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"BDSM & Rape: What Now?"

on Sunday, 21 August 2011. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

Charlie Glickman: Adult Sexuality Education

About a month ago, Kitty Stryker wrote a piece for the Good Vibrations Magazine, I Never Called it Rape: Addressing Abuse in BDSM Communities, in which she opened up a really important topic. It’s one that’s been simmering for a while and now that it’s come up in such a public way, there’s been a lot of different responses. There’s been the predictable set of comments, both on the Good Vibrations Magazine and on Fetlife (a social networking site for the BDSM crowd).

Some folks are making excuses for doms who assault their subs, some people are asking why people who have been assaulted don’t report it, and a few are trying to find ways to make room for both BDSM and rape awareness. I’m sure that there are other ways that people are responding, but those are the most common ones I’ve seen.

This is an issue that the kink community (if I can use that term to describe such a wide-ranging and diverse crowd) has been avoiding for a long time. And I understand why- if it comes to the surface, it gives a certain weight to the arguments that many anti-BDSM folks make about kinky sex being all about rape. But one thing that few BDSM folks seem willing to acknowledge is that, yes, some people are drawn to BDSM because it gives them an excuse to hurt others. To be 100% clear, I’m not talking about the kinds of intense sensation that some people enjoy, especially in the context of erotic energy (with or without genital stimulation). I’m talking about the people who take advantage of a newbie’s naïveté and tells them that “this is how this works.” I’m talking about the people who push someone past their limits without negotiating that. I’m talking about people who use BDSM as an excuse to violate boundaries under the guise of being Lord Domly Dom®. I’m talking about people who don’t care about the consent of the other person.

In addition to those folks, there are also situations in which a top is clueless or selfish. Malice isn’t the only reason people cross boundaries, and these other motivations don’t change the impact of the experience on the person who’s been assaulted. I’m certainly not suggesting that “I didn’t mean to” is an excuse. And I do think it can make a difference in how we choose to respond.

Unfortunately, in addition to the tendency of marginalized communities to avoid “airing their dirty laundry in public” (and yes, BDSM folks are marginalized, even with all of the S/M imagery in the media), there are a lot of dynamics that reinforce this setup. I think it’s important to look at them in order to deal with them, although I don’t expect that this is a complete list. ...

 

 

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