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.
The thing about us humans, like anything in nature, is that no two are the same. I respect how you are different to me and how I am different to you.We are all entitled to our own beliefs, practices and frames of minds. However, if I may, I might offer this; there are many things in life we do not understand and it is perhaps a wise practice to accept that for every coin there is two sides. The one we know and the one we do not. Your thoughts on the matter of dominance and submission are valid ones. But I’d like to help you understand my perspective. For me dominance and submission is not about abuse. In fact, when it comes to real dom and sub relationships, as you mentioned, it is consenting and is not abuse. These relationships are very different to abusive relationships. Though i should say that a lot of what you read in fiction could be classed as abuse. For me these relationships are an exchange of trust and the giving and receiving of something each party needs. Some people enjoy pain yes, but they do not go out and proclaim to the children that they should all hurt each other. Some enjoy giving complete control over to another (though safe words are very important), but they understand that this is not the way for all people. My point in all this is that there is more to the topic than perhaps you understand. I have been there. There was a point in my life when I too thought of BDSM ( yes bdsm, not knowing that shows your lack of research i’m afraid) as unappealing, but that was through a lack of understanding. I’m not saying once you know more about it, that you will want to ‘join the club’ but perspective and opinion go hand in hand. With respect, just thought i’d drop a note.- June
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for sharing your perspective. Yes we are all different and that’s a wonderful fact and I do believe that you have every right to enjoy being you. It is easy to dislike what we do not understand. Sorry about not looking up the right initials — no excuse as taking the time shows respect. BDSM. I got it now.
Those of us who know women who have suffered in abusive relationships (and know how he talked) and who have friends who still struggle to regain their confidence after being raped (and have heard what he said) will probably always wince at BDSM novels although I am willing to believe you that in real life the feel of what is happening is very different for the people involved.
The obvious solution is for me to avoid such books, and I do, only my own novel had the bad luck to end up featured on a page with a book about subs that pretend to be children (disturbing to a mother of three), another — the stainless steel cane story — that concerned not using a safe word (even I know that is the thing that keep this from being harmful) and a third excerpt in which the black female subs were specifically called slave this and slave that as their names. I suspect that in the interest of getting attention and selling a story, authors tend to push their stories to new extremes, just like they do with all subjects, and these books might have disturbed you as much as me. I will guess (and hope) that in the real world of BDSM there is more genuine affection and fun than any of these stories conveyed.
Thanks again for speaking up!
🙂 I of course would not have you read anything that you had no interest in. I think most authors that write that kind of fiction probably don’t have much if any real experience to base their writing on anyway (though i’m sure that’s not true for all). Thank you for your respect and understanding and I understand where your coming from. Good Blogging 🙂 – June