BDSM and the pain of knowledge

Friday, July 26, 2013

“BDSM and the pain of knowledge” is part of the series on BDSM and psychology

It is quite common to meet open minded, kind and non-partisan people that are nevertheless displaying difficulties with understanding the notion of pain in the BDSM context. Of course also ‘proper Charlies’ cannot grasp the pain part of SM, but for them we can make a generous exemption, as after all, in general they tend to cling to delusive conceptions.

Yet, strange enough even most inside the scene do not pay much attention to understanding pain – and who can while busy processing it - and it is not to be excluded that the underlying attitude towards pain is very different for each of the persons involved in the praxis of administering or receiving pain within the consensual, safe and sound BDSM umbrella.

So what – excruciatingly phrased - is pain for us?

Is BDSM about pain?
I have to say that I sympathize with the question, but in my opinion the answer is an easy and plain no. BDSM is such broad a topic that redefining it around one issue is injust; most of the kinky folk are not into pain at all. Good for them! Yet, I am.

The reason this question about BDSM and pain comes up so often is that of the propaganda against sadism in the media; images from movies, descriptions in the paper and vivid fantasies in sometimes very much beside the point books and stories.

The propaganda is repeating history’s judgmental phrases; BDSM is sick, pervert, abnormal and at the best – by an aloof tolerance against the ‘disturbed’ – granted as a mental disorder; likely caused by incest, abuse and rape or otherwise horrific childhood experiences. (For this reason Sir Cameron never tells if he yes, or no, played with dolls as a kid – for your information; as a grown up I play with real ‘dolls’ …)

So, yes, with manufactured prejudgements like the above stated, it is rather easy to understand people’s reservation and puzzlement once meeting with a ‘real’ sadist or a real ‘slave’. And sometimes they cannot belief it, as we appear to be such ‘normal’, ‘sociable’ and ‘both feet planted firmly on the ground’ kind of person; so how on earth could the people have been so deceived? Are we such smart deviant bastards, blending them with our inhuman, frightening and merciless intelligence? (That’s why we love Dracula!)

Well, I will not argue against biases. I think sadists often have such sides, but it is only one aspect; sadist can be gentle, loving and caring just as easily. Yet, it is up to anyone what they want to belief: evidence or delusion, experience or theory, their guts or their fears. Whatever …

But of course people are entitled to get an honest answer - at least from those of us who belief BDSM to be a rationally acceptable and ethical thing. So, how does such an answer look like?

Proverbs 23:26 states: ‘My son, give me your heart’. And even when sensible people do not personally comprehend our thing with kink from the inside, they are at least sympathetic to argumentation, facts and honesty. By showing our heart, our being, we – also speaking for colleague sadists – we show that we at least can bear ourselves. It is by being open and vulnerable to rejection that we can win the battle against ignorance, prejudges and unwarranted fears, as when we show strength, ethics and care, it is a message that stands contrary to the usual misleading propaganda against kink and its followers.

Sleep in heavenly peace
Loosing your heart is a concept that we all get, particularly because we are all looking for precisely that; to be madly in love, losing yourself and float in heavenly bliss. At least, this is what we dream about and even a partial manifestation in our real life gives us a boost in energy, happiness and confidence; “wow, somebody loves me …”

The need for love, affection and comfort is deeply human; we all aspire after it and we all hate to live without it. For those who have not gotten it by now; this state of mind, this feeling grounded, secure, cared for and loved is what some kinks feel when dealing with sensory pain or – as a mental variant – humiliation.

So, just take my word on it and accept that there exist people that do play with pain because it makes them feel (jolly) good. The resistance against this concept is not to be found in the experience of those persons who enjoy this side of BDSM, but rather in the internal emotional conflict that their ‘utterly strange’ behaviour causes in the non-kink observer; emotions of bewilderment, fear and even disgust as a result of actions that often go against anything we have learned about responsible adult romantic love-making.

For the record, Sir Cameron does not hold hirself responsible for the emotions you or any other people have; it is perfectly okay for hir that you all deal with your own emotions; they are completely yours, your responsibility, yours to justify and understand.

This said, I also want to add that this blog is here for you too; so you may learn, understand and feel being taken seriously. I care, not only for my own sake, but also for your sake; being faced with difficult emotions is a thing on which we can use support and advice each other. The reason is obvious, as such emotions can not only be difficult; they often are so hard because they cause internal conflict. The nature of this conflict is such that many of us experience attraction and repulsion, as if we have an internal battle between what we – simplifying – call lower and higher urges.

Painful urges
As social beings, we all are familiar with these urges. Many people think it is easy to be a sadist. Well, take a cane and try it out on someone you like. It is not easy and many cannot hurt others – unless they are selfish, drunk or refuse to take treatment or medication. Being on the receiving end of BDSM-pain – as the masochist - is not that easy either.

“Hi mom, hi dad, can I tell you something”

“Of course, my dear …” mom replies, her face smiling as always.

That is too hard, and you turn to your father, swallow and say, soft but clear:

“Dad, I love to have my friend put a baseball club in my butt/ass, spank my breasts/tits until I cry and calls me a sick bimbo/slut.”

“YOU WHAT !!!!!”

Got the point? We – kinks - must live with ourselves, deal with our own sexuality and manage our own emotions, but it is not always easy, take my word on that. And no, hating us does not make it feel any better. And I think I do not need to point out that similar emotional turmoil not only goes for persons involved with sadomasochism, but also for fetishists and those in sexuality and gender identity-based cultures.

The other side of love
The sensitive reader will likely understand from my argument, that being a different person in a sexual way is not always without pain; we love our families, our villages and colleagues and we neither like nor deserve rejection, misunderstandings or hate. This is the kind of pain inflicted on us by those who do not grasp that individual lives are differing by their very nature. This is a pain that is more troublesome for many of us than the belt, whip or the cane. But there is more …

One of the most bitter experiences I had to make when I took my first submissive, was that those things that I thought only to exist in my fantasy appeared to be real; after all, the thing I longed for was available and from that moment on I realized that I have been hurting myself in my previous relationships by not getting what I needed to feel happy and complete. Instead I opted to abide by more ‘socially correct’ concepts. And actually, it was not even an SM thing at all, but simply the attention, the devotion and the almost magical intimacy between me and my devotee: a pouring out yourself in the sweetness of the other; feeling embraced, welcomed and admired. Perhaps it is a unity or a merger of the souls that form a sacred field of energy in which both thrive.

