The global BDSM scene is heaving a (probably corseted) sigh of frustration as of late. I’ve been in the Scene for just about 10 years, which is long enough for me to be able to say that I absolutely do not speak for everyone. I speak for myself and my experiences. And in my experience, very few people are suddenly aware of sites like Fetlife, or are born knowing that they enjoy rope bondage more than a thuddy flogging. Most of us come (ha!) to the world of kink either through a friend, or through media. Things like websites, movies, literature… when you’re sitting in a movie theater and the sight of a man or a woman tied down to a chair does more for you than for pretty much everyone around you, you tend to be curious as to why. So you look, you communicate with others, and you realize that there is a whole world of people just like you (or worse!), and they like it dirty!
So no, I’m not opposed to a film supposedly about BDSM. I even welcome the discussions about sex, both “vanilla” and kink, about consent, about age, about what is still taboo in our culture, that this film will inevitably bring. What I, and most people I know from the Scene, find most upsetting, is the Disneyfication of who we are and what we do.
And it’s very, very dangerous. Like, fucking LIFE OR DEATH.
Having never actually read 50 Shades of Gray, I’m going to make a few assumptions, but please do let me know if I’m wrong. Based on what I’ve heard, a young virgin falls for an older, wealthy, kinky dude, and he “lures” her into his lifestyle. So, right off the bat, the kinky person is devilish and dark. Ok, fine, sure, I know heaps of people in the Scene who wear mostly black and like to meet younger, less experienced people. But, where’s the talk about consent? What about education? What about CIRCULATION?!
Not exactly clear on what I’m talking about? Well folks, on average, most “riggers” (that would be, people who suspend others by rope or other means) spend HOURS AND HOURS learning how to do it properly. Let me amend that: YEARS. I know people who have spent YEARS learning. Even tying someone to a chair can end badly if that person has circulatory issues. There is preparation, there are ‘back-up plans,’ and yes, there are MOTHERFUCKING SAFETY WORDS.
Guess what folks?? Most of kink is actually REALLY BORING.
*”Yeah, yeah… pinch the nipples, cut off her clothes. Whatever.”*
But it’s boring for a reason. My husband and I were attending a house party in New York once, and a young, inexperienced man had a girl standing on a chair, hands tied behind her back, and was about to put a loop of rope around her neck.
Raise your hand if you can already spot the problem.
My husband quickly stepped in and showed the young man a different, safer, way of accomplishing the same end goal. But most people haven’t spent HOURS AND HOURS in classes. And by the way, this is all assuming that your kink scene includes sex… which MANY DO NOT. “But hey, that’s really complicated,” says hollywood. “Let’s skip to the fucking.” I applaud your focus, hollywood, but not necessarily your tactics.
So people will go to see this movie, get all hot and bothered, and decide that they want to do a “Rape Play” scene, or maybe they want to meet another kinkster and get into a “Consensual Non-Consent” scene, not knowing how those terms differ, or even what they really mean. So some chick will say she’s “down for consensual non-consent” to some dude she meets online because it’s “totes romantic,” and she’ll end up locked in a metal cage for a week before escaping. And then she’ll go running off to the cops crying ACTUAL assault. And everyone will look surprised and we’ll all wonder WTF just happened. Or worse, people will die. Because this movie, I’m guessing, will show the fun-fun-happy side of kink. It won’t talk about the hours of negotiation, of contracts and detailed discussions that HAVE TO HAPPEN before you even take off a stitch of clothing. Does your partner have asthma? Do they have emotional triggers? Yeah, that’s all shit you need to know before you start beating him or her, making them call you daddy, and shoving a dildo up their ass.
And worse, this girl is a VIRGIN?! How the hell does she know what she wants? Most people in the scene shy away from virgins. They bring drama and confusion. They’re just discovering themselves and have no idea what their limits are. They don’t know how some past trauma will impact a sex-positive scene, because they’ve never had sex. There are the rare exceptions, and I’ve met them; people who are experienced in everything except penetration. Fine. Whatever. These folks are the exceptions that prove my rule.
So, we’re putting a film ALL ABOUT DANGEROUS SEXUAL ACTS out to a public with little or no knowledge about how to perform these acts in a safe and consensual way. Knife play, rope play, take-downs, electrical play, flogging…. if you know how to do them, it can be a lot of fun. But if you don’t, frankly, you’re setting people up for a very, very dangerous evening.
…not that hollywood cares.