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BDSM made me do it

Today an article went up on the Guardian that made me desperately sad. In the wake of a woman being murdered by her partner, with whom she was said to be in a BDSM relationship, Emer O’Toole explains that we should examine the impact of BDSM – as if the murderer’s label of ‘Sir’ is in any way more significant than the fact that he was an abusive, evil, murderous prick.

I’m going to warn you, this story gets more awful and troubling with the context so you might not want to read on.

This was not a BDSM shag that went awry. This was not a couple engaging in hot, consensual sexual acts that went too far. The detailed article in the Irish Times paints a picture of an extremely vulnerable person being manipulated by a sick opportunist.

“Dwyer liked to remind O’Hara of a promise she had made him in the early days of their relationship: if she wanted to die, she would let him kill her. It was a recurring theme; he often tested her to see how close to suicide she was, and the conversations often ended with her asking him to stop. She had asked him to kill her once, while in the depths of despair.”

This is just a small fraction of the horror so, through ugly tears I’m going to make my first point: this is not BDSM. It’s abuse and manipulation dressed up with the word ‘sir.’ To compare it to BDSM is to compare theft to something willfully given, only infinitely more abhorrent in its impact.

What’s more, to use this as a reason to question one’s own BDSM fantasies is to legitimise the excuses of the perpetrator. To say ‘hey well you know BDSM does make us do fucked up stuff’ is to utterly ignore the impact of context, consent, and all the other things that matter when you’re doing something like this.

Saying ‘sir’ does not make a relationship a BDSM one. And having violent fantasies does not make you a dominant. Nor do either of these things legitimise abuse. While I’m pretty sure everyone will accept that last statement, people seem kind of fuzzy when they’re applying it. In this case, we have a columnist questioning her own fantasies about BDSM sex because a woman was manipulated and violently murdered. BDSM is not about this – it’s not. It’s about mutual, consensual exploration of fantasy with willing participants.

However, I do agree with the idea that we should question and examine our fantasies. I’m as guilty as the next person of going ‘well, it happens in your head and doesn’t harm anyone’ – and leave the unspoken implication that because of that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ It does matter, and there’s value in exploring not just what turns us on but why it does. Why do some people fantasise about things that the next minute they’d find grotesque? Why do things happen in my head that would make me shudder in real life? It’s important to explore this because often fantasies spring from fears, prejudices, and problematic things. If you want to read something really good on problematic fantasies, check out this blog by Kitty Stryker (seriously please do, because I read it a couple of weeks ago and I still don’t know what to think and I reckon the sign of a fucking brilliant piece). Kitty says:

“Even in my blog you’ll see me waver between “my cunt likes what it likes, leave it be” to “how has cultures shaped and perhaps fucked up my sexuality”. I understand this is an unpleasant discussion and will make you second guess yourself.

But I still think it needs to happen. Sorry not sorry.”

So yeah, let’s explore our fantasies. Let’s discuss what we like and why we like it and how to engage in real-life enactments of our fantasy scenarios without hurting anyone. Let’s explore what it is about our culture that influences what turns us on. But let’s not pretend that BDSM is a synonym for abuse, or a natural step on an unwavering path towards it. Let’s not allow abusers and murderers to get away with the excuse that any given culture ‘made’ them do it.

Articles like Kitty’s encourage us to examine our fantasies in the context of our culture, giving us a more considered view of what we enjoy and why. Articles like Emer’s encourage us to examine our fantasies in a context that is framed by abusers – the people who will twist those fantasies to make them fit or excuse appalling behaviour.

At the end of her article, Emer talks about a split between second-wave feminists who were passionately anti-BDSM (because much of the sex that happens in BDSM looks patriarchal and exploitative) and sex-positive feminists who refuse to “be told what to do with their beds and bodies by priest, pastor or feminist sister.”