Sex is uniting, but not in itself, but as expression of a uniting process. When we feel attracted to someone that is not us, we are not thinking about an ass or nipples – okay, sometimes we do – but about ‘being with that other’ or knowing them – in the biblical sense. Being inside the other, or them in you, is a ‘penetration’/acceptance of the other, the non-self. By embracing the non-self, we dissolve somewhat, but we also get larger. Two, in a way, become one. Freedom in sex is only possible when someone is free itself, free to accept how one is, and free to meet the other as the other is; free to be curious about the fireworks we together can ignite.

The other side of pain
By the way, with the above stated we found a good example to clarify another aspect of pain play; we touch. More precisely we touch skin. We caress it, we make it glow, burn even. Sometimes we make welts, or cut or pierce and get ‘under the skin’. By sensing your largest organ in more detail, you have a new experience of yourself, your border and your size. In a way, when I spank my bottom, I am defining hir and by setting limits to my bottom, ze is subject to my definition, my creation. We spank, wrap in tape, tie in ropes, put in cages; all confinement. We open, lay bare, expose, share, force, display, show, demonstrate; all revealing.

It is therefore that I – that Sir Cameron in his Dominion metaphysics – regard BDSM as a way of self-discovery, a method by which we learn, accept and improve ourselves. For the majority of humanity, humiliation is not sexy, love is combined with tenderness and pain is a turn-off. For those who are into pain, it often is painful in a figurative sense too, as by enjoying 'abnormal' feelings, you always have that little voice speaking inside your head that you are actually are abnormal, or a pervert.

Therefore being with a person that you trust, so you can let go, let yourself fall in the certainty (belief!) that you are being catched and loved and – in case you feel hurt or are in pain – being cared for and hold tight. The idea of freedom in the sense that we do not need other people is erroneous; we are ‘social animals’ and once you have seen a group sex scene evolve you realize being social and friendly is not per se a non-sexual thing.

For those who expected a lecture about hormones, altered body chemistry, mind-fucking or role play; yes, there is much more to be said and to explain, but technical details on how a pain-trance shows resemblance to drug-induced states, why pain does feel like pain, but we still want to continue (remember child birth, which is extremely painful, but the desire for the baby is the real issue); all true and interesting, but the humanity of what it is that we do - in a sensible way, as consenting adults - is more important than the ‘technical’ side. This makes it too simplified and mechanical, like a trip, or a ‘strange’ game. We are more than playing; we are being ourselves; real people being true.

You are entitled to your own convictions, but consider them well and follow your heart.

Be gentle, true and good for yourself – Sir Cameron

BDSM and Evolution

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

“BDSM and Evolution” is part of the series on BDSM and philosophy

Imagine two chimps playing a BDSM scene; vines all around, plenty of shrieking and no intimate shaving of course. Yucky, where did that banana go? And did that chimp just pull that female from the tree and had uncontrolled and unashamed public monkey sex?

Fun aside … this is no recommendation for a special ‘Planet of the Apes’ edition, nor a plea for bestiality. Rather in this blog entry on BDSM and evolution we shall – partly - look at what evolution theory has to say with regard to sexuality and in particular the kinky versions of it that we all like so much. As there are no textbooks here, it’s a jungle to discover. Follow me into the wild ...

Is BDSM offering evolutionary benefits?
Yes, a challenging question indeed and I honestly admit that it took me a while to come up with this one. On top of that, answering it will take some time - as an explanation will be notoriously difficult. Perhaps you better think about it for yourself first and see where your conclusions lead you. It will be interesting to watch how you will answer the question and how others will.

In the previous blog we have seen that inside of the leather scene we meet with people that carry around very different kinds of worldview. Their answers may vary from religiously coloured gloom to strict Darwinian atheism and everything in between; together reflecting the multi-faceted richness of diversity that is to be found in our sub-culture and which we see mirrored in our collective behaviour and attitudes.

In the previous post, I deliberately withheld from judging these mentioned worldviews, all may it be obvious that The Clothed Lie does not advocate any of the sex-negative versions. Nevertheless, whatever stance you might take on BDSM, the underlying principles of your worldview will have a profound effect on how you regard it; this not only concerns how you rationally understand BDSM, but particularly on how you emotionally experience BDSM activities. As it seems, worldviews are not mere conceptual regulations, but also denote for many of our actual limits.

The original man
As any theory about evolutionary beliefs in some way or another has to deal with religious beliefs, the view on science and the effects thereof on our worldview, it will be good to consider that when trying to answer our question, it is not a matter of proof for one theory or the other, but rather about finding a comprehensible explanation for facts, sexual behaviour and natural reproduction in our history.

Imagine that it is only about 5000 years ago that humanity – in Sumer, Egypt and China - started to write down history or that what they believed in to be history. Coming from a culture of story telling, it was of course known that every one told the same story in its own individual way and even when people were trained in memorizing what they had learned, the traditions that early writings refer to may or may not be accurate; but it is all we have. In such cases it of course comes in handy if you have a deity at hand to back up your side of the story.

Anyway, what can we expect from ancient writings with regard to people whose sexual orientation is not mainstream? Particularly when we take into account that such persons could easily have been exposed to risks to their physical, emotional, economical and social health, mainly because of (religious) stigmatization.

Precisely from such condemning, we find evidence that alternate sexuality seemed to have been a part of human sexual behaviour for a long period of time now. Self-awareness of sexual orientation commonly occurs during adolescence. This is not a position in which one has the guts to swim against the stream and it is therefore likely that the whole practise of alternate sexuality like fetish, BDSM or LGBTQ occurred underground, as our sexual urges always seeks a way to get manifested or converted. In view of that, experts claim that according to available documents, alternative sexuality has always been part of human culture1 and is not a mental disorder, but a genuine expression of sexual need.2,3

But this beside – let’s get back to the original question regarding evolutionary benefits; even when sexual alternative behaviour has been part of humanity for as long as we can trace it; why is it like that?

Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. It is unlikely to find an answer on the why question, as we shall hardly find a common ground on what explanation is true, and to avoid philosophical and theological arguments regarding the why, we simply accept that obviously alternative sexual activity is a part of human behaviour, a component of our cultural development and perhaps even of our gene-pool – irrespective of how we personally - or as a group - value such behaviour.

Power exchange
Perhaps we take a few steps together to see if we can discover traces of ‘natural behaviour’ in our kink. One typical BDSM characteristic – and the one that is often mentioned in literature - is the so called ‘power exchange’, in which two or more people accept to change the power dynamics that are inherent to their relation. The top ‘gains’ (functional) power, the bottom ‘looses’ (e.g. refrains from) power, but all by an act of choice. Particularly this choice sets it apart from normal power struggles.

And at least following the lead of someone else – or being followed - seems a natural thing to happen, in a way it almost represents a natural order; following the strong protector, leading the less knowledgeable, so no harm comes to them. Exchange of power comes with benefits within a genetic group, even when the survival of the fittest often shows real brutality between rivals for the same resources.

From this point of view we might not see the behaviour of groups as representative for humanity as a whole or even all of nature, despite having overlaps.

Many Lovers
In nature polyamory relationships seem to be a very common thing (with the monoga-mouse being the notorious exception); the alpha male and -female lead the pack animals and the alpha male does all the ‘pleasant work’ like mating all his mates and consuming the prey. Consequently, in order to be able to mate with any female at all, younger males must stand up to the alphas and (figuratively) risk their ass.

Luckily humanity has evolved for the most of it – however, dumb animals still rape women in busses (India) or on public squares (Egypt), while celebrating their ‘freedoms’ or ‘superiority’. Homo Homini Lupis.

Natural domination?
Funnily enough, some social Darwinists regard the ‘survival of the strongest’ as the most significant trait of evolvement. Such theories appear to justify what we in the BDSM scene reject as non-consensual actions. This side or interpretation of Darwinism is particularly emphasised by religious opponents as it seems to promote the primitive ‘animal’ inside of us. Sexual promiscuity is then seen as non-natural and idolatrous, egoistically directed at oneself, derived from love. The sophisticated view is then of course that vision that is founded on religious belief and not primarily on scientific evidence which we find in evolutionary biology.

Fact is however that - just as biological development - ethical development is typical for our species as well. The protection of the weak in our kin is natural behaviour in order to protect the preciously selected gene-pool. More and more the non-physical, mental properties are displaying dominance. This seems to correlate with our increasing intelligence.

Nonetheless, one could argue, that at least on a subconscious level, the need to dominate or being submitted can reflect the wish to mate. In order to distinguish between plain sex and BDSM we should acknowledge that hard, raw or even violent sex can indeed express the primal need for reproduction, yet, the jungle of mating rituals makes clear that natural selection is not the same as sexual selection.

The choice of whom we mate with, make love to, have sex with is based on criteria that help us select the sexually most attractive person. The longer we live, the less prominent the need for simple reproduction will be and – in case of human sexuality – the more prominent will the rituals get; as females have more parental investment, they factually make the choice while males compete more intensely for access to women.

For vanilla relations I regard the ritual of romantic courtship by the (dominant?) male as the attempt to convince the (submissive?) female that he is the best choice for her. BDSM is of course also very ritualistic, but the courting part is reduced to negotiation of already available wishes. Often power exchange is the only goal, not reproduction, even when a good scene can make us really hot and a sexual encounter becomes the natural next step.

As such, BDSM is part of our sexual road map on which matters of sexual selection may play a role, but where its role play, rituals and praxis are not necessarily in line with (romantic) courtship, but rather express functionality that is higher as the mere biological exchange of genes. And - as we are on the explanatory line anyway - let’s just assume for a while that BDSM is an expression of mating behaviour; what does this mean? It seems to suggest that dominant females/submissive males reflect the natural power of females in choosing mates; where as the aggressive male topping rituals seem to reflect the wish to take the females away from the competition and to claim them for individual use.

It will not be hard to understand that seeing domination in this light lets it also apply to non-kink mating. It is the consensual play with power in a sexual context that sets BDSM apart, the evolutionary impulses from our genes we all have in common.

Sexual behaviour for what?
As indicated above, natural selection is something else as sexual selection. There is research indicating that sexual behaviour as such, was not necessarily a development triggered by the need for reproduction.4,5 In other words; sex (as activity) did not evolve because of reproduction – as there are many other ways to reproduce – but for the re-combining of our DNA. As with the mating rituals, humanity seeks many forms of sexual activity that are not about reproduction. E.g. love making in same-sex relations or masturbation as sex-on-one, come to mind. Sexuality became associated with more socializing goals, such as increasing the bond between partners or as genuine expression of emotions of love and fondness or the need for intimacy. Very typical in this way is postponing the orgasm in order to share a common one – or a few ones.

Perhaps it is also in this more social area of human sexual behaviour that the differences between sex and gender evolved, as when reproduction is not the only driving force behind sexuality, the actual sex does no longer play a primary role. In this light it may also be striking that in many BDSM scenes, we remain from sexual intercourse, as our goal is not to reproduce, but to enjoy other alternate forms of sexually charged behaviour.

With regard to role definition, body size and other characteristics, there would be much more to say, but currently I see no specific indicator for their relevance to our BDSM quest. The blog is getting too long anyway …

Well, as with many topics we sometimes wish to write about or try out in our dungeon, we run the risk of getting into area’s that are new. This is a normal and good thing; as from the new we can learn and adapt. We can also err and perhaps in this blog I actually did make proposals that will later on turn out to be misplaced; well, that is the nature of exploration and I simply took the liberty to think loud and share this with you. Not in order to give you all the answers - but perhaps some – or to proof something, but to investigate a topic in order to find out in what way evolutionary evolvement can be relevant to our kinky disposition and our understanding thereof.

Sir Cameron thus hopes that this current blog will encourage you to do some google-ing yourself and to give you something to think about.

