- How to have hot, kinky sex with other Submissives without inviting a Dom
- The point of identifying as “Dominant” is to justify a desire for non-consensual sex
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There is a difference between “having hot, kinky sex” and “being into BDSM.” The sadomasochists’s subculture (aka the “BDSM Scene”) tells us that these are effectively the same thing, but this is a conflation intended to grant cultural legitimacy to their rank-and-file rapists, who call themselves Dominants. These self-identified Dominants are so desperate to justify their desire to have non-consensual sex that they promulgate the lie that it’s only possible to have hot, kinky sex within the context of a Dominant/submissive binary. That’s what “D/s dynamics” are.
It’s easy for many ethical kinksters to believe this lie, as I did, because the lie is premised on the pervasive idea that eroticism—and, therefore, sexual excitement—necessarily hinges on a power disparity in which one (dominant) party controls another (submissive) party. That is what domination is. Even “switching,” the practice of “swapping control” back and forth among sexual partners, relies on domination; switching is identical in every salient way to D/s binarism because it is still rooted in that binary.
The truth is that domination and control are not necessary elements of eroticism. You can still have hot, kinky sex that doesn’t base itself in a story (or the actual act) of one party overpowering another. Since we live in a pervasively coercive society, almost everyone finds coercive cultural tropes sexy, but there *are* ways to have sexy-fun-times that don’t also have elements of coercion at all. These sexy fun times are still hot, and they are still kinky.
The misperception that “kinky” is inevitably laced with domination or control is the lie that sadomasochistic rapists, that is, Dominants, have got people believing, hook, line, and sinker. The *point* of identifying as “Dominant” is to justify a desire for non-consensual sex.
Stripped of its cultural dressage, identifying as a sadomasochistic “Dominant” (a “Dom”) is, at its core, a claim that you expect others to be grateful to you for violating their consent. While there are certainly some situations in which gratitude may be a legit reaction someone has to experiencing a consent violation, presupposing that this is how they should feel towards you is even worse than being indifferent to how they actually feel. It’s this callous entitlement over a person’s process of consenting that underpins the “D/s dynamics” in BDSM relationships.
And given that domination isn’t even needed to have hot, kinky sex, it saddens me that BDSM’ers repeatedly tell certain people (Submissives, specifically) that the only way they can have hot, kinky sex is by preemptively agreeing to feel grateful to someone who doesn’t really care how they’ll leave feeling when the act is over, anyway.
maymay, who has definitely never had a decade’s worth of experience in D/s relationships, and who totally doesn’t have an insider’s critique of BDSM subculture, nope, definitely not, nuh-uh, *sticks fingers in ears* lalalalala.
Despite signing paperwork and a checklist of dos and don’ts, I was in way over my head. What I thought I was agreeing to felt a lot different in reality. I was groped by hands I didn’t know. There were masked people everywhere, but only the ones wearing wristbands were my approved scene partners. If I balked at an act or found it difficult to perform, I was “punished” for my defiance (which is the nature of a BDSM scene). It felt more like a party for the extras than a professional scene. Experienced as I was, it was new to me. I’d never used a safe word before (and forgot to), so when things became too much to bear and I began protesting, no one listened. The word “No” doesn’t work in these types of scenes.
I met my breaking point in this particular scene—halfway through, I had to be untied and calmed down. I was shaking. I felt a catch in my throat when I tried to speak and I could barely keep the tears at bay. I felt like I’d been beat. Yet I was hugged, inundated with compliments, and told how strong I was for being on the receiving end. I was caned, electrically prodded, and slapped around. I didn’t feel powerful. In the interim, I had to decide whether I was going to quit or be a professional and finish the scene. After everything I’d gone through, leaving would have made it worthless. So I stayed.
After the scene, I did a brief on camera interview about my experience—a standard company procedure. I nodded my head, smiled, and said all the right things. To me, that interview was also part of the job. It’s also filmed before performers are paid, or at least that’s been my experience.
While there are plenty of porn stars who regularly work for Kink and sing their praises, those that have had a negative experience are hesitant to speak up, fearing what it would do to their workload. Kink is one of the few large companies with the budget to offer steady work. Some people in the porn industry, it seems, would rather have work they don’t like than no work at all.
