Thursday, 24 September 2015


In the BDSM 101 examination paper I mentioned in my last post I wrote a question about consent. It proposed an imaginary scenario in which consent was given but later withdrawn. The submissive in the example suffered from bi-polar disorder, though I could have equally have used other depressive mental conditions.

I will copy the question here:

Sarah and James were in a close BDSM relationship for 5 years. Sarah suffered from bipolar disorder which was mostly controlled through medication. Before meeting James, Sarah used to self-harm, often through cutting herself. Whilst in the BDSM relationship with James she no longer felt a need to do this. Their BDSM play was somewhat extreme. It involved needle play, stress bondage positions and heavy beatings including use of a whip. Eventually the relationship broke down. Some months later Sarah went to a police station with her lawyer. She claimed she had been restrained, whipped and beaten by James and although she acquiesced at the time, that because of her mental condition she was unable to give informed consent. She showed photographs of scars on her back and breasts. How should the police respond?

I suppose the question was ultimately about the ability to give consent in such cases and the responsibilities of a Dom in understanding the needs of a sub and not taking advantage.

Lea wrote,
The police should look for evidence of consent and her mental state at the time. With any case kink-related or not, it should be determined if the person truly was in a sane state of mind. I don't think James should arrested immediately, but that a discreet investigation should take place. It would be my hope that if Sarah was receiving medication, she also had a psychiatrist that she spoke of her issues openly to - this professional could be consulted as to her state of mind and her ability to consent to James.

Sofia Hisservant wrote,
Fascinating question! Legally, I have no idea what they “should” do, but I don’t think they should arrest and charge him. If she’s admitting, at the time she goes to them, that she consented at the time, but that the consent is not valid because of her mental illness, I don’t think she has a case. In order for her to not be able to consent, she would have to have already been found incompetent and be under the care of a guardian. Even if she’s on disability and has a payee, that’s not the same as being found incompetent in a court of law to make personal decisions. If she were stating that he had coerced her into consenting, that might be reason to charge him, but even then it’s going to be a super weak case. As much as I like the idea of RACK, I don’t think there’s a legal obligation for informed consent for beatings. I think the police might have to arrest him or notify him that charges have been filed, but I don’t think she has a leg to stand on.

There were a few comments in response to sofia's answer.
mckitten pointed out that the law in the UK and the US states that you cannot consent to abuse so any BDSM contract would not be enforceable.
Soume Stalked (Fury) noted that this was also the case in Canada.

little monkey wrote,
I am bipolar. This is deep water here. There have been times in my life when I probably shouldn't have had the keys to my own life. The compulsions to behave in certain ways can be impossible to resist, literally impossible, without medication, support, and training. But while I was unable to stop myself sometimes, I always knew when behavior was a bad idea, I just didn't care. So, consent, hmm, that's a tough one. I think in today's world , if she admits to consent, then he shouldn't be prosecuted. Ultimately it comes down to the character of the person you interact with. A person can have a mental illness and still take responsibility for their actions. If you were not coerced or manipulated into consent, then it is less than honorable to accuse someone else of wrongdoing because you regret something you did.

Thank you again to each of them for their thoughts on this tricky issue. I think the legal position is clear that in many countries consent might not be a defense to an accusation of assault following bdsm activities. Whether it should be is another question and the answer to it perhaps partly depends on answers to my main theme. That is all about the complex issues of consent in relation to BDSM activities, the responsibilities of a Dom - and in particular where a sub may be seen to be vulnerable, perhaps especially if she is having psychological problems at the time.

Many of us have suffered from periods of depression and have not always been fully stable. We have perhaps all made decisions we later regretted. What has to be the criteria for someone NOT to be held responsible for their decisions? Are there perhaps occasions where a sub may consent to certain extreme activities - in fact may invite them - but where the Dom should take responsibility for refusing to undertake the activity or perhaps tone it down? How is a Dom expected to be fully aware of all necessary issues?

In the example I concocted, I deliberately chose an example where the BDSM activities might be argued to have been beneficial for the sub - where self harm activities had been diverted into controlled and comparatively safe BDSM activities where another person was taking responsibility for safety issues.

Although it is a "made up" story - a fiction, I believe it highlights some very real issues for submissives and for dominants.

I would be pleased to hear further views about this.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

bdsm 101 - the results

On New Years Eve I posted an examination paper (BDSM 101) for readers to try out if they were getting bored with the festive season.

I received three fully completed papers, all of excellent quality. To engage in such a way with the exam will have taken a lot of time and effort. To have done it so well is truly amazing. Thank you very, very much to those who tried it and sent their work to me. I read and marked it all with comments back to each contributor. They all received very good grades - which is a shame in a way as it would have been fun to hand out some punishments!!!!

Lea published her paper here.

Sofia Hisservant published her result here.

Little Monkey's response is no longer available on her blog. I have written to her to check if she is happy for me to post it here. (UPDATE: She has now kindly allowed me to publish her excellent contribution here.)

They are really worth reading so do visit their pages and read the completed papers.

A couple of other readers wrote on their blogs or on Fetlife that they might have a go but I do not think I have heard back from them. If you did complete the exam and I have not found your response on dredging my memory and checking so long after the event please accept my apologies and write to me. I will then add a link.

If their efforts inspire any more of you to have a go please send me the results and I will publish them here.

Once again - many thanks to those who took part.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

a fresh start ...

If you read Graham's query to Uncle Agony here about whether an online relationship can work ... well, there have been developments!

You can read all about it here.


I have been thinking about self-image in the context of bdsm and D/s.

It relates perhaps to strength. I have written often before that I believe a submissive needs to be strong rather than weak. Submissiveness in a bdsm context is not the sign of weakness it may appear to be in other contexts.

I wonder how moving into the world of bdsm may affect people's self-image. If my thoughts are correct then it should have a positive effect. To be able to control another person and have them submit to your will surely helps give a feeling of self confidence which then enhances the ability to be controlling. Similarly the ability to submit and accept difficult challenges presented by one's partner should also enhance ones self confidence. The praise that may often accompany this - "good girl", for instance - will also enhance this feeling.

So if being part of the bdsm world can enhance one's self-image then may people delve into bdsm with this in mind? Are there those will low self esteem who seek out bdsm experience with the aim of improving their self-esteem? Would you advise someone with low self-esteem to try out bdsm or might that be dangerous advice?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

unfaithful - 3. Is polyamory a solution?

In the comments to the first post in this series, Unfaithful, His slut wrote,
I read something that has always stuck with me. One person cannot fulfill all the needs of their mate. How true it is? I'm not sure. I think in order to understand it does take a lot of communication.

If His slut is right and one person cannot fulfill all those needs then perhaps polyamory is what is needed. As Anonymous says in a comment to the same post,
I also think that partners may seek out other relationships for a variety of reasons. It may not always be sexual but often times, our roles in society are so defined that we find ourselves gravitating towards the old standby, when in actuality it could be the connection, joy, release or energy we enjoy from another.
In which case the needs His slut describes are not just about sex or bdsm issues but are much more wide ranging.

So can it be made to work? Does it need to be made to work? Is it even more the case in a fetish or bdsm or D/s context where the desires and needs might be broader or more specialist or just more unusual. Might some of them be much more difficult to be met by one person?

So do you have one person who can meet all your needs or do you hanker for another to help fulfill them or perhaps you already make a poly situation work well for you?