In my last post Speculative Questions I told you how important it is for me to discuss controversial questions openly in our community and to talk not only about the positive experiences but about negative things and even prejudices as well. The important preconditions for fruitful discussions like that are of course a certain awareness of one's own prejudices and where they come from, a clear distinction between personal preferences and moral issues, and generally a careful and respectful approach when exploring controversial topics.
Originally I had planned to start such a discussion today, but a horrid example of how NOT to approach sensitive topics got in the way. In his post A rant. But justifiable, I think. Abel wrote about an article he had come across at The Independent. It is about a murder of a 13-year-old girl by a violent rapist. In court, the defense (trying to create an alternative explanation for the disappearance of the girl) questioned the father of the 13-year-old victim in detail about his sexual preferences because he possessed fetish pornography and BDSM equipment.
The author of the article, Joan Smith, justified the treatment of the victim's family, claiming: […] it is hard to see why possession of such material by the father of two teenage daughters should ever be treated as an entirely private matter. Looking at extreme pornography and acquiring restraints for use during sex are worrying behaviours, and it isn't hard to imagine circumstances – a custody battle, for example – in which they might even be interpreted as potentially abusive. Indeed, what is so extraordinary about the outpouring of sympathy for Bob Dowler [the victim's father] is that so many commentators have been willing to overlook what this might imply about his feelings towards women […]
So, every man looking at fetish porn and owning some bondage gear is probably a rapist and / or murderer? I don't think that I need to tell any of our readers what complete nonsense Ms Smith's assumptions are. But I believe that it is very important to not only write about prejudiced articles here in the kinky community where everybody agrees anyway, it is even more important to stand up against prejudiced accusations in the “vanilla world”. That's why I followed Abel's example and posted a comment in the comment section of the original article, and so did Ludwig. Here is what I wrote:
Dear Ms Smith,
the murder of a child is one of the most horrible things that one can think of. So, in my opinion, abusing an article about such a horrible and highly emotional case to spread your bigoted ideas of sexuality and raise prejudices against people who have certain sexual preferences is highly disrespectful and disgusting.
It is common scientific knowledge that being into BDSM is a sexual preference that is unusual in the sense that it applies only to a statistical minority of people, but not in any way abnormal in the sense of being sick or dangerous. Your comment on what Mr Dowler's preference for BDSM “might imply about his feelings towards women” shows that you clearly have no informed opinion about the subject at all. Your vague accusations not only defame men who are into BDSM, they are also extremely rude and patronizing towards women who live in a relationship that involves BDSM play.
I am into BDSM and I live in a very happy relationship with a like-minded partner. From my experience, BDSM play requires not only a high degree of respect, but also a very high amount of trust. Our partnership is based on equality, love, openness, honesty, respect and trust. And, before any other prejudices come up: I am a well-educated, self-reliant and independent woman with a successful professional career. So, I am in no way dependent on my partner.
Last but not least I would like to add that I'm very glad to see that Ms Smith's prejudices don't seem to be shared by the majority of the commenters. It's good to see that it doesn't seem to be so easy any more to use emotional topics in order to instigate hatred against minorities.
It was indeed good to see that most of the commenters, in contrast to Ms Smith, knew the difference between consensual erotic practises on the one and violence and murder on the other side. But I think that it would be great to have more intelligent comments from people who have insights into BDSM play. So, please, if you can find the time, write a short comment on Ms Smith's article. And of course you are very welcome to repost your comments or write additional ones here as well.