The problem here is not that it’s our ‘feminist sister’ who’s telling us what is and isn’t acceptable – what is and isn’t BDSM as we understand it – it’s those who’d manipulate other people’s BDSM fantasies in order to get away with abuse. I think we can accept that some fantasies are problematic while also understanding that it’s not our business to tell people what to do in bed. And I understand why some people will be angry that I look so ‘on the fence’ with that.

Here’s something I hope we can all agree on, though: our decisions around what is and isn’t consensual – what is and isn’t BDSM – should never be defined by the abuser.

38 Comments

  • james says:

    I look at articles like this and think “Am I an abuser because I am a Dominant?”

    And then get angry with myself. No I’m not an abuser. I love my submissive and we are in a consenting relationship. I am not a murderer taking advantage of a person who clearly needed help. And I shouldn’t be made to feel I have anything in common with him.

  • Codex says:

    Putting aside the distinction between abuse and BDSM because in my opinion for most sane people it really shouldn’t be a difficult distinction to make, I would like to try and tackle the issue of analysing our kinks.

    I had a chat with a good friend the other day about this, she has been in to the scene for a long time and still worries about why she feels like she feels, how normal she is and the impact it has on her normal day to day life. In an attempt to make her feel better I tried to explain that it was entirely possible that most reasons people come up with for their behaviour are entirely arbitrary and they only ‘settle’ for them as it gives them comfort, not because they have any evidence they are true. Asking why someone might enjoy a slap in the face might be as futile as asking someone why they like cheese.

    Can we be sure our reasoning is flawless when deciding on the origins of our fetishes? Should perhaps we just accept them just as we accept that a healthy love for cheese is normal?

    (For those of you who dislike cheese – you really are freaks of nature)

    • Codex says:

      Just as an add on, it strikes me that attempting to come up with a reason for why we like what we like is another way for those who have some unresolved discomfort about their fetishes to justify it to both themselves and to those whose who’s business should be minded.

      I am me, I like what I like. It’s up to you to convince me I am wrong, not for me to convince you I am right.

      Good luck with that

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmm… I can totally see what you mean but I think there is still value in examining the reasons behind why we like certain things. Your cheese analogy is a good one on the surface (because I just like it and I can’t explain why) but realistically the impact of my liking or disliking cheese is going to be negligible on other areas or my (or other people’s) lives. While you’re right that we might struggle to put our fingers on reasons why we like things (and I naturally kick back against the idea that something must have happened at some point to ‘turn’ you into a kinkster – an explanation I’ve had a fair few people throw at me and which makes no sense from my perspective), I think it is important to try. Because regardless of whether we find reasons, we absolutely can find areas where our fantasies overlap or impact on our behaviour and thoughts and opinions – and I think it’s important to be aware of the context of that. For instance, my desire for BDSM sex means necessarily I’m going to react badly to Emer’s article. Hence why, when I wrote this, I kept that to the front of my mind. It probably still influenced what I wrote, because I’m not perfect, but it means I can be more aware of my biases and try not to let them overly influence what I do.

      So yeah, it’s not your job to explain why what you fantasise about is ‘right’, if your fantasies have no impact on their lives, but I think it’s healthy and important to examine our own fantasies. Apart from anything else, getting a better understanding for what we like and why can make sex more enjoyable and healthier. I think, anyway. That’s kinda why I write this blog. Sorry – waffled a bit there but hope you get what I mean.

      • Codex says:

        Despite what I said I love self analysis. More than anything it’s kinda fun coming up with reasons for us being who we are. It adds some colour to our personality and gives us direction.

        It doesn’t mean we are right though and if you get your reasoning wrong is that bad? I dunno I’m just throwing it out there.

