A Feminist Defense of BDSM

Recently one of my favourite feminist Facebook pages posted a quote about BDSM. To reprint a representative piece: “Sadomasochism feeds the belief that domination is inevitable and legitimately enjoyable.” I was disappointed but not surprised to see that the quote disparaged the BDSM community and was supported by comments from users who firmly believe that partaking in BDSM is not only anti-feminist but somehow condones violence against women. I understand how people can have misgivings about BDSM. After all, images that depict bondage, rough sex and the infliction of bodily pain can easily be associated with rape or domestic violence. But I truly believe that BDSM can actually be quite feminist and there’s a simple reason why: no other community engages in such explicit talk about limits, preferences and consent.

It sounds simple but when was the last time you sat down with your sexual partner and discussed clear boundaries and limits? In the world of so-called “vanilla” sex, there can be a lot left unsaid. My experience with BDSM, however, has been the complete opposite. I’ve found that it’s not only normal but expected that partners sit down and talk things through before engaging in any activity. It’s freeing to be able to tell a partner explicitly about what I like or don’t like, which specific acts I’d like to try and so on. And then there are safewords. A safeword is a word that is used to express to the dominant partner that the activity either needs to slow down or stop altogether. Although some might view this kind of talk as a boring mood killer, in BDSM it’s both necessary and incredibly liberating. Setting up adequate boundaries allows you to explore your physical limits while maintaining your safety and security.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, being submissive in a BDSM scenario can be quite empowering. As a sub, you maintain control by setting up the aforementioned boundaries and deciding what’s ok and what’s off limits. While it might look like a sub is out of control, the entire situation has been agreed upon by both parties beforehand, via that whole ‘open discussion and consent’ thing I mentioned. And there’s another pervasive BDSM misconception that needs addressing: women aren’t always the submissive party. Contrary to the way BDSM is often portrayed in pop culture (I’m looking at you, E.L. James) women can be dominant, submissive, a switch or whatever role they want to be. In fact, I think the assumption that woman=submissive says a lot about how deeply patriarchal beliefs are ingrained in our society. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the BDSM community, it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for sexual pleasure. Everybody has their kink(s) and as long as you can be safe, sane and consensual, I say have at it.

1 Comment

  1. RobertRyan4
    September 22, 2014

    shedoesthecity http://www.mibba.com/Blogs/Read/266245/Should-BDSM-Be-Outlawed/

Post Comment