Should BDSM be a protected characteristic?

Are you out as a sissy? Or as a Dominant, switch or all-round kinkster?

And when I say ‘out’, I mean everyone in your day-to-day life knows about you, in the same way a gay colleague is out to everyone and brings their boyfriend/girlfriend/partner along to social events?

I’m sure some of you are out in this way. But I’m sure more of us in the kinky community are not. It’s far more likely we’re only out to a select few people, probably other kinksters. Most sissies I’ve talked to are very much in the closet.

Why are we all in the shadows?

As soon as I became aware of BDSM (aged about 10), I realised that it was a secret world. If you were into it, you didn’t admit to it. In fact, you were very careful to hide your predilections. It seemed to be an instinct. Hardly surprising when anything BDSM-related in the press was always a scandal. Kinksters were painted as twisted weirdos – people who were into (potentially criminal) activities that nice, clean ordinary folk found disgusting.

This is exemplified by what happened to Frank Bough. This TV presenter from yesteryear was outed as a client of a London Dominatrix. (The caption sums it up.)

I remember the furore around this incident. The laughter, derision and disgust that a man would want this. The press had a field day. Frank Bough was thrown off TV in disgrace, his family-man image destroyed. 

Are things any better now?

Fast-forward 30 years to Zach Weiner. In 2021, a video was released on Twitter showing this 26-year-old Manhattan City Council candidate being dominated by an ex-girlfriend in a BDSM dungeon. Here’s the full report

Zach refused to be shamed by it and told The New York Post that he is a “proud BDSMer”, describing the release of the video as a “violation of trust.” It’s hard to know if the video affected the election result but he came bottom (fill in your own joke) out of 6 candidates

What we do know from this story is that someone felt it would be damaging to Zach Weiner to reveal him as a kinkster and a submissive. This speaks volumes about prevailing attitudes to BDSM. Yes, there were fewer column inches and the reporting was less rabidly moralising, but it was still a news story. It implies that society wouldn’t approve of a politician who’s kinky.

Had he been outed as gay or trans instead, it would have been very different. It would hardly constitute news, and it wouldn’t be cause for character assassination.

Why is BDSM stigmatised?

Since the emergence of ‘modern’ BDSM/kink in the early 20th century, it has always been an underground and marginalised community. Over the last 70 years, views about other marginalised groups have changed (eg decriminalisation of gay relationships), leading them to be accepted and protected in law. Yet BDSM remains an outlier. 

This is a passage from an academic paper from Oslo University that sums up some of the reasons why BDSM is still viewed by many as ‘not ok’.  

“In popular media such as television shows, video clips and movies, BDSM has often been displayed in a scandalous way, in order to shock and arouse, often failing to point out that most BDSM practitioners adhere to safe, sane and consensual guidelines. Police investigation and forensic television shows often dramatize fictional accounts of kinky play which becomes criminal. When this extreme portrayal of BDSM is all that the general population is exposed to, it creates a stigma connecting kink to mental illness and criminal behavior, which is detrimental for BDSM participants.”

In fact, TV, film and media offer a useful social barometer about the acceptability of kink. How many celebrities are open about being into BDSM? I had a quick google and didn’t come up with much. Reddit is full of speculation. And the celebrity ‘admissions’ in this article are so tame, they barely rate as kinky in my world.
Compare this to the raft of gay, bi, lesbian, trans and non-binary celebs who have talked openly about their identities and been celebrated for this honesty.

What this means for Dominants, sissies and switches

In the UK, it is against the law to discriminate against someone because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. These are all protected characteristics. 

But BDSM isn’t a sexual orientation in the eyes of the law. Sexual orientation is listed as gay, lesbian and bisexual.

Search ‘BDSM’ or ‘kink’ on https://www.equalityhumanrights.com and you get 0 results.

This means we have no protection against discrimination that might occur due to our involvement in BDSM. Given that we are a marginalised group and likely to suffer discrimination, this strikes me as unfair.

I didn’t choose to be Dominant. Just like I didn’t choose to be pansexual. Those are my natural feelings.

Right now, I feel that kinksters are in a similar space to the gay community in years gone by. Subject to society’s ignorant disapproval, viewed as something grubby and dangerous.

