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BDSM and The Faulty Personality Presumption

I know I’ve posted about similar things in the past, but I feel that what I’m going to say bears repeating lately as it seems to perpetually crop up. I was watching last week’s episode of CSI, a show I usually love, when I was wacked across the face with a similar storyline to what I’ve often seen before – BDSM portrayed in a negative light.

The quick and dirty synopsis of the episode is that a basketball coach is found murdered and the investigation uncovers that is “having an affair” with a professional domme after a large number of rather delicious (in my mind) BDSM toys are found at his house. The investigators jump to the quick conclusion that this domme is the prime suspect in his murder. It’s a story line I’ve seen played out time and time again. CSI itself has used this premise multiple times previous, famously when Lady Heather was introduced in the second season. Back then, I was pleased when this character was used as a way of explaining BDSM. She put a rather positive face on kink in primetime television, something so rarely seen. All too often it’s the Law & Orders of the world that jump to the conclusion that because someone practices BDSM, they are automatically guilty of whatever crime was perpetrated.

I would like to state on the record at this point that just because someone enjoys BDSM, it does not mean automatically they are a criminal or have criminal tendencies. There has been no conclusive evidence to support this claim to my knowledge. If anybody has any links to studies that make this claim, please send them my way because I want to know about them.

As human beings we are quick to label and judge as abhorrent that which we do not understand, something I try to fight against in my own life both in the way people act towards me and in my own judgments of people. We act out of fear when we call people names, slut shame, and label.  Militant feminists label male dominant, female submissive relationships as “degrading.” Religious people label most anything sexual as “immoral.” Even now the American Psychiatric Association still considers sadism and masochism (both consenting and non-consenting) to be a paraphilia, meaning that they consider the activities abnormal. Thankfully revision work seems to be happening with the latest release of the DSM-IV-TR to say that “paraphilias are not ipso facto psychiatric disorders” and clearly defining paraphilic disorders as “paraphilia that causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others.” That gives me hope that when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version four comes out in 2013 that BDSM will finally receive the psychological distinction it deserves from non-consenting violence.

BDSM falls in a legal grey zone nowadays. Consent is a tricky issue, with some jurisdictions not allowing anybody to consent to anything more than minor injuries to themselves. Kinky conventions such as Bound in Boston operate in a major middle zone because it is held in a jurisdiction that has previously stated in legal cases that even if a bottom consents to the physical infliction of pain by the top, it does not absolve the perpetrator of a crime.

I have found myself too often reading cases in the news such as the 2011 case of lawyer Alisha Smith who was suspended from the New York State Attorney General’s Office after it was discovered she had a side job as a professional dominatrix. The attorney general’s office made the excuse that she was suspended due to an office policy that employees are prohibited from engaging in activities that earn them in excess of $1000 without consent from supervisors. My gut tells me though that while that may have been a by-the-book answer, higher ups were embarrassed that an upstanding pillar of the New York legal community, one that assisted in a $5 billion settlement against Bank of America, could engage in such activities.

Few people know exactly why I have chosen to stay “undercover” other than to protect my identity. It is because in my profession, I can be disciplined by the governing professional body for if I were to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the [professional]’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a [professional] in other respects” or were to “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” There have been past limits on that authority, but to me that is a pretty broad basis to professional discipline someone. Thankfully there are many kink aware and supportive professionals that are willing to make themselves known through the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s list of kink aware professionals.

Here we are in almost 2013, roughly 40 years after the start of the modern LGBT rights movement and BDSM practitioners are still fighting for their rights. I am an upstanding, law abiding citizen. I pay taxes and vote and have assisted in the prosecution of domestic violence in the past. I am not a criminal, but that is the way I feel sometimes when I see the media portrayal of BDSM. Whether it comes from a sense of wonder or “cultural curiosity with S/M [that] stems not from social acceptability, but a desire to ogle what is perceived as aberrant sexual conduct” (a quote from an awesome law review article titled “Beyond the Pleasure Principle: The Criminalization of Consensual Sadomasochistic Sex” by Monica Pa in the Texas Journal of Women and Law. 

We live in a culture absolutely obsessed with sex. We use it to sell everything from toothpaste to vibrators. We exploit the innate interest we have in it, but are ashamed of it at the same time. In the interest of fitting in, we shame those who have the guts to explore desires that are perfectly normal among consenting adults. Because that’s what ultimately counts here – consent. Why should the consent of rational, sane, informed adults be so carelessly discarded and made insignificant? The same goes for the interplay between female submission and feminism. The root goal of feminism isn’t the promotion of one gender over others. It is the equality of all genders. As a woman I should have the absolute right to freely give my submission. Taking submission without it being freely given isn’t BDSM; it’s abuse. That is the finite point here. 

