Wednesday, September 02, 2009

BDSM and the problem of evil: Why submit?

The problem with BDSM is that it's based on evil.

No, I don't mean that the consensual activity itself is evil. Far from it. However, BDSM acts and relationships simulate or echo evil real world counterparts.

It's not just that these are a convenient form adopted by lazy kinksters. The evil is an inherent part of the dynamic.

"No no", you say. "They may be playing a master and slave, but we are exploring trust!"

Yes, but would the trust be neccessary if the acts themselves were not acts of violation?

Even "Female Lead Relationships" are just an inversion of the rightly maligned old world patriachal marriage, with some sexual manipulation thrown in. Without the man's consent, in what way would that be different from an abusive relationship?

If evil did not provide the thrill, then the visual trappings of BDSM would be comfy clothing and sensible Velcro restraints. There'd be no dressing up, posturing, and harking back to the titles and ranks of yesteryear.

To dominate somebody, to manipulate them, to hurt them for pleasure, to force pleasure on them... without consent, these acts are evil--and yet we consent to them.

The evil poses an intellectual problem: why would people so ardently seek to become victims?

The psychological answer is probably different for each person. I have a strong suspicion that it's got a lot to do with the flow of intimacy. When you listen to other people's introspection, you also get a sense of catharsis, escapism, and physical pleasure.

But why that particular form? I strongly suspect that both submission and masochism have an evolutionary basis. Just as boredom probably evolved to prevent us from wasting time in fruitless activities, I think there's a good chance that masochistic submission evolved to prevent us from getting ourselves killed in battles for dominance, and to ensure group cohesion.

In other words, monkey people that got a kick out of submitting to stronger monkey people survived to breed, and their clans hunted and gathered more effectively because they weren't always jostling for the top position.

If this is true, then recreational masochistic submissives deliberately seek out submissive situations in order to get that hardwired buzz, partly just for the hell of it, and partly for relief from the endless subtle tussle of human society.

So much for my theory... there are countless others. One way or another BDSM looks and feels evil, even though it's not. This leads to the most pressing problems related to BDSM and evil: the practical ones...

2 comments:

MyKey said...

A very interesting theory that makes intuitive sense. Worth thinking about!

Giles English said...

Thanks!

Do you mean the evolution theory, or the evil theory?

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