Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Take Strictly, as Directed

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  • Helen T,

    The British legal system, in an effort to be able to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence, can now bring charges even if the victim doesn't want to. Which raises all sorts of questions about people involved with BDSM as noted in the example.

    I really, really wish we'd stop trying to regulate what goes on in people's bedrooms, as long as it's consensual, except then I have to add on caveats and kind of lose the point.

    Yorkshire (West if you're… • Since Jun 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    The very, very brave among you might find some value in visiting lesbian BDSM site Bleu Productions (NSFW!)

    Oh man, why can't all porn be shot that prettily? And where oh where can I buy me some black dildo candles? I think they'd be the perfect conversation piece for the next dinner party. And don't think I'm going to let you say something about stats being "pegged" without the requisite "heh heh heh". Wait, you wrote this entire post about my snickering didn't you?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Can I just say that, before I even read the post, I thought: "That's a fucking clever headline"?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22753 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    The British legal system, in an effort to be able to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence, can now bring charges even if the victim doesn't want to.

    The same is true in at least some states of the US. I've seen BDSM subs talking about being scared to make too much noise in case their neighbours get the cops called to a 'domestic disturbance' - once the police are in, charges go forward no matter what the 'victim' wants.

    Oh man, why can't all porn be shot that prettily?

    I was really looking for an excuse to link to that. It's gorgeous.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Helen T,

    And where oh where can I buy me some black dildo candles? I think they'd be the perfect conversation piece for the next dinner party.

    Well, there's this (Totally NSFW) but it's not black.

    Yorkshire (West if you're… • Since Jun 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Helen T,

    Aha! Also NSFW. Also black.

    Yorkshire (West if you're… • Since Jun 2009 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    That’s what brings us to this place, one where I’m going to try to explain BDSM, in a manner so unsalacious as to suck all the fun out of it.

    Initially I thought well, that's just cruel, but brilliant work as usual, Emma. With special hooray for the following:

    To which I can only say this: the search for a cause is inherently degrading. It sees a particular sexual taste as abnormal, as a departure from how people are supposed to be. Nobody asks what causes a person to enjoy vanilla sex.

    Also I'd like to say: gnocchi.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And the Dom/Top role is so far from an abuser or a rapist I can’t really get my head around the idea. It’s a caring role: a good Dom(me) is expected to know his or her sub’s likes and dislikes, freak-out points, and be able to tell when he or she enters subspace and needs the Dom(me) to judge their tolerance for him or her. The Dom(me) is expected to provide after-care for the sub. The person with the power to bring the whole thing to a screaming halt, whose needs supercede the other party’s, is the sub.

    Hum... that sounds really disgusting as opposed to a round of quote unquote vanilla "I'll throw you a pity fuck if it will stop you whining, just don't expect me to pretend to enjoy it before you roll over and go to sleep and I give myself an unsatisfying orgasm" sex. :) The delicious irony about BDSM is that it only works of both parties are specific -- and honest -- about their expectations and limits. That is a good thing, right?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    The delicious irony about BDSM is that it only works of both parties are specific -- and honest -- about their expectations and limits. That is a good thing, right?

    Yeah, I mean, I'd hate to give the impression that there are no arseholes in the BDSM community, because of course there are. And some people have really terrible experiences - often because they think they'll enjoy something and it turns out they don't. Reactions tend to be really extreme, and quite unpredictable until you try. Something that's always seemed really fabulous in your head can turn out to be awful in reality.

    But yeah, for something viewed as so sensationalist and pervy, BDSM involves an awful lot of not having sex - delay, ritual, negotiation. Some people simply get bored.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    the search for a cause is inherently degrading. It sees a particular sexual taste as abnormal, as a departure from how people are supposed to be. Nobody asks what causes a person to enjoy vanilla sex. The need for an explanation is reserved for kink. You start by telling me I’m wrong, then you try to work out how I got broken. The next step is of course fixing me. This is the same attitude some people display towards homosexuality.

    Is there no legitimate reason to inquire?

    The example of homosexuality is a good one. People are actively researching this, for motives that range from the political to the purely scientific. Indeed some of those researchers (eg Simon LeVay) are themselves gay, and their aim is the complete opposite of stigmatising their sexuality as abnormal, but rather of establishing it as normal.

    I sympathise with your argument but I have a problem with putting these things entirely off-limits. I also can't reconcile it with the very next paragraph which provides an explanation based on physiology. There's your cause right there, yes?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Sorry, I meant to link here for a little more context.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Meanwhile, radical feminism pretends male subs don't exist, and teaches that all subs are women conditioned by society to think they enjoy being dominated by men, sexually and in all other areas of their lives.

