Vancouver
2 min

Hell-bent in leather

When is a line crossed?

Credit: Xtra West files

One thing about me, and my leather-community brothers and sisters: we’re all at least a little kinky. Some of us are really damn kinky. The main point is that we’re enjoying our kinkiness, and have the freedom to act as we wish with that kinkiness, because our play is between consenting adults.



I often find myself in the position of listening to someone I know describe a scene they are about to do. I’ve almost never had a scene described where I couldn’t see myself cheerfully offering to stand nearby and ladle the Crisco or pass the sharps, the dental floss, and the ice cubes. Sometimes someone else’s scene ain’t along my particular lines of kink. That’s completely unsurprising, since I am one dyke with one libido. But even when my libido slams shut, my mind stays open. Your kink is not my kink, but it’s okay.



Of course, that very feeling of open-mindedness gets me thinking. Is it always okay? If I thought the scene was too dangerous or out-there, what would I do? I’m not referring to feeling squicked (having personal extreme distaste for an activity, which distaste does not include any opprobrium in a larger social sense). I’m talking about a physical, social, or emotional danger far above and beyond what I’d consider a playful scene.



What about a man who aspires to the status of lifetime slave, and who agrees to have, tattooed prominently (and permanently) on his forehead, the words “Property of Master”? If that man were your friend, would you ask him to reconsider? Would you tell him your reasoning, or pretend to humour him by gently suggesting that the words would look ever so much better on his left butt cheek?



Imagine that a good friend of yours, a bottom, came to you and said, “My top has decreed that as punishment for failing to provide adequate service, that I will have to take my (much-loved) dog to the vet to be put down.” What would you say?



Would you intervene if another friend, a top, said: “We’re doing a scene where I remove her pinky fingers and cauterize the stumps. It’ll be great. She’ll remember me forever”? If so, on what grounds would you base your objections?



Is it all really about sitting back and letting adults consent? Does it change anything if the person you’re worried about is a sane, experienced player? Or emotionally damaged? On drugs? A complete newcomer?



Often, I confess, I ask rhetorical questions for the sly purpose of tacking my own opinions to the end of them. This time, I don’t have anything that looks like an answer. What would you do? And more importantly: why?



* Elaine Miller keeps several ethical quandaries as pets.