Jian Ghomeshi trial: BDSM under the microscope?

A sensational — and salacious — trial is about to begin in Canada next week that will have many in the BDSM community looking on with great interest and, no doubt, with some concern about how BDSM and D/s lifestyles might be portrayed.

Former CBC Radio show host Jian Ghomeshi is facing charges that include sexual assault by three accusers who did not initially file complaints with the police. He has reportedly (see Toronto Star article) said in one of the cases, “someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious.”

Of one of the allegations against him, he said this in a Facebook post: “Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM).”

That “dominance” allegedly included hair pulling, punching and slapping, so-called “breath play” that is being called “choking” and more. I haven’t seen the word “rape” mentioned in any articles on the case, so I am assuming that it is not a factor in the alleged sexual assaults.

The whole case may hinge on two questions: were the alleged incidents “consensual” or “not consensual”? And perhaps more important, does the BDSM code of consent have any legal standing in a court of law?

And that’s where the practice — indeed, the whole lifestyle — of BDSM may come under the proverbial legal microscope.

“Heavy play,” as one dominatrix put it in a National Post article in October 2014, is not considered abusive within the BDSM community when it is consensual.

But the Post article pointed out: Amid allegations that … Ghomeshi sprung such behaviour on unsuspecting dates, BDSM insiders are being careful to note the fine line between “kink” and abuse. “No matter how you slice it, if the allegations are true, they are not examples of healthy BDSM,” said Lady Seraphina.

The accusers allege they were assaulted without their consent, and that it was sprung on them by surprise. Ghomeshi seems to have stopped the alleged assaults when told to do so by the accusers, reports indicate (see Toronto Star article) — and stopping when told is another important rule in BDSM.

So, is Ghomeshi using BDSM as a cover for sexual assault? Or was there some discussion between him and the accusers beforehand that he presumed was consent?

Objectively speaking, I have no idea how this will all turn out.

But I have dabbled in the world of BDSM and very early on learned about the consent issue, and safe words — all discussed in advance with doms. BDSM scenes were always discussed in advance, along with limits the dom must respect. And during a scene the submissive could utter a safe word the dom had to respect without question, i.e. Red meaning stop, Yellow meaning ease up, Green meaning all well etc.

The Ghomeshi case is unlikely to touch on D/s relationships and slavery relationships, though.

Yes, some people enter into 24/7 D/s relationships where one lives in consensual submission to the other.

And some live in situations where they agree to be slaves in a household for an agreed-upon period of time, presumably with limits discussed in advance. One case in the United States a year or two ago saw the “owners” of one such “slave” arrested after the “slave” ran away and filed complaints with authorities, alleging that when the individual wanted out of the arrangement, the “owners” refused to comply. Such games people play . . . presumably, the “owners” felt the protestations of the “slave” were all part of the game because, you know, you have to be a certain sort of masochist to enter into something like that in the first place. I have no idea how that court case turned out . . .

In my own experience, I graduated from submissive to domina after awhile — at the urging of male doms who felt I was more domme than sub. But doling out pain was never part of my scenes with the few subs I had (for the fun of it; no money involved). Indeed, they wanted much more of that sort of thing than I was willing to give. Nor was sex part of my scenes, i.e. it wasn’t done for my sexual pleasure.

In fact, for many in the BDSM scene, especially dominatrixes, it’s not about sex. It’s about power for the dominatrix, and about the joy of surrender for the male subs, in my opinion. A good domina will not allow her male sub to have an orgasm in a scene with her, because we all know what happens when guys cum, yes?

On the other hand, a male dom might demand (consensual) sexual service from his female (or male) sub, but he is unlikely to return the favour during a scene, if at all.

I could go on and on about this. But we’ll talk more about it as the trial unfolds.

Consider this a teaser . . .

— Jillian

 

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