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

1. Friedman RC, Downey JI. Homosexuality. N Engl J Med. 1994; 33: 923– 930.
2. Rowlett JD, Patel D, Greydanus DE. Homosexuality. In: Greydanus DE, Wolraich ML, eds., Behavioral Pediatrics. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag;1992:37–54.
3. Savin-Williams RC. Theoretical perspectives accounting for adolescent homosexuality. J Adolesc Health Care.1988;9 :95– 104.
4. Gregory G. Dimijian. Evolution of sexuality: biology and behaviour. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2005 July; 18(3): 244–258.
5.  Schuiling GA. On sexual behavior and sex-role reversal. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2005 Sep;26(3):217-23.

BDSM and Worldview

Thursday, July 11, 2013

“BDSM and Worldview” is part of the series on BDSM and philosophy

How would it be to be free? When you would be free to be whoever you wish to be, free to love whoever you like, free to have sexual intimacy with the person(s) of your choice, without having to fear any negative consequences, like being scorned, prosecuted or labelled a sinner – or to get a transmittable sexual disease, to name something realistic.

Yet, what you perceive as freedom is necessarily a concept that by its very nature is limited; by time, by laws, by other opinions and by our own convictions about what is ethical behaviour and what is not. In this blog entry on BDSM and worldview, we will look at how our freedoms of choice, speech and expression are influenced by theoretical and actual worldviews which we as kinky folk are confronted with.

What has your worldview to do with BDSM?
While cruising you local leather scene, you will meet difference; all kind of normal and kinky persons; younger and older folks, dominants and submissives and such with varying gender identities. This all comes with the inherent diversity of the BDSM subculture as a whole. But there are other differences too, which are not visible on face value. It concerns the kind of differences that explain how you stand in life and how you see BDSM function in your experience with others. It is about how we view the world and that what we do: how we see and understand ourselves.

During our cultural development from savage society toward the high-culture we now have in some parts of the world, humanity seemed to show the tendency to reflect on ourselves, on who we are and what this all means: the reason behind tragedy, the unjustness of being born like this or that, the curse a sexual diversion can sometimes mean in an intolerant environment.

The most common form of collective reflections we find in religions. And if we take religion as an expression of culturally biased answers, we can and will find reasonably acceptable opinions in it. Perhaps it will not be the most modern views, but there is no reason to belief that only modern beliefs have their merits. After all, humanity is old and tradition is not only about continuation of things that do not work. Yet, once we start to see and interpret religious beliefs as an eternal, universal and binding standard, we create a system that is – to put it mildly – not in favour for BDSM or LGBTQ. And this list could easily be continued with evolutionist scientists, feminists or followers or other (allegedly false) religions.

Religions tend to attribute truth to views that modernity has proven to be wrong, over and over again. But - however tragic on itself - diversity in belief systems that underlie our thinking and acting is simply there, regardless if such belief systems are more or less correct. It is not the truth of worldviews that is the matter here, but rather how this affects our view on and experience of BDSM.

How does worldview work?
As seen above, I understand one’s worldview to be a mixture of religious, philosophical and scientific beliefs. Those beliefs are fundamental for the person having them; one is obligated to those ideas and does not easily come to other convictions unless for good reason. The reason for that is the way in which we connect a worldview with our actions, our devotion to our beliefs and their connections to justify our ethical behavior. It is therefore that in a previous blog, I have been arguing for the rationality of BDSM, both in theory and praxis. To this rationality also belongs, that we – in order to maintain a healthy self-image – eventually integrate that what we do in our worldview.

However, it must be pointed out, that a worldview is not necessarily consistent. We of course strife after a continuity and coherence in what we hold important, but already the mere option of change requires a degree of variability. From this point of view the magic of BDSM that many find in it, it’s lure and apparent attractiveness is not to be understood without grasping it’s relation to our worldview. The tension between what we deep inside wish to do and the awareness of how this wish is dubious when seen from our worldview, is one of the tensions that can really be challenging to those who stand in this conflict.

Nevertheless, BDSM as a reasonable praxis of fun and queer acts between consenting adults needs to be taken on its own merits. And for this is it essential that we at least think about what we wish to do and actually put in effect. Reflecting on our actions lifts BDSM up from mere impulses and whims and sets the bearing of our voyage. This will be essential for a well thought out leather praxis; which ultimately will require a well considered framework to align our actions with our beliefs.

Once you start from a particular belief this inevitably includes the rejection of other beliefs. Take e.g. the belief that there is something wrong with persons who have BDSM urges. The step from something wrong towards sickness or sin is not far. Any conclusions that are based upon beliefs that are merely attributed to BDSM without actually doing justice to its reality will only create neurotic tension. Like with opposition against science or other competing beliefs, most objections against BDSM are not predominantly rooted in evidence, but rather religiously or culturally biased.

As we live in a world and are part of a cultural heritage, we have no other option than to start with what is available, including our own upbringing and traditions. The good thing about worldview however, is that you can adapt it, so your beliefs will feel comfortable again. In how far the prevailing worldview does affect the BDSM component in your life is insomuch personal that generalisation likely will not grasp it. Nevertheless, the interaction between worldview and its continuous process of change can itself be viewed from two distinct positions; the external and the internal. We will start with the former.

How do worldviews affect BDSM from the outside?
A worldview is a set of personal and basic beliefs. It has to do with a mixed set of opinions with regard to who we are, where we come from and where the meaning of this all can be found. As such your worldview contains elements from tradition, religion, science and your own experience. We tend to form sub-cultures with other people that, for the most of it, share similar views and beliefs. With BDSM this is not different. We look for persons that wish to do what we wish to do.

The dominant worldviews in our culture will always be a mixture. Depending on class, education and your own disposition, one or more particular elements will be leading your views, where a rational scientific approached or a religious truth motivated view will be the two most common motivators. And both views can and will be used to either reject or support BDSM tendencies and praxis.

The mainly scientific approach is likely one that regards itself as being through with religion. Human rights and freedom of expression as well as evidence are important notions. BDSM can be either seen as free sexual expression, or as a remnant of dormant primitive ideas, or even both. Currently scientific research into BDSM is still scarcely done, yet as a consensual praxis it is gaining more and more acceptance by psychologists and sexologists. The continuing row of changes of BDSM as mental disorder in the consecutive Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders versions is only an expression of that (positive) development.

