feministcurrent:

Let’s just start by saying this: I really don’t care about ‘kink’ or about ‘kinky people’. It just doesn’t interest me. I don’t give a shit about your leather fetish. Really.

But because I recently dared to suggest that RCMP officer Jim Brown’s sadomasochistic behaviour might, just might, be related to the fact that we live in a pornified world that sexualizes violence against women and male domination, it was decided by the internet (and the internet never lies, folks) that I hated ‘kinky sex’/’kinky people’, that I simply don’t know enough about BDSM to be qualified to judge images that are very clearly fetishizing male domination, and that I think all people who are into BDSM are terrible, terrible people.

Basically, the response I got was exactly the same response I get every time I critique porn and prostitution and, in fact, was the EXACT same response I got from the burlesque community when I dared to suggest that burlesque wasn’t feminist. What was that response? “BUT I LIKE IT.” “IT’S MY CHOICE”. “IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.” “YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.” “MEMEME.”

Well hey, here’s a wild idea! Maybe it isn’t all about you. Maybe the things that turn you on, make you feel hot, and give you orgasms aren’t *just* about your own personal, private, individual life. Maybe the things you do are shaped by outside forces like patriarchy. Maybe your actions have a larger impact. Maybe you didn’t spend your formative years deep asleep in a magical fairy cave only to awake from your slumber to suddenly and mysteriously have fantasies about hog-tying and raping women.

But hey, I get it.

People are defensive about their personal lives and private interests. Particularly when those interests are very much attached to their identities. If your entire conception of yourself is based on being a part of the BDSM community and you think that BDSM is just about the awesomest pass time ever then it might be hard to hear critique. It might be hard to digest the fact that, just because you really, really like something doesn’t mean that it is or should be free from deconstruction or critique.

I like makeup. I wear it almost every day. I think eyeliner is the best. I really like being able to cover up my zits and under eye circles. Does that make makeup an inherently ‘good’ thing? Does it mean that makeup is feminist and progressive because I am feminist and progressive? Does it mean that the only possible reason I could ‘enjoy’ wearing makeup is because I like it, point blank? No. Of course not. I wear makeup because I grew up in a culture that scrutinizes women’s looks and values their appearances above all else. I live in a consumer culture that invents flaws and insecurities in order to be able to sell us things that will ‘fix’ our flaws.

So makeup isn’t really the best. There are many aspects of the beauty industry that can and should be critiqued. But does that make me a terrible person because I wear makeup? No. Does it mean I’m not a real feminist because I wear makeup? Of course not. But it also doesn’t mean it’s perfectly fine and awesome and that I shouldn’t explore or acknowledge the fact that I wear makeup because I was taught and bought into the idea that, in one way or another, I was going to be judged based on my appearance and that I’ve been convinced and have convinced myself that I needed to wear makeup in order to avoid looking ugly and sick.

I’m not perfect. No one is. But every time someone criticizes the beauty industry, do I get all offended and up in arms and pretend like I’m being personally attacked? No. Because criticizing oppressive practices and an oppressive culture is not the same thing as saying that I, as an individual, am a terrible person….

(read full article at Feminist Current)

In the full article, the author provides the caveat that she is “not an expert on BDSM.” This, and this alone, is the only argument BDSM’ers seem capable of holding onto if you dare criticize BDSM: that the source of those criticisms are “not experts” or “have no experience with” or “do not understand” BDSM.

And this is why they have no good rebuttals for when someone like me, well-known among sex-positive and liberal feminist pro-BDSM advocates as the founder and curator of the internationally acclaimed Male Submission Art erotic archive, who was for numerous years one of the central organizing figures of youth BDSM organizations such as Conversio Virium, who was invited to help start BDSM skillshares in Sydney, Australia, who was solicited to give presentations and workshops at BDSM conferences across the United States of America, who was explicitly credited in the acknowledgements, graced the cover of, and interviewed the researcher of a peer-reviewed published doctoral ethnographic thesis on BDSM subculture and community, makes the same argument that BDSM is fundamentally rooted in abuse and abuser dynamics.

Not that any of my experience or credentials actually matters, though; such appeals to authority are famously abusive tactics, themselves. The arguments criticizing BDSM as an oppressive, irredeemable, abusive, predatory social movement still stand whether they are being made by someone who is not an expert, like the author of the above piece, or whether they are being made by someone who is, like me.

Arguing against a message by arguing against the messenger is known as “shooting the messenger.” It is at best a weak argument. It is at worst a deliberate misdirection.

Don’t let that kind of trickery fool you. BDSM is about abuse.

Even in its most consensual, compassionate, and conscientious forms, the thing that makes BDSM what it is is not consent, but a fetishistic fixation on sexualizing authority; it’s a hyperfocus on justifying the desire to have non-consensual sex. Everyone, literally everyone, knows that’s worth criticizing—only BDSM’ers object to that.

So unless what you get off to is a story (or the actual act) of powerful actors overpowering vulnerable ones, then your kink is not BDSM. Maybe it’s time you stopped enabling sociopathic abusers and retracted your statements legitimizing their behavior in their own eyes. You don’t think making rape jokes or saying things normalizing rape is cool, right? Why do you think making jokes about safewords or saying things normalizing sadomasochistic rapes is cool?

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