Sadism is not an excuse to be awful!

I cannot fucking believe the bullshit some sadists pull. A reader going by the name Sean left kind of a horrifying comment on my post “Submissive != Masochist, Dominant != Sadist“:

Yes! Great post and this is a huge problem. I am NOT a masochist. Personally I am an anti masochist, I am really really really turned off by someone intentionally inflicting pain on me. I see it as someone harming me on purpose. I AM submissive and would love to find a dominant partner – but I can’t. I live in SF Bay area so you would think I could. Finding a dominant non sadist female is nearly impossible.

So then the problem boils down to getting a dominant sadist female that is willing to put limits on themselves during our sessions. This turns out to be very hard. I have ‘hard limits’ which are written and spoken and reviewed prior to any session. So far they have been violated every single time I have had a session. The dominant usually has a very dismissive attitude about these violations. They are sadists after all so it is logical that they don’t feel bad about inflicting pain or marking my body even though those activities are not consensual.

At this point I have stopped having sessions because I can’t find a partner. Not sure what I should do, and it is very frustrating.

I already left a ragey reply, but I’d like to go into more detail and I’d like to publicize my feelings on this bullshit as widely as possible.

It is absolutely never okay to do anything to a person that they didn’t consent to before the scene started (consent alone is not necessarily enough, but that’s a separate post. The short version is that ideally everyone should feel good about what they did after the scene, regardless of what they gave permission for). Sadism is not, never has been, and never will be an excuse to ignore people’s limits. Sadists are human beings, not the kinky version of boner werewolves. We absolutely can and should be expected to control our own behavior or to remove ourselves from situations where we may not be able to maintain control. This is literally the least you can expect from a decent human being.

It doesn’t fucking matter if you’re kinky, you do not do anything to anyone without their consent. The idea that it’s normal or acceptable for sadists not to respect your limits is ridiculous. There is absolutely nothing special about sadists or about any other kinky person that somehow magically makes it okay for them to act like complete assholes.

It just makes me so angry that people have outright lied to this poor guy about what it means to be a sadist. Being a sadist only means that you derive some sort of pleasure (not necessarily sexual) from inflicting pain. It absolutely does not mean that you lack the most rudimentary set of ethics that would prevent you from hurting people without their enthusiastic consent. The word for that kind of behavior is sociopath, not sadist (which is not to say that sociopaths are never sadistic). It is unbelievably creepy to hear that this commentor has been playing with people who don’t see him as a human being and don’t even see anything wrong with their obviously reprehensible behaviour.

What the hell is going on in the kink scene that makes anyone think this is okay? As a community we have profoundly failed Sean, who should never ever have thought it was reasonable for people to ignore his limits. We have failed everyone else who has come into contact with the kind of assholes who ignore people’s limits if they’re not convenient. We may have even failed the assholes in that there is some chance they mean well but have been told that real doms do x, real subs always want y, and not to pay too much attention to what any given person actually says about what they want. I still think you’re a jerk if you ignore the actual human being in front of you in favour of some bullshit you’ve been told about how to treat s-types, but there is a lot of terrible information out there and even well meaning people can fuck up pretty badly if they’re told they need to act a certain way to be acknowledged as a real dom.

Just to be totally clear, here is how a sadist who is also a decent human being behaves when they want to play with someone who isn’t interested in receiving pain for whatever reason: they don’t inflict pain on that person. It’s that simple. Either you negotiate a scene involving some of the many many fun things that don’t involve pain, or you decide the two of you are not a good fit and don’t play.

If you like inflicting pain and don’t care to have scenes without it, that’s totally fine. I personally don’t do a lot of scenes that don’t involve pain because I really fucking like hurting people who want me to hurt them. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have the kind of scene that best suits you, but godfuckingdammit you respect people’s limits when you have that scene.

21 thoughts on “Sadism is not an excuse to be awful!

  1. Being a sadist only means that you derive some sort of pleasure (not necessarily sexual) from inflicting pain. It absolutely does not mean that you lack the most rudimentary set of ethics that would prevent you from hurting people without their enthusiastic consent. The word for that kind of behavior is sociopath, not sadist

    WORD.

    Hey Sean – this is how sadomasochism CAN be, with a sadist who’s not an asshole – https://perversecowgirl.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/going-places/

    We’re out there.

  2. Most of the sadist doms who cross lines and go past what was agreed are indeed assholes.

    But there may be a couple of other issues.

    One is just a half-assed theory of mine, which is that some people are drawn to bdsm at least partly because the rules seem to be very clear, and for one reason or another they’re not very good at reading and reacting to unclear signals. So in practice, when a submissive starts giving signs that they don’t like what’s happening (short of safe-wording), those doms may not be good at reading the situation and reacting appropriately.

