seems i've always got something on the tip of my tongue.    ©

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

You Say Pain, They Say Play

As a little girlie, I was as tomboy as they come.

In my ‘hood, back in the day, the girls (there were three of us) were outnumbered by the boys at a 3:1 ratio. One of the girls, my mother told me quite certainly, was “beneath” me, and I was encouraged to either play with the boys or the other girl.

To me, “play” meant getting pretty physical and doing whatever the boys were doing. We fancied ourselves “police kids” and made ourselves uniforms and badges and ran down the street yelling at and feebly trying to throw Nerf footballs at cars driving too fast for our domesticated side street. We climbed into the ditches and crawled through the huge pipes. We painted our faces for no reason at all. We dug through our parents’ shit and played “dress-up” for the sheer hell of it.

Sometimes “play” involved projectiles and violence – since I’m from that generation born on the cusp of actually having cool shit to play with before people figured out things were dangerous; lawn darts, for instance, became illegal in my 15th year, back in 1988. We played with slingshots and broke windows in abandoned buildings. We tied each other up and left each other for “dead” in the middle of the “enchanted” forest. We nailed apple crates onto skateboards and rode down the steepest hill in the ‘hood. We’d climb (and fall down) cliffs by the beach. We dared each other to venture into the rat-a-tat “haunted” house around the corner.

Getting hurt was par for the course, and most of the time we barely noticed the pain.

Out there in the world, a number of you readers are nodding and grinning, remembering summers spent pitching lemonade stands and jumping fences, throwing stones and jumping off piers into water too cold yet for swimming, and winters spent hurtling iceballs at each other and crying out in pain. We took our chances and we lived with the consequences, because, for us, it was fun. Fun at any and all costs.

Somewhere along the way, we learned about pragmatism and all the things adults do to lessen risks of danger and lost limbs. We toned it down, we learned the rules, and we played safe. In adulthood, “play” means sports and board games, and little else.

Unless, of course, you belong to the BDSM community.

One could argue that, in ways, BDSMers are just children at heart. They want to play, be told what to do, often dress up in silly things, and need to have rules to follow or else things come apart at the seams.

Suggest this to the religious right and anyone else who gets creeped out at the thought of grownups in leather and ball-gags with whips at the ready, and you’ll be unceremoniously turfed faster than you can shout your stop word of choice.

Not too long ago, a big kerfuffle was raised and I have yet to really comment on it. A fuckwit by the name of Jason Fortuny took a very, very sexually explicit posting of a slave woman seeking a very aggressive male master through Craigslist and he reposted it in Seattle, using his email address as the letter through which any masters would be responding.

He then took all the responses from the males and posted them publically in an attempt to mock, humiliate, and out them. I haven’t really followed the whole mess, but I think he’s an asshole who deserves a little of the treatment the original woman was begging for. I think this for about a million and ten reasons that I’m not going to bother getting into, save for one –

What pisses me off most about the whole debacle, I think, is what the woman who originally posted that email must have felt when she discovered that she had unwittingly become the eye of this cyberstorm.

Sadly, we live in a society that deems fit to judge others for what they do in the privacy of their own homes. Only now are gays starting to really own who they are, but every now and then one gets beaten to death for no good reason. BDSMers have a fucking long ways to go before they get accepted by the mainstream.

It’s happening, in bits, but if a woman was to walk out into regular society and announce that she wished to be urinated on, called names, slapped around, and forced into submission regarding everything from doing the dirty deed right on down to doing the dirty dishes on demand, then she’d be besieged by women telling her she deserved better.

The point that they’re missing is, she doesn’t want better. She wants to be treated that way. I have no right to judge her, and neither do you.

Yet here’s this Craigslist woman, who probably debated for a good long time about taking her desires semi-public (because just admitting shit on paper’s hard enough to do some days). Now she’s being used by this post-collegiate fuckwit, who thinks he’s God’s gift to bloggers, who then goes and bastardizes everything she’s gone through to get to this point where she feels safe asking to be abused.

Funny thing is, she’s asking to be used and abused, but the number one rule in BDSM, basically, is that the submissive has all the power. They stop the play. They control what happens, because if they’re not a willing participant, it ends then and there. But she never asked Jason Fortuny to use her or abuse her. She never got to say stop. And that’s wrong six ways to Sunday, man.

If you don’t GET BDSM, then so be it. It’s not for you to appreciate or understand. Their rights, though, to do as they like, as two (or more) consenting parties, behind closed doors, ought to be protected in the constitution. Here in Canada, it is. (More or less.)

I own no dog collars, nor paddles, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go that way. But I own an open mind, and as a tax-paying member of a supposedly free society, I want the fucking right to explore whatever crosses my dirty, filthy little mind. After all, playing keeps the heart and soul young.

(Speaking of playfulness [in general] and Craigslist, allow me to introduce you to my brother. Seriously. He's single, cute, and a little weird, but in mostly good ways.)

[Photo courtsey of Wikipedia.]