For a DOCUMENTARY on sadomasochism harms, please scroll down.
DEFINITIONS: (from Random House Dictionary)
1. Psychiatry . sexual gratification gained through causing pain or degradation to others.
2. any enjoyment in being cruel.
3. extreme cruelty.
1. Psychiatry . the condition in which sexual gratification depends on suffering, physical pain, and humiliation.
2. gratification gained from pain, deprivation, degradation, etc., inflicted or imposed on oneself, either as a result of one's own actions or the actions of others, especially the tendency to seek this form of gratification.
3. the act of turning one's destructive tendencies inward or upon oneself.
4. the tendency to find pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness,etc.
1. interaction, especially sexual activity, in which one person enjoys inflicting physical or mental suffering on another person, who derives pleasure from experiencing pain.
2. gratification, especially sexual, gained through inflicting or receiving pain; sadism and masochism combined. Abbreviation: S-M, S and M
BDSM DEFINITION: (Taken from what those who practice it have shared in various places.)
B = Bondage
D = Domination, Dominance, Discipline
S = Sadism, Sadist, Submission, Submissive, Slave
M = Masochism, Master
POSITION STATEMENT ON SADOMASOCHISM: BY ANTIPORNOGRAPHY.ORG, SAY NO TO SADOMASOCHISM YOUTUBE CHANNEL, AND SAY NO TO SADOMASOCHISM/@NOSADOMASOCHISM TWITTER ACCOUNT:
We are not advocating interfering with, prohibiting, banning, or legislating against private and consensual adult sexual behavior, activities or acts. We are not in favor of attacking, persecuting or discriminating against any individuals who practice BDSM. We are not forcing our position, statements or collected information on anyone.
If some people don't like or agree with our position or statements they are free to ignore us and the content we share here and elsewhere, and of course to do as they wish in their personal lives, including their sex lives. We have no control over anyone's personal lives and have no interest in or desire to have any such control. We are merely exercising our right to free speech to provide educational information and to advocate for a less violent, less cruel, and a more compassionate and loving society for everyone, as is our right to do so. (Just as it is everyone's right to engage in whatever sexual practices that they want to, as long as they are not breaking any laws.)
We are in favor of safe, healthy, equality-based sex, love and relationships, free of oppression, domination, cruelty, humiliation, degradation and abuse, whether these are actual or part of "sex play", and no matter the gender of the dominant/abuser or the submissive/abused person. We have a right to our position and beliefs, just as pro-BDSM people have a right to theirs. Our purpose is to offer educational information to those who are interested in order to help them learn about the harms of sadomasochism, so that they can better understand those harms and make informed choices. We base our position on decades of research about the harms of sadomasochism by feminists and others, and the experiences shared by former sadomasochists and others, and the obvious physical and social harms of BDSM.
NOTE: We do not base our position on how BDSM is portrayed in "Fifty Shades of Grey", and we do not judge BDSM participants by the actions of the characters in that book. However we do speak out against the harmfulness of "Fifty Shades." See our page on that issue here.
To learn more about why we take the position we do, please read the content below on this page and all of the references that we link to on this page, as well as the resources that we share at our Say NO to Sadomasochism YouTube channel and Twitter account. Most questions and concerns regarding our position and that of other people who are against the harms of sadomasochism will be addressed by doing so. Thanks, and peace, love, joy, health and harmony to all! :-)
P.S. We should mention that we have been unfairly targeted, attacked and insulted by pro-BDSM people many times. They are often very intolerant of our views and others who do not agree with them. See numerous hostile, attacking, and insulting tweets directed towards our @NOSadomsochism Twitter account, or comments on our SNTS YouTube videos for examples. Note: We acknowledge that those who have attacked us do not necessarily represent everyone in the BDSM community.
"The defense that sadomasochism is consensual behavior does not make it feminist. Women have been reared to be submissive, to anticipate and even want domination by men. But wanting or consenting to domination and humiliation does not make it nonoppressive. It merely demonstrates how deep and profound the oppression is. Many young Brahmin women in the nineteenth century “voluntarily” jumped into the funeral pyres of their dead husbands. What feminist would argue that these women were not oppressed? It is not unusual for patients to consent to sexual relationships with their psychotherapists, or employees with their employers, or students with their teachers. But such consent does not mean that power has not been abused.