    That’s only an issue (to the extent it’s an excuse at all) when the submissive doesn’t safeword. Once that’s happened, the dom stops or there are no excuses.

    But some doms are worse than most people at dealing with signals that they think are ambiguous.

    The other issue is that many doms relatively new to the scene have done a lot of scening on-line, and they handed out cyber-floggings with abandon, and the subs they played with on-line generally loved it, the tougher and stricter they were.

    The dom can leave cyber play with the belief that being very hard, cruel and inflexible is what makes him or her popular with submissives. But people can’t take pain in the real world that they can fantasise about on-line. The doms either learn quickly to recalibrate themselves to the real world, or they get a terrible reputation. But the submissives who play with them before they’ve sorted themselves out can have a seriously bad experience.

    Anyway, a woman I knew had some horrible adventures looking for a decent dom, and those were her conclusions.

    • Both of those theories do make sense. I’ve heard of plenty of people who have social anxiety/general anxiety/not totally fantastic social skills or are somewhere on the autism spectrum who love the fact that it’s considered normal and fine to ask people exactly what they mean when they say x or to hash out really precise rules for how they’re going to interact with each other, so I sympathize with people who might have abruptly found out they weren’t exactly doing an amazing job of reading their partner.

      It’s absolutely true that some doms aren’t fantastic at dealing with signals that aren’t a clear and blatant STOP THAT RIGHT NOW, and I think part of that is the myth that doms must be sure of themselves at all times and never be hesitant or unsure. Still, once you find out you’re not fantastic at reading people, there are plenty of workarounds that you can use to keep everybody safe – come to think of it I should write a post about that.

      As for doms who’ve done some cyber play and gotten the idea that being a dom is all about being hard, cruel, and inflexible, I don’t think any amount of cyber play excuses not paying attention to the actual person in front of you. I mean, I can understand feeling confused and lost if you try the stuff that worked so well online and all of a sudden it doesn’t work anymore, but you’re still an asshole if you harm someone because ‘everyone I did this with online loved it.”

      All that said, we can definitely do a better job of educating people who have messed up ideas about how in-person play actually works or who aren’t amazing at reading body language (like me!).

  3. Unfortunately, the world of BDSM attracts abusers, emotional exploiters, and sadists with no shred of conscience or scruple, for the same reason that children’s playgrounds attract paedophiles.

  4. I once knew sadist who said she didn’t like playing with pain sluts because they enjoy it to much… She wanted someone to suffer for her.

    I won’t play with sadists anymore. They don’t listen and their idea of toning it down is still way past my limits.

    • As long as she’s completely up front about it and finds someone who likes her enjoyment of their suffering even though they really hate the pain, I don’t see a problem. Not listening to people’s limits, on the other hand is never ever okay and it’s completely rational and justifiable to decide not to play with people who are especially likely to ignore your limits.

      • I’m not talking about someones. What other people negotiate and do is their business and I have no problem with that.

        In this case I’m talking specifically about me. I won’t play with sadists anymore because of bad experiences in the past and the simple fact that I’m not a masochist. It’s personal choice that I’ve made for myself.

  5. Ardor,

    I also will never submit to a dominant that admits they are a sadist. It is sad, because I’m sure most sadistic doms are very fair handed and know how to play without sadistic activities. But for me the risk is simply too high. My hard limits are hard. Even discussing my limits I consider off the table. I wrote them down for a reason, and they will not change or evolve.

    I must admit I have not had any play time with doms that are not sadistic, so maybe I’m assuming too much that there would be less risk. I mean sometimes just the scene itself introduces some degree of risk and that is nothing to do with sadistic desire. For example bondage can leave marks even when it was not intended.

    But, for me I want to explore my submissive side and submit to a woman; without being how should I put it – ‘dominated with tactics that outside of BDSM are considered abusive’.

    If a man was to verbally tell his wife she is ‘worthless and nothing but a play thing’ – and they are both not into BDSM; most people would think that is totally uncool. What if the woman is a submissive and likes being dominated? It is still uncool. The man should find a way to ‘dominate’ without the abusive element thrown in there. Maybe he could say ‘I know you like it when I tell you what to do, so be a good girl and come over here so I can play with you’.

    I want to find this same power exchange yet maintain what would traditionally be seen as mutual respect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge supporter of BDSM. I generally think it is great when people of like mind find each other and live an alternative lifestyle. Towards the end of finding the compatible partner I just think S&M should either be loved by both or disliked by both. The dom should not be restricted to activities where their kink is not explored, and the sub should not be put into a position where their limits are constantly re-visited.

    my 2 cents

    • What if the woman is a submissive and likes being dominated? It is still uncool.