        • Gwizz says:

          I think you raise a good point there Codex. In fact recently I was reading a web source regarding Depression, and it talks of how Freud’s method of psycho analysing the past can in fact raise levels of rumination (something which many suffering from depression and anxiety do often). So there is much debate in that community around that method of looking into the past in order to achieve meaning, which as you say could be arbitrary.
          Having looked into the past myself, I would suggest maybe only a short stay, get some understanding if you can, then come back. What I do wonder about, is whether I’ll always need my kink’s satisfied? Whether they’ll always be with me? Should I suppress or roll with it, if I’m with someone who isn’t into it? From an existentialist point of view, I guess it’s up to me. I’ll create my own meaning at the end of the day!

  • “to question one’s own BDSM fantasies is to legitimise the excuses of the perpetrator”

    Absolutely. That pretty much encapsulates the core of the issue. Because, you know, no man ever killed his vanilla partner, ever. Not.

    You know what I think about this Guardian article? I think it they thought it would get them clicks, and it did. And I think the writer thought they’d make a little money while indulging in the pleasure of their own public incontinence.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thanks RG – and you’re right about the vanilla comparison, which is rarely drawn because it’s exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. In terms of the clickbait thing, while it might be that this article got loads of clicks, I don’t think the attitude is a straw man or anything – I’ve seen a fair few people unthinkingly make this link, so I feel like it’s probably one that’s worth debunking where possible.

    • Rapunzel says:

      The vanilla argument sounds good but its not quite comparable. Vanilla sex involves no violence. BDSM is all about violence. It starts with both lovers wanting violence. (I’m not anti bdsm but I don’t think you can use that). It would be like suggesting cars aren’t dangerous because people die on trains too. There’s no connection either way.

      • sarah says:

        BDSM isn’t all about violence at all. there are people who get off on doing other people’s cleaning, on being used as furniture, on just having someone else direct sex play. these are all BDSM things and all completely non-violent

        • Girl on the net says:

          Yep, thanks for adding that sarah. I think the idea that BDSM is fundamentally about violence is a misconception, and perpetuating that misconception (as I think the original article does) is incredibly dangerous. BDSM is about the consensual, pleasurable exchange of power. Sometimes that includes pain, sometimes it doesn’t.

        • Rapunzel says:

          Fair enough. But when we talk about vanilla sex we assume no violence. When we talk of bdsm we agree there can be violence don’t we?. I think violence is a feature. I can define it for myself as that. So its relevant to the debate. I think its fair to ask ‘is acting out or seeing violenece relevant to our behaviour’ Kitty Skylers article, mensioned here by gotn, aptly explains how this probably is something we need to think about. Dismissing BDSM as non violent misses the point entirely. Choking is violent. Good or bad. Its BDSM and its violent.

          • Girl on the net says:

            I think you’re equating pain with violence in a way that oversimplifies things.

          • Rapunzel says:

            No I am definately not equating violence with pain. Fantasy rape is fantasy violence (rape is violent in my head, and sometimes forceful but not particularly painful). Bdsm can be about wanting to act out violence for the sake of violence. Of course not all BDSM is about violence, but plenty is. I think where it is about violence we should question why. Even if we don’t make any connection with real life violence, I think its reasonable to ask, ‘are we sure our enjoyment of violence isn’t socially and personally detremental to us?’. I think real killers, real rapists across the world should ask that too. But we don’t know who they are until its too late. But its safe to assume they exist and are influenced by the same cultures and ideas. One that is wash with violent imagery in movies and TV and games. And frankly, there are a fuck load of murderous rapists. 2 women are murdered every week in the uk by their partners. If we refuse to ask if our obsession with violence might be part of the problem, then we will never know.

          • Captain Smith says:

            “when we talk about vanilla sex we assume no violence…”

            I’m not sure why you’re making that assumption. ‘Vanilla sex’ can be, and often is, violent. Putting aside actual rape for one moment; consensual sex can have a certain amount of force, and yet not be considered BDSM or otherwise ‘deviant’ behaviour. Have you never seen a scene of ‘rough sex’ in a mainstream film (pornographic or not)?

            (I write as one familiar with the law in this area: while BDSM activies reslting in injury are potentially illegal in the UK, the courts have considered that accidental injuries resulting from consensual rough sex are OK.)

