Private fantasy, public reality: The RCMP, BDSM, and violence against women

Photos of a member of the RCMP, Cpl. Jim Brown, engaged in BDSM scenes were discovered online recently. The scenes were violent, degrading, according to many news reports, “reminiscent of [serial killer Robert Pickton’s] crimes.”

The fact that Brown played a role in the Pickton murder investigation was particularly upsetting to the public.

How could a man who so clearly enjoys degrading women fairly assess a case that is explicitly about violence against women, about dehumanizing women, and that played out as it did (in that the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside were ignored by the police for years) because the women who were going missing were viewed as worthless?

The photos discovered of Brown on fetlife.com included, for example, images of him holding a knife to a woman’s throat, another where he is binding a woman’s hands and feet, another where his boot is placed on the back of a woman who was wrapped in saran wrap. The photos posted by news sources online are much more tame, the reports say, than others they saw that were deemed too violent to be made available to the public.

BC Almanac, a show that airs on CBC Radio, featured a number of experts and call-ins on their show on Thursday (you can listen to the segment here) to discuss the discovery of the photos and the significance of an RCMP officer, in particular, engaging in this kind of behaviour.

While the majority of responses seem to be of shock, anger, and disgust — most people viewing the images as very clearly violent and degrading to women, one guest noting that there is a fake murder scene wherein a woman is placed in a body bag, the focus of many of the conversations was around ‘private’ behaviour vs. ‘public’ behaviour.

The RCMP, for example, tried to excuse Brown’s behaviour and their decision not to investigate when they first were made aware of the photos back in 2010 because he wasn’t wearing his uniform in the images, one report stating:

Supt. Ray Bernoties replied on June 27 that Brown’s involvement with the website, “was deemed to be adult consensual activity during which the implicated officer was not representing himself as a member of the RCMP, thus it did not meet the threshold for a code of conduct investigation.”

Essentially the RCMP viewed this as a private issue rather than a public one, since Brown wasn’t working or representing public interests at the time.

People chastised Brown for posting the photos online as well. As though he would somehow be less guilty had he hidden his behaviour better. And yes, of course it is beyond stupid in this day and age to post photos that you would prefer to remain private on the internet. But is our anger or disgust justified only because Brown was caught?

The recent push of a ‘sex-positive’ ideology which has permeated our discussions of sex and sexuality in North America says that anything goes so long as it happens in the privacy of our bedrooms and is ‘consensual’. It’s how we defend pornography, prostitution, and of course, things like BDSM. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to argue that our individual sex lives should somehow be regulated, the whole hands-off, libertarian, ‘whatever happens between consenting adults’ party line we must all toe as progressive, politically correct people makes it next to impossible to address behaviour like Brown’s when it comes to light.

Cries of ‘don’t judge us!’ are always what inevitably follow when we imply that perhaps a fantasy is not so tidily separated from real life actions and beliefs or that perhaps our fantasies are shaped by our reality and vice versa.

We’re only permitted to say ‘he should have kept it hidden from public view’ because to say anything else defies the modern ethos, post-sexual revolution, that says: Sex is always good. Erections are always good. If it turns you on, so be it.

But the line between fantasy and reality is not so firm and the divide between public and private is not as unmovable as we pretend it is, as we are witnessing now.

When the VPD were found to have been watching porn on the job instead of investigating the missing and murdered women, what we pretend is ‘private’ became public. When Catherine Galliford came out about the years of sexual harassment and sexual assault she faced while she was a member of the RCMP, what was once ‘private’ suddenly became ‘public’.  We’ve long treated abuse as a ‘private’, ‘family matter’. We know better now. Brown’s ‘private’ life, wherein he fetishized the abuse and degradation of women, is not *just* a private issue. This is a case where what one does ‘in private’ clearly has a public impact. The ‘private’ behaviour of misogynist men is not simply a private fantasy, but it is a public reality — whether or not the men are outed about their behaviour.

Now why are we pretending that fantasy has no association to reality? Do we really believe that any man who gets off on degrading women in his ‘private life’ somehow doesn’t bring those views into any other arena? Is his fantasy of abuse and domination erased the minute he shuts off his laptop or leaves the brothel? Based on the upset and the level of disgust coming from the public with regard to Brown’s behaviour, the answer is ‘no.’ If we truly believed that what happens behind closed doors has no real social impact, I doubt that people would be so upset.

The fact that this man is in a position of power, is meant to represent someone who exists to ‘protect’ the public, and that this was a man who took part in an investigation into the missing and murdered women, a case that is representative of how deeply racism, classism, and sexism is entrenched in our society is appalling, no doubt. But as much as we seem afraid to say it, lest we be perceived as ‘anti-sex’, as ‘prudish’, or as advocating for the state to exercise control over our bedrooms, I’m not sure we accept this kind of behaviour as truly ‘harmless’, regardless of who holds the erection and whether or not he is in uniform.

An article was published on Thursday about Terri-Jean Bedford, one of the women who brought forward the challenge to Canada’s prostitution laws (Bedford v. Canada) in an effort to legalize brothels. It noted her desire to open another house of bondage (the last bawdy house she ran was raided and shut down, leading her to file the case). The article touches on Bedford’s history of abuse, which she endured for much of her early life, beginning from the time she was a young child, but making no outright connection between her history of trauma and her life-path. Her private life, the abuse that was inflicted upon her, is a public reality. Many, many women have similar histories, hundreds of thousands of girls experience sexual assault and abuse throughout their lives. This is not a ‘private’ issue. This is a public reality. When abusing women is legitimized as a legal ‘business’ (which it would be were brothels to be legalized in Canada), those women’s histories of abuse is capitalized on. Prostitution sexualizes abuse. Fantasy becomes reality. Men’s ‘private’ fantasies are a reality for the women they abuse.

Our culture is sick. When men are getting off and getting away with abuse, with rape, and with assault, it’s time we stop pretending as though what we claim to be merely ‘fantasy’ is separate from reality.

Bedford’s story isn’t an anomaly. Many women who are prostituted have histories of abuse and many were pimped out as children. Male ‘fantasies’ — the things that happen supposedly in the ‘privacy of their own bedrooms’ — are our reality as a culture. The disrespect for women that exists within a man’s mind doesn’t just stay there. It isn’t just about him and his individual desires. A man who buys a woman on the Downtown Eastside is likely buying a woman who has been abused for much of her life. He is building on a history of violence.

We all have pornographic images built into our psyches. It’s all but impossible to avoid in this day and age. We learn what turns us on based on these images and based on our realities, living in a culture that is both built on, and fetishizes, inequity.

What is our fear around Cpl. Jim Brown’s ‘private’ behaviour? That it will bleed into reality? That perhaps a man who enjoys abuse fantasies ‘in private’ doesn’t care about the abuse of women in ‘real life’? Well I think those fears are justified. The cycle of abuse has roots.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • Elizabeth

    “Cpl. Jim Brown isn’t just a police officer who is a sexual deviant on his own time and who likes to connect with other like-minded individuals to share their twisted experiences. He is the RCMP member who produced informant Ross Caldwell in mid-July, 1999, almost three years before the RCMP accidentally discovered evidence that Robert Willy Pickton had been disposing of women’s bodies on the Port Coquitlam property he shared with his brother David. Caldwell was an acquaintance of the Picktons who reported that Willy Pickton had been seen skinning a woman in the barn, that he kept handcuffs under his bed and that he owned night-vision equipment, a semi-automatic rifle and wigs that he wore when he went trolling downtown.

    The Pickton brothers also owned Piggy’s Palace, an illegal drinking establishment around the corner that was notorious for holding wild, depraved parties involving Hells Angels members and Downtown Eastside sex trade workers. Drugs flowed freely, and politicians and off-duty police officers reportedly attended some of the parties as well. The Coquitlam RCMP knew all this, because they had a civilian employee, Bev “Puff” Hyacinthe, who was a longtime friend of the Picktons and who herself went to many of the parties and took photos of those in attendance there.

    Willy Pickton didn’t kill up to 49 women by himself, not according to the jury who convicted him of six counts of second degree murder. The women whose remains were found at the pig farm were likely the victims of a group of sexual sadists and torturers, who likely included convicted murderer Willy Pickton himself.

