Here are some questions related to misconceptions others have of BDSM:1. What are the misconceptions that you believe others (vanilla folk) have regarding the BDSM community?
2. Do you ever attempt to clarify misconceptions? If so, can you give some examples of when you've had or ceased the opportunity to do so.
Also, Frau Doktor B., apropos deine Frage interesert es
(It's interesting to be addressing your question from
There are vanilla folk on both sides, of course. I find that in
If I come out to someone in the
In my experience of more youthful, less proprietary narratives, the leather-daddy archetype shows up, early and often along with presumptions about orientation (i.e., if I'm kinky I must be gay too. Between the ages of 20 and my early 30s I was pegged for gay a lot by both straight and gay people (regardless of their knowledge of my marital and/or pervert status). In my 40s I seem to have taken on a patina of straightness). In this story I am made less wrong than I am willfully (and excitedly) misunderstood, but the project of laying to rest the misguided preconception is comparatively easy.
In the argot of establishment feminism there is usually reference to reductivist conflict-theoretical constructs having to do with objectification and patriarchy (which, curiously, if I were in fact a gay leather daddy, as others have assumed me to be, would not apply. In this case it is my essential straightness which motivates the feminist case against my being a top). Both objectification and patriarchy are absolute wrongs in the feminist Weltanschuung, of course. I've had more than a few exchanges with the scrupulously politically correct around the problem of female bottoms for whom objectification is very gratifying (see the previous post - ed.). In the end, those bottoms must be made wrong by dint of either patriarchically-induced poor self esteem or by having succumbed to my presumably over-developed powers of seduction.
The last case is perhaps the most sporting, for it's quite a lot of fun to point out opponents' faulty logic and that they are assigning to female bottoms very little intrinsic power, which I then am at liberty to observe is not merely condescending, but politically opportunistic (since the same thinking does not apply to gay male bottoms). It is only in these sorts of instances that I make it a point to correct perceptions, for I find the victim mentality of establishment feminism more than a little problematic and being a target of its prejudice allows me to indulge a bit of opportunism myself. Having made the observation that my opponent's case is predicated largely on presumptions of powerlessness inherent to the (female) bottom's situation, I point out that the efficacy of BDSM and what distinguishes it from, for example, governmental torture, proceeds from the fact of the bottom's power and its equivalence to that of the top's. The matter of gender and its presentments are utterly academic, and there are no victors nor vanquished. A good scene is a simple "win-win", which, being non-zero-sum, flies in the face of Marxist conflict theory and its elaboration along the gender vector. Then there's queer BDSM, which punctures gender-based analyses QED, but for the politically convinced the fun in that fact is elusive.
I should note my sympathy to the feminist project generally, and especially economically. My antipathy toward reflexive grievance and/or identity based political maneuvering extends well beyond the establishment feminist camp to all segregationist movements that require division to legitimize their claims. My personal Weltanschauung is additive rather than divisive.
More recently, I have been a little more casual about being out, and have had far more compelling exchanges about peoples' reactions to my admissions than about the fact of my interest in BDSM. I would admit to practicing misdirection if I were unwilling to answer any question an interlocutor might have about my interest, but their disquiet about my sexuality ends up often being more interesting for both of us. Notwithstanding, I'm aware that my not taking a defensive stance about my sexuality goes a long way toward shifting a discussion in the direction of the real tension, that being the judgement passed on BDSM.
(Cartoon courtesy of Dave Annis at rope-bondage.com)