I have been in the public BDSM community for 8 years. I started teaching about 5 years ago, and I have been running this website for about 4 years.
A few months ago, one of my articles, (SSC vs RACK) was cited in an academic research paper published in a law journal based out of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
That’s just really, really cool. Over the years, my work has been referenced by wikipedia, other blogs, and various other websites, but this is the first time (that I know of) that I have appeared in an actual, physical publication.
The novelty of that event aside, I am not sure how I feel about the conclusion that they drew from my writing. It is a very long article that is about “the interaction of law and policy making on prostitution, with that of BDSM”, and in a small section of the article titled, “Disability, BDSM and vulnerability as dissidence?”, the following paragraph appears. Citation number 13 is the link to my website.
However, alongside the call for legal and social acceptance of BDSM as a
simple extension of the ‘natural’, there is a simultaneous move by other BDSM
practitioners to represent the dissenting, transgressive and oppositional face of BDSM
(Langdridge and Butt, 2004). As Taylor and Ussher (2001) point out, shifts within
hegemonic sexual culture will inevitably lead to shifts within sexual subcultures; the
mainstreaming of bondage and kink can prompt some BDSMers to mark themselves
out as even more different through more extreme forms of dress and behaviour,
stepping away from the safety of ‘conventional’ modes of BDSM towards the
possibility of actual rather than contrived vulnerability. For instance, those who
advocate RACK – risk aware consensual kink – argue that what is safe, sane or
consensual (SSC) is entirely subjective, and that ‘edgeplay’ or consensual risk of
bodily harm is commonly engaged in by BDSMers, even while they portray BDSM as
SSC to the ‘outside’ world. (13)
So, it seems to me that they have interpreted my article as a claim that RACK players are exceeding “conventional” or safer BDSM practices, yet portraying them as safe.
I don’t think that’s what I said at all. I think that my claim is that SSC was never intended to be a description of the actual practice, but rather a description of the difference between BDSM and abusive behavior, and that anyone who tried to actually live by SSC was naive and misguided.
I certainly don’t think that RACK players are doing anything that is more dangerous than SSC players. If anything, I am asserting the opposite. I believe that the “informed” component of “informed consent” is missing from the practices of many SSC players, and that they ignore potential risks, and possibly fail to protect against them, due to a false perception of safety.
I don’t know if I am bothered enough by this to attempt to contact the author. It does irritate me that my attempt to make BDSM safer is being interpreted as a reason to keep BDSM illegal (in Great Britain).
Ultimately, this is actually an article about prostitution and pro-dommes. And that is what the discussion centers around. This is a subject that I have almost no authority to speak on. I know some pro-dommes and I have heard some stories, but it is not a dynamic, lifestyle, or market that I have ever had any direct interaction with.
The author’s final paragraph seems to indicate a conclusion that laws against BDSM are ill-advised. And that is encouraging, at least. I think I will probably let this go and just be happy for the extra referral to my site.
Rather than speculate about or suppose vulnerability (or its lack), we need to
engage in more research into the lived experiences of those who buy and sell BDSM
sex – research that works in a participatory way with research subjects (Scoular and
O’Neill 2008, p. 28) and that hears the voices of those who straddle, and attempt to
negotiate, the doubly stigmatising heteronormative legal discourses of SM and
prostitution. Criminalisation can increase the risks faced by BDSM sex workers and
any move in this direction must be resisted, as we tackle the political tension between
the need to allow for agency, and ensuring that wrongful and harmful behaviour is
appropriately regulated, such that the vulnerability of BDSM sex workers cannot be
always-already assumed on the basis of identity or non-normative sexual activity, but
understood as complex and constructed, yet material and lived. As Braidotti has
argued: “A great deal of courage and creativity is needed to develop forms of
representation that do justice to the complexities of the kinds of subjects we have
already become” (2006, p. 244).