KinkInExile has a short and to the point post up replying to a post by Ferns that bemoans what she sees as changing attitudes towards dominance and submission among younger BDSM practitioners. Ferns wrote:
[M]ostly, what young people are doing is Really Good Stuff. They are, for the most part, smart and thoughtful and considerate and concerned and all of that: They are super aware of consent, worried about abuse, all about negotiation and understanding the boundaries, all of that. And that’s wonderful.
But what I often read in that goes towards the level of “Well, if the submissive doesn’t want to do it, then a good dominant will understand and not make them.”
And what I have seen is that the ‘it’ in that statement extends to *everything*.
If the submissive doesn’t feel like going to that party, doesn’t feel like doing that chore, doesn’t feel like playing that way, doesn’t feel like getting up off the couch, doesn’t feel like doing what they’re told… well then, that’s perfectly fine.
I feel a bit like some old dinosaur going “That’s great kids, but *how is that submission?!*“.
This attitude (“submission is doing what you don’t want to do”) is at the core of why the BDSM culture is a rape school that teaches people to gaslight themselves when it comes to what consent feels like. BDSM’ers talk a lot about consent but they have no fucking idea what it is. What Ferns betrays in her post here is how much lip service—and only lip service—she pays to consent.
KinkInExile’s response fumbled around a little trying to get to the root of this issue:
Logically, I could reason my way into “sure, yes, they want to submit, maybe they should do things you ask for even when they don’t want to.” Hell, I have to assume that sometimes, when a boy who is comfortably sleeping wakes up to my bouncing and makes me coffee, or when my now ex partner waited some 50 odd days for an orgasm in part due to my insistence, at some points that is what someone acting against their wishes looks like.
My gut response though, is a resounding WTF? You are playing with an adult presumably in a country with laws similar to our 13th Amendment. Your play happens in the real world. Anything short of respecting your partner’s boundaries is coercion at best. If you have an issue around trust that’s resulting from your partner breaking commitments, you have an issue around trust. That’s totally valid, I’ve had that issue, it sucks. But it’s not a BDSM issue.
Her point is spot-fucking-on, if a bit obscured by the verbosity of diplomatic politeness in her post. In the comments, Tomio Hall-Black (a brainwashed BDSM’er male submissive) needed to “logically, reason [his] way” into arguing against the very simple idea that you don’t pull the “but I’m the Mistress card” when you’re not playing. And that’s when I figured I’d offer the same point KinkInExile made without the politeness, so I commented:
[T]he fact that people like Ferns, Tomio, et. al. don’t seem to grok or actualize [that anything short of respecting your partner’s boundaries is coercion at best] is what makes them, at their core, no different than rapists.
Just because they wrap their coercion up in a pretty rhetorical framework doesn’t make it magically different.
In the rest of the world, people who don’t agree with what KinkInExile is saying are called rapists. If you call yourself a dominant and you disagree with what KinkInExile is saying, what you are is a rapist who calls yourself a dominant. This doesn’t change depending on how many times you stopped when someone safeworded.
The short exchange between Tomio “I’m-All-About-Consent” Hall-Black and I is illustrative to say the least. Tomio replied:
You cheapen the word rape by comparing it to ANY consensual activity, even a consensual activity that I might not enjoy as much as my partner.
You once got pissy with me because I said we were friendly, claiming I didn’t know you well enough to say that. Well, it’s time to wear the shoe you are putting on everyone else’s foot. You don’t know me well enough to say things like this.
I don’t “grok” anything because that’s an entirely made up word without any real meaning. I UNDERSTAND what rape is, and what it isn’t. Rape is NOT doing something for which someone has already obtained consent for.
I challenge you to find one single instance where I said it is okay to continue after someone used a safeword. The examples I used are “car maintenance” and “washing dishes” and “doing laundry.”
If you can’t find me claiming that safewords should be ignored; then I would imagine that an adult would apologize for making such a horrendous and offensive accusation. I hold little hope of that from you.
In response, I said:
No, Tomio. You cheapen the word rape by treating consent like a contract. Everything you wrote in your comments makes this blatantly clear. Great example: “already obtained consent for.” You don’t understand rape because you obviously don’t understand consent.
I wrote “this doesn’t change depending on how many times you stopped when someone safeworded.” I didn’t write what you seem to be replying to, which is “this doesn’t change even if you only didn’t stop once.” Are you just angry at me or is your reading comprehension really that piss-poor?
You, and the people like you who believe the way you do, are fundamentally treating consent like contracts people enter into instead of core aspects of how to engage with autonomous human beings, and my point is that this is the same fundamental way rapists behave. Truth hurts, my “friend.”
If that strikes a nerve with you, which it seems to have done, maybe that’s because I’m on to something you’re unwilling to admit. And, by the way, this is one reason we are not friends.
Get it through your fucking skull. ‘Til then, don’t dare assume friendship with me. You are a mental cancer to submissives everywhere.
And, as is usually the case when people are confronted with the hard radical conclusion to a very simple point, their true colors emerge. Tomio’s colors look like this.
Treating consent like a contract is how many people think and behave, but that doesn’t make it unflawed:
There’s a way of talking about consent that’s currently dominating the conversation about rape culture and I think it’s…flawed, to say the least. Let’s call it the “consent-as-permission” model.
The consent-as-permission model defines “consent” as the act of communicating to someone that it is okay for them to interact with you in a particular way. I “consented” to sex if you asked me, “Do you want to have sex?” and I said “yes.” (Or, under the Enthusiastic Consent variant, if I said, “YES!”) It’s essentially a legalistic model that asks questions like, “What counts as a ‘yes’?” “Under what circumstances is a ‘yes’ inadmissible?” “In the case of a dispute, what kinds of documentation are required to prove the presence or absence of a ‘yes’?” The consent-as-permission model makes consent very much about what we say or don’t say to each other. It treats rape primarily as the violation of a contract. It has very little to say about how our erotic experiences feel.
But think about this: I’ve had my boundaries violated in the past. You probably have, too. If that experience was traumatic, where did the trauma come from? Did it come from the fact that someone broke a rule? (Maybe. A trust violation can be traumatizing even if no other harm occurred.) Or did it come from the fact that someone interacted with me in a way that made me feel unsafe, hurt, and violated? Have you ever said, “Yes” and still come away feeling unsafe, hurt, and violated? I have.
In BDSM culture, you are not allowed to say “yes,” have everything go according to plan, and still come away feeling unsafe, hurt, and violated. That’s verboten ostensibly because BDSM is de-facto consensual (i.e., it cannot be abuse, because in their world, if it is abuse, it is not BDSM, which is obviously bullshit in exactly the same way that some BDSM’ers themselves critique the second-wave feminist notion that rape cannot be sex). So when something like this happens (and it does happen), the experience of violation is minimized if it’s even acknowledged at all.
For submissive people like me, this is often extremely confusing because everything around us tells us it wasn’t really a violation, it was just a miscommunication, or some such gaslighting.
When Ferns asks “how is that submission?” what she is actually asking is “why aren’t submissives okay with having their consent violated anymore?” And when Tomio insists that “rape is NOT doing something for which someone has already obtained consent for,” what he is doing is covering for dominants who believe permission is synonymous with consent (it’s not), and gaslighting fellow submissives to make sure they never talk about their experiences of violations in ways that could damage a dominant’s reputation. That’s called rape culture, and that’s how the BDSM Scene rape school teaches dominants and submissives to support it.
So what I think I’m trying to say is that, like old dinosaurs, dominants should be extinct.
See also: Wait! Don’t rape me! I’m a DOM!