The problem with focusing on consent becomes even more apparent when we evaluate solitary self-destructive behavior, such as people stubbing cigarettes out on themselves, cutting themselves up, strangling themselves into unconsciousness, beating or whipping themselves or pulling out large chunks of their hair. Few would regard these as healthy behaviors. Why then does it become acceptable when one or more persons undertake these acts?"
– Diana E. H. Russell, Ph.D., Founding Board Member AntiPornography.org
Sadomasochism is not always consensual. Blackmail and threats are sometimes involved:
"Marcus whipped Jodi and carved "slave" on her stomach. She engaged in handcuffing, branding, whipping, and choking. Marcus posted photographs on his website. In 1999 she had "a moment of clarity," and from then on her relationship was nonconsensual. Marcus told her he would show her pictures to family and the news if she left him. She also overheard Marcus threaten to harm the family of another BDSM partner."
Ever since the '60s, sexologists, sexual liberals, and sex-industry entrepreneurs have sought to discuss sex as if it were entirely separate from sexual violence and had no connection with the oppression of women. Feminist theorists and anti-violence activists, meanwhile, have learned to look at sex politically. We have seen that male ownership of women's bodies, sexually and reproductively, provides the very foundation of male supremacy, and that oppression in and through sexuality differentiates the oppression of women from that of other groups.
If we are to have any chance of liberating women from the fear and reality of sexual abuse, feminist discussion of sexuality must integrate all that we can understand about sexual violence into the way we think about sex. But these days feminist conferences have separate workshops, in different parts of the building, on how to increase sexual "pleasure" and on how to survive sexual violence -- as if these phenomena could be put into separate boxes. Women calling themselves feminists now argue that prostitution can be good for women, to express their "sexuality" and make empowering life choices. Others promote the practices and products of the sex industry to women to make a profit, in the form of lesbian striptease and the paraphernalia of sadomasochism. There are now whole areas of the women's, lesbian, and gay communities where any critical analysis of sexual practice is treated as sacrilege, stigmatized as "political correctness." Freedom is represented as the achievement of bigger and better orgasms by any means possible, including slave auctions, use of prostituted women and men, and forms of permanent physical damage such as branding. Traditional forms of male-supremacist sexuality based on dominance and submission and the exploitation and objectification of a slave class of women are being celebrated for their arousing and "transgressive" possibilities.
Because women's sexuality develops in [a] context of sexual terrorism, we can eroticize our fear, our terrified bonding. All sexual arousal and release is not necessarily positive. Women can experience orgasms while being sexually abused in childhood, in rape, or in prostitution. Our language has only words like pleasure and enjoyment to describe sexual feelings, no words to describe those feelings that are sexual but that we do not like, feelings that come from experience, dreams, or fantasies about degradation or rape and cause distress despite arousal.
The "sex" promoted by women's and even feminist magazines, as if it were quite separate from women's real-life subordinate status and experience of sexual violence, offers no hope of deconstructing and reconstructing either men's sexuality or women's. Sadomasochism and "fantasy" scenarios, for instance, in which women attempt to "lose" themselves, are often utilized by women who have been sexually abused. The orgasmic excitement experienced in these scenarios simply cannot be felt in these women's bodies if and when they remain grounded and conscious of who they actually are. The orgasm of inequality -- far from encouraging women to seek to create a sexuality commensurate with the freedom feminists envision -- merely rewards women with "pleasure" for dissociating.
So many women, including feminists, lowered their eyes from the vision of how to make women free and decided to get stuck into having more-powerful orgasms in any way that worked. The pursuit of the orgasm of oppression serves as a new "opium of the masses." It diverts our energies from the struggles that are needed now against sexual violence and the global sex industry. Questioning how those orgasms feel, what they mean politically, whether they are achieved through the prostitution of women in pornography, is not easy, but it is also not impossible. A sexuality of equality suited to our pursuit of freedom has still to be forged and fought for if we are to release women from sexual subjection.
