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Our Recent Posts

Humble Pie

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 02:08


So a few years ago, I wrote about my uneasy relationship with the “other f-word.”

Yeah. That.

So now, I am eating humble pie. For those who commented back then, I apologize for my pigheadedness; of course I am a feminist.

I just had to get to the point where I could accept that like any group of people with shared ideals, there is a range from barely interested to fanatical and that I fit somewhere in the juicy middle of the bell curve.

I think I will file this under “stuff that was obvious to everyone but me.”

 

Consent is Consent is Consent

Cheryl's Flotsam & Jetsam - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 23:11

I am happy to live in Canada which, on the whole, doesn’t get bent out of shape over kinky things that public or private people may do in their own homes, write about, or even act out on camera, but it seems there is still a double standard when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct or violence when it intersects with kink.

When CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi was fired, and that was followed by a statement that he was being basically framed by a jilted ex-girlfriend, Canada found itself in the middle of a very public discussion about kinky sex. As soon as the flag of BDSM was raised, people started to question the allegations. Initially, I was among them, adamant that this should not be about sex-shaming, because little detail was available and initially looked like a nasty he said/she said situation. As more details have been revealed, and more people come forward however, I am not feeling so neutral.

I am also not willing to watch the media use kink to paint a giant shade of grey over this scandal. To be clear: this ALL comes down to consent but is consent enough?

What happened to “No means no?” Contrary to popular belief and some popular fiction, it does not disappear when one enters into a BDSM relationship, but it might not take the form of the word NO. It may appear as a “safeword” or a hand signal, but it remains an option. BDSM is a broad umbrella of kink that is united by consent. Two common acronyms within the community — SSC (“safe, sane, and consensual”) and RACK (“risk-aware consensual kink”) — explicitly state that consent is part of the play.

Activities are usually negotiated in advance and it often takes a lot of trust to build up to some of the things alleged in this case. Andrea Zanin outlines it perfectly in her post, “Poor prosecuted pervert,”

Ghomeshi says he’s into a “mild version of Fifty Shades of Grey.” The anonymous accusers say he hit them with a closed fist and an open hand, beat them about the face and head, and choked them to the point of almost passing out, among other things. I’m gonna break out my Pervert Glasses to read what’s being said here about kink.

Face-punching and choking to the point of unconsciousness are absolutely some people’s kinks. But even among seasoned BDSM players, these acts are widely understood to be things you must do only with the most carefully negotiated consent, with a goodly amount of education and practice, and with the knowledge that they are highly risky. Beginner BDSM this is not. As a BDSM educator, I have been teaching how to do safe body punching for over a decade, and I don’t go near the face except symbolically (fake or very light impact for psychological effect). It’s just too easy to do major damage. I’m sure someone out there could teach you how to do it safely, but it won’t be me. As for choking, it’s a topic of massive debate among pervs, with some veteran kinksters even insisting that there is simply no safe way to do it and therefore shouldn’t be done at all. I’m not saying everyone agrees on the absolute-no approach. But I am saying that Ghomeshi’s argument that what he does is a “mild version of Fifty Shades of Grey” does not match up with his apparent practice of engaging in very high-risk activities with women he’s just beginning to date. If what they’re saying is true, that discrepancy alone is enough to make me highly suspicious of his “I’m a poor innocent kinkster” argument. A mild version of Fifty Shades would be some dirty talk (probably with poor grammar) and necktie bondage.

The rest of the article is just as interesting, and I highly recommend the whole thing. Why does it matter what was alleged? Because of where the Supreme Court of Canada draws the line when it comes to consent. Brenda Cossman outlines it in “The Ghomeshi Question: the law and consent,”

“The Supreme Court has said that consent that is given only in advance isn’t determinative – consent is an ongoing process and a person must be in a state of consciousness to be able to withdraw that consent at any time.“

and

“Carefully negotiated consent is rendered irrelevant, and effectively criminalizes all those who derive sexual pleasure from activities that involve physical pain, if it leaves a mark. But, it’s the law.”

That makes a lot of what takes place between consenting adults risky behavior in the eyes of the Canadian legal system. Dan Savage illustrates this well in his piece, “Prominent CBC Radio Host Claims He Was Fired for Consensual BDSM Sex

“The ability to produce e-mails or texts showing that a person consented to kinks A, B, and C does not prove that person consented to kinks D, E, and F; those same e-mails and texts also don’t prove that a person who had previously consented to kinks A, B, and C didn’t withdraw their consent during sex that included kinks A, B, and C.”

Savage also gets the best last words on consent here via Twitter, with which I completely agree:

I oppose the demonization of consensual kinksters. I despise abusers who cover for their crimes by claiming to be consensual kinksters.

 

See Also:

bonus creepy-in-new-context: Q Blog: about the rape culture debate

The title of this post is a nod to Gertrude Stein’s quotation “a rose is a rose is a rose” which she used to differentiate herself from Romanticism and other earlier schools of writing. In her Postmodernist way, she was stating that things are what they are. In this case, I believe consent is consent is consent, and whether it was given and later revoked, never given in the first place, or completely irrelevant in the eyes of the law, it is what it is.

Photo credit: cropped from “Jian’s Interview #24” by Damien D. CC-BY-SA on Flickr.