BDSM: a ‘Sick’ Practice for ‘Sick’ People

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I must have been fourteen when, wandering in a bookstore, I came across an arty collection of BDSM and fetish photographs. A strange magnetism drew me blindly to the printed pages, a sort of strange respect for what was pictured, and there I was, kneeling in the corner of a bookcase, madly flipping through the book. I found myself fascinated by the handcuffs, the ropes, the feathery door garters, the nipple clamps, and the remarkable variety of whips. I was so taken by what I saw as an ‘underworld’, which majestic vaults were unbolting for my eyes to see, that I didn’t notice my dad leaning over my shoulder, condemning and terrible: “what are you looking at? This is for sick people”.

My father probably didn’t know that his discriminatory comment was merely a way to define me, as I was fully aware of my fetish for BDSM, and this definition weighed on my shoulders for years. There must be something diseased within me, I thought, and my homosexuality wasn’t exactly the best relief a teenager could experience, especially at an age when the promises of a dull boyfriend covered with acne are expected to magically materialize. The self-redeeming quest that ensued was just a way to validate the self-explanatory nature of my blatant sexuality.

BDSM – Bondage, Discipline, Sadomasochism – defines a range of consensual practices, from mild spanking and biting to heavy whipping, bondage, temperature play, etc… For those unfamiliar with the dynamics of such a lifestyle, the enigma resides in the impossible equation of drawing pleasure from pain, torture and humiliation. They consider it impractical to enjoy suffering unless an ‘abnormal’ context of pathologies is at stake. In fact, BDSM is more about role play and the interactions of power between dominance and submission rather than a random, indifferent session of mechanical whipping. If we are to think of dominance and submission as components of our everyday life, we would find interesting scenarios that go unnoticed and overlooked for their most part.

Scenario #1 – Education at home
Parents do believe in corporal punishments, or simply act out of impulsiveness. While slapping and spanking are the most common and immediate reactions to the children’s mischievous deeds, some parents resort to more drastic methods such as thick wooden sticks, shoe heels, and leather belts.

Scenario #2 – Discipline in (some) schools

Apart from the forced uniform, the tidy hair and the absence of visible piercings, school systems use humiliation as a mean for punishment. Not only does the teacher reserve him/herself the right to publicly humiliate ‘weak’ subjects, but they also make them stand in a corner, hands on their head, their back turned to the rest of the class. My personal favorite: a teacher once placed one of my classmates standing inside the garbage bin. Old(er) systems favored hitting gathered inky fingers with a supple cane.

Scenario #3 – The schoolgirl

Teacher/student interactions can take a dramatic turn when the teacher experiences a particular ‘conflict of interest’. Sexual harassment and molestation from teachers is far from being unusual in schools and universities. If the student in question complains about the unwelcome behavior, he/she risks failing the class.

Scenario #4 – The sexcretary

We have all seen her with her platinum hair, her xxx sized lips, and her lack of interest in taking phone calls. She rules over the boss, and in extension, the company.

Scenario #5 – The maid

With the lack of basic human rights bestowed upon migrant workers, being the “maid” in a Lebanese household can turn into a nightmarish type of modern slavery. The “maids” in question cannot eat and sleep at their convenience. Their passport is legally concealed from them upon their arrival to Lebanese lands. Most of them can’t go out on the balcony, take a day off, or talk on the phone. Of course, their sexuality is fully controlled and repressed unless it is to please the man of the house in the absence of “Madam”.

Scenario #6 – Institution of marriage

I remember being astounded when, at a wedding ceremony, I heard the bride vowing obedience to the groom “until death do us apart”. In contrast, he just promised to cherish and respect her while subsisting to all her needs.

The familiars will recognize that many BDSM scenes are inspired by these aspects of routine life. So how come is BDSM labeled as perverted while these real stories are disregarded, even hushed up and covered for? Is the etiquette of “sexual practice” enough to stigmatize any behavior at different degrees? While the scenarios above are mostly damaging and life-altering for the submissive party because of their abusive nature, BDSM is fully consensual and comes as a form of constructive play between two partners. It explores limits and ends immediately upon request. It enhances communication to understand the other’s needs, and it creates a solid human bond between two (or more) people who have decided to share their bodies to the fullest and experience the extremes of sensory saturation.

If that is sick, then “yes please”, more of that. See, I’m asking politely.

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Gya is a queer feminist who lives in a pink bedroom in the “2aryeh”. She doesn’t notice the curious setting as she remains in her bubble of unknown poets and mysterious femme fatales. If she’s not busy laying a poem in a cafe on Hamra street while sipping her French Press, she is most probably daydreaming about someone somewhere. Tough life that is. She looks innocent almost all the time, yet being obnoxious is one of her main daggers (or so she was told). Gya likes to live life to the fullest. She can't be put in a box, even if it's pink. She loves strong feelings and colors, and expresses herself with both her body and mind.

6 Responses to “BDSM: a ‘Sick’ Practice for ‘Sick’ People”

  1. F S

    Sep 18. 2011

    Great stuff. I really want to try BDSM but I still need to come to terms with it and come out to people about my desire to do it… This article has definitely motivated me and made me re-think my stance on things. THANKS!

    Reply to this comment
  2. lulamae

    Jan 27. 2011

    When I married obey was never spoken. That being said when I first began learning about M/s I eagerly signed on as a sub to my Master! I agree that there are the dynamics of BDSM out there everywhere once you open your eyes to it. The overly bossy wife in the grocery store. The meek wife not doing something her husband wouldn’t like. The dominating husband that can’t even get his own dinner plate and has his wife do it. I was always aware of such dynamics, but didn’t have quite the knowledge about them until I got into this lifestyle.
    The one thing that most don’t see in the lifestyle is the trust and respect that it takes to allow someone full control of your life or the other way around. Thank you for the article it was very nicely done!

    Reply to this comment
  3. tanzania

    Jan 26. 2011

    extremely enlightening and mind altering.. (Y)

    great job GyA!!
    you keep it up girl, we definitely could use more of your know-how :)

    cheers!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Gya

    Jan 25. 2011

    thank you both, I’m glad this has made a difference

    Reply to this comment
  5. C.

    Jan 25. 2011

    Very well written and argued! Thanks for sharing; it was a pleasure reading this.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Camilla

    Jan 24. 2011

    ehi Gya,
    thanks for uprising such controversial subject and giving to me a new prespective on it

    Reply to this comment

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