This is a fight that all BDSM practitioners must be willing to engage in. It’s not something we can ignore. It is about the existence of a lifestyle and a way of life, both different means to an end. The only way this almost morbid curiosity and exploitation of our practices will ever be cured is if we stop putting up with it, if we stop staying silent to save face and save our anonymity. Be brave. Be willing to stand up and say “Yes, I practice BDSM and it doesn’t make me any less of a person.” One voice is quiet, but many voices cannot be ignored.

Dear world, I’m not so kinky somtimes

Dear World,

Sometimes I’m not so kinky. It’s one of my more shameful confessions, but sadly it’s true. I’m not terribly kinky. Okay, I’ll amend and clarify that. I’m not so kinky lately thanks to several circumstances. That’s an important modifier clause there.

So why am I not so kinky lately? I think the biggest thing that has held me back lately is moving to my house. Granted when I lived in an apartment with paper thin walls, I wasn’t particularly kinky on a regular basis either, but it seems lately that I’ve been even more kink-less than normal. I think it was the whole moving process that did it to me. Between packing, moving, lifting, storing, collecting, placing, organizing, unpacking, painting, cleaning and all together getting my house in the shape I want it to be in, I have very little energy left at the end of the day to be kinky. More than that – it seems like I have very little time.

My place is great for kink. Three bedrooms, two full baths, walk in master closet, dedicated office/shoe display room, basement room I’m turning into a “play space.” It’s got everything. It just seems like right now it has nothing I want it to eventually have though. The room that I ultimately plan on being my place space was the only room I didn’t get painted before moving in, mostly because it was the subject of ceiling fixes thanks to faulty plumbing and the subsequent leaks. It’s white – stark white. I’m wavering if I want to spend the money and paint it a rustic faded barn red, the color I really want it to be, or save money and use grey and slate blue paint I have from elsewhere in the house. Ideally I want it to be a romantic room and red just seems more suited for that kind of thing. I’ve put off doing work on that room because I’ve been focusing on living spaces, but now I’m being confronted with my debilitating worst enemy – making decisions. I’m terrible at making decisions.

Bookcases I’m using for shoe display

The hardest decision I’ve been wavering over lately is how I want to store my toys. In the process of moving, I went through a majority of what I had accumulated over the three and a half years living in my apartment and it really shocked me how much my collection of toys, bondage gear, shoes and lingerie had really grown without me even realizing it. I have a lot of stuff. Right now the shoes are being displayed in my office. The lingerie is in its own five high dresser. My toys are in a couple different locations, spread between boxes, temporary dressers, cases, my play bag and various boxes I’ve labeled with “hair” and “toiletries.”

I simply cannot decide how I want to store my BDSM toys. My grand idea is ultimately to have metal store display grid panels attached to my walls and hang items with S hooks in similar use groups. I shamelessly stole the idea from The Studio dungeon space in Chicago. It just looks so darn classy and menacing. But then the thought occurred to me – my parents will probably go in that room … which will lead to them seeing my toys … which will lead to a conversation I don’t necessarily want to have with my parents. “What’s this?” “Well Mom. It’s an anal hook that I use when I get suspended with rope at kinky conventions.” Somehow I don’t think that will be an interesting conversation. So instead my new thought is to get a wardrobe and baskets that everything can be organized in inside that. Maybe hang the floggers, crops and canes from the inside of the wardrobe doors. Then the quandry is finding one that fits my taste and budget.

Okay, I seemingly have gotten off track here. I’m supposed to be talking about how I’ve been a terrible kinkster lately. Between moving and my inability to find local partners who have an open schedule, I’m quite frankly stymied. That’s it right there. There are people all over the country I want to play with who have similar schedules as me … but they’re all over the country. There are people locally I want to play with … but their schedules are absolutely insane crazy busy. We can’t always do what we want when we want and my friends and potential playmates demonstrate that principle very well.

At this point I’ve probably lost quite a few of you with my nonsensical ramblings so I’ll make it short. I’m a bad kinkster. I’m not as kinky as I’d like to be, though mostly it’s mostly because a lack of suitable timing, space, and energy, not because I don’t want to be. Hopefully you’ll stick around with me and humor me until things get easier and my kinky times return. After all – isn’t the point of moving into a new space to have an amazing housewarming party?

Love, Kitten

The Crazy Life

The other night I was sitting around with a friend, talking shop about my experiences so far in the world of kink. I was recounting the various things I’ve done and experiences I’ve had. At one point I sat back and said “wow, I’ve done a lot of things in a very short amount of time.”

I first started getting into exploring BDSM around 2008. I was graduating from college and there were some big changes in my life. I’ve talked before about how I really allowed myself the freedom to openly explore things that I’d only really fantasized about in the past around then too. The more I think about it though, the more I realize I hadn’t even fantasized about BDSM before then. In a lot of ways, I went from zero to sixty in a very, very short amount of time.

At the same time though, I think back to when I was much younger and very naive.