The mainly religious approach to your worldview also has two sides. In Dominion metaphysics, Sir Cameron defines religion as the innate impulse of the human selfhood to direct itself towards the true or pretended true origin. This focus on origin answers the question who we are and where we have to look for guidance.

Theists of course differ on many issues in this regard, but generally it is seen that religious traditions have at least an ancient core. Many theists regard one particular tradition as the (absolute) true tradition and the others as missing the ultimate point - despite perhaps containing some ‘moments of truth’. Others regard all religions as narratives that show how in the past creeds and beliefs were expressed, but not as an accurate historical description in itself.

Some theists that follow a modern stance – which may include belief in evolution theory - might perhaps show the usual reluctance towards BDSM, but may not be forced by their doctrine to condemn all sexuality that does not fit into an ancient framework of sex-negativity. Others - like conservatives or fundamentalist theists - will likely regard BDSM as wrong, misguided, perverted or straight out evil.

It needs no further argument, that when you as a kinky person meet someone with a sex-negative or otherwise repressive worldview you can be severely hindered in being as you are. Irrespective of how you choose to life out your urges, hidden or in the open, meeting others and possibly face rejection, disgust or even hostility is never nice. Therefore, the battle for sexual freedom starts with a proper view on reality. In this blog we will continue to shed light on our otherwise secretly dark reality.

How do worldviews affect BDSM from the inside?
Following the just mentioned clash of contrasting worldviews with regard to BDSM, it is by no means so that inside the BDSM subculture the co-existing worldviews are necessarily closer to each other; all is it sensible to expect more overlap amongst them.

An example will make this clear. For a good spanking scene it will apparently make not much difference if the bottom is a rationalist evolutionary biologist or a romantic Anglican Church choir boy. Apparently, as our experience is so very personal sometimes, that we in order to be able to express what it means to us, we need to make certain that we speak the same language.

Of course, this is required for all effective communication, not only with regard to kink. Yet, particularly with such activities that in essence require a (previous) exchange of consent, wished and limits, being understood in the proper sense is paramount.

And than we have our internal convictions about what we do; even when I do not suppose that many of us get involved in BDSM play without actually wishing to do so, it nevertheless is to be expected that we will reflect on our motivations and actions.

We need to find out about our need for BDSM because it is the explanation for our behaviour and because it explains such a huge number of facts; because many things we believe about sexuality is explained by it. Reading a few blogs on the internet is no match for a lifelong of (religious) indoctrination, so the question we face is how we do reconcile the practical truth that BDSM feels so good to us, with the deeply held convictions that bind social and religious communities?

Again, there are several options available. A very practical one is to simply notice that you and your partner(s) like what you do and take this as a sufficient justification. A more complex one is to convert parts of our practise into a ritual context; we play with opposites in ourselves and in our culture; we do the forbidden thing, we drown in the dark corners of our unconscious shadow, we seek ecstasy that moves us away from the mundane and dualist context and lifts us up into that place where we all unite in wholeness and soundness.

The Clothed Lie cannot tell you how you should feel about BDSM or what views best work for you and the situation you are in. It is your privilege and task to find that out for your self. Whether you see yourself as the fifth ape and your actions as genetically programmed, whether you see yourself in the image of a Deity of your choice and your actions as lovely wicked or prefer to see BDSM as spiritual praxis that by means of rites tries to understand and express yourself; all views have their own merits and come with their own set of questions. It is up to you to decide what suits you best.

Obviously, what we belief about our sexual and BDSM praxis is affected by our upbringing, but that does not mean that we cannot or should not change our minds on certain topics. We all earn the respect from others to let us examine alternatives and re-evaluate our beliefs in freedom of choice. There is no reason to be afraid to spell out the delivering truth derived from your own experience.

But be aware that irrationality is woven in the fabric of modern life, attempting to draw us back the petty fog of our superstitious past where we were hiding behind the trees of sex-negative delusion, there seems to be – after all - a tree of knowledge and a tree of life. Consider your choices with rationale and act on them in wisdom.

As always, I wish you good luck on your journeys, in- and outside of the dungeon.

Enjoy – Sir Cameron

On Earth, as it is in Heaven? – BDSM in perspective

Friday, July 5, 2013

“On Earth, as it is in Heaven?” is part of the series on BDSM and religion

The question mark in the title is already indicating that expectations may not be as easy to be fulfilled as we perhaps hope for. BDSM fantasy requires work and the right perspective.

In this blog we look into the reality and imperfection of BDSM. It is perhaps not what some of us expect BDSM to be, but as any human activity it is only as good as those who participate in the game. The right mindset is the first step on the path to bliss.

(Note: This blog entry will be a tad demanding, not only regarding my use of ‘sacred texts’, but also intellectually.[i] It is never a shame not to know or understand something. And this blog is for you to learn, but it is not a test. Take from it what you need.)

Heaven on earth?
The ‘Kingdom of the Lord’ is to come. That is what we learn in Sunday school; that is what the western Judeo-Christian religious traditions tell us and that is what many of us believe: our reward lies in the future.[ii] But is this indubitably true? Can’t we have a tidy bit of ‘heaven’ before we die? And - as we are in a kinky blog here - is it also true for us? Can we – ‘perverts’ – ever experience the bliss we hope for? Can’t we already just be in heaven for a little while and forget the troubles that drag us down to earth?[iii]

It depends; the key will be the perspective that you use. If we take the ‘Kingdom to come’ literal; the greek verb for ‘come’ can be translated as ‘let-her-be-coming’.[iv] This is not the place for an exegetical digression, so it suffices to say that there is a notion of expectation and becoming to it. Ultimately it is made clear elsewhere in the gospel, that the Kingdom of Heaven is a virtual one, as where the rules are abided the spirit of the Kingdom is present. This was meant and understood as here and now, not only later …

For those who are familiar with my ideas about the Dominion of Lord Cameron, this idea will be known. For our current case, we can pursue in this line and by allegory – an ancient way of interpreting religious texts - accommodate it to our praxis: it will be a virtual, evolving, kingdom, characterized by both inner commitment and outer behaviour, but the inner attitude is most important, as it is a Kingdom of the Heart.

