I've been reading a ton of old-school radical feminists lately (Shulamith Firestone, Kate Millett, Andrea Dworkin, Germaine Greer) and... This could be a possible total brain fart here but I think one of the problems with trying to match theory of 40 years ago with BDSM as practiced today is that when they were writing there was no legal or philosophical basis for sexual consent. When those authors were writing their classics there was, for the most part, no such thing as dominance or submission. There was just "the way it is in heterosexual relationships."After this a commenter mentions SSC, specifically:
Now I happen to think that the work those early writers did, particularly the extraordinarily brusque (and possibly sexually submissive) Dworkin, to make "no means no" real (against resistance that still, unbelievably, has life in it) created the safe spaces for the total explosion of conscious BDSM and other forms of kink we're able to practice today. (Consent lies at the basis of almost all BDSM today.)
Peter Tupper saidI can't comment there due to a server error, so I'll just post my thoughts here, for now:
Interesting thought, that it took the anti-BDSM feminists to motivate the pro-BDSM culture to create the SSC/RACK ethos.
IIRC, the first edition of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" included a tentative endorsement of consensual S/M.
"Safe sane consensual" was actually coined by a gay leatherman in a gay leather context:
It seems obvious to me now that "safe" and "sane" derived from the good old American practice of urging people to have a "safe and sane" 4th of July celebration. i heard that exhortation every year while growing up, and it stuck. It stuck with Tony DeBlase, too, and appears in an unsigned essay he wrote for the Chicago Hellfire Club’s Inferno 10 (1981) run book: "In 1980 the following was adopted as the club’s statment of purpose: ‘. . . to provide education and opportunities for participation in S&M sex among consenting adult men and to foster communication among such individuals.’ Responsible S&M has become more popular and less feared in the gay community and Chicago Hellfire Club continues to serve its community — striving always to educate and promote safe and sane enjoyment of men by men." Since Inferno 10 was the first Inferno i attended, and it made a big impression on me, Tony’s words may have reminded me of "safe and sane," and even suggested the association with "consensual." But the GMSMA statement was the first place the three terms were actually conjoined.I'm not unsympathetic to the view that anti-SM feminist criticisms had an influence on various SM communities that was ultimately positive, but I think we need to be careful about what comes from where, and look up and be thoughtful about actual documented history where we can. It doesn't look *to me* like the feminist debates had much to do with SSC.
As a kid, what i took "Have a safe and sane 4th" to mean was something like, "Have a good time, but don’t be stupid and burn down the house or blow your hand off." A couple of decades later, that seemed to fit S/M just fine. What we meant by "safe and sane S/M" in 1983, and what i believe GMSMA and most other organizations still mean by it today, is something like, "Have a good time, but keep your head and understand what you’re doing so you don’t end up dead or in the hospital — or send someone else there." Possibly the echo of a familiar phrase explains why so many other kinky Americans have also felt immediately comfortable with "safe, sane, and consensual S/M," which still isn’t nearly as popular in Europe or elsewhere as it is in the U.S. even aside from the issue of language.