Okay, I'm over it. I'm seriously. Fucking. Over it.
Given the nature of one of the books I'm currently working on, I've been reading quite a few novels involving BDSM. Yes, it's research. Laugh all you want, it is what it is.
Anyway, I've noticed a trend, and that trend has sparked this rant. Specifically, a serious misunderstanding - or abuse - of the dynamic between a Master and slave or a Dom and sub. BDSM is about power exchanges. Consensual power exchanges.
(Note that for the sake of brevity, I am mostly going to refer to Dom/sub rather than Dom/sub and Master/slave. The two aren't necessarily interchangeable, but for the purpose of this blog, they are.)
Now, let me explain a couple of things.
Safe Words. For those not familiar with the lifestyle, the safe word is a word designated by a Dom/sub. If that word is spoken, all activities cease. Basically, this is to protect the sub from being pushed too far. Ignoring a safe word is probably one of the biggest cardinal sins of BDSM.
Power Exchanges. A sub or a slave agrees to submit to a Dom or Master. This can be for the duration of a "scene", or a 24/7 indefinite agreement, or anything in between. The key is, they are consensual. The amount of power that's exchanged, the boundaries, the duration, etc., are agreed upon in advance. By both parties.
To use one of Scarlett's choice phrases, I am sick to the back teeth of seeing these two concepts completely fuckered all to hell in fiction. With that in mind, I hereby propose the following commandments for BDSM fiction. (Note I'm referring to the hypothetical Dom as male and the sub as female. This is just to keep the pronouns straight. Obviously there are female Dommes and male subs.)
- If your Dom ignores a safe word, your sub must make him move heaven and Earth to earn her forgiveness before letting him lay a hand on her again.
- If your sub allows your Dom to bind, beat, or otherwise dominate her after he has committed #1 and not moved said heaven and Earth, then she is too stupid to live.
- If your sub does not consent to the Dom/sub arrangement prior to the beginning of Dom/sub activities, the activities that occur prior to that consent being given are non-consensual. If those activities include sex, there is another word for it, and it begins with "R".
- I don't care if a Master can tell that someone is a potential slave. I don't care if he knows from the get-go that she is aching to be a slave. Making her into his slave because "I know you want this" before she's actually said "I want this" is the same as a rapist saying "I knew she wanted me."
- Being a sub =/= submitting to any and every Dom
- Being a Dom =/= having the right to expect submission from any and every sub.
- BDSM is about trust. If your Dom deceives his sub, he is violating that trust. Refer to #1 for consequences of the same.
- If your Dom is in violation of #3 and/or #4, and your sub falls for said Dom, that is not love. That is Stockholm Syndrome.
- When your Dom/sub are engaging in S&M type activities, it's okay for it to make me cringe and think "damn, that's gotta hurt." It's not okay for it to make me think "holy shit, that's going to do some serious damage..."
- Trust must be earned. Respect must be earned. A Dom who has neither has no right to expect submission from a sub.
- Submissive =/= Spineless wimp
- Dom/Domme =/= Overbearing, power-hungry, demanding bastard
Obviously there is no one right way for a D/s relationship to operate. However, I have yet to see the above commandments violated in such a way that a) made me sympathize with the characters, b) convinced me the interactions between the characters was anything remotely safe, sane, or consensual, or c) allowed me to suspend belief and accept that the characters would behave that way.
That is all.