Why do I want BDSM to be a protected characteristic?

There are two answers to this need for protection. One that embraces the whole community, one that’s personal. Let’s start with the big one – why all of us in the community need BDSM to be a protected characteristic.

This is an extract from the opening of an academic paper from City University of New York (CUNY) called: I DIDN’T CONSENT TO THAT: A SECONDARY ANALYSIS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST BDSM-IDENTIFIED INDIVIDUALS by Larry Iannotti. 

“While BDSM sexuality encompasses a wide variety of activities, a community of individuals interested in BDSM is identifiable and has coalesced around organized groups, events, political activism, and shared sexual interests. This community has experienced discrimination, violence, and harassment (DVH) as a result of social approbation and stigma associated with BDSM practices.”

Later in the same paper:

“A social stigma that is broadly defined and activity-based brings significant approbation upon the individuals associated with such activities; their sexual expressions forcing them to either hide their participation in such activities, or risk discrimination, harassment or even violent attacks as members of a marginalized and socially sanctioned group.”

Harm happens all the time

I’ve talked to a number of sissies who have been blackmailed and doxxed by fake Dominants, and have been too afraid to report it to the police due to stigma. Most folk in the community have heard reports of submissives having their consent violated (hard limits/safe word ignored, or violent abuse/sexual assault occuring within a scene), but not reporting it. There’s a perception that the police will think you were ‘asking for it’ by virtue of engaging in a BDSM liaison. This isn’t without foundation. The police have a long-standing propensity to blame the victim for putting themselves in harm’s way, rather than blame the perpetrator. 

Then there are the fears of parents who engage in the lifestyle, worried that if someone discovers they’re into BDSM, they might call social services, assuming the children are at risk of being harmed. 

Making BDSM a protected characteristic won’t solve all these issues overnight but it would mean our community is recognised in law as a valid part of society, deserving of protection.

And for me personally…

I want to see BDSM become a protected characteristic because I’ve spent my life unable to be outwardly honest with people about who I really am. I’ve been forced to hide an important aspect of myself. Why? Because I knew it was highly likely to jeopardise my job security. Because the stigma associated with it could affect my partner, parents and friends. 

Being kinky has certainly cost me friends. Not because I’ve lost them after sharing my lifestyle, but because I actively avoided making friends…because sooner or later, they would have asked about my home life. And telling a string of lies isn’t the basis of friendship. So, I’ve gone through the last 15 years of my life politely declining the various lovely people who wanted to be my friend. Today, I have one female friend and one male friend (outside the lifestyle) who know the truth about me, and whom I trust with that truth. 

I’m sure I’m not alone in keeping people at arm’s length. I’m sure lots of sissies and submissives do the same. 
I’m more ‘out’ these days. I wear clothes and jewellery that subtly signal my lifestyle. When conversations have rolled around to kink, I’ve sometimes spoken up to say I’m kinky without going into specifics. It feels better to be open, because I’ve never been ashamed of my kinks.  In fact, I feel powerful as a pansexual, gender-bending Dominant with a huge kick for sissies.

This is the crux of it

I believe BDSM needs recognition and protection as I don’t want my identity to be something that can be used as a weapon against me….which it could be if I’m not out. But equally, if I am out as kinky, I could face discrimination as BDSM is not a protected characteristic. This goes for every kinkster. I can’t stop people judging me, and that’s fine. But none of us should be subject to trial by media or, on a more personal level, trial by the feelings and biases of a boss, police, social workers etc. Official, legal protection would also pave the way for greater acceptance in wider society.

It’s about choice

Every kinkster has different reasons for keeping their preferences private. Some of us love the secrecy. Some of us aren’t in a position to come out. But having the choice is important. And that starts with being validated and protected. But is anyone fighting for us?

Yes – Myles Jackson, obscenity lawyer

This awesome human is a lawyer and a kinkster. This is just one statement he’s made:

“My fight is broadly against the forces which wish to constrain human sexuality,” said Jackman. “I’ve always said that the BDSM community is about 20 years behind the LGBTQ community in terms of rights, recognition and visibility.” He framed the “struggle” and the “journey” of the BDSM “community” in these terms: from censure and criminalisation to mainstream acceptance. (Guardian article 2015)

So, there is hope that we get the rights and recognition we deserve. I hope they come soon.



