People automatically assume that because I go by the moniker BDSM, I live my life sucking on a golf ball. People who identify as BDSM face discrimination because of their sexual orientation. We talked to a few of them about the taboo’s effects and got their advice on how to go about fulfilling your kinky fantasies without offending anyone.

It was his intention to sever my ribs, grill them, and then devour them. Armie Hammer (34), a young American actor, is the subject of numerous allegations that surfaced in January 2021. When it comes to digital connections, it appears as if Hammer has a cannibalistic predilection and unwittingly crossed boundaries with his bed partners, ex-girlfriends, and other digital connections. It’s all the way up to aggravated assault from there.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to corroborate claims of sexual assault. However, it’s looking more and more likely that Hammer has harmed his victims in some way, particularly by making them suffer from sexual trauma. The reactions of the general public to the revelations are even more moving. Aside from blaming the victim, the allegations of non-consensual sex and assault are completely eclipsed by the laughter about Hammer’s purported sexual fantasies and preferences, which is just as bad.

What this shows is that anyone who comes forward as a victim of sexual violence in BDSM relationships is more likely to be met with confusion and disapproval than support and understanding. What is the source of this mindset, and what are the ramifications? Moreover, what are the safest ways for a new kinkster to put their sexual desires into action?

The Power Play

To begin, allow me to provide a succinct explanation. BDSM stands for B ondage, D iscipline, S adisme, and M asochisme (enjoyment chosen from inflicting pain or humiliation on another). It is an acronym for B ondage, D iscipline, and S adisme (enjoyment pick from receiving pain or humiliation).

Erik van Beek, a sexologist, says that BDSM is all about exploiting gender power imbalances. “Roles are assigned in every game. The party in power usually takes the lead and initiates the conversation. When it comes to setting boundaries, the submissive party acquiesces, but ultimately retains control. Because “with BDSM, submission always takes place by mutual consent,” as Van Beek puts it so emphatically. That’s what we call giving consent. Armie Hammer allegedly broke this basic rule.

Lifestyle

However, simply experimenting with plush handcuffs does not necessarily mean that you are a member of the BDSM. Those who use the term BDSM to describe themselves frequently use terms like “lifestyle,” “orientation,” and “sexual preference.” “It’s something you’re born with,” Dongen resident Laura (33) says. “You can love the colour blue or rock music because it’s in you.”

In the past few months, Laura has been seeing another BDSMer, Martijn (38). Even though he’s submissive, he’s the one who always assumes the dominant role in their relationship (‘dom’). One common misunderstanding about BDSM, according to Martijn, is that it always involves sex. “BDSM and sex are distinct concepts for me. As an example, I enjoy whipping Laura with whips, but it isn’t required that we follow that up with sex or cum.” Pre-corona BDSM parties attended by Martijn had very little sexual activity, according to him. There is usually a chat and play at the end of the night, but it seems wilder in gay clubs.”

Shadesqueen also agrees that there is a lot of social control in the scene. She organises informal BDSM gatherings, such as munches for young Flemish people, where she shares information and experiences. It spreads quickly within the group and on the internet if someone has bad intentions or crosses boundaries. According to her, someone in the mould of Armie Hammer would have been kicked out of the group. According to Van Beek, the majority of issues arise from people who aren’t fully integrated into the community. In BDSM relationships, the majority of sexual violence victims are young people with limited life experience, according to research.

Aside from the fact that their inexperience is exploited, newcomers tend to hide negative experiences from the people around them. Because of this, Van Beek says, “the threshold to come out if something goes wrong” is still very high when it comes to BDSM. Only 5% of BDSM users who had ever felt abused had come forward, according to a survey conducted in 2014 by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice among hundreds of users.

All of the BDSM members we spoke with for this piece agreed that the stigma remains. “Everyone thinks you’re crazy,” Laura says. Some of my family members may have an idea, but I don’t bring it up. I am sure they are shocked.” Despite Martijn’s best efforts, he frequently runs into people who don’t understand him. “That’s due to a lack of long-term planning. As soon as they hear the initials BDSM, they automatically assume I live every day with a ball in my mouth.

Shadesqueen learned the hard way how damaging taboos and stereotypes can be a few years ago. She agreed to be a model for a photographer during a game of bondage. It happened while they were doing the photo shoot, and he raped her. When she called the police to report the incident shortly after, she got on the phone with a female officer. Immediately. In her words, having agreed to bondage, I should have known that this was not going to end well. She instilled guilt in me by implying that it was my fault. My case had no chance in court.”

Persons to Look Up To

Shadesqueen has been able to cope with the trauma with the assistance of a psychologist friend, but she is still enraged because she feels unheard in the criminal justice system. “If you report it to BDSM after crossing the border in Belgium, you run the risk of getting a case against you.” Belgian criminal law says a person cannot consent to his or her own violence, unlike Dutch law. Because of this, any form of BDSM that causes pain is illegal. When a Flemish couple was convicted in 2014 of consensual SM and posting video footage online, they received a suspended prison sentence.

These cases illustrate why it’s critical to end the BDSM taboo. Van Beek asserts that there is also a duty to take care of those in the community. Role models who are at the centre of society and open about what they do in their spare time are still lacking. This helps to maintain the negative stereotype of BDSM members as creeps. As the sexologist points out, healthcare providers like general practitioners, psychologists, and law enforcement officers should be better informed about unjustified stereotypes of BDSM people and their unique health problems. They should be educated.

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