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Thoughts on BDSM?

+1 vote

So, BDSM is generally defined as Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism. If anarchists are anti-hierarchical, can they be in or support relationships that are at the root hierarchical in nature, like a Top & Bottom* relationship? Like is there somewhere where the line is drawn as too excessive or something, or is there like no line whatsoever because it turns on the participants? Is it just reinforcing power relations and roles within a relationship, unintentionally or not? Assume consent is given without being coerced into it.

*Top - is the dominant partner that controls the relationship and/or activity.
Bottom - is the submissive partner that is controlled and obeys.

I'm just curious and it hasn't been asked on here as far as I can tell. Thanks

asked 6 days ago by human (3,810 points)

I am not particularly versed in BDSM personally, but know many who are, and an interesting thing that I didn't realize until talking to folks who play is that a lot of power is actually held by the bottom, so in a way that at least has the potential to be an interesting way of playing with power relations.

There was a really good talk at the BASTARD Conference in 2015 regarding this concept and related to the writing of Samuel Delany, who is a queer black sci-fi/fantasy author. The write up of the talk (Attached to Happiness with a Chain: slavery and BDSM in the works of Delany is in the 2015 BASTARD Chronicles: Utopia & Other Science Fiction. I tried to find the write up online, but couldn't. You can find the Journal here: http://littleblackcart.com/journals/the-bastard-chronicles-2015/.

Yeah, the dom/owner/top is obeying and serving the slave/sub in ways dependent on whatever it is they're doing and  stuff, like for entertainment purposes while others it is more than just play. A former acquaintance of mine was interested in the born slavery stuff believing it could grant her pure freedom if she was one. I read a little bit about it and thought it was an interesting. Anyways, I was just curious.

What does queer mean these days? I've seen it used in ways that doesn't seem to mean gay.

At least as I use queer, I mean it as a catch-all for sexual and gender identities that don't fit in to the dominant cis- and hetero- boxes. That could be gender queer folks who reject binaries, trans-folk who identify with a different gender than they were assigned at birth, boys who fuck boys, girls who fuck girls, boys who fuck or get fucked by girls and/or boys (and vice versa). Sometimes not fitting in the boxes is obvious, but sometimes it is less discernable, like cis- or passing queer folks in relations with folks of the opposite binary gender. I am probably butchering this. I know how I mean it, but how I mean it might be more opaque than I would like.

1 Answer

+4 votes
consent by definition cannot be coerced.

bdsm can be good or bad (bad would mean that the participants haven't figured out or aren't following good practices, etc). this is like any sex practices, and in fact like any relationship dynamics, sexual or not.

if one accepts that power play (whether sexual or not) is a human game, then anarchists have a lot to learn from good bdsm practice and practitioners about negotiation, clarity, boundaries, etc.
answered 6 days ago by dot (49,950 points)
i particularly like your last paragraph, dot. well said.
@dot, Is that the legal definition of consent? I broke out the OED, my monocle and put on my top hat, so I would look like a stereotypical, late 19th century capitalist in front of my dogs while browsing the dictionary. My dogs both did a dog paw face palm. Anyways, in the OED consent was defined as voluntarily or passively. Thus the sentence above.

I'm not sure what you mean by game? Power play is a D/s thing. The dynamics of power are easily observable within one's own thoughts and daily interactions, with mundane acts...etc which the D/s couple/group/friends can incorporate into their play time via discussion. Off the top of my head, a good example of D/s would be when a male sub, who may or may not dress up in female clothing (feminization/sissification (like when the woman is the dom)), does stereotypical acts that were and still kinda are viewed as traditional woman jobs at home, like chores, cooking, and cleaning. Like basically changing the gender roles among a bunch of other stuff that can be extremely minute. There are typically "protocols" and long discussions concerning D/s if it's a group or couple that are interested in engaging in these D/s activities, all participants in D/s are considered equals within and have long meetings discussing it.

I don't understand your last sentence dot? Are you saying something along the lines that anarchists aren't that great at clear communications among themselves when meeting with each other in the same room? Or something entirely different? I also don't know what you meant by "bad would mean the participants haven't figured out or aren't following good practices?" BDSM is more of sensual practice than sexual

Did someone add more tags to my post or was that me? I don't think I would've added "anarchist-practice" because it's doesn't seem like it would be a useful tag, but a redundant

/wall-o-text
if someone is coerced, they're not consenting. if someone is being forced to do something, then they're not consenting to do it.

aside from that, i think i've been clear. power play is everywhere, people who know how to negotiate clearly for what they want--and don't run from the idea of power as a concept that we engage with daily--have things to teach people who do not do those things.
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