With the recent popularity of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey, the world of BDSM has been thrust into the mainstream. There is a twisted sort of irony to this, since this lifestyle – perhaps more importantly, some of the portions of the information about it online – have been either under fire, or used as ammunition in assorted arguments among conservatives on Twitter. For the record, this is a distraction, like just about anything else that causes conservatives in general to fight among themselves.
However, I thought it might not be a bad idea to take this opportunity to point out a few interesting facts about BDSM that were apparently either skipped entirely, or at least misrepresented in the novel. First, I’d like to start with something obvious – yes, there are conservatives out there that engage in some form of BDSM, whether it involves inflicting pain, or simply involves a dominant and submissive relationship dynamic (D/s). Come on now folks! Let’s start using those little gray cells, shall we? There are some out there that would argue that many “traditional” marriages are really just committed D/s relationships, with one being generally dominated by the other. It’s logical, if you really think about it. If both are dominant, logic says they’ll constantly battle each other for supremacy. On the other end, neither one wants to take charge, so they can easily end up being undecided about the simplest of things. Now, if one is relatively dominant, and the other relatively submissive, that lends itself to a much more harmonious existence. Add a few sex toys to the bedroom, and that’s a recipe for a kinky relationship.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Now, onto the little things that bothered me about that lovely little book. First of all, anyone that decides to get into a master and slave contract with someone without knowing them for quite some time beforehand is downright insane. And no, I’m not buying that a virgin would jump into that lifestyle from the beginning either. But, the biggest fallacy is that the dominant is completely in control. The author made a valiant effort to show the dynamic accurately, but missed the target by failing to stress that the submissive is actually the one in control. Assuming that it is a safe, sane and consensual relationship in the first place, the dominant cannot do anything without the prior permission of the submissive. The dominant only has power because it is given by the submissive. That message needed to be repeated, and often. It’s irresponsible not to do that in this sort of writing, since it could (and did) have a wide general appeal. I’m not even going to get into the little details that just don’t ring true.
In case you didn’t guess it yet, I’m not writing this from a theoretical point of view. This is a “been there, and done that” for me, and no, I am not answering on whether or not it’s only in my past – my personal life, my marriage, my choices, my business. But, I will say a little bit more about my past. I’ve known several politically conservative couples over the years that consider themselves members of the BDSM community. Honestly, the majority of the couples I knew with dominant men paired with submissive women were conservatives. That is my personal experience, so it is anecdotal at best. But, that doesn’t make it meaningless either. And, my personal introduction to at least part of this world was with two men (not at the same time, of course!) that were conservative.
My primary point is that what people do in their bedrooms used to be at least relatively sacred, as in others respected their privacy. And any intimate matters used to be off limits. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Sometimes it takes the form of people wanting government to help them “save people’s souls” from sin. If anyone doesn’t know my lack of concern for those non-issues by now, they haven’t been paying attention. But what really disturbs me is what appears to be a rampant disease of trying to dig up dirt on other conservatives – out the skeletons in their closets, or otherwise ridicule them. In case you can’t guess, I have nothing but contempt for people that do that sort of thing. That’s saying something, since there was a time when I wasn’t above yanking skeletons from the closets of politicians.
So, here it is – conservatives can be kinky. There is no law against it. There is nothing to be ashamed of if one chooses to do something off the wall in the bedroom, as long as it’s “safe, sane and consensual.” And there is nothing wrong with conservative adults enjoying or creating visual or literary arts that depict those kinky activities. I understand that there are many conservatives that find this sort of thing offensive, and that’s obviously fine as well. It is not fine for conservatives to force each other to view, read about, or participate in kinky sex. That said, like it or not, this is one thing the Libertarians got right – the intimate relationships of life are not meant for public or governmental interference. That’s why we call them “intimate.”
*Special thanks to Kurt Schlichter for being his #caring self, and coming up with the title for this post!