of free will?


We can endlessy debate what came first -- the chicken or the egg. But as I said, I find the abdication a sign of mental health problems -- regardless of how many times we try to work this argument backwards. You obviously don't. If you find that unsophisticated or provincial, so be it. Nobody ever said that we have to agree on everything.

You're talking about consensual sexual desires as being symptomatic of mental illness and you live in a country that every year sends thousands of children to boot camps and other behaviour modification facilities for behaving in a manner that their parents feel is similarly inappropriate.

This thread is about sexual behavior of consenting adults. Now you're veering off into a discussion akin to "the universe and other things." I'll take a pass on that one

And you accuse *me* of straw man fallacies?

Yup, I should ahve been clearer that I was not equating Ted Bundy with Polly or anyone practicing BDSM. Mea culpa on that one. :)
posted by bim at 1:28 PM on October 1, 2006


Tkchrist, I will fight to the death for your right to condemn people with 'moral flaws'. Just stay away from my children.
posted by Simon! at 1:31 PM on October 1, 2006


Before I introduce the comparison I just thought of, I'd like to say that even though cases like Polly's don't sem healthy to me, I don't think a case can be made that Polly is being genuniely harmed, or that she's undertaking this against her own will. Therefore, I think she ought to be left alone to do what she does, just like we let smokers kill themselves with cigarettes.
Were Polly a minor, or were it clear that she'd been manipulated into this lifestyle in some way, I'd think there'd be a concern.
But that brings me to my comparison -- our society has, of late, decided that professors at universities can't have relationships with students -- even students who aren't their students, even though all parties are consenting adults. Naturally, the universities are doing this because they want to avoid lawsuits, and not out of any actual concern for the students, but the feminst justification for strict policies along these lines is that the professor holds authority and so has a kind of sway over the student, even if the professor isn't using the authority in a manipulate way, and even if the student insists the relationship is consenual.
That is, the feminist position in this case assumes that the student is unaware that the authority dynamics are in play, and the student is, in effect brainwashed into being attracted into the professor. At every institution I've attended or worked for, this has been the prevailing doctrine regarding teacher/student relationships.
This phenomenon came to mind when reading this thread, because once you allow yourself to disregard the testimony of an otherwise functioning, sane adult on the grounds that they're unable to tell when they've been manipulated, where do you draw the line?
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:34 PM on October 1, 2006


Tkchrist, I will fight to the death for your right to condemn people with 'moral flaws'. Just stay away from my children.

Father:
"What do you want to be when you grow up honey?"

Daughter:
"Oh. Daddy. I want to wear a leather zipper mask and be kept in the basement of a corporate lawyer... oh, and daddy, when he comes home I want him to piss on me! And then I will bake him muffins!"

Father:
"That's my girl. That's daddies little girl."
posted by tkchrist at 1:45 PM on October 1, 2006


but the feminst justification for strict policies along these lines is that the professor holds authority and so has a kind of sway over the student, even if the professor isn't using the authority in a manipulate way, and even if the student insists the relationship is consenual.

Why is this a "feminist" position. They fire female professors for doing the same, right? Right?
posted by tkchrist at 1:48 PM on October 1, 2006


I don't mean this as an ad hominem attack, but quite honestly, I think that feeling the urge to shun and ridicule people based on where they put their penis is a better sign of mental instability than those actual penis-related decisions.

If my hypothetical, age-of-majority daughter is interested in safe, consensual BDSM, she'll get my understanding and also a hug. If she goes around trying to make people feel bad about their sexual desires, that's a straight-up grounding in the Simon! household.
posted by Simon! at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2006


Yeah, I'm with tkchrist on this. I'm as much a lefty free love social liberal as the next Vancouverite, and because what they do doesn't affect anyone else, I can tolerate it completely.

It is, however, wholly deviant and fucked in the head. I cannot accept it as normal, desirable or sane human behaviour. Because it is, I think, insane behaviour, I cannot even agree that it is between consenting adults.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:57 PM on October 1, 2006


Don't be dense, spazzm. You know what I mean.

So when you can't articulate what you mean, you simply brush questions aside. Brilliant.
posted by spazzm at 1:58 PM on October 1, 2006


He specifically said "white people". Your question was a non sequitur.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:00 PM on October 1, 2006



If my hypothetical, age-of-majority

Come talk to me when she ISN'T hypothetical.

Who says "shun?" I mean I don't go out of my way to make BDSM friends or join Vanilla/BDSM Encounter Groups or anything. Do you? But I also don't march up and down the street demanding anybody be deported for wanting impale their adult baby on a double-headed butt-plug.

The point is this: I view people who want to be pissed on and turned into slaves as "fucked in the head." Call it a kink of MINE. Hey. Your coming down and judging MY kink, Mr. Non-Judemental!

So in the Simon! household are all consensual kinks equal?

Men who marry their own daughters? Is marring your own brother on the same level as say... requiring your wife to wear white cotton undies like Pricilla Presly?

You know. It's ALL sex positive in the Simon! household. We don't judge here.
posted by tkchrist at 2:02 PM on October 1, 2006


Oh. And Simon! if you want to be thrilled your daughter is a slave... well waaay enlightened.

Like I said I see no reason (or even a fair way) to make such consensual activity illegal.

If you DID I will think you are fucked in the head. I weep for your (hypothetical) fucked in the head daughter and will most certainly keep my hands off her - as was my entire point.

Just make sure she keeps her pervy hands off MY not fucked in the head son and/or daughter.

Just keep chanting to yourself "it all happens in a vacuum" in the Simon! household.
posted by tkchrist at 2:12 PM on October 1, 2006


Metafilter: We don't march up and down the street demanding anybody be deported for wanting to impale their adult baby on a double-headed butt-plug.
posted by aburd at 2:13 PM on October 1, 2006


You kinky people ought to be more ashamed of yourselves: Burning hot tears of shame, deserving of punishment!
posted by eegphalanges at 2:14 PM on October 1, 2006


Eustace --

We are not suggesting that Polly not be left alone. No one has ever suggestioned that she be locked up, sanctioned or prevented from living her life as she wishes.

We are merely commenting on what we think of her lifestyle given she herself has has published things about her lifestyle on the internet and given the issue was raised in the current Mefi thread.

As for professors dating students, I don't think that there are any circumstances where a professor should date a student currently in his/her class. If they want to date afterwards or a professor wants to date some student s/he has never had in a class, I don't see any problem with that. In fact, it's not uncommon for teaching assistants in grad shool to wind up dating and marrying a former student.

Finally, regarding your last statement, I'm a bit confused:

because once you allow yourself to disregard the testimony of an otherwise functioning, sane adult on the grounds that they're unable to tell when they've been manipulated, where do you draw the line?

There is no line being drawn to sanction Polly or harm her in any fashion. We merely have a difference of opinion about the merits of a certain lifestyle.

Simon! -- You seem to feel that a difference of opinion is akin to shunning someone or trying to make them hide their sexual desires. This is ridiculous. Polly is posting an account of her life on the internet and therefore she herself opens the subject up for discussion. We are merely commenting on it and stating our opinions. This seems reasonable given someone posted info about polly's blog on the front page of mefi. What's the point of posting something if there is one official opinion on the subject? Tell me where that list is so that I can review it, please.

Unless your virtual daughter is planning on wearing a sign announcing her BDSM preferences, why would the subject ever come up let alone have anyone try to make her feel bad.

And how did differing opinions become equivalent to condeming someone for moral flaws?

spazzm -- You're not being brushed aside because your question is too hard to answer. You're being brushed aside because it doesn't make much sense. Do you want to go back to the time of the Celts or the Israelites or what? Why? Is that even remotely relevant to what we're discussing? Obviously I'm talking recent American history and slavery and the Civil War and all that. Get with the program.
posted by bim at 2:15 PM on October 1, 2006


Actually, that's what I'm saying! Well, the first half, not the second half where you 'nail' me by revealing that I am totally into incest.

Some people like crazy, crazy sex! Some people are totally grossed about by crazy, crazy sex! Different strokes regarding crazy sex are what makes the world go round!

My problem is when you feel the urge to go around saying that their sexual interests are a 'moral flaw.' At that point, you're actually kind of being a dick to that person.

It's the same old 'your right end where my face begins' story. You don't have to like or respect where their hormones take them. But, as much as I know this sounds like a joke, I really think it's important that we be polite about it. They didn't pick their proclivities, and I promise you they already suffer enough for them. The world has more than enough self-loathing, unstable people, lashing out at themselves or everyone else because of their repressed sexual desires. And I really do think their right to feel OK about themselves is more important than your right to be remind everyone what you do and do not think is weird. It's just a 'don't be kind of a dick to people who already probably deal with enough of it' thing.

I'd rather my daughter be weird and happy than self-hating and suicidal because she can't stop thinking about whips.
posted by Simon! at 2:22 PM on October 1, 2006


Well, since I posted the first "fucked in the head" comment here, let me clarify.

I totally tolerate this (provided it's not something akin to the gimp in Pulp Fiction) as something people have every right to do. Hell, I live in a section of Seattle where this community is at least visible. I really couldn't give two figs about what consenting people do behind closed doors, and I even believe that in many cases, the consent is consent. Polly is not necessarily unconsenting or mentally incompetent to consent.

But I am adamantly sure that this level of psychosexual 'play' is poorly wrought self-therapy. And I would question especially those who as doms engage in this level, what really is different in their skulls than a Ted Bundy or a Marquis de Sade? Same desires... the infantile desire to control, to own.


About as core a tenet of my personal believe in human moral, emotional, and spiritual growth is akin to the microcosm notion of MLK's quote that the moral arc of the universe is long, but tends towards justice. When I think of our lives, I see it as a moral arc from the extremes of narcissism to the opposite end of selflessness and holistic understanding. When we are first born, all of us are extreme narcissists and sociopaths. We see only ourselves, our needs, and the entire universe as we understand it revolves around us. When we have desires, we expect them satisfied, NOW, and we are holy terrors until they are satisfied.

As we age, we slowly gain a removal first from our believe that we are the center of the universe, then our parents, then gain understanding of other people in a new and different way. There was an experiment I saw on TV regarding telling children of 3 or 4 to imagine they were on their way to a birthday party that their mommy said to go straight to without stopping, and then showing them a drawing of a crying child with a hurt knee and asking them what they'd do. At 3 or 4, the kids responded with utter mechanical and compassionless certainty that they would keep going like mommy said. But kids at 5 or 6 tested with the same question would consistently say they'd go find an adult to help. When asked why they didn't do exactly what mommy said, the kids explained that it was more important to help the child.

In other words, as we grow older, we gain both a greater sense of our insignificance in the world, and one hopes a greater sense of our similarity and connection to our fellow human beings. We get circles of friends, co-workers, in effect enlarging our monkey space (as some have put it). We gain understanding such that even in this thread, pretty much to a person even those who see the hardcore bsdm lifestyle as reflecting emotional issues fully accept the right of these people to be themselves, and live their lives without interference from anyone else. As we grow older and wiser still- and this, sadly, is not all of humankind- we better grasp that it's good to care about other people, to strive not to dominate other people's lives just because we don't understand them, but to instead seek understanding and compassion. Look at metafilter, and look how many people at the least have near-ulcers and sick feelings when contemplating other human beings in pain and anguish, whether it's some newsfilter post about torture victims, or sadistic killers, or political campaigns of legalized genocide.

The end extreme might be a state of holistic love of all people, and connection, that we associate with the likes of Jesus et al- something akin to boddhisattva. Do most of us reach this point at any moment in our lives? Not likely. But personally, I feel certain that this arc of moral growth and connectedness is a fundamental, and fundamentally good, progress as a spiritual person. That the only logical path from that extreme of narcissism in childhood is iits polar opposite.


So in that context... a person who would make the very focus of their lives a complete subjugation to another person, to avoid will, to engage in pain play... or the person who desires to dominate and own another human being... how can I not see that as fundamentally a bizarre and terribly flawed departure from health and growth? How is that not some just overly glossed over and dressed up regression to near-infancy?

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I just don't 'get it', but regardless of their right as free people to make these choices, I can't not judge them. I can try to open my mind to understand the "why" of these desires, to understand it as a strangely compelling human experience, no less valid or 'flawed' per se but not necessarily on an ultimate path to enlightenment... to understand that it's not important, it doesn't affect me, etc.

But I can't not see this as a retardation of their self, as much as replacement for enlightment as one might see the derivatives of opium, or neo-fascism, or rampant consumption and ownership of material possessions. I can't not see that in seeking out this lifestyle, they are desperately avoiding or compensating for something unresolved. It'd be one thing if they were Ivan Denisovich, strangely and quietly at peace in a hellish situation of enslavement or degradation; but to seek out that condition? That's... wrong.
posted by hincandenza at 2:26 PM on October 1, 2006 [6 favorites]


Unless your virtual daughter is planning on wearing a sign announcing her BDSM preferences, why would the subject ever come up let alone have anyone try to make her feel bad.

Obviously she would HAVE to be a member of Metafilter. And being a member she would be obligated to regail us with her kinks and perversions as outlined in the Metafilter Charter. Thus we would be obligated, by same such Charter, to make fun of her for it. It is our way.

Now what if Polly's kink was to donate massive amounts of cash to the GOP? It get's her hot. What IF everytime she painted "Death to Librul Fags" on the side of the Greenpeace canvassing van she had massive orgasms.

It's all good. Isn't it?
posted by tkchrist at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2006


Beautifully said, hincandenza. Thank you.
posted by bim at 2:30 PM on October 1, 2006


I had no idea that "fucked in the head" was an objective measurable quantity
posted by delmoi at 2:31 PM on October 1, 2006


Sorry, I should have previewed. Bim, I'm not objecting to your opinion on the subject. As the post above eloquently describes, there's a whole lot wrong with the slave lifestyle depicted in the article.

I just don't think the answer is South Park style rejoicing at how much we refuse to accept them.
posted by Simon! at 2:31 PM on October 1, 2006


You don't have to like or respect where their hormones take them.

I don't. THEN we agree. Jesus. If it CAME UP I'd say, yes, "it's fucked in the head."

But I wouldn't do a pre-emptive "fucked in the head" march down mainstreet over it.

What your doing is trying to pretend it's all in a vacuum and you are way edgy because you think everything is fine on the sexual spectrum.

But what your not being is honest with yourself.

Nor are understanding that whipping somebody ISN'T sex at all... it is a twisted surrogate for sex for a person who has a disorder IE a kink.

It's no different (other than it is consensual) than people who compulsively shop-lift as substitute for other emotional needs.

So. This thing you say they can't help... MAYBE. But what if you COULD. Should you?

I'm saying this stuff doesn't evolve in a vaccum. Ok. And I wouldn't want my daughter exposed to it. But you you would want your daughter exposed to it? I don't get you.

Anyway. You didn't answer the question.

So you have NO line. Father marrying daughter is ok? It's consensual, right? You wouldn't condemn somebody for it? Heck. They can HELP it after all. It's the only way they can get sexual satisfaction.
posted by tkchrist at 2:42 PM on October 1, 2006


hincandenza I love you ( I too live in Seattle - and they are MORE than visible they are the dominant fashion).

Reading hincandenza I realize that is what an education get's you. Keep of the drugs and don't be like TK.
posted by tkchrist at 2:46 PM on October 1, 2006


Do you actually care what I think about incest? Really?

Fine. Father marrying daughter is immoral because their relationship began when she was several seconds old. There you go.

I think maybe we're just straw-manning each other here anyways. I didn't say my hypothetical daughter is going to be given "Baby's First Handcuffs" in the crib, just that if she decides on the lucrative career of dominatrix, she's still invited to Thanksgiving. Basically, my presence in this thread was just an excuse to say 'vagina' in capital letters.

Meanwhile, I read your repeated insulting of me, my hypothetical daughter, and that kind of condescending BDSM lady earlier in the thread as something that you would do if the issue came up in real life. But, of course, this is a message board, and I can accept that in real life you would be all "Weird" and move on.

Let's just agree to disagree and move on. I think we're about two posts apiece away from hitting 'ParisParamus' on the ridiculous scale, and no one wants that.
posted by Simon! at 2:55 PM on October 1, 2006


Umm...Simon,dear...who are you addressing?

BTW, my vagina wishes to express it's unequivocal support for your capitalizing vagina. ;)

And by all means, no one wants to sink into ParisParamus territory. Eeek!
posted by bim at 3:02 PM on October 1, 2006


Metafilter: Missionary position only, and none of that funny stuff
posted by Artw at 3:04 PM on October 1, 2006


At least take your socks off, Art.
posted by bim at 3:07 PM on October 1, 2006


Father marrying daughter is immoral because their relationship began when she was several seconds old. There you go.

Ok. But. What if. She was adopted. At say age eight. And the sexual part of the relationship only started when she was of age. At 16. Then they got married when she was 21. Perfectly legal. Would you invite them to Thankgiving?

Oh. I'm burned out now.

The point is this... we all have lines. We SHOULD have lines. And respect, tollerance and acceptance are juicy and confused buzz words in the liberal lexicon that some want to all mean the same thing. But they don't. There are times when saying this "is fucked in the head" SHOULD be said and fought over.

just that if she decides on the lucrative career of dominatrix, she's still invited to Thanksgiving.

I never said I wouldn't still LOVE my daughter should she decide to be a freak. But I said I wouldn't WANT her to be a freak in the first place. Becasue I see it as a flaw. A flaw that will make her life miserable and will be an impediment to her being happy and fullfilled. NOT because of the bigotry she may face, but because of the inherant nature of abjuring to be a frigg'n SLAVE all her life!

Seeing as you DON'T have kids and I do, "accepting" a childs potnetial freakiness is not as easy and painless as you first glibly implied.

And my first reaction would not be to throw open my arms and say "honey that's ok." It would be "let's get you some mental help" because WANTING to be a slave is fucked in the head and I would want her to get help.

PS. Wanting to be slave and simply being "wierd" are very different.

I think we're about two posts apiece away from hitting 'ParisParamus' on the ridiculous scale, and no one wants that.

True. Very true.
posted by tkchrist at 3:09 PM on October 1, 2006


At least take your socks off, Art.

