A moral, ethical and behavioral quandary

I note that members of the BDSM community (involving such unsavory topics as bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism & masochism) are frustrated by the publicity surrounding the resignation of New York State Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman.

Many members of what’s widely known as the kink community are outraged that Eric Schneiderman, in resigning as New York’s attorney general, depicted his alleged violence toward several women as “role-playing and other consensual sexual activity.”

Aficionados of kinky sex noted that Schneiderman’s accusers insisted they had given no consent — which is considered obligatory among most practitioners of kink.

The story brought new attention to the world of kink that’s often known as BDSM — standing for variations of bondage, dominance, submission and masochism. The practice — though still a taboo topic in some respects — has made incursions into the cultural mainstream in recent years, in part because of the popularity of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” novels and films.

. . .

Ronan Farrow, co-author of the New Yorker story that first revealed the allegations against Schneiderman, told CNN that the accusers made clear “that this was not role-playing, that this was not ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ It wasn’t in a gray area at all.”

Ej Dickson, an editor with MensHealth.com who writes often about dating and sex, wrote Tuesday that the kink community “puts a premium on consent.”

“It is one of the very basic tenets of BDSM,” she wrote. “Often, sex acts will be negotiated beforehand in the form of contracts, and either way, anyone practicing BDSM responsibly will implement a ‘safe word’ to make it clear if they are uncomfortable with anything happening.”

There’s more at the link.

I’m afraid the concerns of the BDSM community leave me cold.  Instead of worrying about bad publicity, perhaps its members should instead consider the state of their psychological and psychiatric health.  Anyone who enjoys inflicting or receiving pain, and advocates for that to be both tolerated and encouraged, has forfeited my sympathy entirely.  I’ve seen too many examples of rape, torture and violence to be under any illusions about the reality of pain.  Consent is irrelevant.  Anyone who’s volunteered at a shelter for battered women and children, or had to deal with the reality and tragic aftermath of child abuse, knows exactly what I mean.



  1. BDSM is fantasy roleplay though.

    It's closer to DND for adults with no dice then it is to "actual" Violence/Rape/Or Torture.

  2. I'm waiting for a politician to be outed for being a necrophile. That's one identity politics group that has not been able to come into the light and take a bow – so far. But I'm sure that they'd be embraced (if at a distance) by the progressives.

    As to the violent acts of the contemptible and infinitely progressive Schneiderman, they need to be prosecuted. Reliable sources suggest that there are a Cosby-like number of victims waiting in the wings.

    And what about Cosby? America's favorite, lovable, Jello salesman. What sort of sentence? Drugging and raping women for fun…life life x2…more/less?

  3. consent is ENTIRELY relevant. consenting IS the point.

    not my cuppa but i don't want to be the arbiter of behavior between consenting adults.

  4. @Chris Sutch and emil:

    Sorry, but no. Just NO. You can't pick up a turd by the clean end. I don't care whether it's called "fantasy roleplay" or something else, or whether it's consensual or not. It is still taking pleasure in inflicting pain on others, or having pain inflicted. There is no healthy, natural, normal way of talking about or looking at or engaging in such activity. It's a sickness, at the very least, if not something worse.

  5. I would ever-so-humbly suggest to the host he read, for instance, Philip Yancey's Intervarsity Press book, "The Problem Of Pain", and re-think his position.

    Sticking your foot into a slightly too-warm bath is absolutely "painful", frequently in an oh-so-wonderful way, but it is not, ergo, hitting your spouse in the mouth with a pipe wrench and knocking out all her teeth.
    (That's also precisely the sort of concrete-headed idiocy, zero-IQ, zero-tolerance nonsense we get from PETA when they tell us "A dog is a rat is a pig is a boy".)

    There are people who go through life without pain. it's called Hansen's Disease.
    You probably know it better by it's biblical name: Leprosy.

    All pain is not evil; it does, in fact, serve a vital and life-saving function, and not always in a bad way.
    But perhaps you'd like to do a study on the number of times "chastening" comes up in Old and New Testaments, and get back to us on that thought, for example. "Whom the Lord loveth, he ______," something-or-other, right?
    Consent doesn't even enter into it at that point, does it?
    And certainly the Almighty is not a rapist…?
    So things are perhaps quite a bit less black-and-white than you would like them to be.

    Some people play football, rugby, or hockey, but no one (no one sane, anyways) argues they should all be locked up for brutality, or rampant sadomasochism, so coming down so knee-jerk on another group with a different idea of what is and isn't "play" is beyond narrow-minded, and if you can't see the difference between their practices and what the NY AG is accused of, I think perhaps your eyes are closed a bit too tightly.

    No one, least of all the folks in that article, are asking anyone to adopt their outlook or proclivities (thank heavens), merely to assent to the reality that Schneiderman trying to excuse actual non-consensual physical abuse, and paint it as "just kinky behavior", is straining at the bounds of rational thought, the English language, and sanity. And not to put too fine a point on it, but also the penal code of the state of New York.

    And the twit that wrote the OP twaddle should have known better as well, and closed his yawp before attempting some more sober reflection.

