So, sex tends to have a lot of assumptions made about it (The fact that you would want to have sex in the first place usually being the first one.). People are sure that all good sex is the same, and that if you do everything “right” then your partner will always enjoy it. In my experience, this assumption only gets worse the farther from the norm the activity is, especially when everyone “knows” that it’s just some freaky sex thing that’s all about hurting people.
As you probably already know, people tend to take the small bit of information they know about things like BDSM and inflate it to an insane degree. This is one of the reasons a lot of kinksters have a problem with the Fifty Shades movies. While I previously mentioned that the exposure Fifty Shades gives BDSM was useful, I didn’t really go into what the problem with the depiction was. That’s where today’s question comes into play.
Dear Mr Promiscuous,
Why does mainstream media portray (and to a lesser extent mainstream BDSM believes) submissive people as being so sufficiently broken that literal degrading treatment is normalised? For example, submissive guys seem to have this ‘please let this snivelling worm kiss your boot though he is not fit to’ sort of deal going on. While for some it may legitimately be part of the power exchange, and safe/sane/consensual, I can’t believe this is true in all the cases it happens in, and is going to be psychologically damaging for one or both parties.
Submissive But Not Broken
Dear Sub BNB
Short answer? Because what you’re doing isn’t typical and general people tend to fear what they don’t understand. Overall, there’s this pervasive idea that any amount of passivity is the same as weakness of character. If you’re not forceful and determined, then there’s something wrong with YOU; since BDSM is something of a fringe part of people, this is an exaggeration of the same thing rather than something separate. Unfortunately, the problem’s a lot more complicated than that, so let’s look a little more into WHY people have that reaction.
To make sense of that fear, we’re going to start with what it’s based on: gender roles. For a brief definition, gender roles are the expected actions and reactions and social norms related to a person’s gender. If you wonder about the whole thing about there being boys and girls toys at a McDonalds, that’s part of gender roles. That includes how you present yourself in society as well. Men are said to be more forceful, commanding, and strong. Which doesn’t fit with the idea of wanting someone to tie you down, spank you, and ask if you want some more. It’s a subversion of the gender role said man is supposed to fit in and that makes people… nervous. Judging by the fact that people still find it odd that men could be home-makers, it’s no wonder that being passive and submissive in such an extreme degree causes people a bit of distress.
People have a big problem with things that fall outside of their wheelhouses. So when a guy says “I’m a submissive,” what they HEAR and imagine is “I am willingly making myself a lesser person to fuel my deviant sexual desires,” and then the boot-licking, ball-stomping, and whip-marked images that are used to represent BDSM are the first things to come to mind. They can’t reconcile the image of “guy” and the image of “submissive” because they’ve been taught that those two things do not go together.
Even in BDSM there is an assumption that most men are Doms and Tops and most women are Subs and Bottoms. Personally, I feel like that the BDSM community is more accepting of things that deviate from the assumption, but it doesn’t remove the cultural prejudice. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t a divide between consensual BDSM and abuse. The reason why Safe/Sane/Consensual (or R.A.C.K/Risk-Aware Consensual Kink) exists is to make sure everyone knows where the line is and handle it accordingly. Kinksters (myself included) tend to try and be aware of personal boundaries since a lot of what we like to do can be seen as abuse and the last thing we want is to cause unintentional, long-lasting trauma. If you’re worried something you’re seeing or doing sounds like or feels like abuse, the best thing is to talk to someone.
Thankfully, that doesn’t mean that you or anyone else has to go along with the “script” you were given. You can choose to accept the fact that just because you wanna get tied up, beaten down, and tortured, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s just something that you find for your own reasons and as long as you and the people you practice it with know what’s going on, then that’s what matters.
Remember to have fun and keep safety scissors handy,