In this sense, the well known phrase from the Lord’s Prayer - ‘your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven’ - for sure has its appeal to every Master. And even when this verse only appears in Matthew and not in Luke’s gospel[v], it is nevertheless clear, that as Masters, Tops or Dominants, we demand attitudes and actions from our slaves, bottoms and subs that we easily recognize as religious in nature; obedience, worship and awe. Which represent the clay with which we build our kingdom, our little mirror.

And because we realize the deeper meaning, we fancy that we are really strict Lords, benevolent Masters, obedient servants and revering slaves. And as such, we naturally deserve the best Lords and the most devout subs. So we go out and seek to find them.

Giving is better as taking – but why does it have to be so hard?
Unlike the most gifted pick-up artists the average kinky gospel is not an easy ‘seek and ye shall find’ but rather turns out to be a series of trial and error. At the end you might have given much and received little, perhaps not even enough to make it worth while. As discouraging as this may sound, it is nevertheless true in many cases; you invest, give and hope; in return you have some nice scenes, hot sex perhaps, but not even close to what you have been looking for. What now?

Yet, as we are all very different beings, all with different urges, sexual orientations, different genders, strangely diverged sexual roadmaps, it will be hard to find a key that will fit on all locks. But we will try, nevertheless. To this I have three points:

First, most of us are still learning about themselves; we are ‘under construction’ and so are your partners. To know what you really want and seek is your real challenge, as often we are fooled by our own dreams too. Eventually, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and don’t forget that while you develop, your own taste may change too.

Second, the ‘seek and ye shall find’ is not the whole story. In fact the whole phrase is a bit larger: “Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).

So we find that we should first ask in order to be given. Not only ask the Devine or yourself for permission, but most prominently, ask your partner(s). Simply asking for what you can mean for them, might be the first step. When you then seek together, you will find. If and for how long that what you find is the real thing, is up to you and your partner(s) to decide. But if you persistently try, ask, seek, your determination will become like knocking on the door and eventually it will open up to you.

Thirdly, BDSM fantasy requires work and the right perspective. Above we have seen bit about the part on working on yourself; your ideas, your ideals, your idols, as well as the work involved in order to get a partner and then keep hir[vi] with you. I am sure many of you have been cruising the web or the local clubs and bars to find someone to whom you would be attracted to and that wanted to experience physical pleasure with you, so it would bring your energy level up a higher scale, feeling good, desired and attractive.

But what about that perspective you ask?
Good one! Yet, as you have been reading, we have seen quite a few perspectives; your imagination, your real needs, your partner(s) wishes and your mutual efforts, the motivations why you dream, fantasize, act and justify. Particularly this last one is not to be underestimated, as justifications for what we do – either good or bad things – is a powerful concept that is towering over us, like a safeguard or watchman.

As we are in a continuous process to develop ourselves - by learning, doing, thinking, seeing and sharing - we follow goals and ideas regarding the direction our maturation takes. And then predominantly the idea that we might grow in the wrong way or by the wrong means is scary. Particularly with non-kinky people, you often are confronted with the idea that BDSM is limitless, uncontrollable aggression, addictive in nature and will end up bad for all those involved.

Well, this is certainly not a perspective that is very helpful, as it is based on a fear of an uncontrollable mixture of sex and violence, like the idea of the victims of vampires that get enslaved to the love bite, because it gives them devastating orgasms.[vii]

Admittedly there is this side to BDSM, but as an umbrella term BDSM is very wide, and only a small part of it has to do with violence or pain. All of it however, has to do with fun. But when it would be about fun only, does it not render us a bunch of hedonists?[viii]

Perhaps, but for most kinky persons, BDSM or leather is much more as just fun; it is a part of our sexual roadmap, a way of dealing with ourselves and others, a way of self-exploration and perhaps even a spiritual goal in itself. And for those who had not expected this, I will argue in the next paragraph what it means to be in heaven.

Between Saturn and Neptune lies … heaven
Beside being called after Roman Gods - Saturn for Agriculture, Neptune for the Sea – both planets are in the sky, or heaven. The planet between them is Uranus, the only planet called after the Greek God of the Sky, Ouranos, which is also the word (ouranois) that the New Testament uses for ‘heaven’.

The idea behind this connection between planets and religion is to be found in the belief that the heavenly bodies and the stars have some form of significance for our life. In a figurative sense humanity throughout history has turned its eyes towards the heavens and expected blessings, aid and forgiveness from ‘above’.

I take it that this was not understood in a literal sense, but that the heavens symbolically stood for our expectations, our hopes, our beliefs. To be in heaven in this sense would not mean to be in a particular place, like a planet, but rather applied to our attitude, a mind set or an experience. Shortly said, heaven is a mental condition.

At the beginning of the blog we have seen that the Kingdom of Heaven has to be understood as a virtual Kingdom too, an inner condition that existed in a group sharing the same beliefs and spirit. Similarly, I understand the orgasm; it is that place everyone is happy; it is therefore a sacred and blessed place that should be cherished; alone with your favourite fantasy, or with others, joined in haunting embrace.

This is the perspective I favour for BDSM; as acts and actions that are aimed at enjoying our blessings in a way that both find ritually adequate and rewarding. It is a perspective of enfolding our sexuality, which was reduced to mere ‘physical’, towards the full plane of human experience, from procreation to imaginative construction.

Love is often seen as the highest moral virtue, and it perhaps is, but also other virtues contribute to our heavenly state; trust[ix], beauty, acceptance, respect, power, communion, technique, sensitivity, self-realisation and energy exchange.

Concluding we can say that this was a different blog; an attempt to lift BDSM out of the mundane, sick and secret sphere, to the place where it rightly belongs; its rituals are profound, rewarding and effective in bestowing us with the sense of feeling whole and guarded.

For all of you I wish that you will consider this perspective, even when it is a tough job and a narrow path. Believe it, go for it, take it and rejoice in the gift of life.