Hey, with the lights off you'll never know.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on October 1, 2006


I nosed around the site a little bit, and I'm really confused by the following quote from http://www.submissivewomenspeak.net/jon.htm
To put all conspiracy theroies and muckraking by quacks to rest and to satisfy the obsessively curious, Jon has fully admitted to anyone who bothered to ask (and has never gone to much trouble to hide the fact) that he writes or has written under at least the following pen names at various times: Jon Jacobs, Rosie, Countess VelVEEta, denis, Unda. Crucia. Eximius., Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Michael Bywater, Queen of Germany, and Tanos. Oh yeah, we almost forgot Jon's most important pen name: Polly Peachum!
Emphasis mine. Is Polly real? Obviously there's a poster here who says that he's met her -- do you understand what this quote means, and could you explain? Thanks.
posted by AdamJ at 3:36 PM on October 1, 2006


Simon!: My problem is when you feel the urge to go around saying that their sexual interests are a 'moral flaw.' At that point, you're actually kind of being a dick to that person.

It's the same old 'your right end where my face begins' story. You don't have to like or respect where their hormones take them. But, as much as I know this sounds like a joke, I really think it's important that we be polite about it.


This is where I find it really frustrating as an ex-card carrying BDSMer and sex positivism activist. The puritanical taboo of silence about sexuality has been replaced with a taboo of silence against saying anything that can be possibly interprted as "your kink is not ok." And well, I think one can make a lot of valid critiques about the whole BDSM movement, like the double standards between "safe, sane and consensual" while actively treating more dangerous and extreme variations as ideal.

Of course within sexpositivism one can be free to dislike a particular activity, but you can't express that dislike except in the same kind of discrete phrasing with which one might say that one finds pizza personally overrated.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:41 PM on October 1, 2006


AdamJ, you might find this Google search illuminating.
posted by retronic at 3:59 PM on October 1, 2006


Very interesting, adamj. Particularly if jon's busy extolling the virtues of women being totally submissive when he's not even a woman.
posted by bim at 4:00 PM on October 1, 2006


but you can't express that dislike except in the same kind of discrete phrasing with which one might say that one finds pizza personally overrated.

If I steal this line will I have to pay you a fee? It's a very good line.
posted by tkchrist at 4:01 PM on October 1, 2006


Only if you correct discrete->discreet (damn posting off the cuff).
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:08 PM on October 1, 2006


Polly:
"Mom, Jon Jacobs... er my master finally asked me to MARRY him. Well. He ordered me to. But I am so excited!"

Mom:
"That's... er... sweet dear. How did he propose?"

Polly:
"Well I was naked in the kitchen making him stuffed sea snails and he walked up, forced me to my knees, whipped out his penis and said 'Suck it bitch... Oh. Before I forget. You will marry me on the 5th of September.' I am so excited..."
posted by tkchrist at 4:29 PM on October 1, 2006


Why is this a "feminist" position. They fire female professors for doing the same, right? Right?

Only because at the schools where I've attended/taught, it has been advocated by the outspoken feminists in the school.

But, for clarity, "It" = the idea that if power differences exist, one must automatically assume they're in play in teacher/student romances, not the policy itself.

bim, I wasn't trying to suggest that anyone was wanting to lock Polly up; I was trying to qualify my analogy before I made it so that no one would think I wanted to lock Polly up.

And my point wasn't to chasitse the thread, but to point out that if we think adult students cannot date professors, but we do think that Polly can volunteer to be a slave, what does that say about how we see power dynamics in relationships. If prefessors, simply by being in charge, hold some magic sway over thier students that we wish to protect the students (who are adults, after all) from, why don't we want to protect Polly from her master?
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:08 PM on October 1, 2006


Also, I think I agree with hincandenza.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:12 PM on October 1, 2006


Emphasis mine. Is Polly real? Obviously there's a poster here who says that he's met her -- do you understand what this quote means, and could you explain? Thanks.

Yes, Polly is real. She used to post under a variety of pseudonyms, which included, to my certain knowledge, Polly Peachum, Rosie, Countess VelVEETa and Unda Crucia Eximus. Jon Jacobs is her (recently deceased) partner, and Michael Bywater is a rather good English journalist who used to write for MacUser and the Independent on Sunday and a family friend.

If I recall correctly, the essay posted above was initially solicited to be a part of this book, edited by Rebecca Walker, but prior to publication was unceremoniously dumped on the insistence of Gloria Steinem.

I'm guessing that the point of the quote is a joke about the fluidity of online identity.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:26 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Did anybody else find it weird that Polly Peachum says she works as a high-tech consultant but calls the internet "the computer nets"?
posted by joannemerriam at 5:31 PM on October 1, 2006


Did anybody else find it weird that Polly Peachum says she works as a high-tech consultant but calls the internet "the computer nets"?

Not really. The piece was written in the early nineties, prior to the existance of the web and when the internet was just one network struggling for dominance among a group of unconnected computer networks -- like Compuserve, AOL, FidoNet, etc.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:37 PM on October 1, 2006


Thanks, PeterMcDermott. I didn't realize it had been written so long ago.
posted by joannemerriam at 5:40 PM on October 1, 2006


Like we never call the Internet: the internets, the intarweb, dubdubdub, or a series of tubes?

I truly appreciate those who were reasonable and insightful in this thread.
posted by vers at 5:51 PM on October 1, 2006


Eustace -- I think that that the analogy between a teacher/student relationship or employer/employee relationship might be a bit strained when you try to equate it with a private relationship between two consenting adults in a BDSM relationship.

Both the teacher/student and employer/employee have as their primary focus the "business" component of the relationship. Something is being exchanged (grades, job promotions, salary increases) and screwing with the nature of that exchange (by adding an improper personal component to the relationship) imposes what economists would call external costs on folks not directly involved in the relationship.

These external costs harm the "institution" surrounding the exchange i.e., the school or the firm. Giving out good grades in exchange for sexual favors definitely screws with the overall functioning of a university where student performance is reflected in a grading system. Giving out pay raises or promotions in exchange for sexual favors doesn't really promote an effficiently functioning workplace (not that this doesn't happen at times). One could argue that society has a vested interested in protecting the "business" relationship from being abused by the power dynamics of a simultaneous personal relationship. That's probably why we have a whole branch of employment law and that's why we see schools being wary of student-teacher relationships. Perhaps things have changed, but when I was teaching college screwing around withn the students definitely would not have gone over well.

A private sexual relationship between two consenting adults, on the other hand, affects only those 2 adults. Even if you argue that it affects society at large (which I would not argue nor would I agree with), it's far removed from the business type relationships that I just discussed above. There really are no externalties arising for folks beyond those directly involved in the relationship. Hence, I don't see the need to regulate the power dynamics between a teacher and student as in any way implying the need to get involved in regulating the power dynamics of the folks in a BDSM relationship. It's none of my damn business, except to the extent that the issue was raised and opinions solicited in this thread.

Anyway....these are my scattered thoiughts on your question. Take care, E. :)
posted by bim at 5:59 PM on October 1, 2006


But as I said, I find the abdication a sign of mental health problems -- regardless of how many times we try to work this argument backwards. You obviously don't. If you find that unsophisticated or provincial, so be it.

I suppose the only way that I find it unsophisticated is that it seems tautological to me. You've already acknowledged that it doesn't need any other psychological flaw -- that simply desiring such a relationship defines someone as being fucked in the head.

I've no doubt whatsoever that many people who are desirous of such relationships have the various psychological and personality flaws that have been trotted out here to explain the phenomenon. However, my own experience is that some people with this kink are, in reality, in all other respects, well balanced, highly functional, intelligent, insightful, moral people.

People who come from broken or dysfunctional families or abusive backgrounds who lack models for intimacy then tend to use non-sex sex as ad-hoc therapy to fix themselves.

They also tell me that homosexuals are made that way by overprotective, domineering mothers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:11 PM on October 1, 2006


Codependency is a mental illness, and master-slave relationships of this kind are codependency taken to the ultimate degree. If that doesn't fall under the category of "fucked in the head", I don't know what does.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:29 PM on October 1, 2006


Peter -- The phrase "the lady doth protest too much" comes to mind as you still seem to be bent out of shape over folks differing with you.

What difference does it matter what I think? Go about your BDSM or whatever type of relationship it is that you want. How many times do we have to say that nobody here proposed marching down the streets picketing your right to be a master or a slave or anything in between. Nobody cares. Really. Do what makes you happy. And if you you want to blog about it on the internet, I think that's perfectly fine. Express yourself. For god's sake, I'm starting to sound like Madonna.

But you can't force everyone to believe exactly what you do. Yes, I think such a relationship is wacked. So what? I also don't much care for the color red and I don't like heavy metal music. I don't care for most Republicans. And I'm leery of buying an American made car like a Ford or Chevy (even though their not really made in Amercia either). It's all just part and parcel of my personal preferences. Forget about it.

As for your comment about homosexuals having overprotective dominant mothers, eh, who cares? I don't know and I don't much care. I'm just going about life doing my job, making a little money and doing the things that I enjoy. I came to terms with who I am loooong ago. I really don't think much about crap like this. Actually, I don't think about it at all. Peace, dude.
posted by bim at 6:41 PM on October 1, 2006



Codependency is a self-help buzzword, not a mental illness. There is a move to put something called "relational disorder" in the DSM V, but no one has been able to come up with a reliable test for "codependence" that accurately and replicably defines the same people as codependent.

In other words, anyone can be "codependent" sometimes and people who believe they are codependent aren't always and it's a useless mishmash of a category that feminists have often noted is used to pathologize behavior formerly known as altruism and/or romantic love.

Sure, there are people who do try to escape their own problems by trying to solve the problems of people with addictions-- but there's no personality type that defines them, someone might do this at one point in his or her life and not another and the whole thing is basically scientifically useless.
posted by Maias at 6:48 PM on October 1, 2006


Codependency is a mental illness, and master-slave relationships of this kind are codependency taken to the ultimate degree.

Here are the defining characteristics of codependency, from a National Mental Health Association fact sheet:

* An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.
* A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue.
* A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time.
* A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts.
* An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment.
* An extreme need for approval and recognition.
* A sense of guilt when asserting themselves.
* A compelling need to control others.
* Lack of trust in self and/or others.
* Fear of being abandoned or alone.
* Difficulty identifying feelings.
* Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change.
* Problems with intimacy/boundaries.
* Chronic anger.
* Lying/dishonesty.
* Poor communications
* Difficulty making decisions.

If somebody doesn't display any of these characteristics, how can they possibly be classified as codependent?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:56 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


The phrase "the lady doth protest too much" comes to mind as you still seem to be bent out of shape over folks differing with you.

What makes you think I'm bent out of shape? Last time I looked, the way this place worked was, one person puts their point of view and somebody with a different opinion responds?

Did that principle change while my back was turned?

But you can't force everyone to believe exactly what you do.

I'm not trying to force anybody to believe anything. I'm simply putting forward an alternative viewpoint -- albeit one that's grounded in my knowledge of the original author rather than rank prejudice.

Actually, I don't think about it at all.

If I said that it showed, would you still think I was bent out of shape? ;)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:06 PM on October 1, 2006


Three Positions.

I)
It always seemed to me that a mental condition was considered a health problem when either
a) the person with the condition wants to change and finds they can't
or
b) the person with the condition finds themselves unable to conform to the responsibilities inherent of life in society, such that they become a danger to others.

By these standards, the slave lifestyle doesn't seem to constitute a mental health problem on its own. Only when the individual asks for help, or must have that help forced upon them for the good of others - it seems to me - is there grounds for diagnosis of psychological disorder. To do otherwise is to invite psychological paternalism where it is inappropriate.

II)
I am at a loss to see where morality comes into this. Utilitarianism, deontologism, humanism…from what perspective is being kinky a moral failing?

III)
I can, understand, however, an aesthetic objection. Slavery like this is debasing and degrading, and intentionally so. I answer the earlier question, "Would you want your daughter living like this?" by saying, "No, slavery is repugnant! But I have no business dictating taste to my adult daughter. If I could be satisfied that my daughter did not want to change and that she was living a life that didn't hurt others, I have no moral or health objections." I'd still think it's ugly, but being an adult means making your own ugly decisions.

So, do I judge people for squicking me the hell out with ugly kink? No more than I might for being ugly in other ways, or doing other ugly things. The aesthetics of someone's life is their own damn business.
posted by Richard Daly at 7:06 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Peter, you don't have to have all of those, just many of them, and I see many of them in the linked essay. Many of them.

And, dude, nobody here has shown even the merest whiff of a hint of prejudice. That dog don't hunt.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:21 PM on October 1, 2006


Social contract

How significant is it that the central image of Christianity, of Jesus on the cross, bears such a striking resemblance to images of extreme BDSM?
posted by Tarn at 7:21 PM on October 1, 2006


Actually, I don't think about it at all.

If I said that it showed, would you still think I was bent out of shape? ;


Yes.

I'm simply putting forward an alternative viewpoint -- albeit one that's grounded in my knowledge of the original author rather than rank prejudice.

Rank prejudice? No, you're not bent out of shape at all.

Shall we assume that you're into BDSM too? Becuase I'm looking at that codependency list of characteristics and seeing a lot of this right here:

* A compelling need to control others.
posted by bim at 7:24 PM on October 1, 2006


I think there's an implicit contradiction in the "I believe in the right to engage in BDSM behavior, but I still think those people are fucked in the head" line.

If you really, really, truly believe that those who desire to live as "slaves," etc., are fucked in the head, it seems to me you're implicitly and inevitably questioning their ability to authentically consent.

But if authentic consent isn't possible, the whole proposition that these relationships are aren't actually exploitative and abusive falls apart.

Yet I don't think most people here would support the "right" to abuse/exploit others.
posted by treepour at 7:40 PM on October 1, 2006



See what I mean, the problem with the concept is that, as with horoscopes, you can basically decide that pretty much anyone fits it!

(although apparently there is now one scale that has some reliability in "diagnosing" it-- the literature is tiny, and the work on the scale appears to be by only one person, so I'm skeptical).


And what is "an unhealthy dependence on relationships" anyway-- this implies that it is healthy not to rely on them? The problem with the idea of codependence is that it misses the fact that humans are a social species in which poor health is more commonly due to lack of relationships than to being overly dependent on them.

Most dedicated altruists and carers for the severely ill could be defined as either codependent or saintly, and I think stigmatizing helping behavior is not what we want to be doing at this point in this society!
posted by Maias at 7:44 PM on October 1, 2006


bim: No one is forcing you to agree. But since you are so very open-minded about people who like red and metal-heads, maybe you could think of BDSM-ers as you think of them, that is, just as someone different than you, and not "fucked up in the head," which is clearly judging their intelligence or sanity.
posted by bread-eater at 7:59 PM on October 1, 2006


If you really, really, truly believe that those who desire to live as "slaves," etc., are fucked in the head, it seems to me you're implicitly and inevitably questioning their ability to authentically consent.

Nope. Don't think so.

1)While the phrase fucked in the head is a bit vague, I don't think that anyone here ever equated it with insanity and an inability to make an informed choice. People make fucked up choices all the time. I'm sure that I've made a few myself over the years.

2)Speaking for myself, I see the act of making your "self" null and void by total subjugation to some else as, yes, totally fucked up AKA fucked in the head). Even if we assume that is your informed choice. No one is preventing you from making that choice. The merits of such a choice are debatable, however.
posted by bim at 8:00 PM on October 1, 2006


Actually, bread-eater, I wasn't the person who originally used that phrase. But it was put out there, so it was the phrase that has been used throughout this thread -- by everyone -- imprecise though it is.

And I never questioned anyone's sanity or intelligence for choosing BDSM. Nobody here did. I think we questioned the merits of making such a choice, but that's about it.

So please read the entire thread before you pipe in with a snippy comment.
posted by bim at 8:04 PM on October 1, 2006


If the original comment has been "This is some fucked up choice she made," I don't think there would have been much, if any, argument. That would be a pretty benign opinion. Making one fucked up decision does not make one fucked in the head. If they are equivalent, then you just said you are fucked in the head.

But then we are all pretty fucked in the head, so I guess Polly is pretty average and normal after all.

And why would you assume that I didn't read the whole thread? It was long but interesting. You have been supporting the "fucked up in the head" side the whole time. I didn't say that you said it.
posted by bread-eater at 8:08 PM on October 1, 2006


bim: No one is forcing you to agree.

Thanks, bread-eater.

But since you are so very open-minded about people who like red and metal-heads,


Getting a little snotty aren't we?

maybe you could think of BDSM-ers as you think of them, that is, just as someone different than you,

no problem

and not "fucked up in the head," which is clearly judging their intelligence or sanity.

Actually, it's not clear at all that I questioned BDSM folks intelligence or sanity. In fact, I never did any such thing. Hence my suggestion that you read the entire thread. And as for the "fucked up in the head" phrase, I just told you that for better or worse, that is the expression that was used initially and so we all retained it -- imprecise though it may be.

...so please keep your snotty comments to yourself, dear. And work on your reading comprehension.
posted by bim at 8:18 PM on October 1, 2006


BTW, good FPP, Jason. :>
posted by bim at 8:27 PM on October 1, 2006


Oh give me a break. You said

I find the abdication a sign of mental health problems

and you supported hincadenza who said

how can I not see that as fundamentally a bizarre and terribly flawed departure from health and growth? How is that not some just overly glossed over and dressed up regression to near-infancy?


And it's "not clear at all" that you questioned their intelligence or sanity?
posted by bread-eater at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2006


BTW, good FPP, Jason. :>

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm a little overwhelmed right now. I hadn't really expected to come back to this and see 98 responses!

I will add my comments to this a little later.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:37 PM on October 1, 2006


Oh give me a break. You said

I find the abdication a sign of mental health problems


That's not the same as questioning someone's sanity. Since when did a mental problems equate with being insane. Maybe in your mind, but not in mine.

and you supported hincadenza who said

how can I not see that as fundamentally a bizarre and terribly flawed departure from health and growth? How is that not some just overly glossed over and dressed up regression to near-infancy?


