Fetish porn: It’s both a blessing and a curse.

For many, it’s the portal through which they discover their kinky sides. If you’ve never been with a partner that has suggested a little rough play, a little latex loving on a late night, or a little bit of bondage with some leftover packing tape, how are you supposed to know that being bound turns you on, or that the very thought of having clothes pegs snapped onto your body then ripped off in a flurry of exhilaration and ecstatic agony is enough to get you wetter than the bottom of Niagara Falls? The only way is porn. And a lot of it is hot as hell.

On the other hand, fetish porn suffers from the same issue as vanilla porn; namely that it promotes an unattainable version of sex that can lead viewers to judge their own experiences against what they’re seeing on their screens. Criticisms of pornography over the last few decades have highlighted the ridiculous standards to which the physicality of performers, especially women, have to meet, and the wider issue that what is seen in porn can become what people expect in real life; hairless women, tiny labia, giant, motionless breasts and guys with penises that touch the inside of their ankles. Reality is far from these expectations.

When it comes to BDSM porn, this can have greater consequences.

Those in the BDSM community know that boundaries are sacred. Every new play relationship begins with a frank and open discussion on preferences, boundaries and triggers, and a good play partner should always act with these three things in mind. In case a scene meanders towards a subject that makes a participant uncomfortable, I’ve always advocated a traffic-light safeword system: green means go, red means stop, and yellow means that the action should be pulled back, or steered in a different direction. I regularly check in with my play partners, and seek affirmative consent throughout every encounter, whether that’s a day-long multiple-partner orgy with hardcore scenes or simply a morning in bed with my significant other.

Consent should be constantly sought, and as soon as that consent is rescinded, the play should end. Period.

However, in fetish porn, the normal rules are not always adhered to. Pornography is often a visualization of fantasy (consider the amount of rape pornography there is; this is a representation of a fantasy that many women have, even though they of course would never hold the same desire in real life), and like any fiction, it allows for the real rules to be bent or even broken. BDSM porn doesn’t show the constant, positive consent that must be given in real life; it doesn’t show the checking of circulation when subs are bound in rope; it doesn’t show the immediate closing down of a scene when a submissive drops their safeword. It doesn’t show reality.

Playing by the rules of the fantasy rather than the reality is dangerous. The performers in fetish porn are actors, not teachers; they may not even know the rules and etiquette of the BDSM community. Viewers (and also performers, if they engage in kinky sex in their own lives) who fail to realize that they are in the real world and not in the world of porn risk hurting others and hurting themselves – like Jon-Erik Hexum, the 80s actor who played with a prop weapon thinking it was safe, and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The violation of safeword etiquette is a breach of trust no matter what the situation. A safeword is the emergency exit button on any kinky scene, and it must always be in working order – otherwise, what’s the point in having it? A safeword must always be requested, and must always be recognized and respected when it is used. A person who violates safeword etiquette is untrustworthy, manipulative and should never be given your time.

When choosing play partners, we should look at the reputation of the person we’re considering. Are they held in high regard by their peers, both inside and outside of the kink community? Do they respect others, both at their own social level and below? Are they considerate of your needs outside of the bedroom, and do they express self-control throughout their lives? If the answer to any of these questions is no, find a different partner. It’s up to us to make good choices and to protect our sexual and physical well-being as much as we can.

That being said, this system requires open and honest communication on a public level. It requires people to be strong enough to speak openly about what has happened to them. Equally, it requires the rest of us to be supportive and caring of them, but most of all to believe what they are saying.

Respect your own boundaries, respect the boundaries of others, and offer support when those boundaries are broken.

On a final note: if you do feel that you have been in some way assaulted, or that your well-being has been violated, seek the assistance of a professional. There are many qualified, fantastic people out there who can help you in a number of ways. You are not alone.

 

About The Author

Lord Morpheous

Morpheous (Hons B.A., B.Ed) is a sex educator/author, photographer and kink consultant based in Toronto, Canada. His work is archived at the Sexual Representation Collection at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, The Leather Archives of Chicago and the National Archives of Canada. He travels and presents across the Americas, Europe and Asia doing outreach to both academic and kink aware safer sex organizations.He is also the host of the world's largest single night public erotic Japanese Rope Bondage event during Nuit Blanche every year in Toronto, Canada.

 

 

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