Sincere greetings from the Chapel of the Dominion Court,

Sir Cameron


[i] As any text, a ‘sacred text’ is also a historical one, written by persons in their words and in the context of the time they lived in. We can, may - and perhaps should - ponder on such texts. By using a text that is considered ‘sacred’ or ‘inspired’ I wish to acknowledge the text as relevant for our culture. We may not agree on what the texts mean – whether it is to be seen as a narrative, a revelation or simply as biased opinion - but we agree that it is – to a certain extend – relevant.
[ii] For this reason some say that Christianity produces masochists: we accept suffering, our inferiority and guilt, in exchange for being forgiven and the promise that in the after life we will be rewarded. However, this view may be insulting for Christianity, as not all of Christianity is bad or fundamentalist in their dogmas. Nor are masochists – our masochists – suffering against their will or because of their inequities, nor are our masochists inferior or guilty. Our masochists are the brave, courageous heroes, that we respect, admire and love, just as they respect, admire and love their masters. Amen.
[iii] Yes, we can. Sexuality, romance, love; it is part of us and meant to enjoy, embrace and practise in good spirit, seeking each other and with respect to it’s natural limits. Heaven is of course used in a figurative sense. So seen the above is only a part of the heavenly goods: present for our pleasure, but no goal in itself.
[iv] For the kinky theologians amongst us: ‘elthetoo’ has the imperative mood, second aorist tense, active voice, singular. I translate the Kingdom with her, as basileia is female.
[v] It are with certainty not Matthew’s or Luke’s gospels at all, as all four gospels (selected from amongst 30+ others in a later century) are only attributed to them in a much later period (likely 100 years after Christ’s crucifixion).
[vi] Him/her= hir, his’/her’s= hirs, she/he= sie, hirself
[vii] Are there submissive vampires too? Devout little devils, enchanting witches?
[viii] Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain). Source: WikiPedia
[ix] Trust or belief are the same word in greek ‚pistis

Real or virtual – BDSM in a modern world

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

“Real or virtual” is part of the series on BDSM and society

Is virtual BDSM fake? How can the internet be of assistance to the leather lifestyle? How do kinky people live? Are they open in their role or underground?

This time we take a look at the results of a small survey in order to find out something more about BDMS in regard to relationships and the internet.

Poll on Kink-in-Real-Life
In a recent opinion survey that I performed in the BDSM scene I asked a sampling of kinky folks: "Which is the challenge for your BDSM-lifestyle today – finding a suited partner, living with how you are, keeping your development going, online BDSM or other issues?"

Relationship challenges
In reply, over 5o percent of the interviewed kinky folk deemed relationships the greatest challenge. Persons with a medium appearance, or (severe) overweight more often had a troublesome relationship or even none at all. Persons of medium age (midlife) more often had relational issues as younger or older persons. They also more often had a vanilla partner. Good looking persons and switches seem to have fewer problems or are better in managing them. There was not found any relevance with regard to gender or sexual orientation.

Showing the kink
About one third lived their BDSM openly, leaving two thirds of the questioned with publically hiding their kinky urges. I found no differences with regard to being monogamous or polyamory, nor regarding sexual orientation. Transsexuals and woman more often show their BDSM urges in public.

None of the persons with a vanilla spouse or partner was able to openly show their kinky urges, which makes it likely that there is pressure from their partner to keep it hidden. Whether a person’s partner knows about their kinky urges or not seemed not of great influence on their relationship, but this may be a coincidence.

Online BDSM play
Around one third of the interviewed had some form of online BDSM scenes, with bottoms weighing in at 66 percent and tops and switches at 17 percent each. I assume that online play offers great possibility to try things out in an anonymous and save way. Remember that an alarming 1 on 3 kinky persons expressed to have experienced a consent violation while being with ‘offline’ contacts, which is not very encouraging to put your health and safety at stake (see:

Of those involved in online play, about the half of them was a novice in BDSM. The more experienced a person gets in real play, the less interest they show in online play. Of course all persons used the internet for information, communication with or searching for partners. Overall online sexual acts or BDSM was not seen as fake or inferior, but as limited by its virtual character; most of us, eventually, need skin on skin.

This survey had a limited number of participants so it likely is not significant for the whole BDSM population. Yet, as it is all based on true, reliable information from existing persons, it nevertheless shows us interesting things.

As I interviewed all the persons in a conversation, I was able to gather a lot of extra information, so here we go:

Sexual roadmap

Gender: females (50%), males (41%), ts/tv (9%)
Sexual orientation: heterosexual (64%), bi-sexual or same-sex (36%)


Current relation: Good (50%), None (32%), Difficult (9%), Bad (9%)
from which monogamous (77%), polyamory (23%)

BDSM preferences

BDSM Position: Bottom (41%), Switch (36%), Top (23%)
Urge: Sub (45%), Fetishist (23%), Sadist (14%), Maso (9%), Dominant (9%)

Skills: Experienced (41%), Medium (32%), Novice (27%)
Plays: Regularly (36%), Infrequent (36%), Never (18%), Seldom (10%)

(1) The stunningly high 50+ percent figure of kinky persons having problems in the relational sphere, confirms the analysis I offered in my former blog on ‘BDSM and public acceptance’ from May, that "it is thought that almost 85% of the people that are not in the BDSM lifestyle do think that there is something wrong with kinky persons." In half of the cases of the troubled relation, there is a vanilla partner. In 75% of the cases the kinky person is a submissive, whereas the gender plays no role. Particularly the group of persons of medium age seem vulnerable to getting involved in a midlife crisis, where it is to be seen if this is BDSM related at all.

Preliminary we could conclude that medium aged submissives are more vulnerable to having a not so good relationship or none at all, compared to other kinky persons.

(2) Those that are into BDSM often start with gathering information online and from books and find groups of people that can offer support. The more experienced one gets, the less interest is shown in chatting or exploring the topic; real meetings are then favoured over online contacts. An exception is made when the partner does not know about their BDSM urges. In general two thirds of those who play out some form of BDSM over the internet hide their urges from their partner.

(3) A small number of persons had problems with being as they are. This had partly to do with their past (broken relationships, religious trauma) or had to do with the transgender or polyamory issue. So seen; most interviewed persons had not problems with being kinky, as such. For those who had problems with kink as part of their lives, such problems were more of social nature, as of a sexual nature.