If you have a comment on the specifics of hincandenza's comments then you should take them up with...hicandenza.

And it's "not clear at all" that you questioned their intelligence or sanity?

Huh? I think you're getting screwed up on your double negatives -- since this sentence makes no sense from the viewpoint that you are supposedly arguing. But, since you asked so nicely, I'll give you a break. ;)
posted by bim at 8:38 PM on October 1, 2006


If you really, really, truly believe that those who desire to live as "slaves," etc., are fucked in the head, it seems to me you're implicitly and inevitably questioning their ability to authentically consent.

"Fucked in the head" is not in the NIMH Diagnostic guidlines.

If you get sexual pleasure by enslaving, emotionally/physically degrading, pissing-shitting on, mock raping, strangling, and wounding others, I DO question not just your intelligence and sanity but your humanity. In my opinion your merely a hair away from a serial rapist.

And if you merely LIKE those things being done to you I pity you and your almost as sick. Your lifestyle sickens me.

But I am not a doctor. Nor am I a dictator.

Nor can I prove there is a clear harm beyond what you do to yourself if you practice severe BDSM. I suspect that there is. But I can not clearly prove it. Even if I could, I believe people have the right to kill themselves. So there.

So I MUST tollerate it. But I don't have to respect or accept it.

If I lobby for a law that reasons a participant in BDSM is automatically null consent - crazy - then the slippery slope just got steeper and slicker. This is bad for me and society at large. Worse than tollerating a few sickos that get off on hurting eachother. Even if they DO become serial rapists.

And this - it's fucked in the head opinion - is not a kneejerk or bigoted opinion but a failry informed and experienced opinion only CONFIRMED by what I read in that article.

Opinion I am free to voice. And there is ZERO conflict in strongly expressing this opinion and also defending an individuals right in a free society to make sick fucked in the head choices.
posted by tkchrist at 9:43 PM on October 1, 2006


I'm sure we'll be reading about Polly when she divorces her husband/master, and whips out the "BDSM contract" in court and claims abuse.
posted by drstein at 9:59 PM on October 1, 2006


People, people, where's the name-calling, the hissy-fits, the sock-puppetry? This is far too civilized a heated discussion!

congrats!
posted by mwhybark at 10:13 PM on October 1, 2006


So, do I judge people for squicking me the hell out with ugly kink? No more than I might for being ugly in other ways, or doing other ugly things. The aesthetics of someone's life is their own damn business.

Cop out. So, I know it's tired, but what about consensual incest? Is that merely an aesthetic? Or guys, like the dude in Germany, who consented to canibalism?

Would you still invite them to dinner with the same dissmissive way you would somebody who liked liked to wear pink lip gloss? I don't think so.

We do categorize things in degrees... beyond mere aesthtics.

Enslaving somebody - even WITH thier constent - is slightly beyond an esthetic choice, dude. Things like being a slave may have some serious long lasting (mental health?) effects after the fact. It's not like picking a tacky wall paper pattern.

You gotta throw a little more wieght into an opiniion about something like living as a slave more than "he likes pumpkin pie, I like apple."
posted by tkchrist at 10:15 PM on October 1, 2006



I'm sure we'll be reading about Polly when she divorces her husband/master, and whips out the "BDSM contract" in court and claims abuse.

Or claims the LACK of abuse.
posted by tkchrist at 10:19 PM on October 1, 2006


Jeez, all the BDSMer's need is a Godhead to really make ya'll judgmentally cream yerselves. Free will freely compromised and highly-sensitive nerve endings for all!
posted by eegphalanges at 11:16 PM on October 1, 2006


eegphalanges, it really doesn't feel very nice when someone you don't know calls you "fucked in the head."
posted by cytherea at 11:32 PM on October 1, 2006


hincandenza doesn't have the first clue what he's talking about. And maybe more to the point, there's absolutely no evidence to back up anything he says. It's all based on this abstract and poorly layed out theory regarding some kind of spiritual evolution and (as best I can determine) a set of ridiculous and obviously unrealistic assumptions about bdsm.

Tell you what, let's talk about facts. I've known plenty of people in 24/7 relationships and you know what? For the most part, they're just as boring as the rest of us. Their relationships begin and end just like everyone else's. They have the same arguments. They deal with their kids and their jobs. They get Viagra or whatever when the guy can't get it up. It really is the same shit on a different day.

Okay, that's anecdotal evidence. What about statistical evidence? There isn't any that I'm aware of. No studies have been done on this question as far as I know. If anyone has info on one, I'd be very interested in hearing about it.

I should point out, though, that the vast majority of 24/7 relationships don't come anywhere close to the ideal that some bdsm folks have in mind. "Real life" as they say, interferes. The smart ones, in my experience, don't abandon the 24/7 ideal; rather, they adapt it to their own situation.

But yeah, to me, that's the single biggest problem with it; that it's too easy to approach it with unrealistic expectations. Of course, I could say much the same about marriage or monogamy.

In closing... I'm sorry, but I have to say this:

I'm almost never in favor of deletions and I'm not in this case either (I take my free speech seriously, thank you, even if those around me don't) but if hincandenza had made equivalent statements about homosexuality, there's a good chance he would've been labeled a troll and the moderators would've jumped on him with both feet. This kind of shit is just as hysterical, pathetic, and offensive as anything spewed by the God-Hates-Fags nutjobs.
posted by Clay201 at 11:55 PM on October 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


tkchrist:

BDSM people are not more or less intelligent than the norm. At least, as far as I can tell. Again, no stastisical evidence exists either way.

However, your theory about what causes us to be the way we are is equally unsupportable. All kinds of people demonstrate these inclinations; some with screwed up childhoods, some without. Some were abused, some weren't. And BDSM is not a recent invention. There's plenty of evidence dating back hundreds of years that this type of activity has been present in all sorts of societies.

You know, the really funny thing here is... you and others seem to be assuming that bdsm is all about the harsh, the brutal, and the degrading. But what you don't know is that an awful lot of us spend most of our kinky time trying very hard to make it harsh, brutal and degrading... and failing. I mean, the truth is that whether you just met the person in a club or they're your spouse of fifteen years, the vast majority of people are afraid to take serious risks the vast majority of the time. This applies to both tops and bottoms. The net effect is that you can feel your partner holding back. You know they're not really going to beat you senseless. I can't count the number of times I've had a woman doing something evil to me and it went a little too far or a little too fast and I screamed or gasped in such a way as to indicate this (and she knew immediately what the noise meant because she knew me really well and could distinguish it from my regular noises) and the woman put a hand on my shoulder and said "are you alright?" or "I'm sorry." And while I was of course glad that she cared about my well being, part of me said "fuck, why didn't she just laugh at me and keep going?" I can't count the number of times a female friend told me that she played with a new top and discovered that he wasn't any good; not aggressive enough. Boring. He didn't get into her head, scare her, make her whimper. I can't count the number of times a woman has playfully antagnoized me, hoping I'd smack her.

In short, tkhrist, I can't count the number of times I've seen your assumption proven wrong.
posted by Clay201 at 12:27 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Shall we assume that you're into BDSM too?

You can if you like, bim, but it wouldn't be true.

Which isn't to say I don't have any experience of it. Not that I see that any of that is relevant one way or another.

What's that particular fallacy again? Ad hominem, perhaps?

I'm looking at that codependency list of characteristics and seeing a lot of this right here.


Apparently, we must both have a Total Power Exchange fetish then? Will you top, bottom, or do you switch?

Tell you what, let's talk about facts.

Don't go confusing people with facts, Clay201. The fantasy is just so much more exciting.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:38 AM on October 2, 2006


In my opinion your merely a hair away from a serial rapist.
(...)
And, dude, nobody here has shown even the merest whiff of a hint of prejudice.

posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:17 AM on October 2, 2006


Clay201 I can't count the number of times I've had a woman doing something evil to me and it went a little too far or a little too fast and I screamed or gasped in such a way as to indicate this (and she knew immediately what the noise meant because she knew me really well and could distinguish it from my regular noises) and the woman put a hand on my shoulder and said "are you alright?" or "I'm sorry." And while I was of course glad that she cared about my well being, part of me said "fuck, why didn't she just laugh at me and keep going?"
Why on earth would you want her to keep going, to laugh at your pain? The only people in our conceptions who would inflict pain on another person and then laugh when they expressed a desire to have the pain end... are well documented on crimelibrary.com. The Gacy's, Bundy's, Geins, etc... aren't they exactly the people who would laugh and keep going? Why not just let someone kill you- wouldn't that be such a turnon, to be killed?

What other species at any time desires increased pain, increased discomfort? Have you ever even asked yourself why you seek out BDSM relations? If you simply said "I'm suicidal" people would say you need help. If you say "I want to be hurt even when I don't want it, hurt against my will, physically injured"... um... difference, please?!?

Surely you can at least see where many of us would interpret this desire for increased pain, hurt, and weakness as a thinly veiled psychologically crutch, that you are seeking in some idealized notion of pain a freedom/enlightenment you aren't finding elsewhere.

Hey, more power to you, but I reserve equal right to call you 'broken' as you reserve to freely do what you do. Let's not tread on each other's toes. If you want the freedom to be as kinky as you want, accept that the cost is many of us thinking you need serious mental therapy to figure out why pain == happy for you, when one of the single fundamental elements of organic existence is pain != happy. That's why they call it pain.
posted by hincandenza at 2:28 AM on October 2, 2006


It's all based on this abstract and poorly layed out theory regarding some kind of spiritual evolution

Clay201, hincandenza's ideas regarding personal development mirror the colonial conflation of chronology with history, geography, race, family, and gender. If effect, they mistook the West's technological innovation and political power for progress in history and the development of society--which conveniently allowed them to view less powerful and technologically developed peoples as primitive--so that moving across geography was equivalent to moving backwards in time--hence, the moral imperative for the West to "assist" in the development of the subject people in the same way that a father would raise a child (or lead a wife). The conflation with family and gender was explicit: "primitives" were almost always portrayed as childlike and/or feminine.

Oddly enough, the very same ideas were applied to homosexuality--the sexual norm was conceived as the sexual ideal (of the group in power), and in the progression from childhood polymorphous perversity to heterosexuality, a tragic arrest in the development would leave the person forever fucked in the head homosexual.

It's particularly charming that this particular naïveté raises its head in a discussion of bdsm, the word fetish having come into the current meaning through the West's misapprehension of alien iconography.
posted by cytherea at 3:29 AM on October 2, 2006 [2 favorites]


Shall we assume that you're into BDSM too?

You can if you like, bim, but it wouldn't be true.

Which isn't to say I don't have any experience of it. Not that I see that any of that is relevant one way or another.
What's that particular fallacy again? Ad hominem, perhaps?

I'm looking at that codependency list of characteristics and seeing a lot of this right here.

Apparently, we must both have a Total Power Exchange fetish then? Will you top, bottom, or do you switch?

Tell you what, let's talk about facts.

Don't go confusing people with facts, Clay201. The fantasy is just so much more exciting


Um...I think you're having a meltdown, Peter. This is barely coherent.

This kind of shit is just as hysterical, pathetic, and offensive as anything spewed by the God-Hates-Fags nutjobs.


And, if anything, all these justifications for 24/7 BDSM and such are their own proof that folks who favor it are "fucked in the head." Prima facie, folks.
posted by bim at 3:36 AM on October 2, 2006


bim, just because you don't understand their feelings doesn't mean their feelings are wrong.
posted by cytherea at 3:40 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


What other species at any time desires increased pain, increased discomfort?

Animals sometimes hurt each other during play or during sex.

Why on earth would you want her to keep going, to laugh at your pain?

Why? I have no clue. And neither does anyone else. I mean, I could sit here and come up with a theory or tell you about other peoples' theories. And who knows, one of them might even be correct. But the bottom line is that, at the moment, we can only speculate because we just don't know.

But of course the fact that we don't have an explanation for this phenomenon doesn't mean that it's bad. We don't have explanations for many types of human behavior. Why do we like to watch sad movies? Why do we fall in love with one person, but not with the other? None of it is really explainable in any scientific or completely rational way. Not yet, anyway. But that doesn't bother us too much. We keep on doing what we're doing; the lack of explanation doesn't get in the way.

But anyway.... to answer your question: I don't know why I want it, but I know that I want it. And that's enough.

The only people in our conceptions who would inflict pain on another person and then laugh when they expressed a desire to have the pain end... are well documented on crimelibrary.com.

I'm sorry, you meant to say the only people in your conception. There are people who, in my conception, get off on the suffering of others and are still great people. Not only do these people exist in my conception, they exist in the real world too. Some of them are my friends.

The problem here is that you're failing to discern between consensual and non consensual activities. If I pick a random guy at the shopping mall and run into him as hard as I can, knocking him down and causing him pain, that's assault, punishable with a jail term, I'd imagine. If one football player does it to another, it's considered perfectly acceptable and he might even get paid a considerable amount of money to do it. Why is it so hard to make a similar distinction in my case?

Or hell, consider ordinary, vanilla sex. Done with consent, it's a wonderful, potentially even beautiful thing. Done without consent, it's horrible, awful, and hurtful and destructive.

hincandenza, do you know anyone who's into bdsm? I mean, anyone at all? Because I think that if you encountered the reality of it, you'd find that it's dramatically different from what you imagine it to be and you'd be able to get over some of your irrational prejudices.
posted by Clay201 at 3:42 AM on October 2, 2006


Our Story So Far...

"Its f'd up!"
"No it isn't"
"Is so!"
"These people are f'd in the head!"
"No, you are, you 'phobe!"

What can we say, in the most abstract, about people who use their free will to negate it (by surrendering it)?

We can say that they are willfully abdicating responsibility for themselves. Is this ethically wrong? Psychologically dysfunctional?

It's what citizens of the great US do every single time they don't go to the polls, don't read food packaging labels, don't buy American, smoke, drink, or obtain illegal goods and services.

So, it's just a more committed type of otherwise normal choice. Christians do it all the time. BDSM doesn't move you up Maslow's hierarchy, but then most things we enjoy don't. Buy a ticket and sit down already.
posted by ewkpates at 3:47 AM on October 2, 2006


bim, just because you don't understand their feelings doesn't mean their feelings are wrong.

So by that logic if I don't "understand" someone's desire to set themselves on fire, it doesn't mean that they're worng.

If I don't understand someone's desire to beat a child to death, that doesn't mean they're wrong.

If I don't "understand" someone's decision to get behind the wheel of a car and drive, despite the fact that they've been drinking heavily, that doesn't mean that they're wrong.

I'm not buying it Cyntherea.

As has been said many times before, I believe that you have every right to live as you see fit in a BDSM relationship. But I don't and won't agree that it's a healthy way to live. Period.
posted by bim at 4:02 AM on October 2, 2006


I have engaged in the more moderate forms of BSDM. Not that this should matter, but I don't want people claiming I'm phobic or whatever.

I think "lifestyle slavery" as a conceptual ideal is fucked up. Individual free will and excercising that will is a fundamental part of being human. To willfully and completely give that up is in more messed up than refusing to learn to read, or cutting your own legs off. I will grant that limited-term power games are interesting as a change from the norm, much as psychedelic drugs can be an entertaining way to temporarily abdicate rationality and perception[*]. After all, even virtues must be taken in moderation.

But to enter into it in a serious and permanent way is to surrender your humanity, and I will agree with those who say it is fucked up.

However, I think most of the people who claim to take it really really seriously are not really quite as serious about it as they claim and are just playing a more elaborate game.


* - Imagine someone who wanted to take a form of LSD that never stopped for the rest of their life - I at leat would judge them way more harshly than the average druggie.
posted by maciej at 5:07 AM on October 2, 2006


I agree. Well said, maciej. Everything in moderation. The middle path and such. ;)
posted by bim at 5:17 AM on October 2, 2006


Surely you can at least see where many of us would interpret this desire for increased pain, hurt, and weakness as a thinly veiled psychologically crutch, that you are seeking in some idealized notion of pain a freedom/enlightenment you aren't finding elsewhere.

hincadenza:

I can see where your thinking is coming from, and I've already acknowledged several time now, that some proportion of submissives will inevitably exist who are flawed in the ways that you describe.

And if you follow the reasoning of many here, that this particular sexual preference is, in and of itself, evidence that the person concerned is 'fucked in the head'. Others have made the argument that if this state of being 'fucked in the head' is sufficent to determine that their choice is not a free, unconstrained choice, but rather, their personal history/neurochemistry/genetics are assembled in such a way as to deoprive them of their freedin t choosefor us to disregard their stated preference, which would then presumably allow us to disregard what they have to say about their lives and their experience and intervene on their own behalf, for their own safety.

But I think that your suicide analogy is a good one. If somebody is suffering from a terminal illness, and knows that they will inevitably suffer a long, agonizing death during which they'll be stripped of all of their dignity, and the final memories that they leave their family with aren't those of the happy times they enjoyed together, but of the months of miserable living hell -- of screaming and crying and pissing and shitting and puking.

If a person facing such a situation made the decision that they would prefer to avoid such a final experience, and instead decided to withdraw the power that they normally invest in medics, and maintain the right to make the critical decision over the point at which one expires, would that still be an irrational decision? A symptom of an unhappy childhood/sexual abuse/absence of a good stiff dick, etc.

And just to address bim's point as to why I'm posting in this thead, I respond here not because I expect to change anybody's mind -- but rather, I'm seeking to address some of what I regard as weaknesses in the arguments of the 'fucked in the head' brigade so that those who haven't already made their minds up yet will have just a little bit more to think about.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:20 AM on October 2, 2006


rather, their personal history/neurochemistry/genetics are assembled in such a way as to deoprive them of their freedin t choosefor us to disregard their stated preference

Ugh!

This should, read:

"rather, their personal history/neurochemistry/genetics are assembled in such a way as to deprive them of the freedom to make choices, thereby allowing us to disregard their stated preferences"

bim's professed meltdown has clearly hit me in the editing capability
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:29 AM on October 2, 2006


treepour: But if authentic consent isn't possible, the whole proposition that these relationships are aren't actually exploitative and abusive falls apart.

