A lot has been made since Sunday’s revelation that Jian Ghomeshi relationship ended with CBC. Shortly after CBC made the announcement, Ghomeshi posted an update on his Facebook. This included the following statement;
“Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life. “
This comment, along with other themes on his Facebook post, has led to many different themes of discussion. One of them was the topic of BDSM.
To be clear, and I think many would assume this, I do not know much about BDSM. I have had some conversations, but my opinions and perspective can be effectively denounced as uneducated. However, I do think in the midst of this discussion and debate of what exactly happened with Ghomeshi, it is important to get sone knowledge on what exactly BDSM is.
This is why I approached someone who I know is a member of the community to write a guest post tonight. But first, some clarity.
From my understanding and conversations, many in the BDSM have chosen to keep this a private manner. There are several different reasons for that. Family, confidentiality, fear of judgement. For these reasons, the person and I have agreed that the author be anonymous. I hope you can respect that. I also hope that you respect that this is a perspective, and as you will read, it is one perspective. This person give’s theirs.
So, I hope this gives you a perspective on what BDSM is. My sense is this debate about Ghomeshi is long way from over. The topic of BDSM and what it is will continue.
I also ask that you refrain from any judgemental and abusive remarks to the individual.
I never heard the name Jian Ghomeshi before this week and I still don’t really know anything about him. What I do know is that because of this man, it seems the whole country is abuzz. Now I’m not one to decide innocence or guilt, I’ll leave that up to our justice system but I do take issue with anyone being judged based on their sexual orientation or their lifestyle choices. As I said, I’m not one to decide innocence or guilt so I am not going to speculate what happened between Jian and his former lover. What I hope to do is spread an understanding of what BDSM is. I have always been of the belief that the more people understand the less judgmental they become.
I discovered BDSM and more specifically Domination and submission (D/s) nearly ten years ago when I was in my late 30’s. It was at times overwhelming to learn how very different people can be while still all being the same at the end of the day.
Every day of my life I hear some variation of “Oh I can’t do that, it wouldn’t be right” or “You must behave like XYZ, nothing else is acceptable” When I hear this I want to scream, WHY?? Why do we all have to conform? Why can’t we be expressive of what’s inside of us without fear of retribution for being different? Within my community there is a sub-community, a BDSM community, a community where people can be themselves without fear.. Few people in this community use their real name, some because they prefer a nickname but many others because they fear being found out, they fear their employer or family or their Pastor finding out that they enjoy associating with so called sexual deviants.
This fear is very real and it is very justified. People from all walks of life take part in some sort of BDSM activities, this includes Doctors and Lawyers as well as Celebrities, it also includes people who may be going through a divorce with a child custody battle. The fact is that simply associating with the BDSM community can be risky for people who want to protect their privacy. Someone might attend and event because they are fascinated with Shibari (decorative rope bondage considered to be an art form) and they want to learn more, or they may hope to meet a potential partner who is interested in it as well but as they are seen leaving the event the rumors begin to fly, suddenly, instead of being someone who is open minded and interested in an art form they become sexual deviants and are labeled abusers.
The reality of this community is really that of a family that is very protective of it’s members. I know with absolute certainty that if I went to members of the community and said that I need help then I would get help. If I went to members of the community and asked for information they would be sure to get me the information. And you know, it wouldn’t bother me a bit if I was getting that help from a guy who prefers to wear dresses or from a girl who gets completely turned on by Shibari or from someone with bruises on her backside because her partner was having so much fun with his new paddle the night before.
I digress, you don’t want to know about the BDSM community, you want to know about S&M, the juicy stuff.
S&M, Sadomasochism is only part of what BDSM is. I identify as a submissive who might have some masochistic tendencies.
The first thing you need to know is that if whatever is taking place is not 100% consensual then it is not BDSM, it is indeed abuse. But what about the term “consensual non consent”? This would be something that would be discussed at length between partners, they might discuss a scenario in very general terms with the sub or masochist consenting to whatever else might happen. This is not something to take lightly, it is very important that both partners have full trust in each other. Why do the girls in BDSM porn always look terrified and end up crying? Simple answer really, BECAUSE IT’S PORN, it’s not real!! No means no….except in BDSM? This is often true for a few reasons. Think of a small child being tickled and shouting “no” or “stop” so you stop tickling just for him to want you to start again. No and stop are words that we often say instinctively without thought and often without really meaning it. Many people who practice BDSM use safe words, a word that is not used in everyday language that means stop or no. If you were at a BDSM event and heard someone shouting “purple elephant” you could be pretty sure that is their safe word and whatever activity they are engaging in will stop immediately.
Safe words are used because both partners know ahead of time that activities they are engaging in can be risky, they are aware of the risks and they are also aware that sometimes things might go wrong therefore they need a quick easy way to communicate that the activity must stop immediately. S&M activities often stir up deep emotions, ones that we thought were long buried and gone. A safe word may be called because the physical pain has gotten to be more than they can handle (keep in mind we are talking bruises and welts, not broken bones) or a safe word might be called because an unpleasant memory or emotion had surfaced and that partner simply needs to stop play in order to deal with these feelings. But what about when the partner is gagged? Those partners have come up with a way to non verbally safe word, often the masochist will be holding an object in their hand and if they need things to stop they will simply drop the item.
So why do people do this you are probably wondering. Well, if you ask 100 different people you will probably get 100 different answers so I will give you my reasons.
I do it because it’s fun….well it is, and sometimes that’s really the only reason.
The first conclusion I came to to explain why I enjoy this type of play is that I love a challenge and enduring physical pain is an incredible challenge. Fight or flight wants to kick in, but no, I have to win, I have to hold on as long as I can. In the end it is so satisfying, and I have an incredible feeling of accomplishment.
After having done some serious self reflection I did discover another reason why I engage in this type of play. Life is hard, life beats you down sometimes and when it does the world will look at you and wait to see if you can manage to get back up on your own. I have realized that it is less the actual S&M play that I crave but then end of the play session, the time when my partner wraps a soft blanket around me and holds the glass of water for me while he strokes my hair and tells me how amazing I am. You see, life won’t pick you up and make it all better but my partner will.
BDSM is not abuse, it is not about a submissive being weak or about conforming to what anyone else feel they should. BDSM is about being true to yourself, it’s about discovering your own flaws and weaknesses and embracing them so that you can overcome them. It’s about growth and sharing yourself with someone else completely, it’s about being completely honest with yourself and with your partner even if you don’t want the neighbors to know.