The ability of women to eroticize their own subordination and take "pleasure" from the degradation of themselves and other women to object status poses a serious obstacle. So long as women have a stake in the sexual system as it is -- so long as they get their kicks that way -- why will they want change?
I suggest that it is not possible to imagine a world in which women are free at the same time as protecting a sexuality based precisely upon their lack of freedom. Our sexual passions must match the passions of our political imagination for an end to a world based on all abusive hierarchies, including race and class. Only a sexuality of equality, and our ability to imagine and work for such a sexuality, makes the freedom of women thinkable.
To read the full article: 1) Click here 2) Scroll down the page to the Sadomasochism section 3) Click on the title of the article.
Laura Flanders, a leftist-feminist journalist and founder of the Women's Desk at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, provided a recent example in the May issue of the Progressive. In "Living on the Wrong Side of Sex," Flanders profiles Amber Hollibaugh, a "pro-sex" writer and activist who, like celebrated writers Dorothy Allison and Joan Nestle, argues that people shouldn't have to suppress their enjoyment of a "politically incorrect" sexuality to fit a feminist politics. That's a valid message that should be heard. Like so many other "pro-sex" writers, Hollibaugh also argues incessantly that the feminist movement is sexless, prudish, "the last rock of conservatism"; that egalitarian sexuality, referred to as "vanilla sex," isn't really sex at all; and that sadomasochism is a working class sexuality. Such are arguments that should be openly discussed, as part of a fair dialogue, when they are made in progressive political forums.
The problem is, these arguments are put forth in an ongoing monologue that not only suppresses dissent, but contemptuously dismisses those who would object. What is called "pro-sex" -- sadomasochism and butch/femme role-playing -- is put forth not just as a personal preference that one should be able to choose without shame, but as cutting-edge politics itself. In the Progressive, such a depiction of "pro-sex" is featured, in all seriousness, alongside coverage of worker's rights, militarism, U.S. imperialism, and deteriorating inner city schools.
Capitalizing on the aura of taboo, "pro-sex" advocates tend to characterize their sexuality as the most marginalized, and its participants as oppressed in a way that is on par with racism, sexism, and classism. This notion has been widely accepted in popular alternative media, even though the explicit themes of "pro-sex" are ritualistically hierarchical and often fascist -- slave owner and slave, nazi and prisoner, etc. Advocates also tend to depict themselves as silenced and censored, in spite of their access to the popular alternative publishing world, from Salon to local weeklies, to Bust and Sojourner.
DOCUMENTARY: Me and My Slaves - From The Dark Side of Porn Series
WARNING! Graphic, violent, and disturbing images and language!
VIDEOS FROM OUR SAYNOTOSADOMASOCHISM CHANNEL
IMPORTANT NOTE: We have compiled many other references about the harms of BDSM to add to this page, and will be adding them here as we have time. But we are always looking for even more helpful, relevant and informative references on sadomasochism, as well as ones to add to our page on the harms of "50 Shades of Grey." So if you know of any, please feel free to share them with us via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or our contact form. Thanks!
Sadomasochistic sex "props" used to film BDSM torture pornography at the San Francisco Armory for Kink.com. Photo attribution: davitydave
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Saavi Accountability -- The only online accountability program that works with all online addictions. It is also the only program that sends notifications instantly via text message to an accountability partner so that they can be supportive when an individual needs it the most at the point of weakness, while they are accessing the online content. The software was created by a young man (26) who overcame his addiction and is trying to help others.
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"Pornography is a marketing device for sex trafficking: It normalizes degradation and violence as acceptable and even inevitable parts of sex, and uses the bodies of real women and children as objects. The difference between pornography and erotica is clear in the roots of the words themselves -- porne means females slaves, eros means love -- so pornography, like rape, is about violence and domination, not sex. Millions of lives depend on our ability to separate pornography from erotica, and to disentangle violence from sexuality."
Gloria Steinem, 2006
For information about Gloria Steinem's important work of fighting against the harms of pornography, sex trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, including videos and an audio interview, please see our page on Gloria Steinem. Click here.
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