Sartre, however, denies that there is authentic communication. According to him, consciousness is not only the nullification of things but also the nullification of the other person as other. To look at another person is to make of him a thing. This is the profound meaning of the myth of Medusa. Sexuality itself, which Sartre holds to be an essential aspect of existence, fluctuates between sadism and masochism, in which either the other person or oneself is merely a thing. On this basis, the intersubjective relationship is obviously impossible.
posted by meehawl at 5:35 AM on October 2, 2006


This is barely coherent.

Which bits are you struggling with, bim?

I can explain at greater length if you'd like?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:39 AM on October 2, 2006


I appreciate the offer, Peter. But I've got to run to work. The floor is yours. Take care. Really. :)
posted by bim at 5:49 AM on October 2, 2006


It's what citizens of the great US do every single time they don't go to the polls, don't read food packaging labels, don't buy American, smoke, drink, or obtain illegal goods and services.

Bullshit. BDSM does not cause the black markets to flourish. Nor does it cause alcoholism, cancer, diabetes, or George Bush. It can cause a bit of an endorphin high, some bruises, and some scars; that's about it.
posted by Clay201 at 6:21 AM on October 2, 2006


This comment of cyntherea's ignores history; concepts of spiritual growth and self-fulfilment have existed for millennia, way before European empires. It's okay not to agree with hincandenza re: the human condition, but the ahistorical argument coupled with the Marxist academse isn't persuasive in the least.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:24 AM on October 2, 2006


I think "lifestyle slavery" as a conceptual ideal is fucked up. Individual free will and excercising that will is a fundamental part of being human. To willfully and completely give that up is in more messed up than refusing to learn to read, or cutting your own legs off.

Are you actually reading what you're writing? This is completely contradictary. You yourself say that entering into consensual slavery is an act of free will. And you say that the exercise of free will is a wonderful thing. So... what's the problem?

Also, I should point out that making this committment doesn't mean that one surrenders all free will for the rest of their life. It just doesn't work that way; no consensual relationship could ever be that strict even if the people involved wanted it that way (and they probably wouldn't).

More to the point, though, the slave always has the right to choose to leave the relationship. (Sometimes they end the ownership but not the relationship; depends on the individuals involved). And I've seen a number of slaves do exactly that. So every day, when the slave gets out of bed, s/he makes the decision to stay with it or to make a break. Very much like folks in a vanilla relationship.
posted by Clay201 at 6:40 AM on October 2, 2006


So by that logic if I don't "understand" someone's desire to set themselves on fire, it doesn't mean that they're worng... someone's desire to beat a child to death,... someone's decision to get behind the wheel of a car and drive, despite the fact that they've been drinking heavily...

You miss the point entirely. Your analogies, offered up with sarcasm, are actually correct. The fact that you do not understand someone's desire to beat a child does not make it a bad thing. What makes it bad is that it causes injury and death to a child for no justifiable reason. Your lack of comprehension is totally irrelevant. Similarly, your lack of comprehension with regards to bdsm is also totally irrelevant. If you wish to make an argument that it's a bad thing, you're going to have to show how it harms someone. Otherwise, you haven't got a case.
posted by Clay201 at 6:49 AM on October 2, 2006


If the authority of the self negates itself by yielding to an external (real or unreal) authority, then the self is not perpetually accountable for its own manifestation.

This means it is less of a self, the self being a perpetually manifesting will.
posted by ewkpates at 7:54 AM on October 2, 2006


The fact that you do not understand someone's desire to beat a child does not make it a bad thing.

We disagree here; people can have bad (immoral) desires. Wanting to beat a child is among them. People shouldn't be punished for such desires if they don't act on them, but there are great many things that a morally wrong that aren't illegal. They're not illegal because society as a whole doesn't agree on what is and isn't immoral in many cases, but to argue that wanting to beat a child isn't immoral makes your whole moral framework (from which you're arguing your points, re: BSDM) unattracitve and unpersuasive to me.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:12 AM on October 2, 2006


ueuestacescrubb: please re-read what i wrote. I explicitly said that beating a child is immoral. You're disagreeing with something that no one here is arguing.
posted by Clay201 at 8:55 AM on October 2, 2006


If the authority of the self negates itself by yielding to an external (real or unreal) authority, then the self is not perpetually accountable for its own manifestation.

I keep on trying to tell my boss this, but he doesn't seem in the least bit impressed.

Tomorrow, I'm going to tell him that he's fucked in the head. Lets see how he likes *them* apples.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:49 AM on October 2, 2006


Peter, as your career couseler, I must council you not to tell your boss this tomorrow unless you are prepared to enter into a BDSM relationship with him/her/other.

Please consider as an alternative, that suit/dress/pantsuit/other looks great today sir/m'am/ms/miss/other.
posted by ewkpates at 10:35 AM on October 2, 2006


In short, tkhrist, I can't count the number of times I've seen your assumption proven wrong.

And I CAN count the number of times my assumptions have been right. Nearly 100% right.

Our prisons are full sex predators who get sexual fullfillment from hurting people. What ever the mechanism is that triggers your sadistic impulse - it is not reliant on consent.

Also I can't trust your judgements about the subject since you would be hardly objective... would you?

So. This is where we leave it.

And people there is huge difference between enjoying the occasional spanking, hand cuffs and leather and living as a submissive slave 24/7 - or a Master - 24/7.
posted by tkchrist at 11:12 AM on October 2, 2006


Clay201 -- Your remarks, even on a re-read, seem to be saying that the actual beating = bad, but the desire to beat != bad. Is that not what you mean?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:14 AM on October 2, 2006


tkchrist: And people there is huge difference between enjoying the occasional spanking, hand cuffs and leather and living as a submissive slave 24/7 - or a Master - 24/7.
Ditto. Sex play can be fun, because it's just play. It's almost like grown-up version of make-believe we do when we're kids. It's perfectly normal and healthy to occasionally dabble in something new, try it on for size, etc. But 24/7? That's the key difference. The comparison made earlier to things like drugs 24x7, etc, are apt.

Of course, how silly are we to be arguing with a bunch of people from that lifestyle? They're probably getting off on it. :) You're all a bunch of worthless maggots, quite frankly. Now grovel, and lick my feet, you worms.
posted by hincandenza at 11:51 AM on October 2, 2006


Desires, fantasies and thoughts cannot be immoral by themselves. You can daydream about immoral things but the daydream itself cannot be immoral.

Also, anyone making a moral judgement about BDSM or anything else had better back up a step and explain how your morals are self consistent, because applying internally inconsistent morals to things outside your life is pretty 'fucked in the head'.
posted by Skorgu at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2006


Who's making moral judgments? We're just saying that you might have some crud in your head gears if you want to be a fulltime slave.
posted by hincandenza at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2006


Is it my imagination or is there an imbalance between the number of posts that say explicitly 'subs are fucked in the head' and 'doms are fucked in the head?' Because it seems I'm not hearing much of the latter.

oh and: YKINOK
posted by merelyglib at 2:09 PM on October 2, 2006


Our prisons are full sex predators who get sexual fullfillment from hurting people.

Actually, our prisons are full of people who did, bought, or sold drugs. But that's neither here nor there.

The people who go to prison on assault charges are there because they hurt others nonconsensually. According ot your logic, a man having consensual sex with his wife ought to be locked up alongside rapists and a football player who tackles another player ought to be locked up alongside wife beaters.

But even if we ignored the difference between consensual and non-consensual activities, there's still a huge difference between getting a spanking and getting punched in the face or stabbed with a knife.

Anyone with any sense can make these distinctions.
posted by Clay201 at 2:10 PM on October 2, 2006


I said In short, tkhrist, I can't count the number of times I've seen your assumption proven wrong.

tkchrist said And I CAN count the number of times my assumptions have been right. Nearly 100% right.

Okay, then please list them. Because so far you’ve supported your accusations with absolutely no evidence.

Our prisons are full sex predators who get sexual fullfillment from hurting people.

As I’ve pointed out already, equating consensual bdsm with rape or assault is like equating football with a fistfight or sex between husband and wife with rape. It’s just totally and obviously idiotic.

What ever the mechanism is that triggers your sadistic impulse - it is not reliant on consent.

Again, completely and obviously wrong.

First, because I’m morally opposed to nonconsensual violence and not prone to engage in it. But let’s ignore that for now. Let’s pretend that I’m some completely amoral bastard who doesn’t give a damn about the rights of others or have any kind of feeling. If this were true, I’d still have to rely on consent to pursue my interests. I’ll give you an example.

The weekend before last, a friend of mine who lives about three hours away drove down here and spent the weekend. I did a number of painful things to her, including smacking her with a crop and binding her breasts.

If she hadn’t consented to this sort of thing, it would have been impossible to get her to drive all that distance. And I’ve been doing this sort of thing with her for six years and at no point during that time did we live together. For the majority of the time, we didn’t even live in the same city. If it wasn’t consensual, she wouldn’t still be bottoming to me; she’d have called the police long ago. Also, I’m not a big guy, I don’t work out, and I don’t carry a gun. Physically, I’d be no match for a pissed off woman who felt threatened. I mean, maybe I could get away before the cops got there, but there’s just no way I could do to her the stuff that I do if I grabbed her off the street. Ever done breast bondage? Try it some time. You have to work in very close proximity to the bottom; it takes some time; she has to turn around and move her arms this way and that. The only way I could do this kind of thing to an unwilling woman would be to have another guy standing just a little out of her reach with a gun pointed at her head. Oh, and god forbid I should try to do this in a hotel room (which is where I did it last weekend); I mean, even if I gagged her (something else that’s almost impossible to do nonconsensually), she’d probably wake the neighbors.

If tops didn't get the consent of their bottoms, they'd all end up in prison pretty fast. For the things I do, consent is absolutely a necessity. There’s just no way around it.

And hell, just look around the internet or visit your local bdsm group; are people out there assaulting one another and pulling guns on each other? Almost never. What you’re describing is just completely at odds with reality.

Also I can't trust your judgements about the subject since you would be hardly objective... would you?

No one’s objective. You certainly aren’t and I know I’m not. But at least I have first hand experience with the activities in question. You do not. When I give an opinion, I support it with facts and anecdotes from the real world. You do not do likewise. This does not, by itself, mean that my arguments are correct. Most of the things I say I cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt (to borrow a phrase). However, nothing you’re saying is supported by anything at all, so it’s far less convincing.

And people there is huge difference between enjoying the occasional spanking, hand cuffs and leather and living as a submissive slave 24/7 - or a Master - 24/7.

Why? Because you say there is? As far as I can tell, it’s a matter of degree. And anyway, I’m not sure that, for those of us outside the relationship, there’s any point in making the distinction.
posted by Clay201 at 2:14 PM on October 2, 2006


eustacescrubb -- Clay201's remarks are coherent and you are mis-interpreting. Clay201 said:

The fact that you do not understand someone's desire to beat a child does not make it a bad thing. What makes it bad is that it causes injury and death to a child for no justifiable reason.

You see to be skipping over "The fact that you do not understand" and jumping straight to "someone's desire." The point is that something is wrong because it causes harm, not because someone can't understand it.
posted by bread-eater at 2:15 PM on October 2, 2006


Clay201: A+
posted by forallmankind at 2:22 PM on October 2, 2006


You know, I'm not even sure what all people have argued against in this thread. Some have gone after the 24/7 folks, some against BDSM in general, some implying that there's something wrong with anyone that enjoys a little pain - and I'm sure that I've missed a few in the process.

Perhaps things could be a little saner here if we knew exactly what people were arguing against - it's going to be hard to get anywhere arguing about the choice to live 24/7 when someone's base thought is that anyone that likes pain has problems...
posted by evilangela at 3:03 PM on October 2, 2006


But at least I have first hand experience with the activities in question. You do not. When I give an opinion, I support it with facts and anecdotes from the real world.

You know NONE OF THIS.

Ok. First: Yes. You did not list proof, as you admit, you listed annecdote. Annecdote. The best evidence of your claims.

Second - I posted the city I live in and my tag is my name.

Third - There are people on this board and in this thread WHO KNOW ME personally.

So you really think I am gonna list out annecdotes... about my personal expereinces, or others that I know with, BDSM or serial rape?

Dude. You ARE f*cked in the head if you think that.

And you are full of shit if you think that people ONLY get turned on by CONSENSUAL BDSM. I bet your even lying if you say that. Yes. It's a BIG jump from fantasy to action. From role play to reality. But it does happen and don't pretend it doesn't. There are dozens of cases of BDSM dudes who made the leap.

And it started with get a boner by hurting somebody. Consensual or not. Every serial rapist started with the fantasy and made the leap.

Will ALL BDSM people do that? No. Of course not. But we aren't talking about ALL BDSM people. We are talking about a select few who are obsessed with making it a full time lifestyle.

Don't pretend it's all innocent because you know it's not or you wouldn't HAVE things like safe words etc. Don't sit there and feel smug and oppressed.
posted by tkchrist at 3:18 PM on October 2, 2006


Clay201: But even if we ignored the difference between consensual and non-consensual activities, there's still a huge difference between getting a spanking and getting punched in the face or stabbed with a knife.

Anyone with any sense can make these distinctions.


Well, there is I think the fundamental difference of opinion which drives these kinds of discussion. That is, not everyone agrees that "consent" is the be-all and end-all of ethical sexual behavior. Likewise, anyone with any sense can make the distinction between "ethically problematic," "illegal" and "fucked in the head."

One of the things that I pull out of my experiences with a D/s relationship is that "consent" isn't the simple carte blanche license that magically makes everything that happens in headspace wonderful and ok. A lot of people "consent" to power dynamics that are pretty twisted and detrimental to the long-term health of both partners. Having read and lived on both sides of the fence, I'm more and more conviced that radical feminists are correct when they say you can't talk about consent as separate from the explicit and implicit norms of power that exist within a community or a relationship.

And for me, the problem lies more with the D/s than the S/m side of things. Bondage and pain play was really only a small part of the whole thing. The part I think was most problematic was the D/s psychology within the relationship, and in the larger community we participated with.

Increasingly I feel that the BDSM scene is more reactionary than radical. I do feel that it has some positive things to contribute, but that's overshadowed by the intense use of "consent" as a stopper for any kind of a critical examination of what goes on. You know what, I think it's perfectly valid to question Nazi-esque costumes and daddy/cub relationships, beyond how hot/hard/wet the people get doing it.

evilangela: You know, I'm not even sure what all people have argued against in this thread. Some have gone after the 24/7 folks, some against BDSM in general, some implying that there's something wrong with anyone that enjoys a little pain - and I'm sure that I've missed a few in the process.

Well, it's a bit hard to talk about this because I think that most of these discussions end up with people calling each other puritan or pervert.

I don't believe that power imbalances in relationships are benevolent, and I don't think that the BDSM community's celebration of power imbalance is benevolent. On the other hand, I don't see that the BDSM community is much worse in this regard than say, most of our cultural and religious institutions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:29 PM on October 2, 2006


And it started with get a boner by hurting somebody. Consensual or not. Every serial rapist started with the fantasy and made the leap.

Will ALL BDSM people do that? No. Of course not. But we aren't talking about ALL BDSM people. We are talking about a select few who are obsessed with making it a full time lifestyle.


This is even more absurd than before. Now you're saying that someone who will enter into a 24/7 relationship will become a serial rapist. There's zero evidence to support this notion and anyone with any sense can see that it's completely at odds with reality.
posted by Clay201 at 3:41 PM on October 2, 2006


Or actually... It seems to me that the BDSM community has claimed a priveleged position from which it can critique "vanilla" sexuality but invoking the YKINOK taboo when it comes criticism of its own practices.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:46 PM on October 2, 2006


On the other hand, I don't see that the BDSM community is much worse in this regard than say, most of our cultural and religious institutions.

You know, I was thinking along these lines. After all, religion is about submitting to a supposed "higher being", and more directly, to those who claim to represent him here. You're giving up your mind to essentially believe what you're told to believe. It's a very similar power dynamic done on a massive scale, but designed for much larger effect. Yet somehow we overlook the damage done because it's "socially acceptable".

But BDSM is open to criticism because it's about personal pleasure, which this same religion tends to go on and on about how we need to deny and avoid such things. Perhaps the similarity in power dynamics between the two is why BDSM get such strong reactions out of people.
posted by evilangela at 3:59 PM on October 2, 2006


evilangela: But BDSM is open to criticism because it's about personal pleasure, which this same religion tends to go on and on about how we need to deny and avoid such things. Perhaps the similarity in power dynamics between the two is why BDSM get such strong reactions out of people.

Well, I should clarify and say that I don't just consider BDSM open to criticism. One of the problems with radicalism is general is that everything is open to criticism (with unfortunately few easy solutions.) So as an example, someone (such as myself many moons ago) might try to defend BDSM by comparing it to more acceptable power relationionships. Now I'm more likely to say that perhaps we shouldn't be "accepting" those power relationships in their current form.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:08 PM on October 2, 2006


Thanks, bread-eater ; it wasn't parsing like that for me, but when rephrased, it makes more sense.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:56 PM on October 2, 2006


KirkJobSluder, I wasn't intending my comment to be directed at what you personally, but just a more general statement toward society and what it deems can be discussed and criticized and what can't be.
posted by evilangela at 5:04 PM on October 2, 2006


And it started with get a boner by hurting somebody. Consensual or not. Every serial rapist started with the fantasy and made the leap.

It seems to me, tkchrist, that you're making the argument that people who want to inflict pain on people without their consent, sometimes do so by escalating from involvement in consensual BDSM, through to living out these nonconsensual fantasies.

Surely it's far more likely that people with a desire to inflict nonconsensual pain on people use the BDSM scene as a cover for their desires and a field that's filled with potential victims? That doesn't make the bulk of BDSM people potential predators though. Some gay men molest children, but that doesn't make all gay men paedophiles -- nor does their involvement in the gay scene make them more likely to get involved in paedophilia.

It seems to me that the BDSM community has claimed a priveleged position from which it can critique "vanilla" sexuality but invoking the YKINOK taboo when it comes criticism of its own practices.

Actually, KirkJobSluder, this exact same debate was played out at extensive length -- in response to posts by Jon Jacobs and Polly Peachum (under one or other of her pen names at the time) on alt.sex.bondage back in the early nineties. The damned argument probably went on for the best part of a year or two.

And if the BDSM community itself struggles with the notion of voluntary enslavement or Total Power Exchange, or whatever you want to call it, I don't suppose it's all that surprising that people who aren't involved in that scene see its practitioners as being 'fucked in the head'.

The Wikipedia entry on Total Power Exchange refers to this long and often rancourous debate which involved lots of people telling other people that YKINOK.

I don't believe that power imbalances in relationships are benevolent, and I don't think that the BDSM community's celebration of power imbalance is benevolent. On the other hand, I don't see that the BDSM community is much worse in this regard than say, most of our cultural and religious institutions.

By and large, I agree with you -- with a caveat. I've known some very intelligent, assertive, non-fucked up female submissives/masochists who tell me that their lives have been significantly enriched by their exploration of these areas of their lives. While I know that that isn't true for everybody who gets involved in this stuff, I've quizzed the people that I have known long and hard enough to be fairly certain that they believe what they're telling me to be true.

Now that's not to say that their lives might not have been 'better' (meaning simpler, less problematic, involving less pain) had they not been made with a different set of sexual desires, but by and large I think that all we're able to do is to take the desires that we're given, and try to make the best that we can of them.

The last twenty or thirty years have seen an enormous explosion in what might be termed 'recreational' BDSM -- people who go along to clubs and play parties because it's the hip, edgy thing to do. Throughout history though, there have been those whose desires run a little darker than the rest of us and who *don't* get to choose what they want. For them, just as it once was for gay people, the choice traditionally has been whether they can accept themselves for who they are, or whether they spend their life engaging in self-denial, punctuated by the occasional lapse into kink, followed by self-loathing.

The bottom line, for me, is that if two (or more) people can find relationships that are genuinely mutually satisfying and
genuinely make those people happier than they were before, and doesn't hurt anybody else, then that's a good thing. And ultimately, I think that people are themselves the ultimate arbiters of whether they are happy or not.

I'm certainly not competent to judge whether what people tell me about their lives, their feelings and emotions isn't true -- I simply have to respect their right as sentient adults to make those judgements for themselves in the same way that I demand that others respect my right to do the same.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:15 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who read this and got into a mental paradox loop of:
consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give up consent to give

A person cannot argue that they are competent to consent when the act they are consenting to is the loss of consent

As far as I can tell In reality these people are in consensual relationships in which they establish elaborate ilusions and rules to fool each other and themselve they they have given up their freedom. (in my experience this is so)
posted by Megafly at 5:45 PM on October 2, 2006


Late to my own party, as usual . . .

Some thoughts:

I am not into S&M. I have never participated in it and in all likelihood, never will. On a gut level, the stuff ain't my cup of tea. (I just thought I'd clarify that.)

I'm not going to wade into these controversies because I posted that essay not quite sure what to think myself. I still don't know what to think. The libertarian in me shrugs and says "whatever floats your boat." And another part of me finds this more than a little bit disturbing.

Some questions:

Polly is a submissive, but she seems to be in the minority. I get the impression that most of the women in heterosexual BDSM relationships play a dominant role. Is this true? If so, why?

How do people in 24-7 relationships handle conflict? All relationships have conflicts. I can't imagine these being an exception to the rule.

What if a 24-7 slave did decide to leave, to end the relationship? Someone above mentioned battered women's shelters for women in these sorts of relationships. How do these work?
posted by jason's_planet at 5:46 PM on October 2, 2006


I get the impression that most of the women in heterosexual BDSM relationships play a dominant role. Is this true? If so, why?

I have no idea if this is true or not, but if it is, I conjecture that people would be more likely to seek roles they don't get to play in real life - so women would be more likely to seek dominant roles and men more likely to seek submissive ones. I have a friend who is a dominatrix, who during the day works as a secretary. (Of course, anecdotes prove nothing.)
posted by joannemerriam at 6:01 PM on October 2, 2006


What if a 24-7 slave did decide to leave, to end the relationship?

BDSM relationships are really no different to regular relationships in this respect. Megafly's comment about the complex set of rules and illusions seems true to me. Put another way, I think that what lifestyle BDSM'ers are talking about is simply making an unqualified commitment to one another. Sometimes, the aspirations and the reality don't match. That's just how the world is.

Regarding the abuse stuff, IIRC, most of the effort is put into education work, but there are people on the scene who will take in abuse victims. I know that Polly and Jon did this from time to time.

Gloria Brame's advice on staying safe
is well worth reading, in my opinion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:05 PM on October 2, 2006


Thanks PeterMcDermott and Clay201 for some really amazing comments. I wish I knew more about the 'inside' of BDSM, and I think this discussion has sparked enough of an interest that I'll be doing some further reading up and investigation. Thanks for sticking in here through some real unpleasantness.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:20 PM on October 2, 2006



Surely it's far more likely that people with a desire to inflict nonconsensual pain on people use the BDSM scene as a cover for their desires and a field that's filled with potential victims? That doesn't make the bulk of BDSM people potential predators though.

No. I don't think the bulk of BDSM people are predators. most it is harmless fun.

But I bet the bulk of sexual sadist prerdators are or were BDSM people. Get the distinction?

Look. The common denominators are "seeing inflicting physical suffering on othes as sexually satisfying." That, and it's a compulsion that is not a voluntary response like Clay said. He doesn't know why, he can't control it. He is who he is.

So THAT is what is in common with sexual predators the compulsion to do sadism for sexual gratification. A compulsion.

Football players dont have a compulsion to play football. Nor do they get boners playing football.

What is the difference between Clay and Ted Bundy? Clay likes consensual partners. Good. I'm glad.

Now I think Clay is CLAIMING that consent is crucial to his arousal. But I think that is BULLSHIT. it goes against everything I have read on the matter and everybody I know who into BDSM. I think consent is cruicial for him to acquire partners legally. I think he is NOT a sociopath.

But. The arousal is seperate from the mechanics. If he was honest he would admit, for instance, seeing pictures of sadistic acts where he DOESN'T know the people are consenting would STILL arouse him.

Think about how powerful the sex urge IS.

Now we have a class of people who have that same powerful urge confused with violence, pain, sadism and dominance.

I think whn it is extreme, consent or not, it is FITH. But ethically there is nothing that one can DO about it. I tollerate it.

At some point in some sadists another switch is pulled and they decide they dont want to bother with consent. nobody really knows why. So. Then we do something about it.

But pretending that BDSM and sadistic predators are soooo totally seperate is hogwash and Clay knows it. That is why the BDSM comunity has evolved the filtering mechanisms it has and things like safe words.

But he want's us to do is confuse a slap and tickle and leather and whips with a sadistic obsessive disorder masking itself as a SLAVERY game and embrace and hug him and tell him it's all ok. Sorry. It's not ALL ok.

What Clay wants me to do is tell how I know what I know. But I can't. I could irresponsibly out people. So instead I do point out the FACT that sadisitc sexual predators share many of his proclivities... and naturally he gets frantic. Not my problem.
posted by tkchrist at 6:32 PM on October 2, 2006


jason's_planet:

There's no statistical data out there, but the popular consensus seems to be that the majority of women involved in bdsm are submissives, bottoms, or switches. I can tell you that I've met far more bottom women than I have tops.

How do people in 24-7 relationships handle conflict?

They handle it in a range of ways. Sometimes they compromise. Sometimes they yell and scream. Sometimes the bottom gets disciplined by the top. Sometimes one partner spends a few days visiting relatives to cool off. This varies widely from relationship to relationship and situation to situation. (In my experience). Generally speaking, it's just not feasible to resolve your regular, every day relationship conflicts (jealousy, amount of time spent with kids, money issues, etc.) with something like "Shut up and do as you're told." Every once in a while I bump into someone who's dumb enough to think that shit will fly and they usually find out pretty quickly how wrong they are.

In most relationships I've seen, the limits of the top's discipline and control are pretty well undestood by both parties and usually pretty narrow in scope. S/he has control over this, that, and the other, but not all of this stuff over here.

What if a 24-7 slave did decide to leave, to end the relationship?

Then she'd leave, same as in a vanilla relationship. There'd be tears and she'd stress over what would happen to her cat and the couples' mutual friends would argue about who was to blame and someone would probably delete someone's email archives or something. Really, I've seen it a number of times and it's just not that different from what you're used to among vanilla couples. Sometimes things go relatively well, sometimes they don't. I knew a master and slave who split a few years back; the guy had some serious issues, as they say, and they were all sort of coming to a head at once. His behavior was getting more and more erratic and the relationship got worse and worse until one day, the woman had had enough and split. At one point, she went to the house to retrieve some of her stuff. The guy was there and lost his temper and almost got physical. She had offers from various friends (some kinky, some not, I think) to act as her bodyguard if she needed to go back to the house. (I don't think that was ever necessary).

Someone above mentioned battered women's shelters for women in these sorts of relationships. How do these work?

First, I hope you're not just assuming that a slave leaving a relationship is doing so because she's been abused. Most of the time, that's not the case.

But if she is being abused...

Personally, I have no experience with shelters that are specifically kink friendly, so I shan't comment. However, I know plenty of bottoms or tops who've left bad relationships and ended up crashing on the couch of - or renting a garage apartment from - a friend who was also kinky. Kinky people help their friends through tough times just like everyone else.
posted by Clay201 at 6:32 PM on October 2, 2006


I get the impression that most of the women in heterosexual BDSM relationships play a dominant role. Is this true? If so, why?

Very much not true. You might think so after scanning pro-domme ads, but no, most women in the het bdsm community are submissives, to a very, very high percentage.

KirkJobSluder has it right.

At least in Seattle, sex-positive people tend to be so open minded that their brains fall out their vaginas. Or other orifices, if a vagina ain't watcha got.
posted by digitalis at 7:04 PM on October 2, 2006


tkchrist: I'm more than a little bit puzzled at the strong reactions you've had here in my post. Not angry at you. Just puzzled. I'm puzzled because you've built your reputation on metafilter largely on your mastery of the martial arts. Your persona is macho. You're outspoken. You style yourself metafilter's jar o'whoop-ass.

You of all people should be familiar with aggression, with the role it plays in human psychology. Aggression is your hobby, for fucks' sake!

So why does all this freak you out so much? The martial arts deal with power, with asserting dominance over people. Not in cartoonish or stupid ways. That's not you at all. But the power element is defintely there and I wonder why it's OK in the martial arts and NOT OK in the sexual realm.

Do you understand what I mean?
posted by jason's_planet at 7:06 PM on October 2, 2006


Peter, Clay, joannemerriam, digitalis: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. I really honest to God do not know shit about BDSM and I appreciate your taking the time to answer them in depth and detail.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:19 PM on October 2, 2006


So why does all this freak you out so much? The martial arts deal with power, with asserting dominance over people. Not in cartoonish or stupid ways. That's not you at all. But the power element is defintely there and I wonder why it's OK in the martial arts and NOT OK in the sexual realm.

This is honest and good question. I wish I could answer it more completely.

I don't get a boner knocking or choking people out. I know few who do. But I see where people could be puzzled about the appearant contradiction. I was wondering when it would come up.

Fighters, we do like to compete. We do like to express our aggression. By "like" I mean there is a high. But it not sexual. Not truely physical.

It is... spiritual? I hate that word. But I don't have another. Does that make sense?

I am not a competive fighter for many reasons. I'm not that good. Not athletic by nature. Came to it too late. Too old. And I don't enjoy hurting people.

I do enjoy "winning." I enjoy the physical expression involved in trianing. I enjoy the directness and purity of fighting. But whenever I have hurt somebody I felt sick inside. Maybe not right away. But eventually. Maybe years later. But always.

The distinction for me is that sex and violence are very different things. How people mix them confuses me. Partly because for me one is the REFUGE from the other. Sex and love are one. Violence is the opposite. And I have had enough of it in it's uncontrolled form.

I have confronted my darker nature. I want to grow beyond it.

And there are other reasons that I would not like to get into as I said above but suffice it to say I have seen first hand what real sexual violence does.

Once you see it... it's hard to make it a game.
posted by tkchrist at 8:09 PM on October 2, 2006


So why does all this freak you out so much?

One last parting comment. Tkchrist can speak for himself, of course, but I want to point out that just because you disagree with someone or dislike something, that doesn't mean that you fear it or are freaked out by it. It's pretty darn silly to equate the two concepts, in fact.

If you've found your spiritual home in BDSM, Jason, by all means "go for it." I wouldn't hold my breath, though, waiting for society as a whole to give you two thumbs up. That's just not going to happen.

You can chalk it up to fear, ignorance, prejudice or whatever to make yourself feel better, but the truth is that folks advocating extreme versions of BDSM as discussed by Polly Peachum are just messed up folks with more than their share of troubles.

Good luck to y'all. You're going to need it.
posted by bim at 8:16 PM on October 2, 2006


Oh. And a couple other points about "consensual" fighting in the sport venue and why that particular means of violent expression is different than BDSM (other than the sexual componant) is in fighting we seek to dominate an EQUAL or hold our own against a better. That is what is satisfying. I don't want a patsy or a slave.

The few "street(tm)" fights I have been in (what? maybe 2) since serious training BORED me. I wasn not interested in dominating sombody that I was obviously already superior too in regards to fighting. I certainly didn't want to hurt them.

For me fighting is learning - competition is learning. Learning about myself. Testing my limits. There is nothing to be learned about myself by enslaving or being a master to somebody else.

Fighting is also not a compulsion like a sexual urge. I am using my free will to decide what I want and how I want it and why. I know why I do what I do. I understand why I like it. And I can quit it if I want to.
posted by tkchrist at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2006


as discussed by Polly Peachum are just messed up folks with more than their share of troubles.

To be fair we ALL have our share of troubles. It's what we do... um... how do I say this?... how we choose to make them manifest that matters.
posted by tkchrist at 8:27 PM on October 2, 2006


Point taken, tk. ;)
posted by bim at 8:32 PM on October 2, 2006


If you've found your spiritual home in BDSM, Jason, by all means "go for it."

Ummmm, no, actually. Not at all. Vanilla Dude = Me.

Please see comment I posted above:

Some thoughts:

I am not into S&M. I have never participated in it and in all likelihood, never will. On a gut level, the stuff ain't my cup of tea. (I just thought I'd clarify that.)


In any event, I did notice that tkchrist was very vehement, active and outspoken in this thread and I found myself wondering why.

That's all.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:34 PM on October 2, 2006


A lot of what tkchrist says about consensual fighting has also been said about bdsm. Not by me, mind you; I'm not the kind of guy who uses words like "spiritual." But certainly by lots of other folks. They talk about it as an exploration of their darker side, as a high, as learning, and, yes, as a spiritual experience. They debate whether it's physical, mental, or both. And so forth.
posted by Clay201 at 8:38 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm way light to this party, but I wanted to add in my two cents after reading tkchrist's last few comments ...

Tkchrist, I'm quite into BDSM, and I can tell you right now that the idea of BDSM with a nonconsensual partner does not turn me on at all. I can only speak for myself, but frankly, it sickens me. That would be rape.

Your statements about BDSM, for this reason, actually strike me as rather bizarre - or at least, seriously missing the point.

It would be quite easy to make the same comments about plain old regular vanilla sex:

"I quite enjoy sex."
"So do rapists."
"What?"
"Admit it ... not all people who like to have sex are rapists, but nearly all rapists are people who like to have sex!"

Which may be true, but is kind of ... irrelevant. But then you make the leap to, essentially, the equivalent of:

"And if you enjoy sex with a consensual partner, then you'd enjoy it with a nonconsenting partner! Think about how powerful the sex drive is! It would still turn you on!"

Really? Would it?

To me, the parallel is exact. There are things that I do with consenting partners, and those SAME THINGS, done with a nonconsenting partner, are rape and make me nauseous rather than turned on.

The confusion, I think, that has set in here is the fact that, while people are used to thinking of sex as being (in general) a consensual act, with nonconsent being the violation, people are used to thinking of violence, and especially violence in a sexual context, as a nonconsensual act. The "bright line" division doesn't exist in some people's conception of it, because they have been trained to think of violence one way, and sex another. But the division does exist.

However, I actually think, based on some of your earlier posts, that you would freely admit this once your not in the heat of argument. The real question here that you and some others have brought up, and an interesting one, is: when is consenting to something prima facie evidence that you are crazy, and therefore not capable of truly giving consent?

I am perfectly willing to admit that this point exists. But where does that point lie? Bear in mind I'm an advocate for such things as consensual adult incest, which has gotten some flak in this very thread. But that point does exist.

As some have pointed out, the point lies where harm is being done ... but what is harm? Lots of people consent to psychologically damaging relationships that mess them up mentally, often with no kinks at all. I'm of the opinion that when people are adults, they can make their own decisions about that and be left to it, which is one reason I think adult consensual incest should be legal. Otherwise, you're deciding for other people what makes them happy, you know?

So, physical harm, then. That makes it easy to point fingers at BDSM. Except BDSM generally involves an elaborate system to ensure that no one goes farther than they want to go, that no one gets permanently hurt, and that nothing goes terribly wrong. Does it go terribly wrong sometimes? Sure. So does regular sex.

And those elaborate systems apply to the master/slave setups, too. It's been pointed out a number of times in this thread that that's really a complicated game. If a "slave" wants to leave, the slave leaves.

When you're talking about amputation, cannibalism, etc., we can talk about insanity. Master/slave stuff? May not be your thing, but it's actually very ... tame.
posted by kyrademon at 10:41 PM on October 2, 2006


When you're talking about amputation, cannibalism, etc., we can talk about insanity.

True. Those were entirely different extremes and to a seperate point addressing another poster who was claiming they themselves were non-judgmental (implying some sort of moral high-ground in the process) due to certain acts being consenting.

My point was that there are certain acts we , as a society, still have great taboos over. Consensual or not. And I was betting he WAS indeed judgmental over something "consensual". I was, with those extremes, calling his bluff. And he admitted the flaws in his claim.

