- Debunking the Myth that “Fifty Shades” caused a BDSM revolution
- Lee Harrington’s Passion and Soul podcast has an interesting discussion of various models and methods of consent, including the familiar SSC, RACK, and PRICK, but also the “cruising” model as practice by gay men, in which consent is negotiated by breaking norms of eye contact.
- Sex negative Amendment 2 coming in Georgia, by which any group discussing sexuality, such as BDSM educational or social groups, might have to pay “assessments” to the state.
- Kink.com and other adult producers are protesting the condom-mandating Proposition 60 in California
- Photographers upset by “Ask First” stickers at Folsom Street Fair
- The podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You had a trilogy of episodes on kink: the Many Lives of Bettie Page, BDSM 101, and The Professional Dominatrix. Also a blog post on historical whipping women.
- Back in 2012, Catherine Scott began a lengthy series of blog posts on BDSM from a feminist perspective in Bitch magazine.
HBO’s Westworld TV series postulates a fantasy world where guests interact with non-human “hosts” in a simulated Wild West setting. The narrative, much like the previously discussed Dollhouse, explores the issue of what happens when people are removed from their usual social restrictions and are able to act on their fantasies and desires.
(Note: spoilers ahead)
I sat astride his chest, ‘It’s just a thrill,’ he said,
As he relaxed on the dark, dark bed, ‘it’s just breath control.’
He whispered ‘Hold me here’ and I did and his head fell back.
He whispered ‘Press harder’ and I did and his eyes rolled back.
It’s just breath control. Just breath control.Read more: Recoil – Breath Control Lyrics | MetroLyrics
One of the insights I had into the overall historical arc of BDSM is the issue of safety, who decides what is safe, and how, and how is that knowledge distributed. My thoughts on this crystallized after a recent weekend workshop on rough play, which included a discussion on edgeplay and the risks involved in thinks like choking and other forms of breathplay.
Some of the legal discourse about BDSM, notably in the Operation Spanner case, has compared BDSM to sports, in terms of consensual activities with a risk of injury or death. Historically, pursuits like boxing, wrestling, gridiron football, etc, have gone through a process of “taming”, with the developments of rules that specify required protective gear, proscribed conduct in play, and the like.
- Belier Press is publishing Possibilities, a massive collection of the photography of John Coutts, better known as John Willie, publisher of the classic Bizarre magazine. “Informative Text, including additional Biographical Information about the Photographer, Copious Notes, and Valuable Advice for Serious Collectors”
- For those men whose sexual coming-of-age occurred before the Internet era, there was a certain rite of passage involving going to adult bookstores. “I bought a Swedish nudes magazine to show my friends, but I also bought three BDSM magazines that day.” gives us a taste of what that vanished era was like, especially for the kinky.
- During my first time in New York City, my hosts and I talked about going to La Nouvelle Justine, a BDSM-themed restaurant, but didn’t go. I don’t know how long that lasted, but there was a SM-themed supper club in NYC a few years later, La Maison de Sade, which lasted from c.1999 to 2001. The site also has a review of a 1998 party, SMack.
- My approach to BDSM comes from the humanities, but the STEM fields do their own valuable work. The Science of BDSM has an extensive bibliography on books and journal articles.
- Macho Sluts, an anthology of lesbian BDSM stories by Patrick Califia (then known as Pat), was a groundbreaking work. Carolyn Bronstein’s essay “The Political Uses of Lesbian Romance Fiction: Reading Patrick Califia’s Macho Sluts as a Response to 1980s Anti-Pornography Feminism” provides historical context.
- Rebel Circus has a slide show and short history of Bettie Page.
There are a couple of principles I keep in mind when studying history. The first is, “You have to work with the evidence you have.” We have no way of knowing how many people secretly had relationships like Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick, but left no historical evidence. Likewise, I and other scholars of this particular field have to contend with the lack of historical material about lesbian SM before the 1970s. Maybe somewhere there’s an old journal or manuscript or audiotape sitting in somebody’s basement, and someday somebody will find it and open up a new field of study.
The second principle is, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” It’s highly unlikely there were no lesbian women doing SM before 1974, but we can only make cautious, educated inferences based on what evidence we do have.
Thankfully, somebody scanned and posted old issues of Lesbian Tide, which contain what may be the earliest mentions of BDSM in lesbian media. As I mentioned before, lesbian SM emerged into visibility at the same time and in dialectic with more restrictive theorizations of lesbian-feminist sexuality, and it cannot be discussed without also discussing this conflict.
- Profile of Henry Kenneth Bulmer, who wrote a series of exploitation novels concerning antebellum slavery, under the pen name of Clint Rockman. This was a sub-genre of novel popular in the 1970s but didn’t last into the 1980s.
- Discussion of the character Iron Bull as a positive depiction of a dominant in the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition, compared to Venus in Furs and Fifty Shades of Grey.
- Advocate’s slideshow on LGBTQ people of color in the leather/festish scene.
- Nine of the most iconic retro BDSM illustrators
- The Rise of BDSM (Sub)culture and Its (Dis)contents: A Literature Review, by Ying-Chao Kao
Ortmann, David M., and Richard A. Sprott. 2013. Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Sexual Outsiders is primarily a guide for people in the helping professions (psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counsellors).
If you need to ask why this book is necessary, there is a problem of “therapy refugees”, people who have been unable to get therapy because they have been, or fear being, rejected for being kinky:
“After an off-hand comment made by the therapist about ‘those sick people who beat each other,’ I was put into a position of being unable to talk about any connections I had to BDSM. I also felt that it was unsafe to discuss that I was raped by a partner (which was something I needed to talk about) because we had been involved in a Dom/sub relationship.” [Pg.122-123]
Our Lives, Our History: Consensual Master/Slave Relationships from Ancient Times to the 21st Century is now available at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. You can also see some previews on the publisher’s page.
- A brief video on the brief history of kittenplay, which appears to be a young and purely internet-based sub-subculture
- Portland, Oregon’s new BDSM-themed club and coffee shop, the Moonfyre Cafe
- The first 10 minutes of a presentation on the kinky origins of comic book superheroine Wonder Woman. The main takeaway is that all descendants of the creator’s family are under a gag order from DC Comics/Warner Bros. not to talk about anything that isn’t already published.
- Remember Second Life? The BDSM scene in that virtual world is still thriving.
- Measure for Measure wasn’t Shakespeare’s only kinky play. There’s a lot in The Taming of the Shrew too.
- More on the lesbian/feminist struggles over SM in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
- Short bit on Victorian flagellation.
Our Lives, Our History: Consensual Master/Slave Relationships from Ancient Times to the 21st Century is now available for pre-order on Amazon.