Read an excellent article on Myles Jackson https://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/09/one-lawyers-crusade-defend-extreme-pornography 

Follow Myles Jackman on Twitter https://twitter.com/mylesjackman 


3 thoughts on “Should BDSM be a protected characteristic?

Add yours

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I personally got into the sissy lifestyle/kink over 5 years ago but fear of being found out by parents, friends, future employers etc has really hindered me from exploring it as much as I want to. I am trying to get into a public facing career so the thought of anyone finding out and using it against me is almost crippling.

    I don’t think making it a law will help that much as culture and people’s perceptions will take a lot longer to change in our favour, but it would be progress in the right direction.

    I will of course keep trying to expand my horizons and experience as a sissy, but finding someone I can honestly trust is one of the biggest barriers that seems insurmountable when there are so many fakes and vindictive people out there – especially when you’ll need to trust them for potentially 40 years to keep your secrets.

    I hope it will get better. Now more than ever, its good to have a community of people we can discuss this stuff with.

    Thank you for writing about it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “but fear of being found out by parents, friends, future employers etc has really hindered me from exploring it as much as I want to. I am trying to get into a public facing career so the thought of anyone finding out and using it against me is almost crippling.”

      And this is part of the biggest reason this stays secret with me. Sure there’s revenge porn laws, but if you’ve got a public facing career at ALL, you’re fucked. My chosen career is filled with all sorts of characters. If you’ve ever seen some of the people attending a festival, you know what I’m taking about (I am a dance music DJ & producer). I’ve been doing this 15 years, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an owner or promoter throw a PERFECTLY good DJ off an event or from a club (even in the middle of the night, in the middle of the set) because, “I just don’t like that fucking guy.”

      The second one is I live in the reddest state here in the US. Even with as much as tides are shifting against the LGBTQ scene and everything else, as the entire point of this post is that being a sissy isn’t “okay” in the eyes of many.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yet again, another post on here that knocks it out of the effing park, Mistress Virago. There aren’t enough kink blogs that cover content that’s near and dear to sissies & their Owners hearts. Or if it is, it’s largely content that doesn’t come across with the manner in which this blog does. It’s an “adult” adult blog. You post topics (like this one) that get us to thinking and having serious discussions in the comments.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the posts about the fun, kinky content too as I love reading the thoughts going on behind people’s minds during scenes, and reading about it has a different kind of visceral titillating content than blog posts that have pictures to go along with the story recapping everything. But it’s discussions like this that make Your blog sit head and shoulders above the rest. I genuinely wish to thank You for putting this blog out there for U/us – as well as Your sissies’ contributions. Now yes, I do agree it (and all kink lifestyles) should be protected as racial or LGBTQ “lifestyles” are*. I honestly don’t believe it would change my “status” as a closet “50/50” sissy, but knowing that society legally has to have our backs would be a great fucking start.

    I won’t go in to the full details of the nature that I’ve been taken advantage of and played by a “Domme” but “soul crushing” would be a good jumping off point. To the point of threatened to being doxxed as well. I have had (and still am having) a very hard time accepting this is who I am, and an even harder time trying to reach out to find someone to share it with as it is, to say nothing of the underlying fear that, “It’s going to happen again.”

    There are a handful of people I have “come out” to (as kinky – not as a sissy) and they’ve been incredibly understanding (my best friend, my mother, and two other local friends) but going the step further and telling them about being a sissy just isn’t something I see happening soon.

    And yes, I didn’t go to the cops strictly out of the fear of getting blamed, ridicule, scorn – you name it, and I absolutely didn’t want it to happen. Or should the scumbag get caught, there’s NO way I’d out that shit. But yes – every point You have made here is clear, cogent, and sound. Thanks for the great post, and again thanks to You and Y/yours for the content.

    * – To me calling it a lifestyle still gives the implication that this is a choice; even if it’s danced around or explicitly stated otherwise when saying “lifestyle”.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to 514v3 Oli Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: