BDSM

Recent posts

Stereotypes About Kink And Alternative Sexualities

Molly Ren’s post at The Frisky about the ridiculous assumptions people make about BDSM/kink got a chuckle out of me. Yes, a lot of folks assume that practitioners of BDSM (short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) are sex-crazed deviants… but that’s generally not true. In fact, if anything, practitioners of alternative sexuality lifestyles such as BDSM/kink and polyamory tend to have a heightened sense of consent and boundaries (arguments have been made about BDSM being a sexual orientation, but for now we’ll go with lifestyle). If anything, the insights and communication strategies from queer, poly, and non-normative relationships offer many benefits to straight, monogamous, and vanilla folks. Continue Reading →

And Then I Brought Up Flesh Hooks.

One of the topics I discussed with my fall college-level class on non-monogamy is BDSM and kink. I deliberately introduced the topic at the end of the semester, when we’d already studied sexual and gender configurations around the world, past and present, with an eye toward how gender, sexuality, and relationship models inform one another’s construction. Our purpose was to critically evaluate how these things work, not to judge them. My goal was to give my students a vocabulary for discussing various sexual practices, and then to have them turn that critical gaze on subjects closer to home and happening in contemporary America: swinging, polygamy, polyamory, and kink. But there I was, on Day 1 of discussing BDSM, mentioning extreme examples of kinky play like flesh hooks and blood play. Continue Reading →

Gender Roles And Sexual Roles

In one of my posts in the informed consent series I wrote, I explained the idea behind the Zimbardo prison experiment: that in a normal population of college students, roles were randomly assigned so that some students became prison guards, and others became prisoners. The guards quickly began acting abusive, as though the roles became their identities. I was discussing this experiment with a friend in the BDSM scene, and she pointed out that maybe the same thing is happening with American gender roles and sexuality. That is, because so many men are conditioned to become aggressive and forceful, this could be one reason why there is both anecdotal evidence and statistical evidence for there being many more men than women who prefer the dominant role in sexual encounters. If mainstream society is molding men to express their sexuality (indeed, their overall identities) in terms of acquisition, conquest, and violence, then perhaps that also accounts for the sexual roles that many men prefer. Continue Reading →

Reflections On Coming Out

October 11th was National Coming Out Day, which was established after the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. This celebration of identity is intended to promote equality, safety, and tolerance for all, regardless of sexual identity. People’s willingness to share their coming-out stories is a significant part of this movement. As someone who studies storytelling, I can tell you that stories are a powerful expression of the cultural and individual aspects of our identities. It makes sense that collecting coming-out stories would yield a great many insights about the commonalities of both oppression and acceptance. Continue Reading →

BDSM As A Sexual Orientation

The idea of sexual orientation is a complicated one. There’s a certain comfort in believing that you’re “hard-wired” to be a certain way, especially for minority or stigmatized groups who can justifiably say, why would I choose this given how hard it is to be this way? I think this also connects to how in the Western world, identity is seen as something stable and intrinsic; yeah, people will change over time, but you are who  you are at your very core and you were probably born that way. Sex activist Clarisse Thorn has promulgated the idea that BDSM (a configuration of activities including bondage and domination, sadism and masochism, domination and submission) is a sexual orientation. This may seem strange at first, especially if you’re used to hearing that being gay or straight is a sexual orientation. Continue Reading →

Fashion And BDSM Are Not The Same

obey me!

Not everyone who wears leather pants is into BDSM, and not everyone who is into BDSM wears leather pants. Unfortunately there are cases where the mainstream or popular media confuses BDSM and fashion. I encountered two specific articles recently that have troubled me quite a bit. One was from the August issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and the other was a movie review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from the New York Times. Korin Miller’s Cosmopolitan article Whips, Chains, Cages. Continue Reading →