Wednesday Spotlight: Annabel Joseph

The Dark Side of BDSM

There are so many positive things about BDSM. It can be so powerful, and bring people together in such harmony and closeness. At the same time, BDSM has a dark side.

Something I think about a lot as a BDSM writer is that tricky, meandering line between “kink” and “abuse.” Even within the BDSM community, the line can’t be agreed upon. People shove it back and forth and argue. One person’s abuse is another person’s pleasure. There are fringe players who do things that would horrify most people. Yet, these acts are done between partners consensually. Abuse, or not?

In my book Comfort Object, my publisher slapped a label on it that surprised me. “Dubious consent.” To me, the consent was always there, but I could see, reading back through the story, how the line of force was pressed just a bit at certain times. My book Mercy also played with pushing boundaries of consent. In both those books, it was more a case of people being imperfect, than any cruelty or intentional malice.

In my most recent book, Deep in the Woods, I felt moved to confront the abuse/kink specter head on. I wrote from the view point of a heroine who had been in a relationship where she was taken advantage of…where the line of consent had been maliciously manipulated to a point of abuse. It felt great to help her move past that on the page, and find a Dominant who respected her limits and nurtured her psychological health.

So I think, for me, after going on this journey in my writing, the difference between kink and abuse is easier to spot. The “line” is genuine caring and consent between partners. Malice and thoughtless brutality are on the bad side. Nurturing and thoughtful communication are on the good side.

BDSM sometimes hurts. But it should always be the “good” kind of pain.

Comments

  1. I think some people unfamiliar with the lifestyle get the wrong idea, which is a shame. If they took the time to understand it a bit more, they’d be surprised at the depth of love and respect those sharing a D/s relationship have.

  2. Understanding is the key. Exploring sexuality is always a bit suspect when a person deals with something new. So many ways to pleasure each other has been brought to the forefront of everyday lives as a result of erotic romance. So I honestly think that sooner or later the prejudices against BDSM will lessen.

    Great post. Good luck with the book.

  3. I’ve never seen this defined before, but I have to agree with you. This also makes the difference between being able to enjoy a book with this topic or just being turned cold.

  4. This was a good post. It made me think about the first BDSM book I read, actually it was a series of 3 or 4 books. At the end the characters did develop a caring relationship with each other and not just a business/contractual one.

    Thanks,
    Tracey D

  5. Great post, Annabel. I’m a big fan of the “good” pain!

  6. Very thoughtful post. I think another aspect is no permanent harm. Though for some consensual scarring can be allowed, anything that causes permanent damage to a person crosses the line.

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