          • Captain Smith says:

            And conversely, of course (as sarah and GOTN said above), violence is not an inherent part of BDSM play. (To be personal for one moment: I’m into a lot of BDSM stuff, but really hate the idea of giving or receiving pain.) Saying that it *is* an inherent part is reinforcing a dangerous view, and making the mistake identified by the original post: “what is and isn’t BDSM – should never be defined by the abuser.”

            Which is not to say there can be no concerns about harm and consent in BDSM. Of course there are, and particularly with potentially dangerous activities where people can get hurt. But what people miss in these ‘why BDSM is troubling’ thinkpieces is that the same basic issues apply to vanilla sex as well.

  • Rapunzel says:

    Ok so ill point to the elephant in the room then. Is it OK to write, read and get off on porn fiction of child abuse? Or do people think that’s crossing a line that fantasies of raping women doesn’t? I think its easy to talk about the sm part. There’s plenty of litrature showing pain causes pleasure but what about the bd part? What about when the fantasies aren’t just spanking, but rape, specifically abuse? I think that’s where people need to ask why they like it. Not just whether its a good idea to act out consentually but also to gorge on alone in your head. I don’t have any answers to this, i do have abusive fantasies of women, but I do think Emma was right to suggest we should think carefully about how our behaviour is affected by or may effect others. Its wise to sit on the fence. To question our fantasies, all of which are informed by society and culture. We live in a misogynistic society, a capitalist one where ads and money manipulate what and how we think at every turn, spectacularly well. We can’t be sure its harmless to think as we do if that abusive society informs our thinking. Real mutual playful love in BDSM is key and you can’t do that without constantly thinking. Because that elephant i mensioned, its a fucking dangerous game and it holds the same questions and answers to all abuse. To me sex is about unfucking us from all the violent abusive mysogenist patriarchal shit society instills in us, making us equals through the pleasure of touch and the kindness of love. BDSM can do that. But it doesn’t have too. And that I think is what we have to remember. Some people think they aren’t doing it right because BDSM is the way to go. Because its advertised along with barbie and toy guns. Its a product of the same patriarchal system. Good or bad. And too late for some of us either way. We must always emember that.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Why on earth are you comparing this to child abuse? In this context, that’s a really weird comparison. What I’m saying is that to question one’s own consensual activity on the basis that someone has labelled abuse and nonconsent by the same name is to legitimise their comparison, and that’s wrong. A more accurate comparison would be to ask whether we would question the appropriateness of all sexual desire simply because we know some people act on sexual desires towards children.

      “It’s a fucking dangerous game.” – I disagree. There are some BDSM acts that require you to think constantly about safety – you want to make sure that you don’t unintentionally harm someone or go beyond their limits etc. But there’s a difference between being aware of the limits of particular acts, and being considerate of the feelings of your partner, and walking some kind of weird abuse tightrope.

      • Rapunzel says:

        I am saying i dont think its legitimate to assert fantasies in BDSM dont effect our behaviour just because BDSM itself (when safely done) is physically harmless. Emma o Tool linked to 3 scientific studies that show that violent fantasies do make us more violent. A lot of people in the BDSM community dismiss fantasies as harmless just because the relationships we have based around them are consentual and loving. Its an irritatingly unscientific assumption. Our brains and lives move beyond those relationships after. I am asking about the extreme example of child abuse fantasy (fantasy not actual abuse) because many people happily assert that non consentual raping of women in fantasy is ok. Its frieghtening to ask ourselves, but its a legitimate question: you say rape of women in fantasy is fine. So is rape of children in fantasy fine? Is it harmless to repeatedly get off on anythong in our minds even if we never act it out? I don’t know, but I am just wondering why nobody is prepared to answer that question with a resounding yes as they are so quick to do when it is a fantasy about raping women. BDSM is all about fantasies. This isn’t just about how it effects us as consenting adults. But about how we effect culture and attitudes of others with our fantasies. Especially when we start selling them.

