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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Town and Gown Bondage Issues


"Hmmm ... does yes mean yes when she's screaming it?? Image source: Hogtied.com.

Well apparently colleges and universities are lettings students have their little BDSM clubs where the students can explore their BDSM fantasies in a safe, consensual environment instead of doing it the old-fashioned way, via the unsafe, nonconsensual environment of fraternity and sorority hazings, which occasionally result in death for the hazees. (For some reason, Harvard's decision to recognize a campus BDSM club is making the rounds of the big aggregator blogs and the mainstream news blogs, even though it's kind of a non-story. Probably because it's Harvard and a lot of the Very Big Deal People went there.)

The New York Observer ran a story on the topic, which said that the new groups while exploring BDSM were having difficulties with issues of consensuality and staying within boundaries. Logical, right? Noobies gotta noob.

But I find myself really dubious about the reporting on the story's nonconsensual aspect. It starts out talking about a student, Maria, joining Harvard's BDSM club, but then when it starts to talk about the nonconsensual behavior, it shifts over to another student, Victoria (a pseudonym) at an unnamed Ivy League school, who didn't even join a club, she went to a meetup she found on the Fetlife bulletin board.

As Jezebel has reported recently, Fetlife has a very dodgy reputation when it comes to nonconsensual activities, though Jezebel's headline about the story was kinda sleazy in and of itself.

Fetlife is NOT a campus BDSM club, it's not allied with colleges, and already had a bad reputation due to many accusations of coercion and nonconsensual BDSM by former members. The article then covers Fetlife's issues very thoroughly and then segues back to campus BDSM clubs without making any real connection between the two.

It's a cheap bait-and-switch, arrant scumbuggery, and the New York Observer ought to be ashamed. It tries through its headline and lead to establish that there is this big controversy about nonconsensual behavior in campus BDSM clubs by deliberately confusing them with Fetlife's issues.

I guess the really big lesson here is that you need to watch BDSM related stories in the mainstream media very carefully. Mainstream media have been lying for years and falling for every trick the political pundits pull on them to make their dubious points, it's little wonder they'll do a terrible job of reporting on BDSM-related topics with all the baggage that mainstream media, which are increasingly appealing only to Very Old People (I'm not talking about Baby Boomers, I'm talking about their parents!) generally bring to sex.

Also, Fetlife is a sleazy organization, if you know anybody who's part of it, you should warn them, just in case they don't know about all the ruckus that is being raised over them.

As for consensuality issues with campus BDSM clubs ... it still seems plausible that it might exist -- look at hazings which are straight-up torture that sometimes ends in the death of the hazee. But when come back, bring evidence of SOME sort, New York Observer.

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