Lasting Marks is a short documentary on the infamous Operation Spanner case, in which gay men in 1980s Britain were arrested and tried for consensual sadomasochism. I should point out that the documentary is mostly scans of newspaper articles and legal documents, with a voiceover interview with one of the accused.
Last week, a US federal district court ruled (PDF) that there is no constitutional right to engage in BDSM.
The Atlantic has an article on how the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom successfully lobbied the American Psychiatric Association to remove BDSM from the Diagnostic and Sexual Manual. (Another for the “I should have written that” file.)
It’s an interesting development that actual kinky people have directly and successfully worked with medical authorities to depathologize kink. It took a long time before LGBT people could have the organization to do the same.
Khan, Ummni. Vicarious Kinks: S/m in the Socio-Legal Imaginary. Toronto Univ. of Toronto Press, 2014.
Remember “Two Girls One Cup“? This video clip of two women appearing to eat feces out of a cup went viral a few years ago. I happened to be at a vanilla party where everybody wanted to take their turn seeing the clip, with the kind of horrified fascination usually seen in children poking a dead mouse. The clip went viral powered by that kind of attraction/repulsion experience, exposing it to an audience orders of magnitude larger than the probably tiny audience of corporophagia fetishists it was originally made for. Disgust is a powerful force in human experience, perhaps more powerful than desire.
Jamie Dornan, who played Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film, was less than flattering in his view of the kink scene, as he told Elle UK:
He visits a sex-dungeon of course. “I went there, they offered me a beer, and they did…whatever they were into. I saw a dominant with one of his two submissives,” he says.
There was plenty of kink… and plenty laughter. “I was like: ‘Come on guys I know I’m not paying for this but I am expecting a show.’ It was an interesting evening. Then going back to my wife and newborn baby afterwards… I had a long shower before touching either of them.”
Not only did Dornan treat this as an exhibition for his pleasure, he evinced disgust afterwards, especially in the context of not touching his wife or child, as if he was contaminated. (Probably some of the people he observed had their own spouses and children. Did they take a long shower before touching them?)
Even people who are on the side of kinky people still need to express their disgust of BDSM. Law professor Alan Young, who defended Ontario pro-dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, wrote in his book:
Despite my championing of the S/M cause, I always had a bit of sadness when I thought about some of the characters inhabiting this sub-terranean world. It’s somewhat pathetic that someone has to dress up as Louis XV or as an infant in a soiled diaper and yell “Vive la France” or whimper “Mommy, don’t hurt me too bad” in order to get a sexual buzz. I find this sad because I still believe that vanilla sex is one of the most magnificent and oceanic experiences available in life’s repertoire. Who needs the costumes and the humiliation? Well, I guess some people do. [Pg. 278-279, quoting Young’s 2003 book, pg. 97]
Young uses words like “sadness” or “pathetic” to describe BDSM, while his own sex life is “magnificent and oceanic”. It’s not enough to say that he feels no attraction to BDSM, he has to denigrate it and valorize his own vanilla sexuality.
Both Dornan and Young described their reaction to BDSM as one of visceral disgust, and in so doing re-state their attachment to the normative values of heterosexual family and vanilla sexuality.
The National Coalition on Sexual Freedom is running a survey on consent in BDSM, and they plan on closing it in two weeks. I think this is a worthy cause towards gathering data on an important issue.
I have some quibbles with the design of the survey, as some of the questions about personal rights extend well beyond the realms of BDSM. For example, one involves how much you believe a person can consent to being killed, which is far more likely to come up in the context of debilitating illness than anything resembling BDSM.
While the fifteen-minutes of this story have apparently passed, I want to bring up an editorial post on Canadian alternative news site Rabble.ca about the RCMP case: Private fantasy, public reality: The RCMP, BDSM and violence against women, by Meghan Murphy.
How could a man who so clearly enjoys degrading women fairly assess a case that is explicitly about violence against women, about dehumanizing women, and that played out as it did (in that the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside were ignored by the police for years) because the women who were going missing were viewed as worthless?
Salon.com has a post on what the role of Fetlife should be in preventing or controlling abuse in the Scene.
Vintage Sleaze has a fun tidbit of kink history. Sam Menning, an actor who also worked as a photographer, took fetish pics, including the great Betty Page.
Menning eventually became the “house” photographer of sorts for Gargoyle, a distributor of 4 x 5 nude photos with a fetish bent. Mind you, they were 1950’s photos of a fetish bent…which meant play-acting with rather dim and confused models being asked to look tough…dramatic to this day, but little more than lingerie ads with the models in black. Not MY cup of tea, but someone’s.
Meanwhile, Senator Estes Kefauver was gunning for porn publisher Samuel Roth, particularly for the fetish/kink pictures Kefauver thought were published by Roth.
It turns out that Kefauver and his puritan goons had confused Sam Menning, photographer for Gargoyle Sales Corp, with Samuel Roth, publisher of Gargoyle Books. This mistake wasn’t revealed until Kefauver had Roth on the stand testifying.
Bountiful BC is a community of about 1000 people near Creston BC, home to a Mormon splinter group that practices polygyny, one man with multiple wives. The shortage of women has driven the age of marriage and child birth down to the early teens, and there’s been reports of young women being moved across the border to similar communities in the US. There are also problems stemming from a lack of places for younger men in this community.
The BC Attorney General hasn’t been able to prosecute the community’s leaders, because of claims of religious freedom and the difficulty of getting people in a tight-knit community to come forward and testify. The AG has turned to an old, rarely used law, Section 293 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes any form of polygamy or any kind of conjugal union with more than one person. It hasn’t been used in decades, when it was used against First Nations.
Right now, the BC Supreme Court is conducing a reference to determine the constitutionality of S.293. Critics say that the law is overly broad and vague, and intrudes on people’s personal lives, and could apply to people who practise polyamory or even live together as roommates. Supporters say the law can be “read down” to apply only to cases where exploitation is clear.
Apart from the many kinky people who are also poly, this case is relevant to kinky people in general.
Apparently, you can get arrested for writing slash in China.
Police in central China have arrested 32 young women, including a 17-year-old, who allegedly wrote gay fiction for a pornographic site.
According to the Shanghai Daily, police said the site provided nearly 80,000 gay stories to a database of 600,000 registered members.
Most writers said they were paid less than 100 yuan (US$15.23) for each short fiction and some hadn’t received money yet. One writer, Long Juan, said she took the job out of “curiosity” because gay novels were quite popular online.
I assume this was some kind of pay-to-download business. Were there any men involved in this operation, or was it a by-women, for-women operation? Thus is “gay” an apt description, or is more like slash or yaoi?