O&P website and blog,
are where most of my new writing on M/s appears. The IE website will stay
online indefinitely to host the IE Essays and lili's writings.
In January 2001, some discussion on a mailing list prompted me to return
to the question of how the M/s Subculture can coexist with modern society,
given that we go against some of its basic building blocks. These were my
feelings at the time.
It's not so hard for the mainstream BDSM scene to get
more public tolerance,
since they can come up with slogans like "Safe, Sane and
Consensual" or say
that safewords are always used. This means that they are
still within the
Western tradition of guaranteed personal liberty,
inalienable rights etc.
This isn't much good for us though, because M/s and
embody the concept of alienable rights that can indeed
be removed. We're
not just talking about the weekend SM player who's happy
to be whipped. Our
subculture accepts the use of confinement (Kidnapping?),
(Assault?), body modification (Grievous Bodily Harm?)
etc by the Master with
the decision taken solely by him.
Some BDSM organisations even explicitly identify as
abusive some acts which
might be fine in an M/s relationship. eg the US National
Association's Statement on Domestic Violence includes
the following as signs of abuse: (
- Does your partner ever hit, choke, slap, or otherwise
physically hurt you outside the context of a scene?
- Has he/she ever restrained you against your will,
locked you in a room, or
used a weapon of any kind?
- Battering is not "agreed" upon; there is an absence of
- Are you confused about when a scene begins and ends?
- Do you feel obliged to have sex?
- Does your partner limit access to work or to material
- Are you or your partner emotionally dependent on one
I don't expect to be seeing an "M/s Subculture Statement
on Abuse" that
sounds anything like that ...
So what do we do? Keep our heads down? Say we're in an
that cannot coexist with society if they become aware of
us? Or compromise
our lives to fit in with what our "Leather Leaders" say
we can do?
Personally, I think our long term welfare is best served
by the broadening of
the concept of consent. SM test cases about consent to
"assault" help this,
but so do non-BDSM issues such as voluntary euthanasia
- which the Dutch have now
At this point it is useful to distinguish between
talking about "consent" as part of jumping
through hoops to
gain legality and tolerance for what we do; and using
ongoing consent within the relationship itself. (Once a
submissive is enslaved, then the presence or absence of
consent doesn't alter the substance of her ownership.)
Ultimately what we would need is the acceptance of
consensual non-consent as
a defense in court - ie that the submissive can agree to
set aside legal rights and have her non-consent
overriden in the future. Currently, if I were to put
lili in my cell and keep her there despite a
tantrum and statements that she wanted to come out, then
I believe I would be vulnerable to a charge of
kidnapping. However, if I could use some form of legally
valid consent as a
defense, then I would be on much firmer ground.
I don't know what we'd need to do, to get mainstream
society to swallow that.
Maybe some form of witnessed declaration rather like a
will, perhaps like the
consent to euthanasia declarations the Dutch have now
legalised? From a legal
and "social" point of view, there certainly needs to be
safeguards above and
beyond what we do already.
I'm sure that the slaves of
other Masters I know
haven't been kidnapped off the street and aren't
silently suffering behind closed doors.
But as a member of society, I'm not prepared to take
that on trust from other
dominants, especially given the predators that are out
there. I believe it's
fundamental to the working of society that "might is
are not accepted. Just because someone can kidnap a
woman off the street,
strip her of her rights and hold her in "slavery", does
not mean we should
accept that. For onlookers to the relationship, the
consent is the ethical test we should require to protect
our neighbours, our families and ourselves.
Last updated 12 June 2001.