Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Voodoo Hoodoo: World Morality v. Subculture - Commission on the Status of Women, United Nations headquarters, New York, 4th-15th March 2013

In discussion with a family member the other night over world news headlines about women's rights, attacks on women, and cultural differences where women are viewed and treated differently to here in the west, an interesting observation came up.

Do fans and practitioners of the BDSM subculture perpetuate and endorse the other religious practises and cultures existing in the world, where women are traditionally submissive, controlled, considered to be 'property', often victims of violence (or worse) and unquestioningly have to obey their husband's every whim?

Can you stand up and defend the promoting of BDSM as a 'lifestyle choice' and on the other hand judge cultures unknown to you as 'inhuman', 'misogynistic', 'anti-women' and 'violent'?

I'm curious. Because it seems to me that there are cultures where sadomasochist behaviour is so much the norm that it is not even a fetish. The culture or religion dictates the status quo between men and women, their rights and roles in marriage. To have an equal marriage would be considered an aberration.

The same storylines exist around BDSM and these different cultures - there is a marriage contract; the woman is consecrated to serve her husband; she does not question his authority; there will be rigid discipline and perceived wrongdoings should expect punishment - otherwise the husband is not seen to be fulfilling his own role. She will not look at other men or permit men to look at her, by dressing according to her culture's rules and regulations. She knows what is expected of her from birth onwards, because she is a woman. Not out of choice, or by browsing the latest trends marketed online or in Ann Summers. She submits herself to her fate within her own culture. Sometimes, unfortunately, it ends in her premature death.

How do practitioners of BDSM as a lifestyle choice feel about news stories and the world awareness of women's rights issues in other countries and cultures? Those cultures live your role-playing 'fantasies' as the daily norm. Would you convert to such a lifestyle full-time? Or is the only reason you participate in BDSM the fact that you have the freedom to walk away should you choose - in other words, that you are not in actual permanent danger - your hobby is not 'the real thing' which would be the same as what you see and read about in the news?

Because to me, it seems that the only part of BDSM which involves 'empowerment' is the ability to say, in some form, no.

Or if you are Peter Griffin, to say banana.

I'm still seeing posts and comments on other threads from fans of the current BDSM trend that returned in fiction last year, defending what they describe as 'a beautiful thing, the same for those involved in it as relationships are like for people who only do vanilla'.

Have you considered that BDSM itself is only the 'vanilla version' of what other cultures have practised for thousands of years, and still adhere to every day? Is it just a bit of spice in a safer lifestyle you would rather preserve, than live out permanently as part of a patriarchal religion or culture?

Are you the patriarchal religious and cultural equivalent of Star Trek cosplay fans?

I'm not judging anyone here personally. I think there's a pervert out there in the world to match every other little pervert and let's leave them to get on with it, in the consenting privacy of their own waxworks dolly dungeon. What I'm curious about is how you feel about the media chasing of world issues regarding women's rights and agendas. Are you on the fence? Do you support women's rights? How does it make you feel about your own lifestyle? Do you consider those cultural practises regarding marriage and the treatment of women also to be 'a beautiful thing' in their own right, and in the same way that you defend BDSM, do you think that western cultures 'should not judge what they haven't tried/aren't involved in'?

How do you deal with it, with women's rights issues and domestic violence statistical reports topping the news so much of the time?

The Mothers' Union has been gathering evidence to present to the Commission on the Status of Women next week at the United Nations in New York (4th-15th March 2013).

During its first ever session, all the way back in 1947, the Commission declared as one of its guiding principles:

“to raise the status of women, irrespective of nationality, race, language or 
religion, to equality with men in all fields of human enterprise, and to eliminate 
all discrimination against women in the provisions of statutory law, in legal 
maxims or rules, or in interpretation of customary law.”

That statement was made 66 years ago. Women's rights are not a new issue, nor a quick-fix one.

It concerns me that the west, having preached and promoted good moral conduct and equality for much of this time, are now rapidly heading the other way - towards promoting the cultures through sexual and relationship practises (openly and in the media) that focus on inequality and the suppression of women, including violence towards women.

In other words, we are not winning the battle for women's rights. We are playing for the other team.

If you are one of those BDSM subculture fans, maybe think before you comment whenever a discussion thread comes up. What you enjoy in your own time is up to you. But what else are you endorsing, promoting, and adding to by joining the conversation in the world of media issues and the way the world perceives women - their battle for rights and equality on the world's stage? If you had one of the women who had escaped one of these repressive cultures in front of you, or she was the commenter before you in the thread, what would you say to her personally, defending your interests? How would you judge her for her opinions? How would you view yourself, if you were in her shoes?

That's if she has any shoes... ;)

L xxxxxxx


Honour Anene Booysen by signing the petition to President Zuma against rape culture in South Africa:

Sign the petition to end the war against women in India:

Sign the petition to end rape culture by government forces in Somalia:

Or DONATE to help fund legal proceedings around the world -

End the war on women:


  1. An interesting, thought-provoking post, Lisa. I suppose if people want to engage in BDSM behavior in the privacy of their homes there isn't much ground for criticism. But, oddly, I just saw an article today (I thought it was in the NY Times, but I couldn't find it) where BDSM practitioners want to get more publicity about their lifestyle in an effort to make it seem more normal to others.

    Rob (RobRow from Authonomy)

  2. Here it is:

    "And some real-life kinksters — a few of whom are appropriating the epithet “pervert,” much as gay activists seized control of “queer” — are wondering if they are approaching a time when they, like the L.G.B.T. community before them, can come out and begin living more open, integrated lives."


    1. The thing is, Rob, none of it is new. The trend for inviting the world publicly into one's bedroom and flaunting what you do in there is new. Do ordinary 'vanilla' folk insist on inviting their parents and friends to themed parties to celebrate their methods of lovemaking? Do they go to clubs where they dress in their old pyjamas and Snoopy t-shirt with the purpose of sharing what it's like to have a quickie before work or morning-after sex? (Regardless of the fact that sort of conversation happens anyway after a few drinks...) It's called having a private life.

      The difference between those who just do it because they enjoy it as part of a specific consenting adult relationship, and those who talk about the fact that they do it, whether gay, perverse, alone, or swinging like crazy - is that those who make a song and dance about it have a different problem - one of wanting recognition for it, to be in the public eye having a certain kind of sex life, instead of in a one-to-one relationship having a private life.

      Good to hear from you :) xxx