        • Girl on the net says:

          “Its an irritatingly unscientific assumption.” Interesting. Because what I find irritatingly unscientific is accepting a few cherry-picked sources by the author of an article that’s very anti-BDSM as evidence that violent fantasies make us more violent. This is something which is difficult to study, because there are a huge number of competing factors that will affect rates of abuse, rape etc in society. All these numbers have been falling, but they’re difficult to measure because as we know things like rape are massively underreported (this site is a coauthored report on sexualisation, and links to lots of good evidence: https://thesexualizationreport.wordpress.com/section-2-changing-society-sex/what-do-we-know-about-sexual-violence/). You’ve assumed a fuck of a lot about what I think here, but for the record I think this area needs more research, not more scaremongering. The ‘studies’ (often attitudinal surveys with small samples, taken from participants who are all part of a similar culture) which are most frequently and loudly reported are usually the ones which have a terrifying headline or conclusion, while research which concludes that it’s hard to tell, or that there’s no evidence fantasies/BDSM/video games make people more violent, receive less attention.

          “you say rape of women in fantasy is fine” Where did I say that? I really specifically say that we need to examine our fantasies, and that too often I’m guilty of brushing off the wider impact/causes of our fantasies, which is worth exploring. Did you only read the first half of the article? What I actually think about fantasies is that there is no need or reason to label any given fantasy as morally abhorrent, with no ifs, buts, or room to understand the person who has the fantasy as a moral agent who can tune their actions in the real world to what they know is right.

          • Rapunzel says:

            You might be right to dismiss the scientific articles, I am no expert, they could well be rubbish. But in the link you gave me I could find no scientific studies saying BDSM is not harmful either (not even crap ones). Probably because as you say, its hard to study. So, at best the jury is still out. I am fully aware of how much awful violence women suffer. Feminists know that has way more to do with other things than BDSM and abusive sexual fantasy . But that doesn’t let BDSM/fantasy off the hook.

            You: I really specifically say that we need to examine our fantasies, and that too often I’m guilty of brushing off the wider impact/causes of our fantasies, which is worth exploring.

            Great. But you havnt really said why. Kity Stryker does an excellent job of explaining why we need to do this. And that pretty much agrees with what Emer says to: ‘We do not siphon off fiction or play from our social realities. Rather, the values and norms of the fictions we consume or participate in suffuse our world views and influence our actions.’

            I am trying to flesh out some ideas around this. I want to think about what questions we need to ask, starting with is child abuse fantasy ok to publish and consume. One , I hoped you could help me answer.

            “you say rape of women in fantasy is fine” Where did I say that?

            ‘Fuck me harder, Daddy’ is a header in one of your guest blogs, a fantasy about incest and borderline statutory rape of a minor. A blog you describe as hot and feisty.

            Perhaps I have made an assumption there (sorry if I have). I meant that you are happy to publish this sort of stuff for people to consume. You might not think its fine to have these fantasies. But if not then why not explain why.

            ‘there is no need or reason to label any given fantasy as morally abhorrent, with no ifs, buts, or room to understand the person who has the fantasy as a moral agent who can tune their actions in the real world to what they know is right.’

            This is well said, but then you completely ruin your own argument by scaremongering people into believeing that those who challenge BDSM as problematic are morons with no moral agency:

            ‘many go further and assume that every fantasy is one which someone will act on’

