UNDERSTANDING BDSM

“In his landmark tome, Psychopathia Sexualis, police doctor Richard von Kraftt-Ebbing, in the late 19th century, chose to equate the Count Donatien Alphonse François deSade’s personal “libertinism” and his literary excesses with criminal atrocities. As a result, the terms “Sadist” and “SadoMasochist” can be applied equally well to psychotic criminals, abusive parents, and … well … you and me — people who eroticize consensual power exchange, or take pleasure in strong sensations.”

https://www.aswgt.com/SandMUtopian%20Guardian%20magazine/content-sade.html

FROM THE ADAM AND GILLIAN’S WHIPS AND TOYS 

https://www.aswgt.com/welcome.html

I wrote this last April while I was on major depression hiatus. But several things when I came back made me want to open some kind of dialogue. One was the review referred to here. Another was someone looking for an MM rec who wanted a certain kind of Dom, but said “NO BDSM.”

Wat? I asked. Seems readers have gotten the impression that BDSM is all about pain and degradation. Doms as bullies who want to control every action and thought and expression. And people can have that, if that’s what they want.

But many BDSM relationships involve little or no whacking. And the pain is all from orgasm denial – or it’s minimal because what the Dom wants is control and what the sub wants from punishment is humiliation and a bit of stinginess is enough to fuel their enjoyment. Here’s the original post:

You aren’t supposed to answer critics or even read bad reviews. But I’m going to because people should know:

NO ONE IS A BDSM EXPERT

I’m going to quote from a 2 star review and get to the expert thing in a second.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I continue with this series.

I’m not sure, either, and I invite you sincerely to not waste your time and find ones you like better. No hard feelings at all. 

Then they go on to cite criticisms which are pretty valid if you’re sensitive to typos. Or hate flashbacks. I like them, obviously. Not everyone has read the earlier books and I like showing the continuity of the character arcs.

(As an aside, I also had a recent neg review where the guy said it was “sad” Hunt and Cam were relating on an emotional level instead of just focusing on “raw sex.” 😆 😆 😆 ) 

Anyway, at the end they say:

Add to that contradictory elements in the power dynamic between Cam and Hunt? I think I’m stopping at this point.

Now we’re at the point.

THERE ARE NO CONTRADICTORY ELEMENTS IN THE POWER DYNAMIC BETWEEN HUNT AND CAM BECAUSE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.

After 50 Shades, bdsm became all the rage in indie books and fan fic. And even before, but it did go mainstream. Self-styled “experts” popped up on every cyber street corner. A large number of these people have never done what they say, or are quoting something they read. There are a few, very few – okay maybe one or two – really good BDSM advice communities online. This is this one, IMO: https://www.reddit.com/r/BDSMcommunity

But in the general social media world are many shooting off their mouths based on stuff they read online from people who don’t know any more than they do and telling everyone –

THERE ARE RULES

Not really. There are no universal rules, no “shoulds” or “shouldn’ts.” There’s no form that power dynamics have to take.

That sound radical?

Here’s the thing: The only experts are the people in D/s relationships and they are only experts about themselves. Though they may be keen observers. I like to think I was keenly observing. What can I say, I like to watch, too.

A lot of couples don’t have safewords. They just don’t need them. I often didn’t. It’s not a big deal in an intimate relationship, and often not important in a hook-up. Just depends on the situation.

No rules doesn’t mean there is not good advice, the benefit of experience, and common practices that have become common for good reasons.

Are my books “realistic” in terms of the power dynamics? I’m a BDSM switch, so I think so. There are gay Doms and subs I’ve never even met who say so. Are Hunt&Cam reflective of the BDSM relationships in general?

Also not possible. I haven’t the faintest, foggiest, notion what “in general” would mean here and neither does anyone else.

But they are real in terms of my own experience and that of people I know or have known and things I, as a heterosexual switch, have done. (Except for one thing Hunt stuck in my head and I refused to write at first but he insisted. So I contacted a lovely friend who is a very experienced gay Dom and said, “Is this right?!!” He laughed at me, as I recall, for thinking it was a big deal.)

Sometimes I think I should just write a series of biographical posts about what it’s been like during my lifetime—what these clubs (gay and straight) were like pre-AIDS. How things changed. How subs can actually dominate the BDSM “club” scene to the point no one wants to go. Srsly, it’s way more middle school than anything.

And BTW, the majority of people in D/s relationship don’t go to clubs, afaik.

Pre-internet, before the “sexual revolution,” we DIYed our own gags and restraints. Kitchens and furnace rooms were our dungeons. Also bedrooms with the bdsm aspects cleverly disguised in case of children or in-laws.

If you’re searching for yourself, looking for information or support, find an online community you feel comfortable in and avoid anyone who tells you how it has to be, or what you should or must do, or who you should be.

Here’s my own I believe this is universal must do: communicate more. I think this is at the heart of 90% of the issues in D/s relationships and BDSM encounters.

There’s a DARK SIDE, too. Maybe I’ll write about that later.

4 comments

  1. I agree that communication is the universal MUST DO. Doesn’t matter if you are in a power exchange relationship, another kind of relationship, as a parent, as a child, as a friend – without communication, nothing works well. Once you are exploring power exchange, however, I think it is the most critical element of your relationship.

    One of the (many) things I love about Hunt & Cam is how their relationship is organic. The power exchange flows from both of them back and forth without a lot of structured steps. I am sure that there are some relationships where the Dom/sub agreement is for more rules and more commands, and sometimes Hunt & Cam have that, but all in all I think they have a beautiful understanding of one another. Of course they do have to have communication, but they are characters and in real life relationships communication is even more important, to have clear expectations and understanding.

    DH and I play with some power exchange, but not much, and it’s really interesting to read this from your perspective. I do read a lot of BDSM lit, and of all of it Hunt & Cam are my favorites. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thank you for taking the time and I’m so glad they resonate with you. They do seem to be made for each other and neither of them is all that talkative. I think Hunter likes re-creating the beginning, where he didn’t have a clue what Cam would do next. But this works for them because of how much Cam loves Hunt and how adept he is, which allows for complete trust.

    IRL, in my experience, a lot of people simply refuse to discuss it. So they kind of drift into it. And no one knows where the boundaries are and then they can’t feel really safe with each other. They end up never having what they want (which they are often secretly ashamed of) and it’s all very frustrating and inevitably ends up affecting other parts of the relationship.

    In my m/f BDSM Desire for … trilogy, Ben insists Avia talk to him in the car while driving home. It’s a very non-sexual environment which makes it harder. Avia, who is bright red for most of it and very hesitant, says at the end:

    “I just think it’s weird.”
    “What you want?” he asked. “It’s not. It’s pretty common, actually.”
    “No, I mean talking about sex this way. Planning it. Like which movie I want to see.”

    Talking is also not romantic, not the stuff of fiction. Whether there’s BDSM involved or not, I think too many couples end up frustrated simply because they will not tell each other what they want.

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  3. I love the dynamic between Hunt and Cam. It is my fervent hope that Hunter will nag you until you write another with them has the main characters. I have read all the books, most more than once and was very happy when I found fractured men had been written and I waited impatiently for it to be released. Love this series .

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