But see? Why is amputation or cannibalism YOUR line? I may mis-read but you view people that do them as insane? Why? Because there is mutilation? Because of the permanance of the act? After all there have been societies who DON'T have taboos about amputation or cannibalism. Where it is perfectly sane.

So. You still have social taboos - PREJUDICES as some would cry - like the rest of us.

My point is that for somebody acquessing to be "enslaved" there IS likely a permanancy. And to those wanting to enslave there can, not always, but can, due to the compulsive nature of what we find sexually pleasurable, acts that escalate to being NON consensual.

And it does happen. More often than people REALLY REALLY into BDSM will want to admit. Hence the reason for your elaborate systems you mentioned. I don't have statisitcs. I'm not a shrink. But I bet it's true. I think you know it's true.

So I err on the side of caustion. I am very wary of people who tell me they get a compulsive sexual gratification from hurting people or enslaving people. I do not trust them. If they get consent for thier act or not. And I have good reasons.

As a matter of experience, prejudice, AND personal principle, I disdain such choices. That is MY line.

You don't have to like it. I'm not telling you to NOT do what you like. I'm not forbidding you from doing what you like. I'm not passing laws. On my worry-o-meter the entire subject rates pretty fucking low. I just think there is something not quite right with people who share these proclivities. And I will say so.
posted by tkchrist at 12:04 AM on October 3, 2006


Tkchrist, I hear where you're coming from (although I would argue that in societies where cannabilism was considered acceptable, it was generally not consensual, but that's actually mostly beside the point.)

I don't say, flat out, that consensual cannabalism, amputation, etc., are necessarily evidence of insanity. But I am willing to seriously consider arguments that they are, and yes, for the reasons you mention - they are permanent, irrevocable, and physically harmful.

However, in my experience, master/slave relationships are generally none of those ... really. There's a pretence that they are, but it's a game, and both participants know it's a game. That may be why it really doesn't bother me.

To address some of your other points:

1) Of course I have prejudices and taboos. Never claimed I didn't. I bet I even have some that you don't. Mine are just different from yours, is all.

2) Of course BDSM relationships can go horribly wrong, which is exactly why there's an elaborate system to make sure they don't. A close friend of mine has permanent scars (fairly minor, fortunately) when her asshole husband decided to try some knife play without obtaining consent.

However ... vanilla relationships can also go horribly wrong, which is why society has also evolved an elaborate set of rules, acknowledged and unacknowledged, to regulate them as well. Because you can get unplanned pregnancies. Abusive relationships that have nothing to do with BDSM. Screwed up power dynamics, which is why 40-year-olds dating 18-year-olds is frowned upon even if it's legal, and so on.

Do you want to argue that, if BDSM relationships go wrong, because of their nature, they tend to go wrong in ways that are much worse than the ways other relationships go wrong? ... I'll listen to that argument, but I must say that, frankly, I'm not sure it's true. Yes, there is potential for physical harm. But the couples I've seen where one person ends up in the hospital with broken bones have generally not been couples that were into BDSM at all.

Can the same desire to play with power dynamics - the getting off on power dynamics - that leads to BDSM also lead to terrible things? Cults? Psychos? Sure. Just as the desire that leads to regular sex can lead to rape. I'm not sure we should judge an activity by its abuses.

I know this isn't really that big a deal to you, and we're talking mostly about theory, but I can't help but wonder if this has elicited the reaction it has from you because it pushes some buttons. If you're a trained fighter, as has been mentioned, you have probably been carefully trained to believe that deliberately hurting someone is always, always wrong. And that's good training - your body is a weapon, and weapons need to be treated carefully.

But, just as you point out that there are prejudices I have, I think there are prejudices you don't have, and there are kinks that would cause you to shrug and say, "whatever", that others would spend pages arguing are Bad News. Homosexuality has been brought up in this thread as a possible example of that.

Bottom line is, I think what a lot of people here are trying to say to you is: while you are right that there is the potential for things to go wrong in these relationships, it also seems likely that some of your reaction to it is more about your personal beliefs and how you would feel in such a situation, and that therefore your attempt to apply these feelings to others is not entirely accurate.
posted by kyrademon at 12:41 AM on October 3, 2006


So much has been said, but if I may be allowed to continue from where I had to run off to work...

This comment of cyntherea's ignores history; concepts of spiritual growth and self-fulfilment have existed for millennia, way before European empires. It's okay not to agree with hincandenza re: the human condition, but the ahistorical argument coupled with the Marxist academse isn't persuasive in the least.

eustacescrubb, many things have been around for centuries before European empires, but that doesn't make them right. And really, I am doing my best to consider history, rather than ignore it.

I totally agree that concepts of spiritual growth and self-fulfillment have existed for a very long time--but I would suggest that their ideas of such were very different, very foreign from our own. The medieval concept, from our own, more accessible past, of spiritual progress for women (and servents) is something far closer to Polly's path than the quite recent Western ideal of the strong, autonomous agent--just consider the tale of Griselda, which was held up as the paradigm of spiritual and personal perfection for women for hundreds of years. And let's not even begin to consider non-western cultures. Truly understanding them is a project on the scale of becoming fluent in their language.

It's really quite hard to avoid using colonial language and escaping from the world view of the dominant group. Just because you find your views consistent and so widely accepted by the group you are embedded in does not make them right, or ideal, or a solid basis for measuring the degree of another's perversion. Not to say that there are no things which aren't universal, just that we need to be careful about which are relative. Your ideas of spiritual and personal progress are not sacrosanct.

That being said, I actually share incandenza's views about spiritual growth, for myself. (I am, very much, a modern person from the West). But I've found it necessary, if after considerable struggle, if I am to achieve any personal happiness and spiritual growth, to accept who I am. In the end, there's really no contradiction, no compromise, because it's what I want. It's really a very good exercise (ala Huck Finn), to find something you hold true against the cries of sin from the society around you.

For me, in a long term relationship with someone I truly love, and who loves me dearly, dominance and submission is the avenue to an intimacy I cannot achieve otherwise, for that is really who I am. It's about honesty and love. It brings me closer to them than any other expression--it brings me closer to god.

You ask why, and I'll tell you: Love.
posted by cytherea at 12:51 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Are you actually reading what you're writing? This is completely contradictary. You yourself say that entering into consensual slavery is an act of free will. And you say that the exercise of free will is a wonderful thing. So... what's the problem?

There's no necessary contradiction in excercising your free will in an attempt to negate that will.

Let's draw an analogy with another pair of human attributes. Sometimes you have to work pretty hard to get to be lazy. But that doesn't mean your laziness is thereby transformed into the virtue of productivity. So for example I'd think someone who immediately quit doing anything useful with their life upon striking it rich was also fucked up.

(P.S. I haven't really addressed the other side of this, but I also think the desire to control another person completely in a long-term way is also imbalanced. This seems so obvious as to barely be worth mentioning. The greatest leaders teach their followers to think and decide and act for themselves.)

Anyway, I don't want to force anyone to live by my standards. Indeed I am strongly in favor of the legality of non-mainstream sexual practices. But I reserve the right to personally be Not OK with some things, and 24/7 Total Power Exchange D/s relationships are among them. If you don't like my judgment, tough cookies.
posted by maciej at 2:18 AM on October 3, 2006


I have seen first hand what real sexual violence does.

Once you see it... it's hard to make it a game.


OK. I respect that. I won't pry.

The distinction for me is that sex and violence are very different things. How people mix them confuses me.

I think it's a little more complicated than that. If I remember correctly, violent urges and sexual urges come from similar parts of the brain. Also, I think that there's a certain amount of (tamed, channelled) aggression involved in approaching someone and attempting to make some kind of connection to them.

Fighting is also not a compulsion like a sexual urge. I am using my free will to decide what I want and how I want it and why. I know why I do what I do. I understand why I like it. And I can quit it if I want to.

Well, again . . . I think it's a little more complicated than that. Sure, it all begins with a sexual urge. But you, as a civilized man, ultimately decide how you're going to respond to that urge. You can lunge at the object of your lust. You can try a more subtle approach and try to seduce her. You can disavow your feelings and get all uptight and shitty. You can dispel the tension by flirting a little bit. You can decide the situation is too hot to handle and avoid being around the woman. Or you can acknowledge it, own it and decide, for a variety of reasons, that it's inappropriate to act on that impulse. In other comments, you've described yourself as a happily married man, which I don't doubt. So I think this process -- of dealing with these types of sexual feelings -- might be familiar territory to you.

And your comments about free will, about freely choosing to fight, could probably just as easily apply to most S&M play. The S&M folks I've met tend to be fairly articulate, really into processing feelings and talking about them at length. So I think their approach to sex might be a little more conscious than you're giving them credit for.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:04 AM on October 3, 2006


I would argue that in societies where cannabilism was considered acceptable, it was generally not consensual

That's not really true. There are lots of examples of modern cultures where post-mortem cannibalism is consensual (insofar as the deceased (usually (relative) can be held to have given consent) and even normative within the context of social ritual and mourning/grieving.
posted by meehawl at 6:16 AM on October 3, 2006


Just because you find your views consistent and so widely accepted by the group you are embedded in does not make them right, or ideal, or a solid basis for measuring the degree of another's perversion. Not to say that there are no things which aren't universal, just that we need to be careful about which are relative. Your ideas of spiritual and personal progress are not sacrosanct.

This paragraph makes a lot more sense than all the colonialism stuff. I think, wtih that, you've got your history backward; the colonialists used very old concepts of spiritual growth applied in a very narrow way to advance thier own agendas. But that doesn't mean that anyone who finds wisdom in Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism or Christianity (all Eastern or Middle-Eastern religions) is therefore a colonialist. And I don't think you need to read ancient Chinese or Hebrew or Aramaic to be able to understand the messages of those religions, though it'd certainly be nice to be able to.
And, to be honest, since one of my fields of study was the Medieval/Renaissance period, I find it appalling that you'd suggest that the spiritual path designated for women in the middle ages is an admirable one. The contempt for women that the prevailing spiritual authorities in the middle ages held can't be stressed enough -- it's still present in modern-day Catholicism, of course, but I find it ironic that you're falling back on the very Marxcist discourse of post-colonial theory to defend Polly's lifestyle on the one hand while offering up the incredibly sexist view of women from the middle ages as a proper spiritual path on the other.

But I think that's all a thing apart from your main point, which is this:

Just because you find your views consistent and so widely accepted by the group you are embedded in does not make them right, or ideal, or a solid basis for measuring the degree of another's perversion.

Yes, but they happen to be the ideas I have, and while I recognize it'd be tyranny to force everyone to behave according to my ideas, it'd be impossible to function if I didn't think they were the right or best ones on some level. While being aware that my paradigm cannot be a mirror to nature and is therefore imperfect, it is the best one I've found, and so, naturally, I think it works well and describes the world well. I know that's not permanent -- I've undergone at least one major paradigm shift in my life and I'm young enough that it could happpen again. So I know better than to insist that mine's right in an absolute sense. That's why I wrote, as above, that I think Polly should be left alone to do what she does. I don't think anyone here is arguing otherwise.
But the issue was brought up on a community discussion forum, where we discuss and disagree on stuff. So unless you're saying that the fact of cultural differences means we're not allowed to speak from or advocate our own paradigms, I'm not sure why it matters.

In short, I think that while bim, tkchrist, hincandenza and others don't all agree on everything in this thread, I think we're all saying we don't think 24/7 BDSM should be outlawed, but in some way we all think it's an unhealthy lifestyle, and that arguing that the participants consent to the lifestyle doesn't matter since human being freely choose to unhealthy stuff all the time.
The difference, I think, is this: my unhealthy habit is junk food. I am aware that craving junk food is bad for me, and I am aware that there are very likely emotional and/or spiritual roots in my craving. I know that I could seriously shorten my life or reduce its quality by eating too much junk food. My response to my craving isn't to proudly answer its demands but to examine myself and try to find the source of these cravings and resolve the issue that's causing them, or least carry an awareness of them so I can stop eating it, whereas the 24/7 master/slave thing seems to be the equivalent of me saying "Oh! this craving must mean I'm just a potato-chip-eating kind of guy and I shall eat potato chips, and only potato chips all the time!"
Now, I find BDSM lifestyles about as much of a threat as my Lays habit, and I don't think the government should be involved in either, and I think I ought to be free to kill myself with trans-fats. But I also think both are unhealthy.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:19 AM on October 3, 2006


I find it appalling that you'd suggest that the spiritual path designated for women in the middle ages is an admirable one.

That's the point--right there--you've hit it on the head. Because it was admirable to them.
posted by cytherea at 11:40 AM on October 3, 2006


the desire to control another person completely in a long-term way is also imbalanced. This seems so obvious as to barely be worth mentioning.

It's wrong and not very smart to condemn a whole group of people as "imbalanced" simply because it "seems obvious" to you that it is so. Before you make a judgement like that, you have to have a good reason. You have to think it through: what is bad about their actions? Are they harming others? If so, how?

Do you see what I'm saying here? You just wrote off a bunch of my friends as nutjobs and you didn't even bother to think carefully about your reasons for doing so. When you decide whether to vote for a local school board candidate, you probably spend some time thinking logically about the decision. Don't my friends deserve the same consideration?

Do you know what happens when a whole bunch of people get together and make judgements like the one you're making? The "nutjobs" (or if you prefer the "imbalanced people") are shunned by family members, lose custody of children, get fired from jobs, and spend their lives living in a closet. And frankly I'm getting a little sick of the situation.

If you're going to object to the stuff that we do, please, in the name of decency, have a good reason. If you can't find one, reserve making a judgement until you can.
posted by Clay201 at 12:24 PM on October 3, 2006


we all think it's an unhealthy lifestyle

How do you come to that conclusion? On what evidence or observations do you base it? If I had to, I could provide evidence that child molestation, coerced polygamy, date rape, etc. are harmful to people. When I condemn these practices, I do so because I have good reason to, reasons I can demonstrate. I could show you the effects they've had in particular cases or statistical evidence regarding their impact on their victims. Can you provide this kind (or any kind) of evidence to back up your claim?
posted by Clay201 at 12:36 PM on October 3, 2006


Because it was admirable to them.

Well, but how can you be sure? You're talking about trying to discern whether or not women in the middle ages liked their lot and accepted the catholic theology about women, when the one thing we lack is primary sources by lay women (i.e., non-clergy; the opinions of the clergy will be biased, after all) about how they view thier lot in life. So "they" = the institution that's doing what I'm calling the oppressing, and we can't very well take "their" word for it, can we?

How do you come to that conclusion? If I had to, I could provide evidence that child molestation, coerced polygamy, date rape, etc. are harmful to people. When I condemn these practices, I do so because I have good reason to, reasons I can demonstrate. I could show you the effects they've had in particular cases or statistical evidence regarding their impact on their victims. Can you provide this kind (or any kind) of evidence to back up your claim?

Well, firstly, you're responding to my claim, which is I believe 24/7 master/slave relationships are unhealthy to both master and slave with a statement about what is "harmful to people." Clearly you can't mean physical harm, because BDSM includes physical harm, so you must mean something like harm inflicted on another without consent.
So you're comparing apples and oranges -- you're talking about physical harm one human inflicts on another; I'm talking about a human's unhealthy responses to his/her own cravings. Since I'm not proposing a law be passed, or suggesting a practice be adopted into medicine, but am instead talking about something that's based on my belief system, your criteria for proof don't apply here.

In short, I don't believe that every craving ought to be satiated, and I suspect the strongest ones are rooted in unresolved psychological spiritual issues, and that they're clues to one's past, and that the propoer response to one's deep, habitual cravings is to examine one's life and try to use those clues in the process. This is not something I demand of anyone else, nor am I opposed to all BDSM but my opinion is that the 24/7 master/slave relationship satiates such a craving and thereby acts as a kind of coping mechanism to help the person live without have to face this or that pain or other psychological problem, the facing of which would require a lot of work. I understand that this is not a view that will be shared by everyone, but that's alright with me. Politically, I don't think there should be laws forbidding this stuff, but that's because I think laws should only interecede when humans are harming each other, not themselves, because few people agree on stuff like what's harmful to the self.

(Looking back, I see that the end of one posts two prior got mangled; I had tried to make this same point above. )
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2006


So you're comparing apples and oranges -- you're talking about physical harm one human inflicts on another

I'm talking about any type of harm. Or at least, any type of harm that can be demonstrated. Self harm, harm to others, harm to the environment; whatever.

Since I'm not proposing a law be passed, or suggesting a practice be adopted into medicine, but am instead talking about something that's based on my belief system, your criteria for proof don't apply here.

That's completely absurd. These criteria always apply.

You're saying that, when judging these people, you simply do not take reality into account. You've made a choice to think this way. No, you're not proposing that I and my friends be locked up or have their parental rights revoked. Other people are doing that. You just agree with their reasoning.

Morally, you can't justify this. It's prejudice, in the purest, nastiest sense of the word. I mean, even the most flaming Mississippi racist will claim to base their hatred on some sort of evidence.

It's possible that the root of this evidence/belief disagreeemnt is in your choice of terms. I think it's very possible you've used the word "unhealthy" when you atually meant "morally wrong." "Unhealthy" implies that the activities in question cause some sort of identifiable harm to someone, that they lead to mental disorders or things of that nature. But you can't reach such a conclusion without seeing some sort of evidence. It's logically impossible; how can we know that something is harmful if we haven't seen any evidence of the harm? And you've made it very clear that your assertions are not based on evidence, that they are based on "beliefs."

So I'm pretty sure that what you're actually saying is that these activities are, in your opinion, immoral. That's the kind of judgement you can make based soley on your beliefs.

Finally, you seem to think that your prejudice against people like me is perfectly okay as long as you don't make it political. I don't think that's true in the long run. I know that in the south, racism has managed to do plenty of damage well outside the political arena. The people who perpetuate it don't go around advocating desegregation. They might work with black people, send their kids to integrated schools and vote for democrats, but their prejudice shows up in other areas. The fact that it's below the surface doesn't make it okay. And prejudice, of any variety, has a tendency to spread.
posted by Clay201 at 4:06 PM on October 3, 2006


Actually, Clay, it looks to me like you are a dude who always likes to be in control and you can't stand it that numerous folks are buying what you're selling.

