Day 11: What are your views on the ethics of kink?
In answering this question, I clicked on the link and was taken to Rayne's post on Eden Cafe. It helped to clarify exactly what this question entails. I'd recommend checking it out.
The ethics of kink, in my mind, are largely tied into two principles; consent and acceptance.
The basic principle that separates kinky relationships from the inhuman acts of despotic leaders and the vilified kinksters in popular media is consent. For instance, the American government was, and may still be, in hot water with human rights groups over the treatment of prisoners, specifically waterboarding. Well, I waterboard jenpet; I love it, she loves it. The act is the same, the intent is even the same, torture. The only difference is that when I do it to her, it is a consensual act between two consenting adults. Amnesty International need not involve themselves.
The other side of that coin, because I view them to be tied together, is acceptance. This has as much to do with the community at large as it does the individual relationship. We are all looking for some level of acceptance. Finding a partner that accepts your interests, you kinks is the bane of many vanilla based relationships. Within the community, and FetLife is an excellent example, we list our kinks, our wants, our experiences. We look for recognition and acceptance through comments, friend requests, wall to wall messages, etc. Along with acceptance, or more appropriately from acceptance, we look for those who share our interests and come together in groups on the subject were we comment, debate, etc.
That said, I'm going to focus on my views of the ethics regarding individual relationships.
Personally, I feel that the relationship between consenting adults is primary, above any relationship of an individual and the state, the community, or even the church. In today's society it is far too common for the law to involve itself preemptively in matters concerning consenting adults, whether there is a complaint or not. For example, how many times have we heard about domestic violence charges being brought against consenting kinksters, despite the fact that neither partner issued a complaint?
Even within our community, there are individuals who condemn others for interest in kinks that they don't personally agree with. Just the other day I read a posting about a woman who is married but her husband is willing, and even active in helping her, to find a separate owner within the community. I'm not sure to what level this ownership would extend, but I'm under the impression it includes tattooing a mark of ownership and may even include a semi live-in component.
Sadly there was a FetLife member who bitched her out for this, according to the girl he called her unsavory things and said something akin to she was a cheating whore and dishonored her husband or something like that. To me, that is unacceptable. What does it have anything to do with him if both she and her husband are consenting to this happening? I don't personally understand how a husband, and a kinky dom in his own right, would be willing to allow someone else to own his wife. However, my inability to understand has no baring on their situation and it does not give me, or any one else, the right to condemn them for it, free speech not withstanding.
So, again, I feel there is a primary... sanctity almost, of adult consenting relationships that supersedes legal and societal moral authority. Now, within the blanket of adult consenting relationships there are many types, i.e. monogamous, poly, SSC, RACK, open, M/s, D/s, O/p, the list goes on and on.
For our part, we are poly friendly, RACK, O/p with M/s overtones. What does this mean?
Well, first we play RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink), meaning that we evaluate the risks associated with, say breath play, take steps to limit the potential danger, and do it anyway. My personal view of the correlation between SSC (Safe Sane and Consensual) and RACK is this: I believe that any kink relationship between partners who are not intimately familiar with each other through and through should adhere to SSC. It is an excellent practice for the new, the casual player, and occasional play partners. As such I view it as the primary practice.
Once the partners become more familiar, more comfortable, more willing to explore and push boundaries, and/or feel comfortable with moving outside the realm of SSC, that is where RACK comes in. I view it as the evolution of play between lifetime partners, heavy players, and O/p style. However it is not for everyone, nor does it have to be. Jay Wiseman, an almost legend within the BDSM community, is an avid supporter of SSC and focuses his lessons on its tenants almost exclusively, to my knowledge. I am a fan of Jay Wiseman and have no qualms with his issues regarding those who play RACK.
Next, we are poly friendly, meaning that we are not currently in a polyamorous relationship but I'm hoping to be. We are actively searching for a submissive female to include in our play and hopefully, eventually our dynamic in a more long term sense. We are in a semi open relationship, looking for female play partners and in some cases couples to play with, and we are always looking for friends within the community. The ethics that govern poly relationships are obviously different than those that dictate monogamous, or even strictly open relationships. Trust, communication, openness, transparency, and a huge heaping of selflessness go into that.
We are O/p (Owner/property) with M/s (Master/slave) overtones. First let me say that the semantics of this give me a chuckle on occasion. I view M/s to be a component of O/p, that is a slave is an individual owned by the Master. Strict O/p covers any situation in which an individual is owned by another, whether it be simply ownership, involve some kind of animal play such as kitty, puppy, or pony play, M/s, or whatever definition the individuals consider themselves. I view jenpet as my slave property, an owned individual devoid of all rights and completely subject to the rule and whims of me, the Master.
A large part of the ethics that governs our O/p relationship is the concept of consensual non-consent. This is where the concept of RACK really comes into play. Consensual non-consent means that jenpet, when she accepted the my collar signifying my complete ownership of her whole being, gave her consent to any and all actions that I would partake of, involve her in, subject her to, etc, for the term of the ownership which for us happens to be for life. Despite whether it might terrify the hell out of her or whether she just has no interest in doing it, she already agreed to the potential of it happening so she's going to do it. she has no right to refuse, renege, or run like hell from anything, period. This does not, of course, prevent her from trying on occasion, it just means she has no right. There are many who prescribe to this and many who don't. In my experience, amusingly, those who do are mostly O/p themselves. Go figure;)
A consensual non-consent, in my mind, is an extreme within the community and one that requires years of bonding (not just bondage;), communication, exploration, familiarity, and trust. If done right out of the gate it can cause a lot of problems, but does in some rare circumstances work. There is nothing wrong, in my mind, with developing a new relationship with the eventual goal of O/p and C/n-C, but the ground work must be laid before that level can really be attained.
Now, all that being said, how does all of this fit into modern society at large? Not well, sadly. In our society, there is such an emphasis upon personal freedoms and liberties (despite my personal view that these things are being constantly subverted on a political level every day) that the masses can't seem to understand the notion that some people actually want to be owned, slaves, or masochistic pain sluts. The news media is quick to label such people as sick, perverted, abusive monsters, etc. The recent case in Nebraska is an excellent example of this (for those of you who have been following it on the news or in the BDSM and the Law group on FetLife).
Even in modern mental health, counselors are trained to combat imbalanced power dynamics, both in their professional relationships as well as their client's personal relationships. Power exchange is the focus of BDSM relationships and, from personal experience, most counselors look down upon it. There is a ray of hope, however, the field of psychology is beginning to make allowances for what they consider to be deviations of normal healthy behaviors. They are advocating treating only those deviant behaviors that cause distress, though the definition of distress and how it affects both the individual and those around them is still open to interpretation.
The ethics that govern the world of BDSM, our world, can be hard for those outside to understand. Like the attitudes of someone who has never been victimized toward those who have, it is easy to pass judgments from a platform of ignorance than one of understanding or personal experience. Which is what frustrates me so when it comes to hecklers and naysayers within our own community. Intolerance from those seeking tolerance is just ridiculous. But maybe that is just me.
Well, there it is, the long and longer of it. If there are any questions about my views on the matter, or something that I may have overlooked, please feel free to comment...