It’s the Internet, Stupid! How the Online World Encourages Abuse in the BDSM Subculture

I received a private message from someone who was commenting on how BDSM per se doesn’t inspire abuse, but that “…people watch vids on the internet, get it into their heads that subs are just human punching bags that will do anything for anyone and that misunderstanding of everything does cause abuse”.

Yup, you’ve hit the nail on the head, guy.  No, it’s not BDSM per se that is the problem, but all of the rest of the crap – and I include the books, including the Story of O and all of the older books and videos, not just the new crap and the Internet influences – that cause the problems.

Or, more precisely, giving them too much weight is what does it.  There’s nothing wrong with getting ideas from these sources, but one has to understand the limits of that.

I’ve found that the ability to separate fantasy from what’s viable in real life is sadly lacking in many, and it is the use of these books and videos essentially as “how to” manuals instead of recognizing them as pretty purely wank fodder that leads people astray.

Couple that with the emphasis on secrecy and confidentiality, and a whole lot of really bad – and nonconsensual – stuff gets swept neatly under the rug where it never sees the light of day, and the perpetrators get away with it with more and more people.

Those who eventually wake up to the abuse they are suffering are often too embarrassed to be open about it for many reasons, including embarrassment that they fell for it in the first place, plus fear of being ostracized for breaking the code of silence, especially if the perpetrator is popular or friends with the local community’s leaders, or is powerful in some other way perhaps outside the scene altogether.

Interestingly enough, at the class that Midori and I both attended, when asked how many people in the room had been raped, half the hands went up – and when asked how many of us had reported the rape, all but one went down.  The pressures to not report it are strong, even in the kink world.

Sadly, those who will not or cannot keep their bottoms safe on various levels tend to screw things up a lot for everyone.  I cried when reading an excellent post this guy wrote about why we do wiitwd, going into depth about the passions invoked and the challenges of taking a hard scene and coming out safely on the other side with a trusted dominant, because I do so crave being with someone who can do that with me. 

A lot of the story of why people stay in abusive relationships would fill a book, and comprises stories that we hear repeatedly in various forms throughout our subculture, when people are paying attention.  Some are more clever about it and able to hide it longer or present it in a form that is harder to detect and more insidious.  With others, it’s more overtly obvious.

The details and specifics vary, but the underlying issues remain the same – and that is that although there are indeed (thankfully!) those who find a way to express all of this safely, there are still many who are drawn to it precisely because they can get away with their shit by hiding behind the guise of being a dominant.  They get away with it because of the grey lines between kink and abuse, and because of the culture of secrecy.  The people who tend to be tarred and feathered when abuse is exposed are the victims.

All a garden variety bully or abuser has to do is hang out his shingle as a dominant, and voila! – suddenly he has a license to do all kinds of things to a partner just because “it’s all about the dominant”, to water it all down to its most basic.  And she’s a “bad submissive” if she doesn’t just take it.  All of this is sanctioned and encouraged by the whole community.  We hear it every day – “Well, honey, you agreed to submit to him, so now you have to do everything he says, and put up with whatever he wants to do to you, because He’s The Dominant, so suck it up, and put up or shut up”.  And now she’s the bad guy for complaining, and the group all piles on her.

This kind of combination is what really creates a haven for the abusive in our world.

Midori’s point in this thread about what happens over time in a relationship vs at any given moment is important, too.  That’s a major element I’ve been trying to put my finger on for a while but hadn’t been able to quite verbalize yet.  I’ll write more about it as I’m able to formulate a more coherent theory.

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One thought on “It’s the Internet, Stupid! How the Online World Encourages Abuse in the BDSM Subculture

  1. Pingback: Recognition of Problem of Abuse in the Kink Community, and RACK vs SSC « Kinkylittlegirl

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