In short, this is just another head trip for you here in this thread.

Let me save you some time and trouble and just cut to the chase.

Stuff it, dude. You've got a loose screw. And the rest of your rationalizations are bullshit.

Get some help and try to get in touch with your better side. You're darker side isn't looking all that pretty.

Feel free to rant some more. I certainly don't give a good rat's ass if you're offended.

Clear enough?
posted by bim at 5:05 PM on October 3, 2006


That's "aren't buying." Typo. Big whip.
posted by bim at 5:10 PM on October 3, 2006


bim

If you'd like to refute anything I've said, please feel free to do so.
posted by Clay201 at 5:10 PM on October 3, 2006


It's pointless to argue with zealots of whatever persuasion.

Seek help, dude. You're a drowning man.
posted by bim at 5:16 PM on October 3, 2006


Ya know, bim, the argument "You're fucked in the head because it's clearly obvious to me that you are even if I can offer no evidence of it because what you do squicks me out" ain't gonna convert anyone who isn't already converted.

And adding that it's pointless to argue with a "zealot" who has spent the whole thread rationally explicating a position makes some of us wonder about the log in your own eye when you point out the mote in Clay201's.

Just saying.
posted by kyrademon at 7:12 PM on October 3, 2006 [3 favorites]


Goddamn, I only came to make a snark about the post's formatting, and now this thread's clogging up my My Comments.

So now I'm invested in one of the strangest trainwrecks I've seen here. Having never had cause to generate an opinion on BDSM -- beyond knee-jerk disliking the aesthetics of the stereotypical toys -- I've been reading with interest.

There have been beautifully-put points from the pro- side, but I'm bewildered at the fucked-in-the-head crew. However, I can't actually find any sort of argument they hang anything on. There's just this thick smoke that boils down to "but, I mean, ewww", "I strongly suspect that this is yucky" and "I think people should be allowed to do it, but I'm certain that this is all bad and stuff." "Period."

Plus various more-or-less lame attempts to justify prejudice within a liberal framework. (And of course bim, saying "goodbye" or the equivalent about four or five times, then dropping back to post the poorest Ad Homs MeFi's had in a while. Plus smilies.)

Great post, Jason!
posted by bonaldi at 7:17 PM on October 3, 2006


Seek help, kyrademon. You, too, are in very bad shape. Check yourself in somewhere. Quickly.

Bonaldi, dear, harboring a grudge, still? Got your hate mojo going, as usual? There's nothing new under the sun. But I'm happy that you've found some new friends. I'm sure that you'll get along swimmingly. :) :) :)
posted by bim at 7:33 PM on October 3, 2006


Oh christ, it's you. I knew I recognised the name. I've just re-read our last encounter, and it's distressing that you're exactly as useless now as you were then.

Do you have any understanding of the notion that to counter someone's point you have to actually counter it, and that means putting together an opposing argument, not stringing together weak clichés, attacking the arguer and/or flouncing off?
posted by bonaldi at 7:41 PM on October 3, 2006


Great post, Jason!

Thank you, Bonaldi! Welcome to my little trainwreck! Kick up your feet. Have a cigar. Did you see Polly's essay at the beginning? What did you think of it?

Bim, a couple of days ago, at the very beginning of this, you said:

As a woman and a feminist, I have to say, "Who cares if she lives this way?" I doubt that most women want this kind of lifestyle, but it's not worth getting up in arms over or taking to the streets to protest. If she wants to live this way, so be it. It's her problem.

If you honestly do not care and do not find this worth getting up in arms over, then could you please stop making nasty comments about the other people here? Thanks.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:47 PM on October 3, 2006


Did you see Polly's essay at the beginning? What did you think of it?
It was exceptionally interesting. I had expected a lame justification, and such behaviour is so far from my experience that I was pleased to see it put across in a way that made perfect sense to me.

That said, I didn't think she answered one of the points she raised, which is about the dynamics of anger. Part of my experience of control (mainly while young) is that the ability to get angry at "unfair" orders is vital -- and lets your parent know the limits. Does that same mechanism work in a D/s setting? Can the S say "make your own damn sandwich"?
posted by bonaldi at 7:52 PM on October 3, 2006


Come now, Bonaldi, don't be coy. It doesn't become you.

It's no great surprise that you show up at the last minute to spread a little hate. You've never answered a single question on MeFi where your so called "answer" didn't come out as an accusation. We are blessed to have such a superior being periodically deign to address us with his wit and wisdom...or whatever you call that nastiness of yours.

So carry on. It's a race for the bottom and you're, of course, are leading the pack. Nothing new there. :)

Jason...step aside, son.
posted by bim at 7:54 PM on October 3, 2006


Bim, you're taking the piss now. You just responded to me wondering if you could transcend ad hominems with ... an ad hominem?
posted by bonaldi at 7:56 PM on October 3, 2006


That's rich, Bonaldi. I think the phrase that applies here is: "Don't piss on my leg and tell me that it's raining."

You are a nasty piece of work. And when anyone has the temerity to tell you so, you act insulted because they dared to point it out. Get over your self, dude. I think I've told you that before. You don't listen, of course, but that's not surprising either.

And Jason, let me point out that folks around here spent a great deal of time being ever polite and giving thoughtful responses to you and the pro BDSM posters. However, we've been called racist, bigoted, unintelligent and numerous other things just because we refuse to believe the same that you do. If any one is a narrow minded bigot, it's you and the BDSM folks for wanting to impose your world view on everyone else. Diversity isn't good enough for you. You want total capitulation to your way of thinking. You've got a long wait coming on that one.

So Jason, let's not get all up in arms and whine about anyone calling you and Clay and Peter and the rest of master-slave afficionados names. You sound like the kid who killed his parents and then asked the court for mercy because he was an orphan.
posted by bim at 8:10 PM on October 3, 2006


PeterMcDermott: Now that's not to say that their lives might not have been 'better' (meaning simpler, less problematic, involving less pain) had they not been made with a different set of sexual desires, but by and large I think that all we're able to do is to take the desires that we're given, and try to make the best that we can of them.

And for me, it comes down to the whole issue of the "unexamined life." The other key that makes my thinking a bit kinked on this, is that I'm no longer a believer in individual free will. Our cognition is inherently social and situated, so cracking open that apparent black box of "the desires that we're given" strikes me as pretty important.

I'm willing to grant that for some, perhaps many people that D/s is reasonably healthy. But for me, once I cracked open that black box of treating those desires as self-evident, unquestionable, and generally ok as long as there was consent, I found that it wasn't a healthy situation for me to experience. Perhaps that's not true for all people, but it does lead me to be opposed to this idea that consent is a carte blanche license.

kyrademon: As some have pointed out, the point lies where harm is being done ... but what is harm? Lots of people consent to psychologically damaging relationships that mess them up mentally, often with no kinks at all. I'm of the opinion that when people are adults, they can make their own decisions about that and be left to it, which is one reason I think adult consensual incest should be legal. Otherwise, you're deciding for other people what makes them happy, you know?

Pardon, but this is one of those things that drives me up the wall. The other side of morals and ethics involves the promotion of the good, in addition to the avoidance of the harm. The principle that adults should be permitted to make their own decisions in regards to relationships does not mean that we shouldn't talk about what makes good and bad relationships. It certainly does not mean that we shouldn't talk about whether fetishizing power within a relationship is a good thing.

bonaldi: There have been beautifully-put points from the pro- side, but I'm bewildered at the fucked-in-the-head crew. However, I can't actually find any sort of argument they hang anything on. There's just this thick smoke that boils down to "but, I mean, ewww", "I strongly suspect that this is yucky" and "I think people should be allowed to do it, but I'm certain that this is all bad and stuff." "Period."

I think the argument comes down to this:

Is consent sufficient for defining what is good in a relationship?

The pro-BDSM side argues that relationships based on informed consent should be considered good.

The anti-BDSM side argues that consent is not sufficient for defining good within a relationship, and issues like power, control, and mutuality need to be examined as well.

Clay201: Finally, you seem to think that your prejudice against people like me is perfectly okay as long as you don't make it political. I don't think that's true in the long run. I know that in the south, racism has managed to do plenty of damage well outside the political arena.

Well, on the other hand, I can make the argument that fetishizing D/s power dynamics within relationships is also harmful, and the pretense of a "magic circle" that dissassociates adult sex from politics is a myth.

kyrademon: Ya know, bim, the argument "You're fucked in the head because it's clearly obvious to me that you are even if I can offer no evidence of it because what you do squicks me out" ain't gonna convert anyone who isn't already converted.

Well, I suspect this is true on just about any topic. I'm not personally aiming for "conversion." What was hoping for is something a bit more interesteing than the repeat of calling each other pervert and puritan. That *gasp* there are some good reasons to critique BDSM beyond just the personal squick.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:12 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


You don't listen, of course, but that's not surprising either.
You'd be surprised how much I do listen. I've checked whether I could find a post of mine that didn't come out as an accusation, just to be sure.

However, your little screed to Jason there really highlights the horror that is your psyche. You're like a withered soccer mom without children. You're not getting called names because you won't agree, you're getting called names because you're not engaging coherently at any higher level.

At no point has any of the pro-side in this thread tried to impose their worldview on anyone. If anything, they've pled for diversity, or an argument they could grasp. Instead they get you and your lashings of mimsy intolerance.

The anti-BDSM side argues that consent is not sufficient for defining good within a relationship, and issues like power, control, and mutuality need to be examined as well.

That seems fair, KJS. From what I can see, the sense seems to be that, yes, the BDSM side think consent is enough -- but I can certainly see how they could "examine power, control and mutuality" and still find the balance to be in favour of the good.

It strikes me that the D/s relationship is a lot like work in our societies: we do exactly what our bosses tell us, unless the relationship breaks down, in which case we quit. We don't have any problem abrogating our free will in return for money, why should we have a problem with doing it for love?
posted by bonaldi at 8:26 PM on October 3, 2006


Part of my experience of control (mainly while young) is that the ability to get angry at "unfair" orders is vital -- and lets your parent know the limits. Does that same mechanism work in a D/s setting? Can the S say "make your own damn sandwich"?

Good point.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:27 PM on October 3, 2006


I told myself I wouldn't get back into this mess, but really, how many people does it take to convince you bim that you have a completely fucked up attitude for discussion? When you have no logical arguments, you just attack with nasty comments, making ridiculous assumptions about everyone.

Folks around here also spent a great deal of time being polite and giving thoughtful responses to you anti-BDSM posters, but what do they get? Your "your post doesn't make sense, you need help." Care to explain why? Every post you complained about for not being coherent has been completely coherent to me.


KirkJobSluder: Those are valid points you make, but I would just like to say that I think the issue is more about prejudices (e.g. fucked in the head) against BDSMers, and not the goodness of BDSM. It's one thing to consider it a bad thing for them, but some people harbour really negative feelings for them. And I don't think anyone is trying to dissociate adult sex and politics. The point is that being politically correct and not taking political action against BDSMers is not enough to give them an equal chance in society.
posted by bread-eater at 8:29 PM on October 3, 2006


However, your little screed to Jason there really highlights the horror that is your psyche. You're like a withered soccer mom without children. You're not getting called names because you won't agree, you're getting called names because you're not engaging coherently at any higher level.

Please don't encourage her. Just flag 'em and forget 'em.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:29 PM on October 3, 2006


Our cognition is inherently social and situated, so cracking open that apparent black box of "the desires that we're given" strikes me as pretty important.

Well said, KJS.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:34 PM on October 3, 2006


Just wondering:

Is her extreme form of self-subjugation a disguised expression of egoism?

"She that humbleth herself shall be exalted."

On the surface, she's the slave. She's the one who takes the orders. But she is, in some level, the center of her master's life. He has to decide when she wakes up in the morning. He composes morning songs for her to sing. He has to come up with a whole set of domination rituals for her. And keep them fresh and interesting.

In some ways, I think she has more power over him than he has over her.


I know that BDSM people use the phrase "topping from the bottom" to describe this kind of dynamic.

Is anyone else seeing this at work here?
posted by jason's_planet at 8:50 PM on October 3, 2006


bonaldi: It strikes me that the D/s relationship is a lot like work in our societies: we do exactly what our bosses tell us, unless the relationship breaks down, in which case we quit. We don't have any problem abrogating our free will in return for money, why should we have a problem with doing it for love?

I think I've addressed this above. While I used to defend BDSM using this exact analogy, now my response is, "why do we take it as a given that work relationships are benevolent?"

bread-eater: Those are valid points you make, but I would just like to say that I think the issue is more about prejudices (e.g. fucked in the head) against BDSMers, and not the goodness of BDSM. It's one thing to consider it a bad thing for them, but some people harbour really negative feelings for them. And I don't think anyone is trying to dissociate adult sex and politics. The point is that being politically correct and not taking political action against BDSMers is not enough to give them an equal chance in society.

Well, perhaps this is the wrong thread to hope for anything more than that. But I don't find BDSM currently to be in such a precarious position given how much it appears in pop culture. If any point of view in this discussion is hamstrung by systematic prejudice, it's probably radical feminism and pro-feminism.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:03 PM on October 3, 2006


KirkJobSluder, I think you missed my point a little. I would never argue that consent automatically equals good.

(Something very similar to that argument actually drives me up the wall as well, wehich is the honesty automatically equals good argument I've heard many poly people assert. In fact, while honesty is necessary in a poly relationship, you can be totally honest about what you're doing and still be a total asshole.)

What I was arguing was that consent, if we agree that the people involved are not insane or otherwise incapable of truly giving consent, means that, in my opinion, society has to throw up its hands and say, well, I hope it works out for you, then. This is not to say that we can't think the people involved are being idiots. However ...

I was also objecting to the idea that BDSM relationships, even extreme ones, are necessarily more fucked up than other kinds of relationships. I don't think that's necessarily so. In fact, I think the fucked-uppedness ratio is probably just about the same, at least in the ways I consider fucked up (that is to say, making one or more people in the relationship unhappy.)

Anyway, got to run, but just wanted to conclude that bim's:

"Seek help, kyrademon. You, too, are in very bad shape. Check yourself in somewhere. Quickly."

Is gonna have me laughing for days. Now that's comedy gold.
posted by kyrademon at 9:45 PM on October 3, 2006


Well I think this thread is good evidence that there exist a lot of negative attitudes towards BDSMers. But maybe in general, it's too idealistic to hope for anything more than that (political correctness). And that's kind of depressing.

As for feminism... I don't remember anyone exhibiting prejudice specifically against feminists in this thread, maybe just remarks against specific persons who identify as feminists, but not for the fact that they are feminists.
posted by bread-eater at 9:49 PM on October 3, 2006


Because it was admirable to them.

Well, but how can you be sure? You're talking about trying to discern whether or not women in the middle ages liked their lot and accepted the catholic theology about women, when the one thing we lack is primary sources by lay women (i.e., non-clergy; the opinions of the clergy will be biased, after all) about how they view thier lot in life. So "they" = the institution that's doing what I'm calling the oppressing, and we can't very well take "their" word for it, can we?

You're totally right. We, so very sadly, have but the foggiest idea of so many generations of women's notions (with the acknowledgment of a number precious non-European gems such as The Tail of Genji.) But what we can say, at least, is that the opinions of the people we do have records from differ profoundly from our contemporary equivalents. Not to say that were I transported back I would be at all happy with my situation.

But is it really so difficult to accept that people from other times and places often had and have an understanding of the world quite discordant, even approaching the unintelligible, from our own? Have you ever read any of the Australian Aboriginal tales of creation? Are they not, frankly, bizarre to you?

By the way, and I hope I don't sully them for you, but I have to say that I identified with a number of elements in The Chronicals in a way which I can only describe as having triggering my s&m-dar, your namesake being among the more notable.

And on to a completely different topic (and please, not directed at you, eustace): and as long as it's been voiced, where the fuck do these mouthbreathers come from? Isn't there anything worth buying on the Home Shopping Network right now? What fetid pleasure do they get from wallowing in their ignorance and nastiness? Did USENET get drunk at its 27th birthday party and vomit all over this thread?

Now look at what they've done: They've caused me to be uncomfortably impolite and even voice the f-word. I'm going to go and wash out my eyes and mouth with soap.
posted by cytherea at 3:23 AM on October 4, 2006


Oh, and, one more thing. I don't think I've seen any anti-feminism in this thread, or at least I've completely missed it. I believe feminism, certainly the contemporary variety, has mixed views on the subject. And, while most of the gendered examples offered here have been with submissive women and dominant men in mind, that's very often not the case. I at least, if nothing else, consider my self a wholehearted feminist.
posted by cytherea at 3:36 AM on October 4, 2006


It's wrong and not very smart to condemn a whole group of people as "imbalanced" simply because it "seems obvious" to you that it is so. Before you make a judgement like that, you have to have a good reason. You have to think it through: what is bad about their actions? Are they harming others? If so, how?

Do you see what I'm saying here? You just wrote off a bunch of my friends as nutjobs and you didn't even bother to think carefully about your reasons for doing so.


I think my posts on the subject reveal that I have in fact thought about this issue quite a bit. And I'll note again for the record (though I think this should be quite unnecessary) that I have tried various BDSM practices, though as an occasional thing, never as a 24/7 lifestyle. And I found it fun.

I also gave a brief outline of a reason I think wanting total control of another person is imbalanced: domination is the antithesis of leadership, which is a genuine virtue.

A number of people have compared full-time D/s relationships to working at a job, where you have to "do everything your boss says". But that's actually not true. First of all you don't have to do anything not work-related that your manager says - there is clear scoping and boundaries. No one even pretends otherwise, not even in the Army. Second, if you do any kind of job that requires significant skill, your boss will be giving you guidelines more than orders. Where I work (a large tech company) we even have a saying that if you don't do something that pisses off your boss a few times a year, you are not doing enough independent thinking. So in the normal world, even when there is a power dynamic, there is give and take.

