BDSM is an umbrella term that shelters a nearly endless array of kinks and fetish behavior. Lately, the alleged cannibalism fetish of the actor Armie Hammer has been all over the Internet, but there are plenty of others: puppy play, knife play, Shibari, feminization, and controlled chastity to name just a few. Just when you think you have heard it all, another unique manifestation of kink pops up. Some are amusing, while others lend themselves to discomfort (not just the activity, but even the thought of them). Hammer’s cannibalism kink has been on the “causing discomfort” end of the spectrum, with a lot of condemnation by the mainstream media. But there has been more than a few BDSM experts defending the cannibalism fetish as well. The gentrification of fringe fetishes, and those groups attempting to mainstream them in the Kink community, brings up an important question: Should we encourage unfettered freedom for anything someone can imagine, or is this runaway permissiveness a recipe for disaster?
Our community is largely made up of liberal-minded folk, who try not to judge others for their exotic kinks. We often trade offhand remarks like, “I don’t want to yuk your yum;“ or, “I’m OK with anything except children and animals;” or, “As long as it is between two consenting partners, it is not my place to judge.” Well, I suggest it IS our place to judge, and to use our intelligence, conscience and morals to deem when a particular behavior has crossed the line into exploitation or abuse, and to take a stand against it.
“Our community is largely made up of liberal-minded folk, who try not to judge others for their exotic kinks. We often trade offhand remarks like, “I don’t want to yuk your yum;“ or, “I’m OK with anything except children and animals;” or, “As long as it is between two consenting partners, it is not my place to judge.” Well, I suggest it IS our place to judge, and to use our intelligence, conscience and morals to deem when a particular behavior has crossed the line into exploitation or abuse, and to take a stand against it.”
One young woman I met, who said she also stood firmly against the sexual exploitation of animals and children, shared that she had been training her German Shephard to lick peanut butter off her genitalia. She delighted in this behavior and shared her story with anyone who would listen. Was having her dog perform cunnilingus on her a sexual act? Are these animal consensual partners, or trained servants for their master’s kink? They don’t appear to be harmed in anyway, but does that make it acceptable? Shouldn’t the videos of dogs or other animals copulating with women, or men having their genitals played with by their pets, be considered abusive to the animal and out-of-bounds?
Likewise, the desire to view photos of naked children has been defended as a harmless kink. In a recent article, a long-time proponent of man-boy relationships argued that merely looking at pictures of small children or pubescent teens in order to stimulate oneself was not immoral. He acknowledged that child pornography or the images of children engaged in sexual acts should be off limits, but insisted the titillation of those youthful images should not be held to the same standard. To him, feeding your pedophilia imagination is fine, as long as you do not engage in sexual behavior with children. Meanwhile, in Japan, a sex robot manufacturer has been expanding its supply of dolls that are sized and shaped to be the dimensions of an eight- to ten-year old child. The sex dolls have become the fasted growing sector for their business. Some psychologists have even suggested the dolls might provide an outlet for pedophiles, forestalling them from abusing real children. But won’t the acceptance of these underage dolls give unwanted legitimacy to the sexual behavior of pedophiles?
Another area in the BDSM community that is gaining a following is Erotic Hypnosis. There are now munches, online groups and conferences dedicated to it, along with articles, books and videos offering instruction about the practice. Originally known as “Controlling Hypnosis,” the new nomenclature of Erotic Hypnosis makes it sound like a benign afternoon activity, akin to a meditation or relaxation technique. However, studies by behavioral scientists have shown that hypnosis can be used to brainwash and manipulate the conscious control mechanism in individuals susceptible to suggestion.
If the standard among the fetish community is safe and consensual, how can the manipulation of someone’s mental faculties to control behavior truly allow for consent? Again, most practitioners of the fetish are not out to sabotage consent, and erotic hypnosis used responsibly can be a helpful adjunct to submissive “training.” But shouldn’t we be careful of the potential for abuse and call out those individuals using hypnosis for nefarious purposes? There are many stories of submissives who have given over their bank accounts or acted out behaviors that have undermined their rational thought processes. Clearly, consent has become murky in such situations.
Before we give the BDSM stamp of approval to any and every variation of kinky behavior, we need to look into the details with more discernment. Anytime there is exploitation of a marginalized group, animal, child or individual, we need to question our open-gate policy and be willing to set some limits. As the many ex-girlfriends of Armie Hammer who have come forward with tales of BDSM abuses have reminded us, not every fetish is practiced within the bounds of “safe, sane and consensual,” and we need to be honest about that. And we need to speak up when we come across it in our local communities. While the lines can often be blurry when it comes to fetish behavior, one thing is clear — sexual justice is everyone’s responsibility.
Mistress Lila, is a Domme with more that twenty-five years BDSM experience both professionally and personally. She resides in Central California where she offers workshops on the subject, and counsels lifestyle couples.