Revealing The Critical Distinction Between Abuse And BDSM

Shutterstock / rtem
Shutterstock / rtem

“Mom, who’s Mr. Grey? Dad, what do those handcuffs mean?” These terribly awkward questions could be pointed toward you, warns child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Miriam Grossman.

Yikes.

Before you go hiding your kids in a bunker to protect them from the “aggressive marketing campaign” that is Fifty Shades of Grey, you should probably slow down and take a deep breath.

The kink in Fifty Shades isn’t going to harm your kids. Christian Grey’s tendency to stalk and manipulate might, but his preferences in the bedroom — they won’t.

Because domestic violence is not synonymous with BDSM.

We know that BDSM isn’t pathology; the latest DSM, published in 2013, makes that clear. Yet most of us still can’t quite accept that BDSM is simply just a different, debatably more exciting, way of exploring sexuality than the majority’s vanilla preferences. And now the most vocal of the unaccepting are advising parents to teach their children that this kind of sexual exploration is wrong, that the binary is real, and that BDSM and abuse are synonymous. And they’ve somehow come upon medical degrees too.

Currently purporting the outdated notion that BDSM is an illness is The American College of Pediatricians. While they hold that Fifty Shades promotes “the normalization of dating violence” (yes) and “intimate partner violence” (yes), they deviate when they claim it promotes “the romanticizing of bondage, submission, and sadomasochism” and add that “it is imperative parents ‘immunize’ their children and adolescents against the toxic messages in this series of novels and film.”

If you’re a parent and aren’t sure how to properly immunize your children from BDSM, don’t worry, Dr. Miriam Grossman has written a “Parent Survival Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey: How to Talk to Your Child About Sadomasochism.”

Dr. Grossman gets a lot of things wrong, but her reliance on stereotypical gender roles surrounding domestic abuse and her gross unwillingness to understand what BDSM actually is stand out among them.

According to Dr. Grossman, “Fifty Shades of Grey teaches your daughter that pain and humiliation are erotic, and your son, that girls want a guy who controls, intimidates, and threatens.”

First of all, enforcing such gender stereotypes reinforces the misconception that men are always the dominants and women the submissives in BDSM relationships, when many say that such roles are often reversed.

But what bothers me most about Dr. Grossman’s misguided advice, however, is the affect it may have on young boys or girls’ sexuality if their parents actually explain to them that BDSM and domestic abuse are one in the same. Says Dr. Grossman [emphasis added]:

You want [your daughter] to know that physical or emotional abuse are never OK, even if someone consents. There’s no room for confusion or doubt here. You want her to be 100 per cent clear about this. A relationship that includes violence is disturbed. The people involved have emotional problems. A psychologically healthy woman avoids pain.

God forbid said daughter has the slightest inclination toward kink, because all a conversation like this is going to do is reinforce the notion that “if you’re different, you’re bad, you’re unnatural, you’re disturbed.”

I can recognize that campaigns like #50dollarsnot50shades are trying to do a good thing. By asking people to forgo the film and instead donate $50 to shelters and agencies that support victims of domestic violence, they’re aiming to empower battered women. Yet by allowing anti-BDSM campaigns like Dr. Grossman’s and others to join their coalition, they’ve harmfully blurred the line between abuse and BDSM.

The one good thing about Fifty Shades was that it stoked the fire in millions of dissatisfied, sexually repressed men and women. It got them to try things, to experiment, to revel in the glory that is sexual exploration. It would be a shame if the very campaign aimed at empowering victims became overshadowed by the (we hope) well-intentioned, yet potentially damaging, misguided bandwagon campaigns. TC mark

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  • tbinford

    Reblogged this on project tcb.

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