    How did Cpl. Jim Brown meet informant Ross Caldwell? Was Cpl. Jim Brown one of the sexual sadists frequenting Piggy’s Palace? Why didn’t the RCMP act on the important information he brought forward? Were the RCMP monitoring the gang activities, including the Angels’ visits to Piggy’s Palace? Why did the RCMP seemingly ignore a ten year string of serial murders? Did they have bigger fish to fry? How many murderers remain at large?

    All of these questions should have been answered by the just-concluded Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. We tried our best to pry the lid off and get the evidence out, but our attempts to have Cpl. Brown, Ross Caldwell, Bev Hyacinthe and David Pickton testify (among others) were rejected, as were our attempts to get access to the records of the Organized Crime Agency of BC that would reveal the nature and extent of police surveillance and gang infiltration activities involving Piggy’s Palace.

    The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry is patently incomplete. Now it has been revealed that the Coquitlam RCMP had a sexual sadist in their ranks who was sufficiently connected to the Picktons to produce a key informant, someone who tipped the police what Willy Pickton was up to three years before he was arrested. The Commission hearings must be re-opened. If it does not re-open the hearings, it will be perpetuating a police cover-up of the circumstances surrounding Canada’s worst serial killing case.”

    http://www.cameronward.com/2012/07/rcmp-officer-jim-brown-is-a-sexual-sadist-so-whats-the-big-deal/

    • Meghan Murphy

      Wow.

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca/ Boner Killer

    I was in awe when i heard about this on the news. This, only after the revelations regarding workplace sexual harassment and abuse, the fact that the male officers wasted time getting liqoured up in their offices, watching porno instead of finding and stopping Pickton. The fact that people believe that the private-sphere, the bedroom, the “fantasy” land is not separate from any other aspect of life. The personal is political and there is NO way that what this guy does in his sex-life (if you can call it that) which revolves around abusing and degrading women is cut off from his work life. This guy was supposed to be INVESTIGATING the murder of women and yet, he’s found holding a knife up to a woman’s throat, posing with a woman wrapped in saran wrap (conjuring up a murder scene)…we’re supposed to all sit back and go, “oh yeah, well that’s totally different, that’s consensual and in his personal life, it has no bearings on his reality and ability to tackle a case on violence against women” BULLSHIT…ugh utter bullshit. The world depresses me greatly….

  • river

    Ahhh yes. Cameron. I have resisted reading her book. She is too thorough as much as we wish they had been. And do either of you remember the cop who was found with child porn on his computer? He was at the time, the only officer assigned to the Missing Women case. And here they are, saying well you know his own time, and he didn’t download. Just unimaginable.

  • river

    I assumed this was Stevie Cameron whose book I can’t bear to read.

  • lee

    No River there are two Camerons in this story: Stevie Cameron wrote the book called On the Farm and this one, Cameron Ward is the lawyer who represented the families of the dead in the Inquiry.
    Great post Meghan. Lots to think about for all of us!

    • river

      Yes, mea culpa Lee. I’m going to have to look at her book. :(

  • http://lifeinthepatriarchalmatrix.wordpress.com/ Bedelia Bloodyknuckle

    They accuse us of painting men as violent rapists when they don’t need our accusations because they do it to themselves!

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Robert Pickton was on P.O.W.E.R. Bad Trick sheet many times for at least 10 years prior to his investigation . Sexual Assault Squad , Task Force on Prostitution all received a copies . I know I’ve personally dropped them off . P.O.W.E.R. Bad Trick sheet had info like description ,what he drives , what he asks for ECT about violent , abusive men who targeted Sex Trade Workers . While I agree that the police didn’t do there job. Their not the only one’s didn’t respond . Sex Trade Workers still don’t have access to most transition houses , rape crisis center’s , housing , adequate alternate income . Nobody ends up on the street because someone gave a shit. IMO. We can continue to blame porn ONLY . These woman fell through many many cracks . There’s a reason serial killers target sex trade workers , because they know NO ONE GIVES A SHIT . Feminist ( ok mostly the middle class ones )have blamed prostitutes for sexism , police have blamed crime on the sex trade. Religious folks blame the break down of the family … Nope not poverty . It’s never about poverty . But if you ask women on the street , it’s always about the money.

    • Meghan Murphy

      It’s always about poverty. No feminists blame the prostituted women for sexism.

  • river

    Yes. Many reasons why they were there in the first place. Racism: they won’t get a job in most northern communities. There are exceptions. Negligence: most of their families especially the males, really don’t give a damn about the girls. The girls are raped by their male kin before they ever get picked up by the white boys. They are broken women before they are 12, most of them. It takes a strong caring mother and father, free of alcohol and drugs, working, to turn out the youth we see now in universities, it took those strong parents to get funding and places in community colleges. Their daughter, a woman with a masters in education or a native physician, will change her community. Agree with Meghan: no feminists blame the women on the street, who are exploited abused women, not ‘workers’.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    So why are sex trade workers not able to access services ? Why was I as a sex trade worker leaving an extremely violent pimp asked to leave a transition house ? Immediately after cancelling my own homicide report .The reason I was told was because transition houses were for ” normal women”.Common practice for interval house STILL.They are not alone . Prostitutes were /are constantly blamed for reenforcing sexism .I was literally sent to Lee Lakeman at Rape relief .Ended up a collective member at Rape Relief, and a spokes woman for P.O.W.E.R. during the mid 80’s to late 90’s . I can’t count the times I was told that I couldn’t be a feminist because I was a sex trade worker. At the federal consultations on the rape shield law in Ottawa prostitutes were one of the groups chosen to speak at the commitee hearings .Another one of the targeted groups spokes woman told me during the break that she left out sex trade workers on purpose . We didn’t belong there .This was the same weekend that Cheryl Ann Joe body parts were found over a six block area in the Downtown Eastside . This was also during the time that Pickton was murdering woman .
    My point is that we can’t legislate sexual fantasy . We can offer viable options rather than just finger pointing .No need to be so defensive , just some behavior changes . Never about us without us please.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I agree that there doesn’t need to be ‘finger pointing’. Women end up in prostitution because of systemic inequity. I don’t think anyone here is being defensive though I have to say that I seriously, seriously, doubt VRRWS would ever ask a woman to leave the transition house because she was prostituted. That doesn’t make any sense.

    • Bet Cecill

      right on Kairn..hope you are well

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    How disrespectful to women who work in the sex trade . We are sex trade workers . It is a job and only a job to US . Remember it’s the only profession in the world where women make more money than men .Why is it that no matter what we say to feminists , you all are still the experts on our lives?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m lost. How does pointing out that prostitution exists because of systemic inequality disrespect prostituted women?

    • http://screaming-banshee.net Miss Andrist

      As an exited woman, the only thing more disrespectful to my lived reality than pretending I am not being paid to cooperate – commercialized rape – is pretending that’s more “disrespectful” than murdering women.

      I am the feminist you are addressing. I am the prostituted woman. I am the expert. Nice try, though.

  • river

    “Never about us without us” apart from being an industry mantra doesn’t mean EVERY “us”, or explicitly, YOU. As is obvious here, your intention is to derail and disrupt. Really, under the circumstances? Shame on you.

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Meghan I was “sent” to VRRWS from Hamilton On . It was in Hamilton that I was asked to leave . I was a collective member at VRRWS . Many many transition house still won’t allow sex trade workers in.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Really? I’m surprised. Which ones?

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Meghan most of them actually women are referred to homeless shelters .I worked as an outreach worker for homeless folks . The differences in level of service is unbelievable.

    River I was trying to get to inclusive. When you speak on my behalf without consulting me or women like me . you silence my voice . my experience .I’m not saying others should follow , but hopefully make it possible for more of us to speak out . There many reasons for the sex trade , many voices are needed . I have taken direction from and been accountable to hundreds of sex trade workers . Street accountability , we had each others back.

    I am against legalization , for many reasons . We need support , we need to be include. And for the record Never about us without us is not and industry mantra , it was started in Africa .Many groups us it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      What transition houses refer women who are trying to escape violent pimps to homeless shelters?

  • Snezana Kairn Mladenovic

    Almost all of them . All the interval houses ( a chain of transition house in On ). It’s how the relationship is seen . Pimps are not seen as boyfriends /common law ECT. but rather as an boss/ criminal . Because of that it doesn’t fit the domestic violence mandate . The mandate is dictated by the house .

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca/ Boner Killer

    I am also confused how pointing out the systemic factors that uphold prostitution is the same as disrespecting those involved in the sex industry…Also confused about what this has to do with the actions of the RCMP officer….

  • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

    How about instead of “don’t judge us”, we instead say “don’t rob us of agency”? Do you honestly believe that women cannot consent to these things? Do you really believe that we are children who need to be protected? Sorry, but we’re not children, we can take care of ourselves, thank you very much! I direct my life, not you or any other so-called feminist. If I choose to be tied up during sex, if I choose to be flogged, whipped, spanked, cut on, whatever, THAT’S MY CHOICE. It’s the choice of a lot of other women, as well. I’m not weak for wanting that, it’s a part of my sexuality, the same as how I am solely attracted to other women.

    The sick people aren’t my sexual partners or myself. The sick people are the ones who are so worried about my sex life, they want to regulate it. Stay out of my bedroom, and look after yourself! I don’t need your approval to enjoy myself, and if you try to call my kinks abuse, I will be pissed.

    PS – Read some actual scientific literature regarding BDSM. The BDSM population has a lower incidence of mental disorders than the general population. Thus, you’re likely actually safer to be around us perverts than to be around “normal” people.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No I don’t honestly believe that women cannot consent to these things. Where did I say that?

    • Meghan Murphy

      No I don’t “honestly believe that women cannot consent to these things”. Where did I say that? I also never called kinks abuse nor do I give two shits what you do in your bedroom. Why so defensive?

      • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

        You put “consensual” in quotation marks. That implies that you don’t believe that BDSM is actually consensual.

        “The recent push of a ‘sex-positive’ ideology which has permeated our discussions of sex and sexuality in North America says that anything goes so long as it happens in the privacy of our bedrooms and is ‘consensual’. It’s how we defend pornography, prostitution, and of course, things like BDSM. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to argue that our individual sex lives should somehow be regulated, the whole hands-off, libertarian, ‘whatever happens between consenting adults’ party line we must all toe as progressive, politically correct people makes it next to impossible to address behaviour like Brown’s when it comes to light.”

        • Meghan Murphy

          Because consent and choice are more complex than the ‘sex-positive’ folks often make it out to be. Choice doesn’t happen in a bubble. That doesn’t mean consent doesn’t happen – it means that just saying ‘it was consensual’ can’t just be the end of the conversation. It doesn’t make it unproblematic just because someone made a choice.

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            I believe that the freedom to choose is the freedom to choose poorly. We all make bad decisions in our lives. Sure, there are some people who I’ve regretted sleeping with. But there are also some classes I’ve regretted taking, some jobs I regretted applying for. Part of making bad decisions is learning from them, and moving on.

            None of us are telepathic, and we don’t know everyone’s life stories. So, we can only go on what they tell us – yes or no (or in the case of BDSM, green, yellow, or red).

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sure. Of course we all make ‘bad’ choices. We will for the rest of our lives. That said, I don’t think that negates any conversation or critique around BDSM and the implications of engaging in BDSM within a misogynist culture. Same goes for porn. Just because a woman ‘consents’ or ‘chooses’ to perform in a porn film doesn’t mean that sexism isn’t happening. And I’m not saying BDSM is the only place where misogyny can potentially play out in the bedroom, in fact I wonder if it’s even possible to have sex within a patriarchal culture without inequity at play. But that doesn’t mean sex is ‘bad’ or that feminists can’t fuck men or whatever. It just deserves thought and conversation and, yes, even critique.

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            I get that. But we already get a lot of flack from people for having different kinks. Sadomasochism is still listed in the DSM as a disorder, and it doesn’t look to be going away in the new revision. There have been people who have been fired when they were outed for being in the scene. There are people who’ve been arrested for abuse, even when their partners said that it was consensual. I think that doing things like putting “consent” into quotation marks in regards to BDSM only hurts those of us who are working for our rights, and to de-pathologize and de-criminalize our consensual sexual activities.

            There are plenty of other things to critique about this guy, without bringing his personal life in. You may think that this kind of thing bleeds into our professional lives. But I can assure you, that though I am sexually submissive, outside of the bedroom I am assertive and sometimes aggressive. There are reasons that the dichotomy of being one way in the bedroom and another way in real life is a stereotype.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Don’t you think, though, that it’s worth exploring the fact that this guy is in a position of power, is meant to be protecting women from violence at the hands of men, while simultaneously fetishizing violence against women?

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            I don’t think of it as violence, but rather a power exchange. And that’s how the majority of the community views it as well.

            In addition, in the community, we often have people who are expected to police the parties. These people are usually doms (or dommes), and are *very* protective, and ensure that safewords are respected. If anything, the ritualized nature of the scene, the fact that we usually will negotiate what we consent to before a scene occurs makes people hyper-aware of consent.

            In addition, there’s no guarantee that just because he sexualizes giving pain or bondage does not mean that he wants to do this to everyone. Just like gay men do not find every man attractive, not everyone involved with BDSM wants to use various trappings on everyone. (That is to say, should we explore whether lesbians should be allowed to volunteer for domestic abuse shelters, just because they enjoy fucking women?)

            If you want to discuss this, by all means, do so. But I don’t think that it makes sense to think that someone is unable to do their job protecting the public, just because they have a kink.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I would never, ever make the claim that a person is “unable to do their job protecting the public, just because they have a kink.” And, no, just because a person “sexualizes giving pain” it doesn’t mean they want to do that to everyone. I am not making that argument. You are completely removing gendered power dynamics from the conversation as well as the issue of eroticizes violence against women specifically (which, as it happens, is what every person who is so up in arms over this post also seems to be doing). It is relevant to address the context within which sexualized violence happens. That is, a rape culture and a culture that consistently objectifies women and sexualizes violence against women.

      • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

        Posting up here, since we seem to have run out of room below.

        “I would never, ever make the claim that a person is “unable to do their job protecting the public, just because they have a kink.” And, no, just because a person “sexualizes giving pain” it doesn’t mean they want to do that to everyone. I am not making that argument. You are completely removing gendered power dynamics from the conversation as well as the issue of eroticizes violence against women specifically (which, as it happens, is what every person who is so up in arms over this post also seems to be doing). It is relevant to address the context within which sexualized violence happens. That is, a rape culture and a culture that consistently objectifies women and sexualizes violence against women. ”

        I am removing gendered power dynamics, because the power dynamics in a BDSM relationship are not based in gender. This is why so many in the BDSM community are flexible in their sexuality. There are primarily straight men, who enjoy playing other men, because it’s the role they’re attracted to, not the genitalia. I myself am gay, if you leave BDSM out of it, but because I am attracted to the role of submissive, I am willing to be played by men. It’s actually not uncommon for gender sexualities to be trumped by the paraphilia. In addition, the most organized subculture of the BDSM community is the gay male one. There is not at all an eroticism of violence against women there.

        I think I covered why BDSM does not fit into the culture of sexualizing violence against women, but I’ll give it another try. The BDSM community is VERY rigid in what is and is not allowed. And what is not allowed is anything that the submissive is uncomfortable with. In vanilla sex, these safeguards do not exist. So, a woman who is uncomfortable and expresses such to her partner is more likely to be assaulted than a submissive who calls out a safe word. When a safe word is called out, ALL play stops immediately. If it doesn’t, the dom(me) is likely to be kicked out of whatever organizations s/he belongs to.

        I’m attracted to powerful women. However, I don’t fantasize about ceding power without my consent, because I know how terrible that is. In the BDSM community we are given a safe environment to explore these passions without having to worry about whether someone is going to rape or assault us. This goes for relationships with men or women.

        If you’re not talking about whether this guy can do his job just because he has a kink, then I am not sure what the point of this post is.

  • Lotus

    You say that you don’t want to be treated like a child but your arguments sound very simplistic and childish to me. Essentially, all I hear from you is that the issue of BDSM is “all about YOU”. Me me me. “It’s MY choice”, you say. Mine mine mine. USUALLY, after the age of about 7, most children become less self-centred and can look outside THEMSELVES, but it appears you have yet to pass through this phase of psychological development. When you do finally get through this phase, maybe you can actually explain how normalizing through “play” the sexualization of violence against women does anything to help advance OUR rights, equality and safety in this society, a society (I am sure I need not remind you) where 1 out of every 4 women does experience the real thing?

    • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

      Ad hominem. Nice try, but I don’t debate with people who attack me, rather than my points.

  • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

    I think that anyone who equates BDSM with violence against women or “fetishing violence against women” doesn’t understand what BDSM is. We start from a basis of equals and negotiate what we want. At any time, anyone can stop what’s happening. That means that the person being stimulated is actually in control, and the person doing the stimulating better do what is requested or the scene ends. Some of us simply enjoy more intensity with our sex, whether it’s mental, physical or emotional stimulation.

    A cop or a lawyer or a doctor who is kinky understands consent. They are the best people to deal with victims of domestic violence or sexual assault – the BDSM community is committed to safe, sane and consensual as our creed. We work hard to educate people about safe sex, and how to protect ourselves from predators.

    This rush to judgement are over photos, many of which aren’t even of Cpl Brown (including the worst ones that you reference, for example). Why isn’t anyone asking – What right does the media have to out Cpl Brown’s personal life when there is no indication that he’s done anything illegal or violated the terms of his service?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I don’t equate all BDSM automatically with eroticizing violence against women but in some cases it certainly does. Consent or not.

    • lizor

      I know this is a year late, but, “A cop or a lawyer or a doctor who is kinky understands consent. They are the best people to deal with victims of domestic violence or sexual assault”?

      What a very odd statement to make in regard to discussing Brown’s role in the Pickton investigation. The facts that constitute the focus of this blog post contradict your assertion.

  • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

    So you only take issue with images and scenes that involve women as submissives? When it’s a male submissive, then it’s not eroticizing violence against men? Some of the most iconic BDSM images are of women topping men, ie. the Dominatrix.

    The point is that you are generalizing and saying in some cases BDSM eroticizes violence against women – but you don’t know that. Only those involved can say whether it was rape or making love. The acts can look exactly the same, the only difference is consent. If those involved say there is consent, then it is consensual and shouldn’t be judged by someone outside the relationship because an image looks like something they don’t like.

    The only way I know to eliminate the rape culture we face today where date rape is practically ignored and women are afraid of reporting sexual assault is to teach everyone about consent. When is consent coerced? Do you really have consent if someone doesn’t say yes? What if negotiated limits are crossed? How do you deal with it in groups and on campuses in a way that honors everyone involved? This is what the BDSM community discusses and does education on.

    Isn’t that a much more productive conversation rather than condemning an entire sexual minority because their acts look like something you don’t like? I believe in a woman’s right to chose what is right for herself.

    • Meghan Murphy

      In our culture, there is not systemic, sexualized, fetishized violence against men. Men are not objectified as women are and living in a rape culture does not impact them in the same way. We simply can’t pull the old switcheroo when it comes to male domination and male violence against women. People who practice BDSM/have fetishes/like “kinky sex” are not a sexual minority and neither has anyone “condemned” these people as a whole. It’s going to be really difficult to have a productive, honest conversation about these issues if you’re going to say things that aren’t true and make sweeping statements like that.

      • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

        Just out of curiosity, what is your definition of a sexual minority?

        • Meghan Murphy

          I actually wouldn’t use necessarily the term sexual minority to describe a group so I’m not going to try to come up with a definition for you. That said, my response was meant to clarify that (as I have been accused of this already) being critical of BDSM is not the same thing as being homophobic. Gay people are oppressed under patriarchy because patriarchy thinks that women exist to provide men with sexual pleasure. Being a gay man makes misogynists uncomfortable because they think that it feminizes men to be fucked by other men and misogynists think women suck. Being a lesbian makes misogynists mad because they think they are the only ones who have the right to fuck women. Women fucking other women and men fucking other men fucks with the misogynist’s world view and sense of entitlement. People who are into kink are not systematically oppressed nor does being into BDSM challenge patriarchy in any way that strikes me as particularly revolutionary. In fact, when it comes to male domination/female subordination, it seems to simply reinforce patriarchal ideals.

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            People who have been outed as a member of the BDSM community have been fired from their jobs, arrested for “abuse”, and had their children taken away because of their sexual proclivities. This seems like a type of oppression to me. Being a black person a latin person does not strike me as challenging the patriarchy either, but that does not me they are not oppressed by white people.

            I do not perceive a choice in my sexual desires. I do not enjoy sex that does not include some aspect of BDSM. So, in order for me to enjoy sex, I have to participate in an activity for which I can be fired, or jailed, as BDSM activities are often against the law.

            So, it seems like it’s okay for you to be critical of the only way I can be sexually satisfied.

            I mean, let’s change this up. Let’s say we were talking about my gender preference instead. Since lesbians can also have their rights taken away from them for being lesbians, I think it’s somewhat analogous. If I said “People who have been outed as a member of the lesbian community have been fired from their jobs, arrested for “abuse”, and had their children taken away because of their sexual proclivities.” I would say, quite rightly, that this would and does count as oppression. So, how is it, when you substitute “BDSM” for “lesbian” in this statement, it becomes not oppression?

          • Meghan Murphy

            OH MY GOD. Please do NOT compare being a minority to being into kinky sex. Being black in a racist world is NOT AT ALL COMPARABLE to being a person who practices BDSM. Give me a break.

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            Are you serious? I wasn’t. I was pointing out how ridiculous it was to use “challenging the patriarchy” as a litmus for whether a group is oppressed or not. The patriarchy is not the only oppressive system. If it will make you feel better, I’ll use a different example. Atheists and agnostics are often oppressed by the religious majority, but they do not “challenge the patriarchy”.

            Does that work better for you? Did you really not understand what I was saying, or were you being disingenuous in order to put me on the defensive?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Challenging patriarchy is not a/the litmus for deciding whether or not a group is oppressed no. My point was that BDSM doesn’t challenge anything in terms of dominant ideology therefore no one cares about ‘oppressing’ kinky people. And when you claim to be part of a minority group, i.e. a group that is systematically oppressed, you put yourself into the same category as groups of people who have ACTUALLY experienced and continue to experience systematic oppression. It’s offensive and it’s ridiculous.

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            So, just out of curiosity, why do you think that people are fired for being kinky, lose custody of their children, and are occasionally jailed for it?

            Honestly, I’m not seeing much point in continuing. Apparently you only think someone is oppressed if you say they are. If they actually suffer the same oppressive effects that other oppressed members of society suffer, that’s just a coincidence, or something. I’m not sure I follow your logic enough to be able to discuss this.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You’re right. I decide who is oppressed and who isn’t. That’s me! I feel so powerful.

            Regarding your question: “just out of curiosity, why do you think that people are fired for being kinky, lose custody of their children, and are occasionally jailed for it?” – I have no idea. I’m asking. Seems odd to me. Perhaps I’m missing some information? Feel free to fill me in. I’ve never known anyone who’s into BDSM be thrown in jail because of it. There are no laws against kink. Are you talking violence? Or are you talking role-playing? As I asked earlier, how does this play out?

          • Meghan Murphy

            And WHO. Please tell me WHO has lost their children simply for ‘being a member of the BDSM community’.

          • Alyssa

            Actually Meghan, I personally know four separate people in the community who had their BDSM practices used to declare them unfit parents and take away their children. It’s not even a question of does it happen. It does and disturbingly frequently.

            Actually, one case in particular comes to mind. A close friend spent years trying to get her daughter back after her socially conservative sister used a diary of hers to get her declared a unfit mother. her BDSM practices were the SOLE justification used.

          • Meghan Murphy

            How did the court use evidence of BDSM practices alone to prove that these people were unfit parents? Like, they liked being dominated in the bedroom and this made them unfit parents? Can you elaborate?

  • river

    So tired of the porn industry flacks being allowed to take over these blogs as if their pimp-canned bullshit was some kind of rational point of view.

  • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

    Meghan, kinky people ARE systematically oppressed – 1 in 3 has been discriminated against or attacked because they are into BDSM. We have the surveys to prove it. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom helps hundreds of people every year: people lose custody of their kids, and are fired from their jobs for no other reason than they are kinky. They are discriminated against by mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and social services. And they are vilified by the media and blogs.

    What you’re doing is perpetuating the patriarchal standard that sex should be controlled rather than celebrating individual choice.

    Everyone from the American Psychiatric Association to the leading LGBT advocacy groups agree that kinky people are a sexual minority. We are often called a “sexual minority” in peer reviewed literature that publish the surveys and studies that have found that kinky people aren’t mentally ill, and in fact they are happier and more well-adjusted than non-kinky people. Perhaps that’s because we learn how to talk about our desires in an adult, responsible way.