    This hasn't been my experience. I know a few doms and subs who consider themselves radical feminists. I think the dynamics of power that exist in BDSM practices are interesting, but how/if they relate to life outside the bedroom is in no way straightforward.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I sympathise with your argument but I have a problem with putting these things entirely off-limits. I also can't reconcile it with the very next paragraph which provides an explanation based on physiology. There's your cause right there, yes?

    Yes, you're right, perhaps I was unclear. I'm fine with biological enquiry, it's the sociological ones that bug me. I mean, the research that's being done about the biological causes of sexual orientation are about was causes orientation, not what 'causes gay'. The 'you must have been abused' argument is about what made you deviant - there's no corresponding interest in what 'causes vanilla'.

    But with both the 'causes' of homosexuality and kink, I do actually get kind of tired. I understand the importance of establishing the biological basis of sexuality, but should we actually HAVE to 'be born that way' to be accepted? Can't we just, y'know, get on? If it turned out that the 'cause' of homosexuality was actually social, would that make it something that needed to be cured?

    The 'cause' argument around BDSM gets really, really ugly. It is 'why are you broken?'. The search for sociological answers seems to carry that judgementalism much more than the search for biological answers.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Totally. Just to be clear, I'm into finding things out for curiosity's own sake. Personally I have a big problem with arguments, whether pro or anti, that hinge on nurture or nature -- civil rights for (sexual, religious, whatever) minorities aren't predicated on being born or raised a particular way but on principles of tolerance that have nothing to do with whether you can "help it" or not.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    This hasn't been my experience. I know a few doms and subs who consider themselves radical feminists.

    George, yeah, it's a generalisation, based on the repetitive "BDSM wars" in the blogosphere, which tend to be waged between people who identify as 'third-wave/sex-pos' feminists, and those who identify as 'radical' feminists. All those labels are problematic. Among the sites I read, male subs and female Dommes are both referred to as 'unicorns', due to the extent to which their existence is ignored.This shows a slice of the argument in action. (Strong language.)

    But. I have noticed this tendency is MUCH more entrenched in US blogs than it is in Kiwi ones.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    I read, male subs and female Dommes are both referred to as 'unicorns',

    That makes me happy as I know far more subservient men than dominant ones. Damn it. Hey unicorns!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I think the dynamics of power that exist in BDSM practices are interesting, but how/if they relate to life outside the bedroom is in no way straightforward.

    I think you can say that about sex, full stop and period. The bedroom can be the theatre of the fantastic, where lions become lambs, the most demure virgin can make the Whore of Babylon blush and in the dark the mask and the face beneath become something else again.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    An interesting read - thanks. I imagine everyone has a list of sexual practices that make them go "ew" or even just "I don't geddit", but it's a massive leap from that to "you are immoral/malfunctioning/just plain wrong, so stop it" or worse "stop it - or else."

    Can I say, though, in relation to this thread and earlier ones about labelling, that I'm not a massive fan of the label "vanilla". Vanilla means boring - to refer to the metaphor it's based on, no-one's favourite flavour is vanilla; it's a base that needs something else on top to make it really good - it's inherently lacking. I don't think most people who like things "vanilla" would describe their sex lives that way.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    French vanilla, on the other hand...

    [tries to work that into the metaphor]

    [head explodes]

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    God, I'm so boring. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Vanilla means boring - to refer to the metaphor it's based on, no-one's favourite flavour is vanilla; it's a base that needs something else on top to make it really good - it's inherently lacking.

    I totally understand that point of view, and I know some people are really uncomfortable with the 'vanilla' label. The privilege of being in a dominant position is not having a label - see 'couple' and 'gay couple'. So, 'sex' and 'kinky sex'.

    But I don't see 'vanilla' as boring. I love vanilla as a flavour. To me it means simply the most common, most pervasive, most broadly accepted. I don't mean that to sound negative at all, it's not intended as a value judgement. I'd just like for there to be a word for 'not kinky' that isn't 'normal'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Vanilla? Bored?

    Sounds like someone needs a visit from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I imagine everyone has a list of sexual practices that make them go "ew" or even just "I don't geddit"

    Justine and I had dinner at the table next to a couple of porn actresses some years ago, and I can safely say it was the most instructive hour of my life. The standout sentence (whilst complaining about the German movie industry) was the following: "everybody likes defecation, but on camera?"

    Definitely T-shirt, if not tombstone material.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sylvie Zlami,

    Can I just say that, before I even read the post, I thought: "That's a fucking clever headline"?

    What he said.

    auckland • Since Dec 2007 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Sounds like someone needs a visit from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

    Awesome. Um. What do its chimes play?

    And there's an interesting discussion about problems with the term 'vanilla in the comments here. Most of the contributors are not vanilla people, which obviously biases it a bit. Just ignore the trolly derailing.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

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