      Sean, you’re being an asshole. Submissive people have the right to negotiate whatever kind of scene they like, including things that you think are icky. I’m not a submissive person, but I’ve heard them describe being treated like a “worthless plaything” in the context of a negotiated scene with a loving partner as an intensely rejuvenating experience that temporarily frees them from their day-to-day responsibilities, and is really fucking hot.

      it’s totally fine and in fact extremely important to talk about how people can have emotionally intense scenes without harming each other and to point out certain things, like verbal humiliation, as especially dangerous types of play that we should be very careful with, but that kind of blanket condemnation just tells s-types who like that kind of play that there’s something wrong with them, which is untrue and mean. Knock it off.

      • If you think I’m an asshole because I’m a submissive who objects to having my hard limits violated then so be it.

        It is very sad to me that someone like you is so offended when you encounter someone who doesn’t share your particular kink in S&M. So a non masochist sub is an asshole because all subs should promote and embrace sadistic activities. Interesting very interesting.

        • If you think I’m an asshole because I’m a submissive who objects to having my hard limits violated then so be it.

          That is not what I said. I said that you were being an asshole to submissive people, women in particular, who like a form of play that you think is abusive because that implies there is something wrong with them.

          It is very sad to me that someone like you is so offended when you encounter someone who doesn’t share your particular kink in S&M.

          Dude, I wrote an entire fucking post about how it’s not okay for sadists to ignore your limits just because they’re sadists. How much clearer can I possibly make it that I think it’s okay for people to have limits?

          So a non masochist sub is an asshole because all subs should promote and embrace sadistic activities. Interesting very interesting.

          No, that’s not what I fucking said. I said that submissive people are allowed to like verbal humilation and that it’s a dick move for you to imply that they’re sick freaks who like being abused. Shockingly enough, I can stand up for both your right not to engage in pain play and other people’s right to engage in verbal humiliation at the same time.

        • Sean, if you’re not going to bother reading a single goddamn word I’ve written, why exactly should I bother approving any more of your comments? That’s a rhetorical question, don’t answer it. You’ve convinced me you’re not worth arguing with, which is impressive considering the average blog comment only costs me about two millionths of a cent worth of harddrive space.

          For anyone else reading along, please remember that it is absolutely 100% okay to have limits. It is also absolutely 100% okay to like things that are hard limits for other people, like verbal humiliation or being whipped. Sean is wrong, you are not bad or sick or evil if you like to be called a worthless plaything or a dirty slut or anything else that both you and your partner are down with.

  6. For people into submission and dominance, and not, or less, into masochism and sadism:

    I’m not a member of this community and can’t vouch for it, but as I understand it, it provides space – not exclusively but also – for people who are into submission and dominance, and not into SM. SM discussions exist there, but are not the main focus.

    It’s possible to just disregard the error message and sign up. The exterior of their website and forums are undergoing reconstruction, but the wealth of content is there for logged in members. May be worth reading around the conversations.

    http://shemakestherules.com

    • Ranai,

      Thanks for the link. I did go and check it out. The site has a lot of issues and ended up being sort of creepy. I didn’t feel to welcome as a sub male, without having a dom partner already established. I mean the site would be good for a sub, as long as he already has a dom.

      Looked like a great resource for dom women though. Sort of a place for a new dom to go and not get intimidated. Also looked like a great place for committed couples who want to explore a relationship where the woman is in charge.

  7. Mod note: repeating myself is really fucking boring. For the last goddamn time, I absolutely agree that submissive people have the right to set any limits they want. It is absolutely okay not to be a masochist, and it is absolutely never okay to pressure someone to try masochistic play if they don’t fucking want to.

    However, it is also not okay to indirectly shame submissive people who enjoy verbal humiliation the way Sean did when he said “If a man was to verbally tell his wife she is ‘worthless and nothing but a play thing’ – and they are both not into BDSM; most people would think that is totally uncool. What if the woman is a submissive and likes being dominated? It is still uncool.”

    If the submissive woman likes the kind of play and asked for it or joyfully agreed to try it of her own completely uncoerced free will, then shaming her for enjoying that by saying it’s not okay for her dom to do that even when she requests it implies that she is somehow sick or wrong or broken and is asking to be abused.

    All that kind of shaming accomplishes is making it harder for abused people to find support if their doms go too far. Would you ask for help from people who told you that you were a sick freak for the things you like? Would you feel safe explaining that sure, you agreed to x horrible wrong thing, but you didn’t agree to y different horrible wrong thing? No? I’m fucking shocked.

    If you’re still confused about whether I think it’s okay for submissive people to not like pain play and refuse to engage in it, my blog is the wrong place for you. Try Hooked on Phonics, I think it’ll be more your speed.

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