This is probably old news to a lot of you, but for those who don’t keep up with news from Conversio Virium, I wanted to direct your attention (however briefly) to the latest issue of The Gadfly, Columbia University’s undergraduate philosophy magazine. As part of their Winter 2008 issue, the Gadfly has published excerpts of an email interview that Tyler, the current Vice President of Conversio Virium, and I agreed to do with Stephanie Wu, the Gadfly reporter.

I think the article, which is titled Tie Me Up: A Gadfly Interview with Conversio Virium and begins on page 13 of the PDF, came out really well. I hope it gives CV some more positive exposure to the Columbia University community, and to other colleges and universities as well. Here are a few choice samples:

Gadfly: Are there ways to think about pleasure and pain apart from the classic continuum defined by opposites, with a line in between marking the transition? Is the relationship between pain and pleasure actually circular?

Maymay: I think there are as many ways of thinking about pleasure and pain as there are people thinking about it. When you generalize, you begin to see that more people share classic opinions than those who share the radical ones, but that is true of anything, not just pleasure and pain. People who do SM often find themselves broadening their own awareness of what kinds of interpretations of pain and pleasure are possible, thereby increasing their own maturity and capability to navigate the world around them.

It behooves us to be humble, to acknowledge that we don’t know as much as we think we do. SM doesn’t suggest a relationship between pain and pleasure. On the contrary, SM challenges the relationships science, theology, morality, and other cultural norms have already established about pain and pleasure. SM doesn’t aim to indoctrinate, SM aims to free us from such indoctrination.


GF: Besides an interest in pain, what commonalities do the activities covered by BDSM share that are unique from other sexual interests?

MM: These things are grouped together largely because there is no other space where people can talk about them. Not even the Queer clubs do enough to educate people about how to practice these forms of sexual activity safely (both physically and emotionally) and consensually, and that’s okay as that’s not their place. These activities are grouped because they share a common physical theme. This is rough sex. Like a sport, people can get hurt. Like a sport, people can become very skilled in doing it in a safer, more effective manner.

You can read the full interview (PDF) over on the Gadfly’s web site.