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Thursday, December 6, 2012

SL Letter of the Day: Painful Conclusion

Posted by Dan Savage on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I'm on hiatus while working on a manuscript for a new book. In the meantime, please enjoy these classic Savage Love letters pulled from previous columns. I will be back when the book is finished. —Dan

Originally published April 12, 2007:

My roommate is into BDSM. Fine. I couldn't care less about his sex life. Some women enjoy being subjected to what he calls "erotic torments." Fine. But he watches BDSM porn. Since he has no way of knowing if the women in the BDSM porn enjoy the "erotic torments" they're subjected to, I don't think it's fine to view. These women could have been forced or they could be doing it because they're in financial distress. Not fine. Therefore, I say it is impossible to enjoy BDSM porn ethically. Do you agree?

He Enjoys Loathsome Pornography

My response after the jump...

Yes, HELP, I don't. Wait. No, HELP, I do.

Goddamn English language.

What I mean to say, HELP, is that it can be ethically problematic to enjoy BDSM porn of unknown provenance. I agree with you there. But I disagree with your conclusion: i.e., that it is therefore impossible to enjoy any BDSM porn whatsoever, in any form, regardless of its provenance. Your conclusion rests on the assumption that no BDSM porn producers are using models who are just as turned on making BDSM porn as your roommate is watching it.

New technologies—credit cards, digital video production, the internets—have revolutionized the porn industry. Yes, there are still big, mainstream porn studios pumping out product, most of it non-fetish/kink. But today there is tons of fetish/kink porn being produced by and for fetishists of all stripes. Many of these smaller porn producers are hyperethical about the use and abuse of their models. That's particularly the case with producers of BDSM porn, most of whom are acutely sensitive to charges of brutality because, well, their products can seem so brutal.

"In my experience," says Lauren of Two Big Meanies (www.twobigmeanies.com), a small BDSM porn outfit based in Seattle, "folks in the BDSM scene are much more scrupulous about negotiating consent, sexually and otherwise, than people in almost any other walk of life." TBM's owners—Lauren and Russell—don't just make BDSM porn for perverts like your roommate; they're BDSM players themselves and they tap regular play partners for many of their models. As a consequence, says Lauren, "informed consent and mutual pleasure are the building blocks of what we do." And how does scrupulousness about consent inform TBM's treatment of their sometimes long-suffering models? "We want them to enjoy and get off on the shoots, while providing them with ways to express and protect their own boundaries," says Lauren.

So, before you freak out about your roommate's porn preferences—and frankly, HELP, you could care a bit less about his sex life—you might want to ask him where he's getting his BDSM porn.

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