    • Meghan Murphy

      That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m sorry but I just don’t care if individuals are into role playing. That doesn’t count as systemic oppression. I find that insinuation to be incredibly offensive.

    • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

      Susan – I don’t think there’s much more point in this discussion. However, a good thing came out of it. I was unaware that the NCSF even existed. Thanks to your comments, I’ve sent an email expressing interest in volunteering. It’s been a pleasure!

  • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

    NCSF reports our Incident Response numbers every year for the last 15 years. We are contacted by over 500 people a year, and in 2011 the largest category was criminal complaints – 250 involved either violence and harassment or arrest for carrying toys, and things of that nature.

    The rest of the numbers for 2001 break down to:

    27 were regarding employment discrimination
    115 were regarding child custody/divorce issues
    154 were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
    9 were classed as non-employment discrimination
    29 were related to swing community issues

    Someone at NCSF spoke to each one of those tortured 115 parents who came to us, advising them on how to deal with prejudice against BDSM in the family court. It’s very hard to help someone who’s had their kids taken away and doesn’t know when or if they will get them back. It’s gut-wrenching actually, which makes your tone all the harder to bear. It’s happening because people like you rush to judgement and don’t want to take the time to find out that we’re not violent people.

    • Meghan Murphy

      So how does this play out? An ex-partner says the person they are divorcing is violent? Then that person loses custody? Are these people who are losing custody men or women?

  • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

    Yes, one partner accuses the other of being into BDSM and usually has photos or videos to prove it. Or perhaps the kinky person has participated on a private membership group. This is presented as proof that the kinky person is violent and can’t be allowed contact with the children. About half the time, the judge is uninformed about the BDSM community, much like yourself, and passes judgement against the kinky parent just as you’ve passed judgement that Cpl Brown has some kind of violent tendencies and can’t be trusted to properly care for victims.

    The sad thing is, sometimes the partner who does this and gets custody is actually into BDSM themselves – only there was no proof so they win custody.

    The system of oppression because of our sexual choices means the large majority of people never come out about their BDSM interests, even those who participate in the organized community groups.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Who are these people? Men? Women? Who is losing custody? Is it possible there are other issues at hand? Perhaps it isn’t *just* that the individual is into BDSM? Perhaps they are a shit? It just all seems a little oversimplified to me. Like a judge simply learns that one genderless person is into role playing and throws them in jail?

  • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

    I forgot to add: Both men and women lose custody, both tops and bottoms. The tops are accused of being violent people, and the bottoms are accused of exposing their children to their play partners who are tops and therefore “violent people”. You see the catch-22? Proof of association with BDSM is enough reason to tar and feather someone. I’m asking you to educate yourself before you do the same thing.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I know people who are into BDSM who aren’t assholes. That said, I still think that sexualizing male dominance and eroticizing violence against women is fucked up and happens because we live in a patriarchy. It doesn’t mean all individuals who are into role-playing are ‘bad’ – it means that there is a larger context here and pretending as though BDSM simply exists because of our individual personalities (because we are so obsessed with individuality in North America) is stupid.

      • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

        But that’s not what the argument is about. The argument is specifically about you thinking that because someone who is in to BDSM, that’s a valid reason to question whether they can adequately do their job as a public servant. You did not make the post about what the causes are of BDSM. This is a straw man argument. Because you’ve conceded that people who are into BDSM aren’t assholes, because you’ve conceded that people shouldn’t have their livelihoods questioned, you’re now trying to argue about what the cause is of BDSM, which hasn’t even come up in the conversation.

        Why are you so uncomfortable with BDSM? No one is forcing you to take part in it. No one is forcing anyone to take part. Just admit that you don’t like it, and that it is personally offensive to you, but don’t try to pretend that this is some personal crusade for the greater good, because it’s not.

        • Meghan Murphy

          The argument is about a context of violence against women and the sexualization and fetishization of male dominance and violence against women. No ALL people who are into BDSM are not assholes. Are you seriously asking why a feminist would be “uncomfortable” (and it is not *just* about fucking feeling uncomfortable, it is much, much more than that) with sexualizing violence against women??? I should ask why you are NOT uncomfortable with that, perhaps. It isn’t just “personally offensive” (though you seem to be unable or unwilling to understand anything outside the realm of personal), it is detrimental and dangerous for women as a whole. No, I don’t fucking “like” seeing images of a cop fetishizing his power and authority by simulating the torture of women. It’s fucked up. And it’s fucked up that just because some people have more exciting orgasms because of role playing they refuse to admit that this officer’s behaviour is problematic within the context of a misogynist culture.

          • http://darthkelly.blogspot.com K. Kelly Meine

            I’m not the one against moving on from the personal. You’re the one who won’t address the figures which Ms. Wright expressed. You ignored my comment about scientific findings. You seem very focused on ignoring facts that are provided, only wanting to change people’s minds because *you* think it’s wrong.

            If you want actual information, please feel free to buy Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures. It’s a book of scholarly articles, based on various studies, and is edited by a psychologist and a medical doctor. (Though, to be honest, I doubt you will, since you do not wish to challenge yourself on this subject.)

            As to the “more exciting orgasms” comment, I’ll clarify how wrong you are. You know how people say that they knew they were gay when they were a kid? That they realized before they even knew what sex was, that they were different? That’s me and BDSM. I remember thinking, when I was eight, how comforting it would be to be physically restrained. This is not some whim that I’m indulging. It’s not some way to make sex more exciting. It’s an important aspect of my identity. It’s more solid and unchanging than almost any other part of my identity. Maybe you just are unable or unwilling to understand that there are those of us for whom this is a necessary component of our sexuality, and that we do not perceive any choice in the matter. I really do not perceive any choice in this, any more than I have a choice to be attracted to women rather than men. That’s just the way I am, and it’s not something that’s going to change just because you, or anyone else, wants to turn my sexuality into a weapon.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Explain to me what your comment or any of the ‘scientific findings’ (do you mean that some people who engaged in BDSM lost custody of their kids? Because I don’t see what that has to do with my post either) have to do with violence against women and sexualizing inequity and male dominance.

          • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

            How funny! You’re trying to tell me what the feminist stance on BDSM is? I’m the one who coordinated the SM Policy Reform Project for the National Organization for Women in the 1990s. NOW eventually eliminated their stance that BDSM is violence against women, and instituted a policy in 1999 embracing sexual diversity as a women’s rights issue. I’m guessing that’s when you were in 4th grade, Meghan, and at that point I’d already been working with feminists for many years on the persecution that exists against BDSM practitioners.

            While you can’t seem to believe it, the NOW national conference voted voted to approve their sexual diversity policy and agreed BDSM isn’t violence against women because they recognized that their stance was actually harming women. But for some reason, you think you know better than the most active feminist organization in America. So instead you’re out there contributing to the harm that is being done against kinky people in this blog.

            Really, you should do a tiny bit of research before you rant. Clearly this is a waste of my time.

            Kelly, I look forward to working with you. Please contact me directly at NCSF.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I am? Is there one agreed upon “feminist stance on BDSM”? How interesting. I had no idea we were all in agreement on this. It seemed to me as though there were a number of different perspectives on the issue.

            In 1999 I was 19 years old. Or in grade four. Whatever you decide, Susan! Just keep me in the loop, eh?

            Since you seem to have some trouble with reading comprehension, I’ll clarify again. I don’t think that BDSM is necessarily violence against women. I think that sexualizing violence against women is problematic and dangerous.

            I’m “doing harm to kinky people in this blog”? By taking a critical perspective on a member of the RCMP who is turned on by male domination and simulating violence against women? Hmm…ok. Definitely no women are harmed by eroticizing their domination. No way! I’m sorry but that was one of the stupidest sentences I’ve ever read.

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca/ Boner Killer

    Funny that so many straight people who are sadomasochists like to pretend to be oppressed, inflicted with an innate need to harm others for sexual pleasure, and in doing so, try to infiltrate the queer community – claiming they are simply “queer” and should be included in the LGBT community. Many LGBT folks i have talked to are angry about this and do not believe straight people who are into sadomasochism are akin to “queer.”

    I have been even seeing blogs online of people who are into bestiality (sexualized animal abuse) and pedophilia and claiming that anyone who opposes the two (or sadomaschism) is simply against queer people and being “oppressive.”

