BDSM Myth-Busting

A few things first –

One: The Grand Opening Contest is OFFICIALLY CLOSED for all new entries. The winner will be drawn this weekend and announced on Tuesday, April 19.

If you don’t have an active subscription or I can’t find you in our GFC, your entry is invalid. Today I will be out and about and nowhere near a computer for most of the day, so this would be a good time to make sure you have everything in order so you’ve got your chance at the goodies!

Two: My co-author and best friend, Jenny Urban, has entered a contest to win a part in the audiobook version of Neil Gaimon’s American Gods. For those of you who don’t know, Jenny narrates audiobooks most brilliantly. Anyhow, what she needs is a whole mess of votes to carry her through the first round. Go give her a listen and vote for her awesomeness (user name “Juice,” no avatar. Hey, I’m not the only International Woman of Mystery in this partnership). You can vote every day, btw. Just saying. *coff*voteforjenny*coff* (link added after the fact because I’m an airhead)

And now, a post about kinky things…


So I forgot I was supposed to post today until a few hours ago. What? Life is always easier when you’re honest with yourself and others, especially about something as simple and human as being a space case that is incapable of operating a calendar. Fortunately, I have plenty of notes to work from, so I didn’t have to resort to a post full of link recommendations. Yet.

One thing that I think would be great to go over and maybe get some of your thoughts on what you think would be common misconceptions of BDSM (in general) in fiction.In fact, the ones I’ve got here are notions I’ve encountered in real life as actual prejudices against kinksters. I recently gave a brief presentation on BDSM in fiction, and thought this portion of my presentation would be good to go over for our BDSM month here on the blog, both for the BDSM research as well as the myth-busting.


Common Misconceptions of BDSM

Insta-Play – When two kinksters get together for the first time, it’s like a blind date. They need to make sure their kinks are compatible, get a feel for one another’s limits, and establish the boundaries of their specific interactions before they can get down to the good stuff. It’s all about The Rules (SSC, RACK).

It’s degrading – If someone is being ridiculed, flogged, spanked, whipped, tied up, gagged, or otherwise treated in a manner that outside of context you’d expect to see only in secret prisons, a lot of people jump to the conclusion that it degrades the submissive as a human being. However, scenes are created with care for the submissive’s safety and needs, and no matter how much the Dominant is enjoying him or herself, the submissive’s desire to put a stop will always be respected. There is no true element of force in BDSM, only release.

It’s misogynistic – It’s a common image to see Doms (male Dominants) and female submissives, playing into the patriarchal stereotypes and expectations of modern society. However, there are many female Dominants, known as Dommes (or sometimes Dominatrixes), working with male submissives. Regardless of which gender is in the Dominant role, however, a healthy BDSM relationship is about working together to meet each other’s needs in a cooperative effort. Just as in a vanilla relationship, selfishness and arrogance can be destructive to the symbiosis between partners.

The sub is weak – The sub has different needs than the Dominant, but that doesn’t make him or her weak. In fact, subs are expected to take responsibility for their own safety at all times, something that Dominant relies on. The submissive has to be strong enough and smart enough to be able to know when to say when. See “degrading” above.

People are only into it because of trauma – People are into BDSM for as many reasons as there are kinks (which is to say you can’t count them!). Saying that there has to be some kind of trauma in their past for them to be into the Lifestyle is just another way of saying that there has to be something wrong with them.

What other misconceptions can you think of? What are some good ways that you’ve found to counteract these images?

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4 Responses to BDSM Myth-Busting

  1. I've only been reading BDSM for the past two years. Each story is different as to why the people are involved in the lifestyle. Each book shows different styles of BDSM. There is much to choose from. Some authors are very accurate in their depictions, others are fantasy. I like when those writing the stories live the lifestyle because their voice seems truer and it comes across in their writing and the actions/emotions of their characters.

  2. I would think another misconception of BDSM is that people are made to do it. Well, alot of people who have had bad sexual experiences or have gone through a tragic sexual encounter unwillingly. They eventually find the right man who likes that and they feel compelled to do it, even though the guy should understand.

  3. Scarlett Parrish

    Oh God, insta-play, insta-love and insta-doms all make me barf.

    I blogged about this a while back and compared it to someone saying, "I'm an accountant. Give me your PIN and I'll take care of your money."

    Would we do that? FUCK NO. Why then, are we expected to swallow it (heh, swallow it) when a character says, "I'm a dom, let's play."

    Any character who immediately gives up their body to a person who claims to be a 'well-respected dominant' (*pauses to groan at the cliche*) is TSTL.

    I mean. Do me a fucking favour. What sort of idiot puts themselves in that sort of danger?

  4. I don't like the idea that the BDSM lifestyle is easy to become a part of in the sense that someone who have never participated in any kind of scene is suddenly a master with a flogger or in bondage. Safety is so important and I've seen so many stories where the issues of training and safety are completely overlooked.