            Really? Who? Who in your life has ever said such a thing? That sounds like scaremongering, like you are brushing off the wider impact/causes of our fantasies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think getting off on BDSM/Fantasies is nesicarily harmful, and probably not in obvious ways if it is, but I do think it is possible. It might be a process of sexual exploration we need to go through until we become a more equal and loving society as a whole. A means for even better sex rather than an end. It frequently scares me and leaves me feeling shamed when I read such fantasies that I get off on. When I read your blog and countless other peoples fantasies I tend to let go of those feelings of shame. And that feels good. Because it makes me feel normal if others enjoy what I enjoy. But I worry. Those feelings of shame may be there for good reason. Or they may be there for bad reasons. Shame and guilt isn’t in itself a bad thing, its an innate part of our biology and needed for social bonding. Deciding what we should or shouldn’t feel ashamed of can be easily manipulted by others. But particularly by media in all its forms. Worrier that I am doesn’t make me some dumbass spoilsport, it might make me look ignorant, but then so what. I just want to get my head around it. Because the level of domestic violence agaisnt women, men and children at the moment is unacceptable, and it seems the volume of violent fantasies to be found in every form of media is far reaching and evermore pervasive. BDSM is a small but not insignificant part of that. Isn’t it possible, just possible, that there might be a connection. What do I know. At any rate , not that I’d ever condone censorship, I’d like to see more tenderness in our media/porn/movies just for a change of fucking scenery. The sexual violence and imagery is hard to escape. How will anyone ever learn to get off on something else.

    • Azkyroth says:

      Huh?

  • Wholeheartedly Jules says:

    Whether it’s admitted or not Emer O’Tool has a valid point when questioning the mindset of a fantasy.

    As to linking it to the unfortunate case in Ireland there are 1 of 2 reasons for doing so. 1. as RG pointed out it’s good way to get clicks. Ms. O’Tool refers to BDSM as coming out to the mainstream, yet distance communities and herself from Fifty Shades. 2. As you read the comments left on the tragic and way too much information given news article about Dwyer and O’Hara’s relationship people are beginning to feel that this has been sensationalized. Could this negatively point back to BDSM?

    So back to the valid point. How does Ms. O’Tool save BDSM face? By questioning our thoughts about fantasies. Every day we have thoughts that never materialize for what ever reasons. Sexual fantasies especially those that might turn our stomachs or scare us if they actually did happen could be there for a reason. We may not know how to explain our fantasy to ourself therefore it comes out as one huge scared mess. When if torn apart it’s a simple want or need. The other is that I believe that sometimes we put ourselves over the edge in thought in order to keep it real and sane. A thought that says woah where did that come from and that’s not healthy.

    Overall this murder case had nothing to do with BDSM. It was a man with a fantasy about murder, found a victim that he was able to manipulate, then rationalized his thought to sync with a power trip because that’s what he thought BDSM was. A power trip, not power exchange.

  • Kitty McPherson says:

    I am the sub in our relationship when we play. As the sub I am in charge of what happens to me and how far it goes. Isn’t that what safe words are there for?
    This is a very tragic story.

  • Chris says:

    Claims that injury was accidental and caused by rough consensual sexual contact can be disputed and refuted. A claim that death was caused in a similar manner leaves only one party alive to tell a story, sometimes witnesses, and usually physical evidence. It isn’t a very good defense, and it doesn’t usually prevail. Who wants a relationship that ends in a homicide investigation?

    Unfortunately, death by strangulation and asphyxiation claimed to be part of sexual play between consenting partners are all too common.

    I don’t think this is about BDSM. It’s about homicidal conduct that is at the very least irresponsible and likely murderous. She wasn’t killed by a label, a book, or a fantasy. She was killed by his hands.

  • Joe says:

