While all the good little people were out getting in touch with their god of choice, I was having a lovely Sunday morning watching a BDSM fairytale, Secretary.
I’ve been meaning to see Secretary since its release in 2002, as I’ve been a lifelong fan of James Spader ever since I loved hating him in Pretty in Pink when I was just 13.
I remember being apprehensive about the movie, though, way back in 2002. BDSM, I thought, was largely for Weirdos. I suspect the movie was the first really mainstream movie to introduce the lifestyle to a large percentage of the population who probably walked out of the theatre with a silly grin pasted on their lips. It’s not so bad, they likely thought. A little odd, and weird, but certainly not this horridly perverse thing their churches had them believing it was.
Since then, my eyes have opened. No, I’m not into S&M, though I don’t mind a little smack on my ass from time to time, but I’ll probably never join the movement. I ain’t, however, writing that in stone.
The movie Secretary does not dispel the notion that those who gravitate to this pain-for-pleasure lifestyle tend to be somewhat broken inside. It echoes the common perception that the participants are hurting after a life of shortcomings and trouble, and this is their way of finding a coping mechanism. Control the pain that pains you, and you will control the life around you; this seems to be the prevailing wisdom.
So there are those who scoff at them and scorn them, as if they should find healthier mechanisms for dealing.
Aren’t we all hurting to a degree, though? Don’t we all nurse regrets and fears and wishes and wants? Sure we do. But the rest of us got the magic “All Better Now” button installed when we were manufactured. Or did we? Hmm, perhaps we could use a little coping, too.
And what would you suggest? How about a more socially accepted method? Alcohol to cure to ills? Cocaine’s making a comeback, you know. Perhaps cardio-holism is more your thing. Sweat, then, baby. How about a double-banana split? A bag of Doritos? How about shoplifting a new shade of red lipstick? Say, I hear they have a double-bill at church this weekend.
The point is, we all confront our demons in ways particular to us. The notion of willingly allowing ourselves to be hurt seems to be one that most people can’t handle. It’s not as if life doesn’t bruise us often enough as it is, is what people think.
And, sure, there are some right-fucked sadomasochists out there, but there are also some incredibly well-balanced ones as well. It takes all kinds, just like bowling. The thing is, do you understand why you like to have pain inflicted on you? Are you aware of what it does for you? By that same token, are you aware of why you want sex and romance to be all feathers and soft kisses?
It’s all about self-knowledge, this life thing. The more you know about what motivates you to do what you do, the greater your grasp on things will be. If you’re oblivious, then you’re in trouble. Simple.
I’d argue that the person who likes only the soft love – the gentlest of kisses, the lightest of touches – is equally as mentally ill-equipped as the out-of-touch person who prefers only pain. I’d say that they probably fail to realize just how sheltered they’re trying to be from the harshness of reality, and that they need to wake up and smell the rough sex.
I think anyone who’s only into pain for pleasure, and has no other outlets, is unbalanced. Just like in Secretary, there are plenty who like a little roughness and pain in between the soft kisses and lingering caresses. Balance is good. Experimentation is good. Sticking to vanilla all your life, or just Rocky Road, is probably never a healthy way to go.
There is nothing wrong with loving a little roughness. There’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to enjoying your lover smacking your ass so hard it’s red when they’re done. There’s simply nothing wrong with liking anything, as long as you understand why you like it, and you’re not just using it to cover up the ills of your existence.
Society doesn’t understand BDSM, and they’re not going to anytime soon, either. Acceptance is increasing, but as long as it’s all the hardcore folk riding front and centre and playing the roles of spokespeople, there will always be a negative perception about the lifestyle.
It is what it is. Enjoy what you do, and know that being discreet doesn’t mean being ashamed; it’s simply self-preservation in a society that just doesn’t understand. Sounds like being gay in the ’40s, don’t it? Oh, well.