I mention this because, once again, the virtuous way to lead someone is to inspire them and teach them to think and act for themselves, not to give them commands. And the measure of your success it that they'll disobey you when it's the right thing to do.

Does that mean the sort of people involved in these relationships are bad in a major, malevolent way? Not really - failing to live up to human potential isn't the world's worst thing. I would not want them prosecuted or shunned. I wouldn't refuse to work with them or ignore their opinions. But to be honest, I would probably feel weird hanging out socially with a full-time D/s pair if they insisted on acting out their power dynamic in front of me.

There, that's even more detail than I gave to the submissive side. And I'll quote from my last post: "If you don't like my judgment, tough cookies." I'm not going to force my standards on anyone else, but I'm entitled to have them.
posted by maciej at 4:23 AM on October 4, 2006


Clay201

Up til your last response to me, you've been polite and informative and reasonable. Your last post is nothing but straw men and ad hominems.

For clarification: By "unhealthy", I mean "unhealthy." I mean that since I believe that isn't in a person's best self-interest to satiate every craving, because I believe cravings aren't hard-wired -- they come from somewhere, and it is healthier to know where one's cravings come from than to simply obey them.

I'm talking about any type of harm. Or at least, any type of harm that can be demonstrated. Self harm, harm to others, harm to the environment; whatever.

But your definition of harm doesn't include the kind of harm than Polly allows her "master" to inflict on her. Since my definiton of "harm" includes something like that, we're using "harm" differently. Apples and oranges.

That's completely absurd. These criteria always apply.

I can't tell if you're being willfully obtuse with this line or if you're actually don't understand how belief works. Every belief has a priori cideas about the world that are necessary for the belief to function. My ideas about human psychological health include a lot of such a priori ideas about what people are for, and what "healthy" is, and the goal of human existence. It would be naive of me to assume everyone shares these, and thus, any discussion about them or ideas that extend from them will be necessarily hampered by the fact that our beliefs are different. Add to that the fact that when you say "harm" you don't mean things that I would mean when I said "harm" and it becomes clear that what constitutes evidence for me (e.g. Polly being a 24/7 slave sounds like "harm" to me) doesn't constitute evidence for you, and as such, there's no evidence I could bring that could satisfy you, since you'd not accept it as proper evidence.

You're saying that, when judging these people, you simply do not take reality into account.

I never judged anyone. Unless you think a doctor saying that a person has the flu is an example of the doctor judging that person. I said I think 24/7 master/slave stuff is unhealthy. if I moved from that to "BDSM is immoral" or "Polly as a bad person" then I'd be judging. But, in fact, I have, several times, said quite the opposite of both of those.

No, you're not proposing that I and my friends be locked up or have their parental rights revoked. Other people are doing that. You just agree with their reasoning.

WTF? How, if I've said I think it's wrong to take legal measures in these cases, could I possibly agree with people who want to take legal measures? I'm guessing in your universe, anyone who disagrees with you wants to lock you up? Dude, if you don't want people to disagree with you, I suggest not telling people what you think about stuff. Or, stay on the BDSM sites where everyone already agrees with you. Here, in the blue, people disagree about stuff. Get used to it.

Morally, you can't justify this. It's prejudice, in the purest, nastiest sense of the word. I mean, even the most flaming Mississippi racist will claim to base their hatred on some sort of evidence.

You'd certainly like it to be prejudice, wouldn't you? But it's not. I've nothing against BDSM folk personally, and I've no desire to try some social engineering to get rid of BDSM. I just happpen to think that the kind of relationship described by Polly is unhealthy because I suspect she's using it to avoid dealing with some pain in her past. This isn't called prejudice, it's called an opinion.

The thing is, this isn't the kind of conversation that can be scientific. That's not a choice of mine; it's the nature of the subject matter. For example, when I read Polly's essay, I saw plenty of examples of what many people I know would be considered harmful. Your rebuttal to this is that Polly consents to the harm, it isn't really harm. My rebuttal to that is that people willingly choose to be harmed all the time, and so consent doesn't outrule that it's harm. That Polly consents != proof of no harm to me (and in fact, that she consents to be being harmed is, in itself evidence of harm to me) because we have different definition of harm. That's not prejudice, it's just how discussions work when the participants don't agree on all the premises and definitions.

Look, everyone is not persuadable. The world just isn't like that. That's what tolerance is for. I know BDSM types will continue disagreeing with me and using derogatory terms for me like "vanilla" (as if there's something plain about my sex life!) but I've got no ill will for them and don't want to see anything bad happen to them. I feel about the same toward fundamentalist Christians. I have friends in both camps. That's tolerance.

You seem to be unable to tolerate disagreement -- the armchair psychologist in me suspects that maybe your increasing desire to control the rhetorical direction of this thread and your interest in BDSM are related, both being about control, but IANAP, so it reamins my opinion and nothing more.

Finally, you seem to think that your prejudice against people like me is perfectly okay as long as you don't make it political.

No, I don't agree with you that any such prejudice exists. You'd dearly love to be able to frame the discussion in such terms, since it gives you an emotional advantage, but for someone who prattles on about proof, you've no proof that any prejudice exists. That dog don't hunt, in short.

The thing is, I notice several people in this thread who think similarly to me, and so if your goal is really, as you wrote above, to advocate for 24/7 BDSM types, I'd suggest that you spend less time with the ad hominems and straw men and more time trying to understand our way of thinking. You don't persuades someone by name-calling -- you do it by helping them see the world in a new way.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:09 AM on October 4, 2006


cytherea

Firstly, you rock and if we lived in the same town, I would want to get coffee with you.

Secondly,

But is it really so difficult to accept that people from other times and places often had and have an understanding of the world quite discordant, even approaching the unintelligible, from our own?

Not at all. But that's where I'm not a true multiculturalist -- I have a live-and-let-live attitude, but I also still things are healthy/unhealthy, good/bad, moral/immoral. I try to be open to new ideas and to see things from other people's POV when possible, but, for example, I can't imagine I will ever think female castration is moral or healthy. (Note: I am not saying BDSM is comparable to female castration. I was just trying for something we'd all agree is bad.)
One of the things that fascinated me about the middle ages enough to study them was precisely that they saw the world in a completely different way. But I don't agree with them on most things.


By the way, and I hope I don't sully them for you, but I have to say that I identified with a number of elements in The Chronicals in a way which I can only describe as having triggering my s&m-dar, your namesake being among the more notable.

Ah, but see that's interesting because I assume you're referring to Eustace's failed attempts to un-dragon himself, and the too-tight bracelet, and then Aslan's successful un-dragoning of him. The story of Eustace suggests that self-inflicted pain doesn't ever address the root issue (Eustace, if you recall, sheds skin after skin without ever being able to un-dragon himself.) Then he has to allow Aslan to do it, and it's the most terrible pain, but the result is that he becomes a human again.
Now I can see where you might read the figure of the BDSM "master" into Aslan, but I would take issue with this for a couple of reasons -- Lewis, of course, modeled Aslan on deities, notably Christ and the Norse gods, and given Lewis's own conversion experience, I bet that, were he here, he'd say that humans cannot accomplish what the gods can.
More importantly, though, is that fact that Eustace's pain has a definite end. That is, Aslan doesn't, as a BDSM master would, enjoy inflicting the pain -- he's doing only because it's the only way to bring healing to Eustace. This is a big difference for me.
Thirdly, part of Eustace's healing was being the dragon, and then his restoration to the community. The pain bit is symbolic of the pain real change takes. We all know how difficult it is to offer a sincere apology -- your psyche resists it. Change is painful.
So, in short, my reading of the Eustace story in this context is that Eustace's self-inflicted pain is akin to the pain of a BDSM relationship, while the pain Aslan inflicts is the pain one wouild have face were one to dig for and find the root of the craving for pain in the first place. The deep pain that comes from healing and real change is like the claws of the lion.

I suspect you read it differently, and I have to say it's a fascinating metaphor and it definitely makes the whole BDSM pov a little clearer for me (though, as you can see, I still disagree with it.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:36 AM on October 4, 2006


when I read Polly's essay, I saw plenty of examples of what many people I know would be considered harmful.

Until now, you've said that you believe the harm is taking place and that you didn't need to provide any evidence. Now, you're saying that the evidence is there in Polly's essay. Could you please list (or cut and paste; whatever) some of these examples?

if you're actually don't understand how belief works.

That's kind of the point here, actually; the way that belief works is... it's there whether there's evidence to support it or not (the point you're making now, the point I made previously). But

there are things that are not a matter of belief, things the existence of which can be verified indepedently and objectively. We can discuss my belief that killing people is wrong, but we can't discuss the horse which only I can see, the one that lives in my back yard. At least, not without venturing into the realm of lunacy. I suppose we could speak of something like "spiritual harm" or "moral harm;" maybe those can exist outside of objective reality, but if that's the sort of thing you have in mind (I get the impression it's not), I'd appreciate it if you'd state it explicitly.

I never judged anyone. Unless you think a doctor saying that a person has the flu is an example of the doctor judging that person.

But you can't have it both ways. A doctor does not determine that someone has the flu based on his beliefs; he does it by looking at the evidence. If you're basing your assessment on your beliefs, you're making a judgement. I just don't see any way around this.


if I've said I think it's wrong to take legal measures in these cases, could I possibly agree with people who want to take legal measures?

As I said, you agree with their reasoning. You both say that what I do is unhealthy and that you don't need any objective evidence to back up this claim. The difference is that these people think the unhealthy should be punished and you don't.

This isn't called prejudice, it's called an opinion.

Prejudice is an opinion. It's just one that's unfair and hurtful and not based on rationality. Suppose I decide that engaging in debates online is "unhealthy" and then a whole bunch of other people decide that it is too. You insist that there's no evidence to support this claim, that there's nothing wrong with your online debating hobby, but I respond that I don't need any evidence, that I simply believe this to be so. I'm not advocating locking up internet debaters, of course. I'm just saying that they're sick.

That's not prejudice?

consent doesn't outrule that it's harm

I agree. People can and do consent to harmful activities.

Your rebuttal to this is that Polly consents to the harm, it isn't really harm.

No, that's not my rebuttal. Sure, I suspect that there's a correlation between consent and lack of harm (People are far more apt to consent to non-harmful acts). And consent is one of the ingredients necessary to make the activities morally acceptable. (Probably the major one but not necessarily always the only). But in order to determine whether it's harmful, we'd have to look at the after-effects. If harm has taken place, there will be evidence of it.
posted by Clay201 at 3:24 PM on October 4, 2006


Clay201 --

I think the thing is that I'm trying to point out that our differences in belief affects what we accept as evidence. I'm not trying to "hide" behind "my" belief; I'm saying that we see the world differently enough that what constitutes evidence of harm/unhealthiness for me clearly doesn't for you. I pointed out above that the very fact that Polly consents to give up her consent (and that someone else aids her in this) is evidence of harm and unhelathiness to me -- you chose not to respond to that but then asked for something from the text.

So we differ philosophically on a wide range of things -- I don't even agree on your notion of rationality, and I definitely don't agree that reason is the opposite of belief. Reason requires belief to function (e.g. of this -- in order for the scientific method to work, one must accept, a priori, that the universe has constant laws such that repetition of experiments under constant conditions will produce the same results. That's a belief.) Where one goes from there can be rational or not, but in the same way, as I've written above, I believe things about what it means to be human and what people are for that mean that when I proceed rationally from those beliefs to something like Polly's realtionship, I can't help but conclude that something is unhealthy. Since you don't share my beliefs about human nature or health (and, for example, I don't believe one can always seperate spiritual and mental health from physical health because I don't believe people are chemical machines run by advanced chemical computers; I believe humans are spiritual beings, and that the spirit is ignored to our detriment) going over the evidence will only convince you more that I'm irrational, because that's how you seem to pigeonhole people who don't share your worldview.
The problem you may find is that a great many people don't share your view about what is and isn't harmful; labeling all of them as prejudiced is not going to be as helpful to you as trying to understand them.

Suppose I decide that engaging in debates online is "unhealthy" and then a whole bunch of other people decide that it is too. You insist that there's no evidence to support this claim, that there's nothing wrong with your online debating hobby, but I respond that I don't need any evidence, that I simply believe this to be so. I'm not advocating locking up internet debaters, of course. I'm just saying that they're sick.

But there's nothing irrational about believing that engaging in internet debate is unhealthy. I myself have sometimes wondered if it's the best use of my time, and if these lengthy sorts of debates are more difficult and less likely to be conducted with mutual respect and charity since we likely won't ever meet in person, so I've even wondered if online "communities" are participated in to the detriment of physical communities. Since I believe active participation in a physical community is essential to wholeness, I can easily buy the argument that debates like this might be unhealthy.

But interestingly, your phrasing is much harsher than mine -- your statement ("they're sick") is much stronger and harsher than any of mine ("I think 24/7 master/slave realtionships are unhealthy") -- you chose the more pejorative "sick" and you stated it as an absolute while I qualified mine with phrases like "I think" and "I believe".
These may seem like small things, but I suspect that you're imagining that I'd treat people like you would, and since your tone and phrasing are mor absolutist and judgemental, (and your characterization of myself and my beliefs is less respectful of our differences than mine of you are) I suspect that you're reading prejudice that's not there because if you were in my shoes, that's how you'd act.
That's a guess on my part, of course, but at the very least, I'd like you to note the difference in my responses to you and cytherea. I'm fairly certain cytherea and I don't see eye to eye on the thread's main issue. But her posts are more persuasive than yours, in part because she's been more respectful in her rhetoric.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:18 PM on October 4, 2006


Clay201 -- I forgot to add that I've defined what I think is unhealthy about Polly's relationship is that it represents her total submission to a strong craving and I think that responding thusly to one's cravings are unhealthy because doing so aids the person in avoiding dealing with the root problem and experiencing real healing/change.

I also should add that it occured to me that Polly is not a reliable witness to her own situation since, after all, it is entirely possible that she believes none of it but was commanded to write it as she did by her master.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:21 PM on October 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


There's plenty left to say here, but most of it I'm simply not going to have time to say, unfortunately. I've been slacking off on some of my responsibilities to participate in this thread and I'm going to have to reverse that trend.

A couple of key points before I hightail it out of here:

1. To most people, if something is "unhealthy" or "harmful" that means that it does some sort of identifiable damage that can be verified objectively. Sure, two different shrinks might look at the same person and disagree about whether s/he's been harmed. But they would both base their assesments on observable evidence, not on their own ideology. So if someone tells you that bdsm is harmful, ask them to show you evidence that this is so. If they insist that evidence isn't necessary, that should tell you a lot about their argument.

2. If consenting to give up consent is automatically unhealthy, then everyone who has ever voluntarily joined the armed forces is far less healthy than Polly Peachum. No matter how severe the terms of her relationship, there's just no way she can have given her top as much power as a private gives to his commanding officer (and the private has less chance of being able to take the power back at his discretion). We shan't even discuss the consent that is surrendered by men entering a monastary or people joining a tight-knit religious community.

And there's so much more that can and should be said about consent. It's just not a simple issue, particularly when it comes to close relationships between two (or three or four) people. Perhaps the most we can ask is that people be honest with one another about what they want and about how much power they intend to give or take. I think that, overall, bdsm tends to promote rather than hinder this sort of honesty.

3. The truth is that the surrender of consent, the intentional infliction of pain, the desire to have power over others... these and lots of other non-pc inclinations exist in the real world and have for a very long time. Some may see them as diseases to be conqured. I see them as tools that can be used for good or for ill. Call me crazy.
posted by Clay201 at 12:55 PM on October 5, 2006


If they insist that evidence isn't necessary, that should tell you a lot about their argument.

And, if they offer evidence, then just choose never to respond to it, and continue insisting they claimed evidence isn't necessary. Works like a charm.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:26 PM on October 5, 2006


I'm willing to grant that for some, perhaps many people that D/s is reasonably healthy. But for me, once I cracked open that black box of treating those desires as self-evident, unquestionable, and generally ok as long as there was consent, I found that it wasn't a healthy situation for me to experience.

My own experience was somewhat similar, kjs. The term 'consent' here seems something of a misnomer though, as it implies a passive relation to bdsm acts, whereas I've never actually met a submissive who didn't actively desire the sort of treatment that we're talking about.

And I wouldn't go quite so far as calling it unhealthy -- because I don't believe that it was. I'll concede that I found the continued focus on negative emotions and headspace could run the risk of turning me into somebody that I didn't much like. I'm self-cented and over-entitled enough without actively encouraging those traits, I think.

But I sometimes wonder how I would have responded if I'd been involved in a committed relationship with somebody who feels that they can only get their emotional or sexual needs met by being involved in some sort of BDSM relationship. Am I the kind of man who would deny his partner sexual and emotional satisfaction, because I think it's dirty/nasty? Wouldn't that be *another* kind of dominance and subordination -- in which the man decides precisely what's going to get done in bed because it's his desires and principles and values that are important, and who cares what the woman wants?

I also should add that it occured to me that Polly is not a reliable witness to her own situation.


Polly's master died a couple of years ago, eunicescrubb. If I didn't know where well enough to know that she is a reliable witness, then I'd be pretty confident that the fact that those writings remain online after her master has passed away means that she stands by them.

That said, I do wonder about the extent to which any of us are reliable witnesses to our own situation. All of us have blind spots and psychological flaws, etc. Personally, I think that Polly's writing has a consistency and a coherence that makes it fairly easy to distinguish from a work that somebody has written under duress.

I'd also like to say that while I disagree with you, I'm very grateful for the rational and respectful manner in which you've argued your positions.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:14 AM on October 6, 2006


Polly's master died a couple of years ago, eunicescrubb. If I didn't know where well enough to know that she is a reliable witness, then I'd be pretty confident that the fact that those writings remain online after her master has passed away means that she stands by them.

Ah, that's interesting.

All of us have blind spots and psychological flaws, etc. Personally, I think that Polly's writing has a consistency and a coherence that makes it fairly easy to distinguish from a work that somebody has written under duress.

Well, it didn't occur to me while I was reading it, but only after a lot of thinking. So I'd be inclined to agree with you, really.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:31 AM on October 6, 2006


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