    The fact is that this man lurked within the BDSM community for years and used that to pursue violent sexual gratification on both a consensual but ultimately apparently on a ‘non consensual’ basis (not that the issue of consent matters a jot to this case as I’ll explain below). I doubt that he’s the first and sadly won’t be the last. The trouble with your observation is that you make consent sound very neat and easy to define. To take another example – the German cannibal case in which one person consented to being killed and eaten by another in act of sexual gratification apparently for both. Why does that consent not legitimise the act? Is it because consent to an act this self destructive could not rationally be given by the submissive partner? Tricky questions, but its clear that legally a person cannot consent to being murdered for another’s gratification. That’s an example of the most extreme form of domination and submission imaginable, but the same issues are played out regularly. Does someone really consent to to an act or do they merely express consent for other reasons – perhaps because they are vulnerable, under the influence of a dominant personality or have experience some form of non consensual abuse in the past. Who cares provided the acts played out don’t cause real physical harm seems to be the (not very inspiring) answer…. But you’re kidding yourself if you think BDSM is all just hot role playing. I do wonder why extreme patriarchial gender stereotypes appear to be making such a celebrated comeback in BDSM – it saddens me …but hey have fun folks and stay safe! Emer was right to raise these issues and isn’t just a spoilsport!

    • Girl on the net says:

      I’m not saying Emer is a ‘spoilsport’ – I’m saying that, while examining our fantasies is important, allowing our fantasies to be shaped and defined by abusers is wrong. It lumps those with consensual sexual desires in with people who would abuse those desires, and is – I think – a dangerous way to portray BDSM. Would we define ‘sex’, or question our vanilla sexual fantasies, in the context of rapists? I don’t think so – I think what we do is assert the best way to enjoy sex when there’s desire and consent. As with sex, so with BDSM. BDSM shouldn’t be defined by similarities to abuse, abuse should be recognised by how it deviates from consensual, mutual desire – in BDSM scenarios as well as other sexual ones.

  • Sarah says:

    BDSM is not all about violence, although i can see why people struggle with finding a difference between the two if they have limited knowledge or experience.
    My partner and I have had many conversations about whether BDSM is ok, he has this thought process of “how can I do this to someone I love”, as whipping and throat fucking feature regularly in our sex lives. The thing that makes him different from those men (or women) who are abusers is the fact that he had that thought in the first place. I think thats where at least a line can be drawn between BDSM and abuse. Its whether that person questions what they are doing and whether it is ok or not, or at least discusses it with their partner.
    My main issue with the article is that what is being described is not a BDSM relationship, but a purely abusive one and to use this story to make people rethink whether our fantasies are ok is nothing more than shock tactics.

    • Rapunzel says:

      “how can I do this to someone I love”, as whipping and throat fucking feature regularly in our sex lives. The thing that makes him different from those men (or women) who are abusers is the fact that he had that thought in the first place.

      The question is could he answer it?

      Did you ever ask yourself ‘how can I ask someone I love to do this?’

      I’ve often wondered what is it that makes someone ask the question ‘how can I do this to someone I love’ for say throat fucking in a way they wouldn’t if they were asked to do the missionary? What is holding them back if consent has already been granted by the other?

      I think this is where understanding consent/abuse gets complicated. One could argue that if you have to ask that question, you didn’t really see it as a loving act. So perhaps one does it to please their partner, because that can feel like a loving act in itself. But isn’t it also taking away something? The initial instinct to say no. Has one or the other been manipulated into consent for something they didnt really want to do? In more extreme cases people can get into all sorts of problems , such as women who are repeatedly beaten by their partners who consent to anything to keep the man they love. Despite the abuse and broken bones. Technically that is consent. Is it fair and right? Absolutely not. What is consentual is not always harmless. And asking the question isn’t the same as giving a good answer.

      • Girl on the net says:

        Did you just say that women who are beaten by their partners are actually consenting to abuse if they stay? Please fuck off. You have literally no understanding of consent, as was kinda coming through in your previous messages, but is now much clearer.

        If you care so much about how our thoughts have impact in the real world, please consider how your idea that someone ‘consents’ to ‘abuse and broken bones’ simply because they don’t leave their partner, is going to impact people who are in this situation.

