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Taking the DSM out of BDSM

A more detailed exploration of the difference between kink and abuse

It is a fact worth facing that many of us desire things in the bedroom at night that we would march in protest against during the day. There is no contradiction here. This dichotomy is healthy for people who can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. For those that cannot see this difference—their psychosis alone is cause for concern and has no necessary connection to any set of sexual practices or preferences.

If the human species has a unique selling point on this good green earth, it is this: we alone create symbolic representations of the world. We are Homo Exemplar. The species that tells stories, paints pictures, dances dances, dreams, fantasizes, and builds models.

If these models are satisfying descriptions of the world—we call them art. If they make satisfying predictions about the world we call them science. Some activities partake in both art and science—but that’s not the point I want to make today. The crucial point…the really really important point…the point, the ignoring of which makes some of you so very very cross, is… and I want some of you (you know who you are now!) to really pay close attention at this juncture…is this:

The models are not the world.

Ted explains to Dougal the difference
Father Ted on epistemology

There we go. That wasn’t so hard, was it? Symbolic representations of things are not the things themselves. This has implications. For example, fantasy is not reality. Now—there is a caveat here. Fantasy is reality for some people. These people are psychopaths, religious fanatics, post-modernists, and similar deviants. But for most of us—we can pull ourselves back from the brink and reliably tell the difference between what exists only in our head and what does not.

BDSM: “where ‘no’ means ‘yes’ and ‘banana’ means ‘no.’”

Some find these facts hard, almost impossible, to face. Perhaps this is because they do not have a kinky bone in their body—nor do they want one. Some, for example, find it impossible to tell the difference between real world abuse and fantasy consensual sexual power exchange. Many BDSM practitioners never use practices such as corporal punishment in their sex play, but some do. Recognizing the difficulty that such people might have in accepting these desires, the following comparison checklist is offered.

The obligatory SMBC cartoon

The checklist can also function as a forensic tool in analysis of the probable nature of an apparently violent situation. It could assist in terms of resource allocation, investigative priorities, the need for enforced separation of parties and the likelihood of wider BDSM community support of participants on the grounds of personal liberty and consensuality.

Typical users could include rape and violence counselors, police officers, emergency medical personnel, and legal prosecutors. This analytic tool functions independently of Battered Wife Syndrome, Stockholm Syndrome, and, in almost all cases is valid regardless of which party is claiming the “consensuality” objection—abuser or abusee.

The Checklist

A more detailed guide than last month

As a final note--in two independent studies (King & Belsky 2012; Puts et al 2012), partner dominance predicted orgasmic response in females. This implies a possible biological importance to this sort of signalling.

References

Esther Perel said this first, I think! https://www.ted.com/talks/esther_perel_the_secret_to_desire_in_a_long_t…

Bezreh, T., Weinberg, T. S., & Edgar, T. (2012). BDSM Disclosure and stigma management: Identifying opportunities for sex education. American journal of sexuality education, 7(1), 37-61.

Chivers, M. L., Roy, C., Grimbos, T., Cantor, J. M., & Seto, M. C. (2013). Specificity of Sexual Arousal for Sexual Activities in Men and Women with Conventional and Masochistic Sexual Interests. Archives of sexual behavior, 1-10.

King, R., & Belsky, J. (2012). A typological approach to testing the evolutionary functions of human female orgasm. Archives of sexual behavior, 41(5), 1145-1160.

Pawlowski, W. (2009). BDSM: The ultimate expression of healthy sexuality. In W.J. Taverner & R. W. McKee (Ed.), Taking sides: Clashing views in human sexuality (11th ed., pp. 70–75). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Puts, D. A., Welling, L. L., Burriss, R. P., & Dawood, K. (2012). Men's masculinity and attractiveness predict their female partners' reported orgasm frequency and timing. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(1), 1-9.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/08/18/is_kink_a_sexual_orientation.html

(It should be noted that the above checklist was originated by Donnie and Lela Hughes-Rice, copyright (1999) remains with them. It is presented here in a very mildly adapted form suitable for sharing).

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