Andrea Zanin is a blogger and member of the S/M community. Through her experience in the dominant/submissive community, she has suggested key strategies in response to issues of abuse among members. Andrea defines abuse as when a person has “control” over someone else; a problem that affects all sexual orientations and genders within the BDSM scene. Andrea notes that the S/M community’s response to abuse in the past has been to create a blacklist of risky and dangerous players, effectively banning them. However, Andrea considers this approach as lacking any significant change. Instead, Andrea suggests that the S/M community be empowered through education which could prevent reoccurrences of abuse.

Part of Andreas educational approach to tackle abuse in the community is by commencing a dialogue, and then after the dialogue, subsequently teaching – about players and the roles they take on in the community – would commence afterwards. Common misconceptions would be highlighted, such as how “submissive” roles can expose some players to vulnerable situations. Andrea instead argues submissive players need empowering to break away from this traditional vulnerable view. Safe words are also another area of exploration in Andreas article which stems from issues of trust during play. She mentions that reliance on safe words removes communication through body language. This eliminates the element of trust between the dominant and submissive player which can pose problems within the relationship dynamic. This is one of the reasons Andrea calls for vigilance among new players in the scene. She argues that just because someone owns leathers does not mean they are aware of the culture and mores of the S/M community. The consequences are that these inexperienced players may be crossing boundaries into abuse due to their lack of understanding of consent and safe play techniques.

Education and empowerment of the community are the primary goals proposed by Andrea to combat abuse. Consequently, her suggestion to the community is to become their own campaigners. She appeals to the community to have discussions and spread knowledge of abuse where members of the S/M society congregate. She feels that by going into the community at large to learn and disseminate knowledge, it will help get members to reach out to one another and check in if there is abuse suspected. She is also encouraging those suspected of abuse to seek therapy, either within the community or by trained therapists.

The submissive and dominant community has issues of abuse like any other. However, Andreas explores ways to deal with the abuse specific to this community while acknowledging that no perfect solution exists. Rather than blacklisting risky players, Andrea proposes the S/M community should integrate support from the greater community while caring/checking in for one another. She believes that to turn this tide of abuse, proper education regarding consent and safe words needs to be discussed. She encourages members to become actively involved in community education about abuse and prevention techniques, and to engage the community in reevaluating traditional and stereotyped views about specific roles. 

Written by Westland researcher Abisheikh (Abi) Sharma


Resources:

Sex Geek. (2019). abuse among the kinky, part 1: 6 ways to think about abuse*. [online] Available at: https://sexgeek.wordpress.com/2008/11/20/abuse-among-the-kinky-part-1-6-ways-to-think-about-abuse/ [Accessed 28 Apr. 2019].

Sex Geek. (2019). abuse among the kinky, part 2: 10 things to do to reduce abusive behaviour in the s/m world*. [online] Available at: https://sexgeek.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/abuse-among-the-kinky-part-2-10-things-to-do-to-reduce-abusive-behaviour-in-the-sm-world/ [Accessed 28 Apr. 2019].