    News flash: If people find issue with YOU choosing to rape and abuse animals, with YOU getting off on children and child abuse, with YOU posing with women wrapped up in saranwrap with knives to their throat, this does NOT make you part of an oppressed group, it makes you part of a group that is created from a society that LOVES sexualized violence and HATES women. You are not oppressed, you are products of patriarchy. You are not “queer” for harming people and getting off on it. Stop appropriating oppression and pretending that people are somehow born sadistic. Sounds like the same old garbage sexism, “Women like to suffer, women like pain, women are weak, women are for sex, women deserve violence”

    OUR CHOICES ARE NOT MADE IN VACUUMS PEOPLE! WE ARE NOT ISLANDS. This
    stuff doesn’t emerge out of nothingness, WAKE UP.

    People are abused and physically brutalized every day, women in particular, and you get off on it? And feminists are supposed to validate this shit? We’re supposed to pretend it is not harming women and furthering rape culture? Pfffft

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca/ Boner Killer

    srlsy, people need to read what Audre Lorde wrote about lesbian sadomasochism…

    here’s a sample:

    ” I do not believe that sexuality is separate from living. As a minority woman, I know dominance and subordination are not bedroom issues. In the same way that rape is not about sex, s/m is not about sex but about how we use power. If it were only about personal sexual exchange or private taste, why would it be presented as a political issue?”

    “The s/m concept of “vanilla” sex is sex devoid of passion. They are saying that there can be no passion without unequal power. That feels very sad and lonely to me, and destructive. The linkage of passion to dominance/subordination is the prototype of the heterosexual image of male-female relationships, one which justifies pornography. Women are supposed to love being brutalized. This is also the prototypical justification of all relationships of oppression—that the subordinate one who is “different” enjoys the inferior position.

    The gay male movement, for example, is invested in distinguishing between gay s/m pornography and heterosexual pornography. Gay men can allow themselves the luxury of not seeing the consequences. We, as women and as feminists, must scrutinize our actions and see what they imply, and upon what they are based.

    As women, we have been trained to follow. We must look at the s/m phenomenon and educate ourselves, at the same time being aware of intricate manipulations from outside and within.”

    “The erotic weaves through our lives, and integrity is a basic condition that we aspire to. If we do not have the lessons of our journeys toward that condition, then we have nothing. From that life-vision, one is free to examine varying paths of behavior. But integrity has to be a basis for the journey.

    Certain things in every society are defined as totally destructive. For instance, the old example of crying “fire” in a crowded theater. Liberalism allows pornography and has allowed wife-beating as First Amendment rights. But this doesn’t fit them into my life-vision, and they are both an immediate threat to my life.

    The question I ask, over and over, is who is profiting from this? When sadomasochism gets presented on center stage as a conflict in the feminist movement, I ask, what conflicts are not being presented?”

    Read more http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/lordesm.htm

  • http://bonerkilling.blogspot.ca/ Boner Killer

    “Read some actual scientific literature regarding BDSM.”

    Yeah, we know how much science guys like egalitarianism and ending women’s oppression…

    more like, “close your eyes and listen only to the dominant class tell you about dominant class interests like sexualized violence against women and rape”

  • river

    I won’t be commenting here again, and you won’t be getting any support from me financial or by way of encouraging radfems to come here. You allow this site to be a marketing promo for harms to women. This is not a discussion. These are not regular commenters. They are industry shills. There is no benefit to anyone to have this open to what cracks out to pervesion and advertising an Abu Ghraib for women. And under THIS story Meghan! Worse yet, you come out supporting physical abuse as sex. There is no side here. It’s harm to women. I can’t get over what you’ve allowed here.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hey River,
      I certainly have not ‘allowed this site to be a marketing promo for harms to women’. Are you referring to the people I’ve allowed to comment here? I’m pretty liberal with my comment policy; sorry if you don’t like it but I’m not planning on changing that any time soon. I don’t like Susan’s comments any more than you do but she’s still allowed to comment here.

      And I don’t support physical abuse as sex, no.

      Sorry to hear you are disappointed.

      Best,
      Meghan

      • River

        There are no shades of BDSM Meghan, no BDSM that is not bad for the women involved. Which is what you’ve said above. Saying there is, is the same thing as Whoopie telling us it wasn’t “rape rape”.

  • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie Glickman

    You’re making several different assumptions here.

    1) The news reports about this are clearly shaped to be as inflammatory and tittivating as possible. That doesn’t seem likely to give you a real foundation for your arguments. Further, none of the people “interviewed” in them were psychologists, sexologists, or other people qualified to speak on the topic. Some random person telling a news reporter what something means when they don’t have any training or experience in the field isn’t any more relevant in this case than in any other.

    2) The reason that so many people in sexual minority communities get defensive is that they are really used to being attacked and shamed for doing something that doesn’t cause anyone any harm. If you want to engage in a dialogue without defensiveness, you’d do better to start by avoiding language that assumes that there’s something inherently wrong in what they do.

    The research shows quite clearly that, taken as a whole, BDSM players aren’t any different from anyone else. Yes, some kinky people have real mental health problems. And so do some non-kinky folks. The problem isn’t the kink, it’s the mental health issues. As long as you blame BDSM for something that it doesn’t cause, can you really expect people to not get defensive? If you poke someone on a sore spot, you can hardly be surprised when they flinch or hit back, can you?

    3) In my view, the problem wasn’t that the VPD was watching porn. It was that they were doing it on the clock and not taking the murder of all of those women seriously. I’d be equally angry if they’d been watching football or Twilight. The fact that it was porn isn’t relevant, as far as I’m concerned. And I’m willing to bet that you’d be upset if they’d been watching an PG movie, too. Or do you think that it’s worse that it was porn?

    4) You write that “Based on the upset and the level of disgust coming from the public with regard to Brown’s behaviour, the answer is ‘no.’ If we truly believed that what happens behind closed doors has no real social impact, I doubt that people would be so upset.” That seems like a very sharp, slippery slope. People have triggers/squicks/feelings of disgust about a lot of things that don’t cause anyone any harm at all.

    If we’re going to base our ideas of what is ok on what people feel disgust around, we’re going to have an even harder time. After all, some people feel disgust about heterosexual intercourse, which is usually considered to be the definition of “acceptable sex.” Claiming that being accepted by the majority makes one brand of sexuality better than another privileges normative sexual expressions over everything else. Is that really what you want to do? I’m willing to bet that there are people who feel disgust about some of the things that you do. It’s pretty much inevitable. That doesn’t make them wrong or bad, any more than disgust over BDSM makes it bad.

    Further, since many people will express disgust when they think that they should, like when there’s a news camera pointed at them, their responses aren’t good data. Sex is the one thing that almost everyone lies about, and people often claim to feel disgust when the spotlight is on them. I mean, people will lie about which soda they like, when they’re put on the spot, much less how they feel about kinky sex.

    5) The question of Brown’s job performance is certainly relevant, given the history of the Pickton case. And his attitudes towards women very well might be expressed both in his sexuality and his investigations. But then, there are plenty of examples of really messed police attitudes towards women without any suggestion that their sexual practices caused them. If you want to know what his attitudes towards women are, a few of his photos aren’t going to tell you. The only way to know is to ask him, and to ask the women in his life and his community. To do otherwise is to make a guess, which is going to be deeply affected by your assumptions and projections.

    We definitely need to talk about how sexism, power, and the police all intersect. What we don’t need is projections of what sex means to someone else, assumptions that BDSM is inherently anything, or denigrating any sexual practice based on societal attitudes towards it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      There are actually were very detailed descriptions of the images on the CBC’s BC Almanac and in news reports and many of the news sources interviewed a/some psychologists.

      The opinions I discussed were mainly based on the call-in show I linked to and referenced here. There was no ‘news camera’ pointed at them. You should listen to the show. It’s interesting. The Canadian media and, in particular, the CBC, tends to be quite a bit less ‘tabloidy’ than the American media you are probably used to.

      I, as I’m sure you know, DO have a big problem with the VPD watching porn on the job, in particular, but also off the job. Just as I believe it is a problem that anyone consumes pornography.

      I don’t think that there is any inherent problem with ‘kinky people’ but I do think there is a problem with sexualizing violence against women, which is what Brown was doing.

      I have never and would never argue that people should have sex one particular way that is accepted by the majority. I would never argue that people should have sex at all, in fact.