That “documentary” is blatant pro-BDSM subculture propaganda. The more general issue, however, is the multi-headed hydra of mutually dependent coercive institutions: BDSM on the surface, and the capitalist society on which this peculiar manifestation of abusive sex rests. To quote unquietpirate’s reaction to this article on Twitter:
Here’s the thing: I feel like this article puts a fine point on BOTH how fucked BDSM is & how fucked capitalism is. They’re not unrelated.— R. (@unquietpirate)August 30, 2014
Addition of a profit motive to a BDSM scene makes it exponentially more violent, yes, but by expanding a violence already inherent to BDSM.— R. (@unquietpirate)August 30, 2014
And addition of BDSM to your workplace makes your job exponentially more violent by expanding a kind of violence already inherent to jobs.— R. (@unquietpirate)August 30, 2014
Put the two together, BDSM + job, and what you’re doing is explicitly displaying the everpresent violence that undergirds both. #capitalism— R. (@unquietpirate)August 30, 2014
I have to go to work now. :P— R. (@unquietpirate)August 30, 2014
See also more of my criticism of the definitionally pro-rape BDSM subculture:
See also more of my criticism of definitionally anti-equality capitalist social orders:
See also more of my writings on the intersection between ethics, consent, sex, and labor:
And finally, see also one of my most well-cited performative rants, “Re-Caste-ing alternative sexuality: A Class Analysis of Social Status in the BDSM Scene.”
TL;DR: The coercive nature of BDSM relies on and reinforces the coercive nature of capitalist economics. It’s possible to have satisfying, kinky sex that has nothing to do with BDSM. It’s also possible to enjoy doing satisfying work that has nothing to do with capitalism. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to control you.
If Alice uses Bob for her sexual gratification, there is nothing she can do to make that objectification right. Bob and Bob alone has that power. In my mind, submission isn’t just some kink that some people have. Submission is the voluntary use of one’s own power to become the means to someone else’s end.
Submission lies at the heart of what makes sex good. It exercises one’s own autonomy, recognizes the autonomy of one’s partner, and places trust in their sensitivity and good judgement. It’s possible to have sex without domination. Putting the two under the same umbrella is another huge logical misstep. But without submission - mutual submission - there is only coercion.
In the third post in my “Dominants are rapists” series, I asserted “Submission’s where the magic happens.” This is a much expounded (and beautiful) description of what that actually means. The bumper-sticker slogan that straight people need to get this point through their skulls is “Submissives need dominants like lesbians need men. Think about it,” but is more precisely stated, “Telling submissive people they need dominants for sexual fulfillment is like telling women they need men for sexual fulfillment.” Arguably its earliest articulation in my writing was in the post, “Submissive people don’t need Dominants. Period.“
So, I don’t usually use blog posts to explicitly ask readers for donations. But I’m doing that tonight because in the span of 2 months, I’ve had to use money for a laptop repair ($300+), a car repair (~$370), and as of tonight, a car tow (~$130) and repair that I don’t yet have the bill for. These numbers are pretty extreme, for me.
As regular readers know, I don’t have a house. I have a car. That car is my house. (Legally speaking, I’m a vagrant.) For most folks, rent is the most expensive part of their budget. That’s true for me, too. It’s just that, for me, “rent” means “car insurance.” Since I’m kind of a cyborg, I also have a cell phone bill, and these two expenses combined are what I think of as “rent.”
I’ve done a lot more than I used to think possible to distance myself from the need to use money. To large extent, it’s worked. A huge chunk of my food comes from others’ waste, and another huge chunk of it comes from gift cards from readers like you. Most of my “cash on hand” also comes from donations, often for the utility software I make available such as Tumblr Crosspostr or the Inline Google Spreadsheet Viewer. (I also used to be on food stamps, but those were cut.)
I’ve been jobless for over four years now, and homeless for more than three. And yet, it’s in that time—the time when I’ve been jobless and homeless—that I’ve been at my most impactful, in areas ranging from sexual violence prevention to seed saving and food justice. I bring this up not to justify my existence (I don’t have to justify existing), but to remind you that having a job is totally unrelated to doing meaningful work. Telling jobs and bosses to go fuck themselves has been one of the best things I’ve ever done in terms of my personal productivity, and in terms of my positive impact on society.
I hope that’s as inspiring to you as it feels to me, because living in a world where people are treated first and foremost like humans instead of line items is a Big Fucking Deal to me. And getting rid of money is a necessary step towards that world.
But taking the path less traveled doesn’t make me independent of others. No one’s really completely independent anyway. What it makes me, then, is simply a lot more aware of the ways in which I am dependent on other people. And then my car breaks down for the second time in that many months while I’m hundreds of miles away from anyone I know and, well, #UghCapitalism.