    The offense being committed in that piece is the same one that conflates looking at a pretty girl as "eye-rape", deserving the full judicial punishments with all the penitentiary trimmings.

    We call people who can't tell a baby from the bath water lunatics for a reason.

  6. Forgive me, the book title was The Gift of Pain.
    The book The Problem Of Pain was by C.S. Lewis, but is equally applicable.

  7. You use the term “rape” yet say consent is irrelevant. The thing that makes rape different than “sex” is the consent.

    You refer to “pain” as if it is one thing (and a necessarily bad thing). Sensations that you label pain are actually on a continuum, and sexual arousal moves the threshold. Consensual exchange of intense sensation in a role-playing context is not about damage, abuse, violence, or unwanted pain.

    This is a vast topic that can’t be efficiently addressed here, and it seems that there is little reason for me to try.

  8. Sorry Peter, but I disagree. As long as it's consensual and doesn't involve me I don't care how they go about it. If it's what they like, and isn't harming anyone else, there's no reason for them not to be able to do as they please. I don't have to like what everyone else likes, and they don't have to like what I enjoy.

  9. I have limited experience, but I've done a lot of reading…. 🙂

    Based on reading alone, many if not most women experience enhanced pleasure from role-playing, up to and including rape fantasies. So long as they know it's not real, and it's in a safe environment.

    Based on personal experience, a little biting, a little hair pulling, and a little bit of restraining during sex can have a VERY positive outcome for the lady. For me, not so much, giving or receiving. But who am I to deny her that little extra bit of pleasure?

    But when she says "Stop", I stop.

  10. Consent is absolutely the point.

    People do all sorts of things that involve giving and receiving pain such as rough sports and combatives for entertainment.

    If I slam someone a little rolling jiu jitsu or boxing that is ok because they consented and it was within the rules of the game. On the other hand if I grabbed some guy walking by on the street and slammed him onto the ground that would be assault and battery.

    I think the BDSM community is offended at the idea that this guy used them as an excuse. Kind of like how the gun community is offended by criminals saying they are part of it.

  11. Consent is critical but it's only a facet of the whole story.
    Sorry Peter, but you are wrong to put all BDSM in the same category. For the reasonable part of them there are reasons to need the whole pain inflicting/receiving stuff.
    I'm not part of that segment of the society, but I've had a girlfriend some (long – over 20 years) time ago who pushed to play rough and she was happier the rougher I got. I was really uncomfortable with the whole situation and set her down for "the talk". It turned out the pressure of her job responsibilities as well as some other personal responsibilities (her parents were both bedridden with last stage dementia) were grinding on her emotional resilience. No matter what help she got from friends (she had no other family, but she got support and help from us) she was feeling crushed by the responsibilities. She said she needed the feeling of being dominated (in the bedroom) so she got some emotional respite – not being responsible for anything while getting emotional and physical release. I've asked about counseling but she was happy with the way things were and refused that avenue.
    That's the thing that broke us – I was very uncomfortable with the whole rough play thing and she didn't got what she needed from me so we parted ways although we remained friends. A couple of years later, after her parents passed she married a guy she met through work. She confessed to me some time after they married that her husband was dominant enough for her so she got the emotional balance she needed. They had a kid and had a good marriage until she developed dementia at 47. She is now bedridden and her husband and daughter are her caregivers and they are very good to her.
    I don't know if her appetite for rough play could have been reduced or eliminated by counseling, but the fact is that the decision was hers to make, and since she made her choice we have to respect it. People have different ways of coping with the stress life puts on them, we should not judge their choice as long as it is their choice and not enforced.

  12. Peter, a few points for consideration:

    First, as noted above, BDSM is used by people as a way to deal with the emotional issues they face in the outside world. While therapy might be useful for some people in this situation, many people can't or won't have therapy for various reasons. You can talk about the fact that they're unhealthy all day, but that's not going to convince a senior manager of a large corporation – or a member of a SWAT team – to do something that they know will be perceived as evidence of weakness or unsuitability to do the job. (Think I'm exaggerating? I read the bio of a long term member of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, one of the premiere SWAT units in the country. While he was a member they had a therapist show up to talk to the unit, just to say that he and others were available if anyone wanted to talk about anything. The response was what I would term as aggressively negative.)

    Second, you seem to be treating pain and BDSM as synonymous – probably as the result of too much hollywood treatment. They are very much not the same. Most BDSM does not involve pain. And pain is frequently a part of normal sex. I know many people who, during sex, want to be smacked on the rear, or have some other very minor pain inflicted, as it triggers endorphins that assist with orgasm. Conflating the two only confuses the issue.

    The question you're actually concerned with is sadism and masochism – the desire to inflict or absorb pain, distinct from sex and usually at a more extreme level. I have no good answers for you here, but the view I usually take is one I heard regarding sex from a long-term NCO: "Off-duty with consenting adults." As long as you're not on duty, and the other party is old enough to consent and does consent, then command won't hear about it. It's not perfect, but few things are.

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