      People feel disgusted primarily, from what I can gather, because this is a man who is in a position of power and because he played a role in the Pickton investigation AND is turned on by sexualized violence against women.

      Please stop acting as though I somehow am shaming ‘kinky people’ or that I am advocating that everyone have sex in some kind of accepted, agreed upon way. That is not what this post is about and I’ve made clear that that isn’t the point over and over again. I really don’t care about ‘kinky people’. It just doesn’t interest me. I know that ‘kinky people’ think of themselves as being part of some kind of super interesting, naughty, minority group/community but I’m pretty sure that they are the only ones who are particularly interested in their leather fetishes. No one else really cares.

      What I care about, as I’ve said over and over again, is sexualizing and fetishizing male domination and violence against women. BDSM is not to blame for misogyny but I find it completely ridiculous that people who are into BDSM are incapable of acknowledging the fact that their fantasies may have been shaped by a patriarchal, inequitable society that sexualizes violence against women.

      I’m sure there are lots of other issues and ideas that can be explored from a variety of perspectives when it comes to BDSM but there’s just no way that I’m going to pretend like male domination/female subordination has nothing to do with a context of patriarchy. The ‘kink community’ is no different from anyone else – they are not somehow able to escape misogyny any better than any other individual. Why they are so committed to pretending as though BDSM/kink/whatever is some kind of magic fairy land where gender roles and power dynamics and socialization don’t exist is beyond me.

      • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie Glickman

        But that’s just it- whether you mean to or not, that’s how it lands. When you say that the disgust that people feel about his photos means something about him or about what his sexual practices mean, you’re reinforcing the idea that disgust is a relevant measure of anyone else’s sexual practices. And given how often disgust is used to justify sex-negativity, it’s easy to conclude that you mean to be sex-negative. If you don’t want to come across as if that’s your message, then it would be useful to stop using language that is used by people who do have that message. And if you have to keep making the point over and over that you don’t want to shame people for their sex lives, perhaps you could consider why it is that your readers keep coming away thinking that you do, and how you might shift your message in response to that.

        • Meghan Murphy

          But would you make the same argument around pornography? That this somehow counts as simply being an individual’s ‘sexual practices’ and therefore we shouldn’t feel anger and disgust at objectification and sexualized misogyny?

          As I’ve likely discussed with you before, I don’t believe that ‘sex-negative’ or ‘sex-postive’ is an accurate descriptor of anything, so it isn’t really possible for me to have discussions under those terms. From my perspective there is no such thing as being ‘sex-negative’ or ‘sex-positive’.

          It seems to me as though so many readers are upset because they have individualized the debate. They feel as though their sexual preferences are completely personal, have nothing to do with patriarchal conditioning, and feel that any critique of sexual practices they engage in are a personal attack on them as individuals.

      • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie Glickman

        Follow-up: And yes, I 100% agree with you. Pretending that the BDSM world is free from gender roles, power dynamics, misogyny, homopobia, racism, etc. is beyond me, as well. There’s a lot of really messed up stuff there. (See my link above about know the kink world is much the same as the rest of the world.) There’s been a growing movement within some kink communities around these issues and so far, it’s been much more honest than similar conversations I’ve seen in other spaces. Of course, there’s plenty of resistance, excuse-making, and vicitm-blaming, as well, so “much more honest” isn’t a particularly high bar.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Ok. So is it unfair to say that sexualizing violence against women, which is what this RCMP officer was doing, is problematic? It sounds to me like the commenters over at rabble are completely unwilling to acknowledge anything of the sort because, I don’t know, admitting to that might allow for criticism of their own sexual practices? Or, at very least, acknowledgment that their precious BDSM might not be as underground/alternative/free from sexist practices as they like to imagine?

          Just because this guy (Brown) was practicing BDSM and they think BDSM is great doesn’t mean that this guy isn’t turned on by misogyny. Because what he is doing is sexualizing misogyny. Regardless of whether or not BDSM is more complex than that, that’s what those images do – sexualize misogyny. Why can’t we just admit that?

          • http://www.charlieglickman.com Charlie Glickman

            If we could agree on what “sexualizing misogyny” means, that might help. I mean that on a cultural level. I *think* that you and I have personal definitions for that that are more aligned with each other’s than with the rest of the world’s. But even so, I also know that you and I differ in how we see these images.

            For example, you described one of the photos as a “woman who was wrapped in saran wrap”. When I read that before seeing the photo, your use of that phrase in close connection with discussions of Pickton made me think that the photo was similar to something that a serial killer might do. The actual photo, however, is of a woman in a dress made from saran wrap. She wasn’t restrained by it and if her dress had been made from fabric, the photo would most certainly not have been described as “a woman wrapped in fabric.” So where you see “wrapped”, I see “dressed.” So in my opinion, in this context, “wrapped” is inflammatory and misleading.

            The pose of that photo, with her on her hands and knees with his boot on her ass definitely looks to me like an image of domination and we could talk about what that might or might not mean. But that’s not likely to happen if we’re starting from different ideas about what the saran wrap meant or whether she was wrapped or dressed.

            I think you’re right that kinky folks don’t want to look at how “BDSM might not be as underground/alternative/free from sexist practices as they like to imagine.” But is that any different from anyone else who deals with cognitive dissonance around their behaviors? I’ve read some feminists, for example, who proclaim in one paragraph that they aren’t sex-negative and in the next, argue that some sexual acts are inherently disgusting or dangerous. (That’s not a dig at you and your take on sex-negativity/positivity, btw.) Or white people who say they aren’t racist but… Or straight folks who claim that they aren’t homophobic, as long as they don’t have to look at two men kiss.

            You don’t need to demonize BDSM-ers for having the same challenges with this that almost everyone else has. If you want to inspire people to look at their crap and change their behaviors, attacking them doesn’t help. And yes, “wrapped” is a minor point. But it’s on such small things that our ability to build the kinds of dialogue that fosters self-reflection and change succeeds or falters.

  • Lotus

    @ Charlie

    Stop. Please just stop. It’s really simple. Really. In a world where violence against women is epidemic, normalizing and sexualizing this violence will only do more harm. The message in the picture you posted above is clear. It is saying, “Women like to be submissive. Women like to be dominated and violated.” It doesn’t matter if she is “wrapped” or “dressed” in saran wrap, the message is still the same. The message is also still the same whether or not the woman in the photograph consented to being in her submissive role or not. And please let us also clarify that what people are getting off on in regards to this picture is not her “choice” or “consent” to be violated and degraded, but the violation and degradation itself. This is not good for anyone.

  • marv wheale

    I’d like to use a correlation to cast more light on BDSM. What do free market capitalists share in common with sex freedomists?

    Capitalism despite its benefits is ravaging people, other species and the ecosystem of the planet . Poverty, the loss of biodiversity, species extinction, pollution and climate havoc are present mainly because of this male invented and controlled economic system. We have tried the male reformist, state regulating method of correcting the violence of capitalism since its inception but have failed again and again. Since it is inherently destructive to people and the earth, only alternatives to it are capable of overcoming social and ecological harm. Resistance to change however is insurmountable because the powerful can’t envision other possibilities. So we are left with BDSM, Biophilia Degradation and the Subjugation of the Mind.

    We also live under a Sex System of male dominance which causes multiple forms of violence against women, their lower standing in the economy and the government and the sexual division of labour in the workplace and the home. How then can more sex, consensual or otherwise, subvert male structural power? Rather alternatives are needed here too. Joining feminist organizations as well as withdrawing from sex mania as a political protest (and not because of morality) would be more efficacious in disrupting the system than promoting sex which is counterproductive. This is all blasphemy and heretical to sex positive fundamentalists who hype sex as the alchemy of life. BDSM is just another manifestation of their ideology: Body Degradation and the Subjugation of the Mind.

    As I identify myself as against male capitalism and liberalism (and conservatism) – they divert energies and priorities away from substitutes to classism and sexism- then call me anti-economic freedom and anti-sex freedom. I accept the label unabashedly. Of course I know my political stance won’t make institutions fall. Yet it is no less achievable than free marketeers and sex liberals who equate conspicuous consumption of products, experiences and sex as the road to happiness and health. To more reasonable people I say, seek fulfillment by screwing consumerism and sex fetishism. Keep it real instead of opting for unreal loyalties.

