This is our truth, tell us yours
All too often we fall into the error of assuming fuckwits are just that. Fuckwits, who need to be told they’re fuckwits by people like us,who’re not fuckwits. If only it were that easy. It’s not my job to correct every error, every mistake, every example on Twitter of someone who’s talking bollocks. Friday’s post about an idiot counsellor, and his view that torture equates to sadism, in defiance of dictionaries everywhere, is just one example where maybe I’ve taken on too much, assuming that a man who believes in all the things he’s been expensively taught will suddenly see the light because I disagree.
There was one upside to that mistake on mypart though. My lovely collaborator sent me a text urging me to write more about sex, so, I thought, OK, instead of doing this reactively, let’s do it the other way round. Let’s tell you about me, without it being a response to anyone else.
My name’s Carter, and I’m a sadist.
I’ve known, for decades, that I take pleasure from dominating my sexual partners. It’s tied up in my head with a whole raft of experiences of abuse, and of my admiration for the men who abused me, because they were also, besides being abusers, men who were seen by others as good role models. I learned, also decades ago, that some of the submissives I desired as a result of those experiences also enjoyed the experience of pain.
I’m no stranger to pain. I started playing contact sports at the age of nine, and combat sports in my teens. I’m no stranger to violence, nor to fear. Understanding the difference between my sex life and other parts of my life is central to what and who I am.
There are two keys to what I understand about what I do. The first is that I have no desire to hurt those who do not desire to be hurt. That doesn’t mean I’ve never hurt someone outside of my sex life. I work to a very practical rule that, if someone sets out to harm me, and I have no other way out, I will do as much harm as necessary. That’s necessarily a rough and ready calculation, but if I haven’t picked a fight I don’t see myself as being required to make precise calculations in the same way that I might, for instance, calculate that a mark in a particular place on a submissive might be desirable, but six inches away might be wrong.
The second key is the one that took the most learning, and which I feel reflects the least credit on me. People’s desires are a complex intersection, not just of who they are and who they want to be, but also how they want to be seen and to be experienced.
For every person I’ve met who wants to be a submissive or a masochist I’ve met another who perceives submission or masochism not as a component of a wider understanding of themselves which helps them be stronger, but as a desirable feature that they might introduce and deploy to their benefit. I can’t be certain about this, in the sense that I can’t undertake structured research, but I’ve had enough experience of people who see submission or masochism as a key to attracting a life partner to know that it’s a fraught journey.
In my experience, which is all I have to rely upon, our society teaches some people to accept behaviour they would otherwise refuse as the price of being in a relationship,even to the point of seeking it out if they’re desperate enough. It’s why, I think, some people tolerate abusive relationships. If you enjoy, as I do, behaviour that others might characterize as abusive if they were not aware of the informed consent involved, you have to be reciprocally aware that some consent might be distorted by a desire to be in a relationship, any relationship.
I didn’t always get that right. The problem was not my sadism, but my naivete about other people, about the reasons why they desire or pursue the things they do. I have no other guide than my experience, but it’s clear to me, from my experience, that there was a huge risk in searching for a willing submissive or masochist that others might present as sub or masochist as a gateway to what they really desire – a romantic relationship.
I didn’t always get those moments right.
Not because I’m a sadist, but because I was naive about human beings, about people. The failings of my life are not about my sexual pleasures, but about my not recognizing what others are looking for in their lives, in their relationships and in their desires.
If I’m grumpy about Fifty Shades of Shite, it’s not because I have a theoretical objection to bad novels with worse representations of BDSM. It’s the intermingling of the idea that, if Ana wants a romance with Christian, she has to guide him through his abusive behaviour to a point where they can be equals. Not only is it not Ana’s job to heal Christian, as a sadist I reject entirely the idea that I need healing because I’m a sadist. The things in my life that need healing relate to grief and regret about the things I did when I was being a man, a father, a lover and a son, not to my being a sadist.
If I defend my life as a sadist, it’s not merely because I have a sense of self importance or a narcissistic desire to make the world look at me and my willingness to challenge its rules. It’s because I understand the importance of recognizing the moral choices that we all make. If I beat someone who consents because they desire a romance rather than a sado-masochistic relationship, but see the latter as the gateway to the former, a way of making themselves more desirable, I’m breaching the standards I set for myself. The standards I set for myself are what I want the world to see, and to see the smiles that can result when I get it right.
That makes me, sometimes, defensive about definitions of sadism. It makes me argumentative about the idea that violence and sadism are the same. They’re not. Violence is non-consensual. My sadism is always consensual. I understand that to some people it’s all too easily to equate violence and sadism as if they’re the same thing. They’re not. Nor is my sadism a po-faced, grimly serious bedroom gothic sequence of role plays. At heart it’s just people being people, and making smiles in the way they’ve learned to.