        • Rapunzel says:

          You know full well that’s not what I was saying. That was cruel of you to imply I was. (telling me to fuck off and dismiss that i have no understanding of consent is grossly unfair to me and the debate in general). Now that I have stopped feeling sick, ill explain, for the benefit of others if not for you. As a child I repeatedly watched my mother come home from hospital, battered by her partner. My sisters and I used to beg her to leave him. Years later when we were grown up my mother explained why she didn’t leave for a long time. She believed the more she went back the more she asked for it. My mother explained that the more she stayed with him the more she was convinced she actually wanted it. She knows thats stupid now. She knows now that she loved him for reasons she cant explain to this day. He was a cruel manipulative bastard. But she really didn’t understand consent at the time because she was blinded by love where all we could see was hatred. All i want to say is we have to watch that our consenting in kink isn’t blinded by love. That might be obviius to some its not to everyone, and it is something I obsess with in my own relationships perhaps a little to much for obvious reasons. That murder case got my heart aching and I have became anxious to express to kinksters that its possible to consent to some awful things because you love someone. Mutual consent isn’t enough. Mutual love is needed to. I know consent involves that. I do care how our thoughts impact the world. I really really do. I wouldn’t waste my time on here if i didnt. This community expresses different and complex views around relationships that arent always in agreement but respectful in intent. I admire that so much. I can see i am not very good at articulating my own views because they so often come out angry and muddled. So i get why you told me to fuck off and with respect i will. But you just broke my heart gotn.

  • L.E. Coleman says:

    A wonderful post. We must all remember the subtleties of social manipulation to make us reconsider our thoughts on such subjects. However, we must ask ourselves the question, “Out of all the hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of couples who engage in consensual healthy, BDSM role play, how many have actually died during the course of acting out their fantasies? We must always investigate or try to understand the purpose behind the reporting and the social slant of the organization that publishes an article like that one.. And the purpose was to link BDSM to abuse as you have stated. It’s purpose was not to focus on the psychology of the abuser. Murder saddens us no matter how it happens. And yes, it does call us to question ourselves. If we do not investigate our own psychology, as you suggest, and to get behind our own personals “whys” we will not be able to enjoy our sex and fantasies to the fullest. This is why we “straddle the fence.” This is individual work.

    • Rapunzel says:

      Out of all the hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of couples who have engaged in consensual healthy, BDSM role play, how many have actually died.

      Enough.

      • Captain Smith says:

        ‘Enough’ to do what exactly? Outlaw consensual BDSM? As I noted in my comment above, it already is, strictly speaking, illegal (though rarely prosecuted). Fat lot of good that’s done.

        I would add that I doubt that anyone has died during ‘consensual healthy, BDSM role play’. People doubtless have died as a result of BDSM activities, but in such cases the people involved were by definition not engaging in safe, healthy play. If the rules are followed at all times, there should be very little risk; if anyone is put at risk of death, you are *definitely* doing it wrong.

        But anyway, the death in this case wasn’t caused by ‘consensual healthy, BDSM role play’. It was caused by an abusive and violent partner. That is, I think, the real issue which people ought to be concerning themselves about here.

  • Azkyroth says:

    You know, it occurs to me that this is one of the times that the refusal of people who should know better to distinguish between “fantasies” meaning “desire to engage in specific behaviors” and “fantasies” meaning “purely mental imagery accompanying masturbation” becomes really problematic.

    • Girl on the net says:

      For sure. I find it a bit worrying that, while people are almost always happy to accept that there are things which happen in our heads which we don’t deliberately encourage, many go further and assume that every fantasy is one which someone will act on. Even if it were possible to enact all my fantasies (and some of them are physically implausible if not impossible) there are plenty which, if handed to me on a golden platter in real life, I’d still turn down.

  • Abusive men use BDSM tropes to justify their abuse of women in the same way that religious men use religious tropes to justify their abuse of women, and the same way that ‘evolutionary psychologists’ (a junk science equivalent to homeopathy) use their theories to justify men’s abuse of women. Of all those things, BDSM is the one which does the *least* institutionalised harm to women, because the majority of BDSM people are aware that dominance and submission are not inherently gendered.

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