  • http://itsjustahobby.wordpress.com/ jemima101

    Hey ho another article by a feminist on how BDSM is degrading to women, denying us autonomy over our own bodies and the right to our sexuality. Yet again rad fems showing they have more in common with the Christian right than any movement concerned with liberation. Whats the follow up,why Trans people deserve oppression or perhaps why bisexual women are traitors?

    Once you remove the importance of consent from any debate you really have lost any right to comment on the lives of others.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Eroticizing violence against women is not ‘good’ for women. There no way around that as far as I can tell.

      • http://Itsjustahobby jemima101

        Denying people the right to their sexuality is beloved of all fascists, usually for the good of those they are claiming to rotect. Being a masochist and submissive has been better for me than anything else in my life. The intolerance in this thread is staggering.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I think the problem here is, as I point out here: http://feministcurrent.com/5618/its-not-about-you-beyond-kink-shaming/, that you’re making this all about you. And it isn’t about you.

          You talk about movements ‘concerned with liberation’ and yet you so clearly have no interest in any ‘movement’. You are concerned with yourself only. This post isn’t about your sex life. It’s about a culture that sexualizes violence against women and a man who recreated sadomasochistic fantasies and eroticized his power over women in his ‘private’ life. This dude worked on the Pickton investigation – wherein he was to be investigating the sadistic murders of dozens of women. Is that the ‘liberation’ you are standing up for?

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  • Aryka

    So if it’s a female Domme and a male sub, or a male Dom/male sub, or a female Domme/female sub, everything is hunky dory, un-problematic “role playing”, but if the Domme happens to have a penis and the sub has a vagina, it’s “eroticizing and fetishizing violence against women”?

    I have heard absolutely no discussion about the desires of women who identify as submissive or switch. Why are they not allowed to ask to be dominated, tied up, tickled, teased, spanked,flogged, etc. by someone else (especially a male)without being accused of hurting feminism? This reminds me of all the feminists who vilify women that choose to stay home instead of work, or who generally choose things that are stereotypically feminine.

    The key here is choice and consent. To me, if those two things are present, then violence is not. I understand what you’re saying about all of this existing within a patriarchy, and I’m sure there are some dominant men and submissive women who are in it purely because they enjoy enforcing/enduring oppressive gender roles. However, my experience with the community is that most are involved for physical pleasure and to explore their desires in a community free of shame or coercion (which is a huge no-no in the kinky community).

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well no I wouldn’t say that….But this post isn’t about male subs/female doms. It’s specifically about this man’s sexualization of violence against women within the context of a culture that sexualizes violence against women AND considering the context of the missing and murdered women.

      I don’t care if women like being spanked or not. No one is saying they ‘aren’t allowed’ to enjoy being dominated. We’re applying context here. Male domination DOES ‘hurt’ feminism. The whole point of feminism is to END male domination so it is certainly a relevant conversation to have. The point is not that any person ‘shouldn’t’ enjoy it – it makes total sense that domination/submission would be a turn on within the context of our unequal culture.

      The key here is not ‘choice and consent’. Of course women can choose or not choose to be dominated. That isn’t up for discussion. What IS up for discussion is WHY as well as the larger impacts of men who like to dominate/simulate violence against women within a sexual context.

      Fantasy is not separate from reality. Would you argue that the images we see in porn have no impact on our understanding of sex and sexuality? That ads we see don’t make us want to buy things that we would not have known we needed otherwise? That gender roles on film don’t impact our behaviour and view of men and women / masculinity and femininity?

      We can’t simply pretend that our sex lives are separate from the outside world, that we aren’t impacted by sexism and that images don’t impact us. That doesn’t make sense. Choice or no choice, these issues are worth addressing.

      • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

        BDSM doesn’t fetishize violence. BDSM fetishes power. People take on the different roles depending on their own unique personality traits, not out of a desire for violence or because we’re brainwashed by the patriarchy. If that was true, there would be no such thing as female dominants.

        If you asked the question: why do we fetishize power? That is a real question that I think we could have a discussion on. But when you keep equating a consensual act with a nonconsensual one, all we hear is you’re accusing someone who is making love with fetishizing rape.

        Ask someone who really does know, like one of the top experts in Sexual Sadism, Dr. Richard Kruger, who states that violent sex offenders don’t like doing BDSM because it is consensual. The very fact that in BDSM you have to cater to the bottom, do what they want, make sure they are happy, is the exact opposite of what a sexual offender likes to do.

        Also, fantasy IS separate from reality – in fact one definition of insanity is not knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. So the fact that you keep equating the two and then setting that as a basis for discussion is a fallacy.

        • Meghan Murphy

          But Cpl. Jim Brown was fetishizing violence. And no one with any level of intelligence would argue that fantasy has nothing to do with reality. That’s insane. Where do our fantasies come from?

          • http://www.ncsfreedom.org Susan Wright

            I thought so – you only claim to have a liberal comment policy when it suits you. When comments come through that you don’t like, you don’t post them. I only came back to comment because I thought your “liberal comment policy” was admirable and that made it worthwhile for me to try again. However, if you suppress the following comment AGAIN then it’s because you realize that it reveals your own ignorance (or “stupid” as you keep calling other people).

            Legal definition of insanity used in judicial decisions in every US court:

            insanity n. 1) mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality

            http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Definition+of+Insanity

            If you can’t tell reality from fantasy, then you are legally insane. Anyone with “any level of intelligence” knows this fact.

            Just because you THINK Cpl. Brown was fetishizing violence doesn’t mean that’s what was going through his mind. Look at the above definition of reality and fantasy – your fantasy is not his reality and if you think it is, you’re insane.

          • Meghan Murphy

            HAHAHA. Yes, Susan. CLEARLY I am only posting comments I like here.

            If you refer to the comment policy, I think you’ll see why I wasn’t able to post your previous comment.

            I know that you struggle with reading comprehension so I will spell it out for you one more time. My point around fantasy and reality being tied is not that people can or should not differentiate between what is real and what is not real (i.e. only in their heads) but that when we fantasize within a sexual context, those fantasies are shaped by the world around us, by images we’ve seen, etc.

            Seeing as you are unable to engage with this conversation in an intelligent way and think it’s acceptable to call women crazy, I think it might be best, lest you further embarrass yourself/continue to waste everyone’s time, that you stop commenting here.

        • lizor

          OK. I’m confused. Hitting, cutting and burning are not violence? Bruises are a result of power, not violence?

      • lizor

        I know this is an old thread, but the conversation is really interesting.

        “Of course women can choose or not choose to be dominated. ” Yes, to a degree. However, in our day-to-day lives we are dominated in myriad of explicit as well as insidious ways. A space where women can truly consent to domination is one that necessarily must pretend to exist outside of the material reality of the world we live in. (Not arguing against you but with you, Meghan.)

        Also, an aspect of this discussion that seems to be falling through the derail cracks is not only that the sadistic cop was working on a rape/murder case, but that it was a case where victims were routinely ignored for years and in which the enquiry was poisoned from the inside by intrinsic misogyny such that no justice was attained for the victims of torture/murder.

        To underscore the original post, are the pro-BDSMers here saying that there is no relationship between the cop’s private sexual practice and the fact that this “private” activity mirrors his actions in the public sphere to the horrific detriment of an incomprehensible number of women??

  • http://Itsjustahobby jemima101

    @SUSAN WRIGHT

    Excellent points, but lost on the author, who is determined that because we are not doing it like her we are doing it wrong. The logic fail of assuming a person who enjoys BDSM porn is therefore incapable of leading a police investigation shows that this is nothing more than a witch hunt against those who are “other”.
    If male Domination in a caring and consensual setting hurts her specific view of feminism (and it bears no relation to myself and other third wave feminists) then perhaps she needs to go away and consider exactly what she is fighting for, because equality does not equal conformity or everyone behaving in a manner she personally approves off.

    I wouldn’t hold your breath though, fascists are rarely known for their ability to look at others and empathize or accept difference.

    • Meghan Murphy

      OH YES! YOU ARE SO RIGHT ON JEMIMA101. THIS IS A WITCH HUNT! AGAINST A MISOGYNIST WHITE MAN. Good one.

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  • Shawna Tshisele

    Leave these people alone!!! What they do in their bedrooms is their private lives this is not something that should be a concern. Unless it gets out of hand it is a lifestyle like being gay or being a normal person.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hmm… Who are you asking leave ‘these people’ alone? And define ‘out of hand’.