Boo! In 2mos, 1 computer meltdown, 2 car breakdowns. This time: snapped Serpentine belt. :( X your fingers that’s it! pic.twitter.com/2O80vX9svp
— maymay (@maymaymx) August 12, 2014
What everyone intuitively knows but most people don’t acknowledge is that we use money to outsource the work of having human relationships. If I stayed put in this area long enough to make some friends, eventually someone might help me get the parts and fix my car. Or I could ditch the car, go back to hitchhiking, relying solely on the kindness and curiosity of strangers. And if I can’t get the money to fix my car, then maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’m pretty resourceful. Look, I’ll probably be just fine.
But if I’m going to get my car fixed, which I’d like to do so that I can continue focusing on coding instead of where my next ride is coming from, and if I’m going to get it fixed any time in the near future, which I’d like to do so that I can keep a commitment to someone I care about further up the coast, I’ve got to use money to do that. I’m lucky that I can dip into my bank account—something a lot of people don’t even have. But that’s money I would have otherwise spent primarily on things like gas or food.
I’m not really asking for your help because I can’t live without it. I probably can. But your donations make it possible for me to not merely survive, but to create; to focus on projects, ideas, and resources that make our world a better place. If you think what I’ve been doing is valuable, I need your help to continue spending my time and energy on that work. And if you think I’ve done a lot on my own, just imagine what I can accomplish with your help.
So, if you’ve appreciated any of the essays on my blogs, or if you’ve been using any code I wrote, and you’ve been on the fence about whether to donate, please do. There is no such thing as “just” a small donation. And given the past two months of expensive equipment failures, now is a time when even small donations will really make a difference.
Shortly after I published my last post, “What happens when a healthcare company’s employee takes down a rape survivor support site?” I received permission to publish an email from yet another PAT-FetLife user. It’s particularly relevant because it directly counters one of the most frequently cited justifications for why the healthcare company employee, Caroline Tyler, attacked Predator Alert Tool for FetLife and made it unavailable. That justification being that “it was set up for use in USA to identify people with a criminal record in our society, it has no use whatsoever in the UK.” (Definitely follow the link to FetLife and chime in, yourself, if you want.)
Of course, that is itself at best a grave misunderstanding of the purpose of the Predator Alert Tools and at worst yet another intentional lie from the Bitter BDSM’er Brigade about the tool. The truth is I intended Predator Alert Tool to be used wherever ethical people want to act in resistance of rape culture. National boundaries are not a sensible demarcation for such a demographic. (And it’s also why not having any moderator is a necessary, intentional design feature.)
So, without further ado, here’s the email:
I’m in the UK so I don’t know how good it will be to you, but if you ever turn up in Surrey my sofa is available for a kip. […]
I don’t know, your inbox is probably flooded with these kinds of messages so you probably don’t want to hear but I just wanted to thankyou for helping spread the anti-sexual-violence message and the whole thing with FAADE. I’m just incredibly grateful. It enabled me to warn people about Jack, also known as Fox_Vanweasel amongst other things, when the criminal justice system failed me. I think he and his honeytrap girlfriend Renegade-Hearts have deleted their accounts now, but it gave me a voice when I felt like I had none.
Jack restrained, raped, tortured and humiliated me for 6 hours but more than that he lied and betrayed my trust as well as physically overpowering me when I was a naive barely-18 year old, and he was a fully grown man. I was naive, but teenagers should be allowed to be naive without predators taking advantage of this.
He groomed me before executing a deeply violent attack, switching between sweet and caring and gift-giving to anally-raping and humiliating, then back to play video games and run me a bath. I was trapped in his house for 8 hours, too afraid to even speak. Yet the police told me I should have ‘fought back more’ when the blindfold slipped because his piss had dampened it. They told me it was a ‘he said, she said’ situation even though I later found his accounts on other sites expressing a desire to rape someone prior to my assault. They dismissed the case entirely and there was a report some time later on crime statistics in Croydon, where this was carried out, saying that a lot of people are dissuaded from taking the individual to court, or the police won’t do so, in order to make the official crime statistics (based on court cases) look lower.
So this unbiased, user-owned PAT tool is ideal in such situations of corruption, bureaucracy and pencil-pushing taking over from protecting real persons from real attacks. It’s a shame their accounts are gone so people can’t be warned, but maybe the interview with the police scared them off- made them realise they can face consequences.
Anyway. The real message is that you’re doing a good thing and you’re welcome to a drink or the couch if you’re ever in the UK.
The takeaway here is that there is a very big difference between BDSM’ers and ethical kinksters. The overwhelming majority of information about kinky-sexy-things on the Internet isn’t useful. It’s rape apologist propaganda.
There’s no better demonstration of this than the fact that Predator Alert Tool’s most vocal and insistent attackers come from the supposedly “safe, sane, and consensual” BDSM community.