Getting fisted by the (self-)righteous hand of judgment.

06Oct08

I try not to use this blog to further blog wars elsewhere, or to comment on others’ blogs, but in this case, I want to bring up an issue that deeply frustrates me. This post has me banging my hand against a wall, and not in the fun hurts-so-good kind of way.

I’ve been engaged in BDSM personally and professionally for a while. I derive deep sexual pleasure from getting my ass paddled black and blue, and I’ve found I had a talent for inflicting the same on others. But as with all sexual practices, there are those who not only don’t get it, but who want it to stop now because they don’t get it. Maybe being tied down, blindfolded and gagged, and caned isn’t how you would develop a more intimate relationship with your partner. That’s okay. Just don’t try to tell me that I can’t, or that I’m in an abusive relationship.

Can things go wrong when BDSM is exchanged for money? Absolutely. Too many dungeons commit labor rights violations against their employees. Every once in a great while, someone fucks up badly and then someone gets hurt or even killed. These things happen. But by and large, most BDSM professionals are competent, caring individuals. To channel the words of author Sally Tisdale, it’s okay, you don’t have to understand.

BDSM is not for everyone, just as missionary penis-in-vagina sex isn’t for everyone. What I find most infuriating about these same conversations, over and over, about the supposed abuses of BDSM, is when BDSM is conflated with self-injurious behaviors. I have been there. I know what it feels like to hurt myself. It comes from a place worlds away from where my sexual desire for BDSM comes from. It came from a place of self-punishment, self-hatred, which I have worked on, thankyouverymuch. My desire from BDSM comes from a sense of self-exploration, sexual pleasure, and desire to be intimate with my partner in every way possible. With BDSM, I challenge my fears. I work through my anxieties. I learn to trust my partner. I learn to trust myself and my body. BDSM is a powerful, healing facet of sexuality.

Granted, I also take a different approach to my experiences with self-injurous behavior. I am not the kind of person who will make a blanket, sweeping statement that hurting yourself is wrong and bad. People who turn to self-injurous behaviors (like cutting and eating disorders) do so to cope with a bad set of circumstances. I descended into that hell because the alternative was much, much worse.

My major point is that when considering the behaviors of other people, whether you are examining the sex industry or self-injurous behaviors, is that you have to consider all sides of the story. People are individuals with unique lived experiences and biological make-ups, living in social systems that dictate their behaviors. It’s easy to dismiss what others do as sick or wrong, but that’s just as sick and wrong on your part.

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