Those of us who walk around proclaiming how humans ought to treat each other with more kindness and respect run into this problem. We find people doing things that aren’t illegal or unethical but just make us say “yuck”. Whether it is hot dog eating contests or tongue splitting procedures, our first instinct is to search for reasons why this is a a genuinely bad idea. There must be some valid objection that allows us be disgusted. There is health and nutrition. Infections and sanitation. And always, the children. We have to protect the children.
Of course, one quickly sees how those same arguments are used to ban books and ostracize anyone unusual and ultimately discriminate against freedom of choice of all kinds. Do you really want to live a world were anyone gets told how much they can eat of what or how little they can modify their own body? I don’t. And I don’t believe in treating people poorly based on preferences they are entitled to have. I don’t have to like their choices, but I’m also not entitled to a world in which my sensibilities are never offended by other people enjoying what I don’t like.
Enter the new BSMD craze.Or is it BDSM? I’m not sure, but the indie publishing world is aflame with hunky dominant men who enjoy hurting and demeaning their otherwise strong and gorgeous women who apparently love every bit of the pain and humiliation. Given that I am the author of four self-published books, I do some marketing research and was kind of aware of this in the background. However, I recently took my latest creation, c3, on a blog tour and got a whole new look at what is out there. Oh my.
My tour was conducted by a recommended site that focuses on fantasy, science fiction and romance. Kind of a nice mix, I thought, and I checked out some of the blogs ahead of time and they seemed fine. Once my tour started, however, I noticed how many of the sites involved required me to click something affirming that I was over 18 years of age and did not object to sexual content. That was fine.I enjoy a little erotica now and then. No problem.
To be fair, many sites did include a wider variety of stories, but once it moved to the erotic, it looked like most of the folks in these books were busy tying each other up and beating on each other. Yuck. My fantasy novel championing the power of young girls to take control of their own bodies and their own sexuality was actually sandwiched in between a novel about a football player who likes his women to pretend to be submissive little girls and an excerpt about one female submissive interviewing another about getting beaten with a stainless steel cane by her fiance as he ‘prepares her’ for their honeymoon. I’m not making this up. There was also a blog feature about how African American’s are embracing the sadomasochist fun, and listing various conventions to attend. Conventions? These people with slavery agreements and stainless steel canes have conventions?
I took a few deep breaths. Adults are entitled to all the consenting fun they can handle, I reminded myself. They are entitled to read about it as well. I just had no idea that there was such a market for something that seems to go far beyond mostly gentle horseplay all the way to a lifestyle of chosen submission. I found myself angry about how often these “she really loves” it arguments are used to justify genuine abuse and rape, and how debilitating such treatment is to the many women who find it disgusting, not erotic. I found myself protective for the young men and women who might read this and let it shape their ideas of how to behave, in the bedroom and outside of it, with those who share such tastes and more critically with those who don’t. Yes, I found myself wanting to protect the children. I took a few more deep breaths.
It was too late to cancel the book tour, so I let it wind itself down, and declined to add any more posts or articles of my own once I hit this point. Honestly, I’m still struggling with how I feel about this.