Vancouver
2 min

Abuse police

Personal decency the way to regulate SM

Credit: Xtra West files

You’ve seen this. A BDSM relationship breaks up, goes bad, and suddenly both parties are lobbying publicly for the community vote on who’s the poor, abused victim. Character assassination? Why sure, pass some right over-there!



Sometimes each person in the break-up has hurt feelings, and a yen to hurt the other back. But often there’s been some seriously bad behaviour. We don’t want the abusers in our midst, free to find another to harm. What action can we take, as a community of leather folk, to find the actual abuser?



I understand why we might wish to keep the intricacies of our BDSM break-ups and kinky relationship issues out of the straight world’s law courts, considering their track record with even simple-by-comparison vanilla relationships. And even when we’re not facing outright anti-BDSM hostility, I’d still rather not try to stand in court and explain safewords and informed consent, dominance and submission, responsibility and aftercare to a judge who had never considered the possibility of a friendly spanking before this day. Sure, I could trust those few words of education to carry the day for understanding and justice; I could also buy a house built by someone who’d only read the blurb on the flyleaf of a carpentry book.



I’ve heard, over and over, that in the absence of clear-cut criminal-type crimes, we must police ourselves. Okay, but that brings up some thorny issues for me.



Who judges? Maybe we could set up a community court, wherein the combatants and their passionately devoted and loyal best friends stand and shout at each other. If it’s like a courtroom, do leather-clad lay lawyers argue the case? Do we get a choice of 12 peers for a jury and do we suffer arguments about who are really our peers? Like: “Those leather boys are okay, but the PVC crowd, whoa, no way.”



If one party is indeed guilty of abuse, I have some further questions. What power do we have to rehabilitate, punish, or prevent further abuse? Can we banish someone from a community with no borders, a loose identity, and new eager members every day?



Maybe we should have an offender registry, so that if you want a hot date with a new top or bottom, you can look her up first and see if she has any prior leather community convictions.



Now, wait, that sounds like a workable possibility. We could have an online kinda thing, y’know, like that big bookseller site.



“Shopping for a new play partner? Meet Sam, GBM, 46, cbt, gs, raunch. Sam’s sanity rating is… 7 stars. Click here if you’ve dated Sam and want to give a review. Leather boys who have dated Sam have also dated these men…”



* Elaine Miller is often guilty of undue process.