Concluding we can say that the internet partly took over the function of local BDSM support groups and is well suited to find others kinky persons, gathering information on BDSM and online purchase of play tools. It is of course less suited to gather actual physical BDSM experience or learning technique; for that we need to go out in the wild and meet, practise and learn with and from others.

One major issue not investigated in this blog is the alarming number of wanna-be’s and fakes on the web, or the lack of manners in online chats. After all, with our ‘friends’ on social media platforms, more often as not, we do not have any warrant for the accuracy of the supplied information. I am sometimes under the impression that fantasy is taken for real and is mixed up in stories in a way that goes against the sound and sane parts of our BDSM creed.

Not able to do a survey with thousands of people, I opted for a quality approach with real people involved in the real thing. The results may not be quite representative for the mass, but it is at least the reality of those that I questioned and as such the real deal (for them).

For all of you I wish that you belong to the happy 50% that are living their BDSM urges in an accepting environment and within a functioning relationship. For the less lucky, keep on searching for people that will support you, offer you practise or technical development and help you to stay safe and cool.

Greetings from the statistical office of the Dominions Court,

Sir Cameron

Experience over perversion – How sick is BDSM?

Monday, July 1, 2013

“Experience over perversion” is part of the series on BDSM and psychology
Is kink normal, is the missionary position normal, is the way we look at the world normal? You may answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions or perhaps not, but in a way we all sense that the answers are depending on your beliefs, your culture or your experience. In this blog we take a closer look at how BDSM became pathologized in the past and why this is now scientifically regarded to be a gross mistake.

Sick persons, sick morals, sick methodology
Most of us will likely not know why the thought that masturbation - instead of being healthy and normal – was regarded as ‘wrong’, but this seemed rather easy to answer: it is not something that we abundantly find written down in religious texts - for as far as I know there is not much on the topic in the Bible. When I was searching for the reason behind this negative attitude towards masturbation I crossed an amazing story.

It all begins at the end of the 19th century in several mental asylums. They were visited by the German-Austrian psychiatrist Richard, Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing who noticed that 98% of the mentally ill inmates did masturbate; from this it he concluded that masturbations either was a symptom or perhaps even the cause of their illness. Krafft-Ebing also suggested a link between masturbation and homosexuality.

As incredible as this story sounds to us now, we can only say that it was a matter of bad luck that this psychiatrist apparently did not masturbate himself, as this would have likely had lead him to quite another conclusion about its healthy and pleasurable effects.

But there is more misfortune in the air, as this doctor, did not only labelled masturbation as a disease, but also other sexual behaviour that was not conform the prudent Victorian moral code, particularly male sadism and masochism. (Female kinky and fetish behaviour were not included in the survey, as Krafft-Ebbing regarded woman as sexually passive).

In 1886 his ‘Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study’ appeared, containing around 200 case histories of human sexual behaviour and the work soon became the standard with regard to sexual perversion.

Wikipedia states that “it became the leading medico–legal textual authority on sexual pathology” and - while written in an academic style - developed into a “forensic reference book for psychiatrists, physicians, and judges”. As one of the first scientific book on sexual pathology and same-sex relationships it attracted a lot of attentions. Remember that there was not much pornography available and that people where likely as curious about sex as we are today.

From an evolutionary point of view, sexuality only functioned for procreation, a view that was shared by the church doctrines. Therefore any sexual activity outside of the holy matrimony was regarded as morally flawed, just as recreational sex.

When Freud connected the several stages of sexual development with our mental health, it became clear that sexual deviation mainly was due to childhood trauma. And this and similar theories have been hanging around ever since and caused great harm, disrespect and rejection towards alternative sexual praxis, often leading to situations that show resemblance to the witch-hunts.

Problems we meet
Depending on where you live, your culture may have stringent or looser views on BDSM and same-sex relationships. Area’s we likely will meet a negative attitude or actual resistance are:

- Religious institutions
- Neighbourhood
- Working place
- Children

The idea is that when we are sexually defiant, we are unable or unworthy to participate in religious rituals, social interactions or raising or working with children. However, the functioning of kinky and LGBTQ persons in reality, does show that there seems no reason to suggest that they suffer from a mental disease.

Problems rather by thoughts, as by deeds
Again we see that theoretical prejudges and abstract values are chosen above life-based experience: in scientific terms we would call this a delusion in order to avoid getting on terms with evidence. Whereas for an evaluation of whom we are as a person, our deeds should be taken into account and not our theories about how persons should ideally be; as long as we consent, keep our sexual acts private and respect the public space of others, there is nothing anti-social in what we do.

Notice that we are not claiming that others are not entitled to their beliefs; they are, but so are we. We do not reject, ridicule or forbid the type of sex that the majority seems to prefer, and neither do we force our views upon them, obliging them to follow our sexual preferences. Meanwhile we battle wrong convictions about what it is what we do and enjoy, just like any sensible person would stand up for the right to be yourself.

Concluding we can say that it is not by our deeds that we get problems in the above mentioned areas, then as long as no one knows, everything seems to work fine. Yet as soon as our deeds are being contrasted with differing opinion with regard to sexual ethics, we run the risk of being pathologized. As there is no compelling argumentation for such ethics, we cannot let that happen. Understanding the mechanisms behind pathologizing us, will help to debunk them and set us free.

Afterword regarding religious morality
For about 1800 years amongst those confessing to the spiritual values and truths that can be found in Christianity were many that held slaves. The slaves were used for work, public and private service as well as for sexual service. Slaves were commodities without rights and such slavery was nowhere near the consensual, nurturing and mutually beneficial kind of slavery that we find in BDSM relationships. Rather it showed the unequal, unjust and exploitive side of slavery, a way that devalues the slave instead of empowering them. Regrettably, there was not much theological resistance against the praxis, but eventually reason prevailed.

Bringing an end to abusive slavery was of course a humane act and I think an act that is in accordance with the commandment to love your neighbour. It was a good development and I wish such developments would also occur with regard to the sex-negative attitude that we find in many branches of Christianity. Reality shows that there is nothing wrong with the actual loving of our neighbours, even when this loving occurs in a sexual context.

The truth will set us free – Sir Cameron