"HARNESS" column for Beefyboyz.com - June 2004
Is SM dirty and degrading?
"Why do you keep writing about SM? It's dirty, degrading and gives the gay community a bad name. Nothing good comes from these perversions. If we shut up about our sex lives it would make the path to equal rights much easier. Why don't you write about something else instead?"
Let me answer the points one by one:
- SM is dirty.
It's true that SM can involve getting dirty sometimes, but it can also be very clean and sterile, (for example if the scene involves temporary piercings). I can think of lots of "vanilla" sex that involves lube, whipped cream or food stuffs. If people are enjoying sex does it matter how messy it gets?
- SM is degrading.
SM scenes can have an element of humiliation, but only when all the participants want it. Some SM play has no humiliation to it at all. However, many SM players report that they've grown in self confidence from exploring their SM sexuality, perhaps overcoming their fears in the playroom or even conquering phobias.
- SM gives the gay community a bad name.
This assumes that only the gay community participates in SM activities. Anyone who's been to a pansexual SM event or play party will know that's not true. It's possible that we in the gay community are more vocal about our enjoyment of SM because we've already had to stand up to mainstream society once by coming out as gay, so perhaps we have less to lose by being open about the rest of our lives.
- Nothing good comes from these perversions.
I strongly disagree. To enjoy SM you need to be aware of your own sexuality, be able to communicate that effectively when meeting new sex partners, have the self confidence to negotiate the kind of scene you want, and understand that consent can be given and withdrawn moment-by-moment throughout the scene. Everything we do is to the satisfaction of all players throughout the scene. These basic principles are universal and everyone can learn from them.
- If we shut up about sex it would make our lives easier.
Again, I strongly disagree. If we shut up about sex it won't stop people from experimenting or following their desires. However, it will increase the number of people attending the emergency room with sexual injuries or sexually transmitted diseases. It's better to explain the risks that people face and ways that they can play safely, than keep quiet and hope that people will stop having sex.
- If SM players keep quiet we will achieve equal rights quicker.
In that case I would ask what kind of equal rights we are fighting for? I spent many years thinking I was heterosexual and desperately trying to fit in. In the end, I came out as gay because I knew I was different. I don't want equal rights on the condition that I have to pretend to be the same again.
- Why don't you write about something else instead?
Because this is important. I want people to know the difference between SM and abuse, or how you can tell if a Top can be trusted, or that if they're going to tie someone up that they mustn't put knots against your wrists, elbows or knees (where you could do nerve damage). If this information was taught in schools and available in pubs and clubs then I'd be happy to write about something else. In the meantime I'll answer any questions you have.
Have fun, and look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003