Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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Form, function and BDSM culture

Jem wrote a superb blog yesterday about our way of doing BDSM. As ever, it was hedged about with the necessary caveats – this is a blog that sometimes includes ideas about BDSM and sex that derive from our lived experiences, our politics and our beliefs, not a handbook.

Jem wrote “it will always be impossible within a BDSM relationship to externally validate something which is internally lacking, particularly if the view of masculinity is one based around control over a woman.”

I stopped, and re-read that, and wondered how many of the cultural practices associated with BDSM against which Jem and myself rebel were about that external validation of masculinity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am as aware as I need to be of my tendency to see myself as the outsider, the rebel, and the perils involved in believing that only I can see the way the world really is. As a trait it’s amongst the most dangerous, one that can leave us just a few steps from being Raskolnikov or a zealot.

That’s why, when I think about BDSM, about sex, about the experience of being in a multi-faceted relationship, I like to emphasize the domestic, the ordinary, and to almost prize the adjustments and accommodations required to live within the community rather than to confront it and its prejudices.

As with the physical communities Jem and I live in, so with the BDSM community, the LGBTQ community and so on. I might dissent hugely from how some people within those communities conceptualize their experiences, and the practices that emerge from that conceptualization, but do I want to portray myself as the rebel, the keeper of the flame of truth and justice?

No.

Emphatically not.

I will make a small confession here. There is undoubtedly something narcissistic about the play I make in public about my domesticity, my joy in simple cooking, in having a freshly ironed shirt and a tub of home made cider fizzing in the kitchen. It’s nothing more though than me being me, and if no-one ever knew, I would carry on doing these things; the pleasure in my swigging home made wine, or eating my own cooking is the pleasure of the act, not the reflected glory. In fact I’ll go further – if I thought it reflected any glory on me, or even made me more interesting, I might stop talking about it for fear that it would become a narcissistic conversation.

Which brings us back to BDSM and Jem writing about it. As the one of us who has less to fear from the lone hero complex, and less to fear from the notion of being the ‘great leader’ (since her faith is one that has humility and compassion at its core) she’s actually better equipped to write about BDSM than I am, and I trust her more to make sense of what we do and explain it to others, than I trust myself.

I have written in the past about the joy that BDSM brings us, and have realised that it comes across to some people as being about me advertising my talents, or even seeking to recruit new partners. Recognising even a little pleasure in the reaction of others to those accounts of how we are was a sobering moment, not least because, in my mirror, I recognise the dangerous attraction, and the risk that I might forget that Jem and I can do BDSM this way because of what she brings to the party, as well as what I bring.

I’m struck sometimes by the idea of the camera obscura, and the way, in the right conditions, a pinhole can reveal the whole of the visible world. What strikes me is not that accidental property of light, but the understanding that we only see what is there, via the pinhole, if we create the right conditions, and understand that what we will see is the world turned upside down. It’s not sufficient just to drill a pinhole and hope.

I see Jem’s work, and mine, as being about understanding the limits of the camera obscura, and its perils, so that we can emerge into the daylight and use what we’ve learned to be better – it may fly in the face of so may prejudices, but BDSM and the way we do it has made me, I believe, a better equipped person to try and be useful in all the communities I movein.

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One comment on “Form, function and BDSM culture

  1. Pingback: Lets talk about… | Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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This entry was posted on October 9, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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