Misconceptions in Fan Fiction - on terms, warnings, BDSM, homosexual practise and non-con
BDSM, dominance and submission, top/bottoming and non-con are often used sexual practises in fan fiction. I am not going to express any opinions on fan fiction outside Harry Potter-fandom though, since my experience in writing and reading fan fiction lies solely inside that particular fandom.
As we all know, many fics describe some level of sexual practise. Most fics are written by women, why it is not possible for them to have any practical experience – at least not when it comes to male homosexual practise. Many writers are very eager to search for, find, and use information on the subject, but sometimes misunderstandings occur anyhow.
So... Why am I writing this? I do not have any experience in male homosexual practise either. But this is mostly about another topic, a topic wherein the homosexual practise is a small part.
This is about dominance, people.
Do I have any experience on that? Yes. I've been chairman of the Danish political part of a NGO, dedicated to clear up misunderstandings and prejudices regarding BDSM and the persons who prefer their sex that way. I've worked as a councellor, giving advice to everybody needing it - from governmental authorities to people new to the BDSM-world – and amongst them male homosexual couples.
When I find BDSM and D/s (Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, Masochism and Dominance/submission) in a fic – or a fic labelled as such – I often find misconceptions. This is going to look like a check list and it might be seen as such. Non-con vs. Masochism/Submission
First of all: BDSM and non-con is not the same.
BDSM is always
a game, a sexual practise between people who are consenting adults. What and how is always
agreed upon in some way or another.
be a part of a BDSM-game but is always
agreed upon beforehand.
Rape/non-con without consent is exactly what it says it is, and no
masochist/submissive would feel it like anything but rape.
BDSM plays with the exchange of power, submission, pain, bondage, to gain or receive the power over another – as long as it is agreed upon. If the mutual agreement of either taking or receiving power is not present it is not BDSM anymore. Terms and Misused Terms
Then there is the question of terms used. This is where many problems occur. Understandable, because sometimes even people in the BDSM-scene are confused.
Dominant: The person in possession of power. A Dominant/Dom/Domina is a person who enjoys making another person submit to orders, some humiliating, others not.
Sadist: A sadist in BDSM-terms is a person who enjoys to inflict (agreed upon) pain on another.
The term sadist is frequently used as a diagnosis or to describe a person who is actually either violent and/or a rapist. Sometimes, but not always, the term Dom (male)/Domina (female) is to be preferred even if it does not fit what a sadist is.
Submissive: The person submitting to the Dominant. (always capital 'D') Often referred to as 'sub' ( without capital 's'). A submissive enjoys handing over the power to a Dom/Domina.
Masochist:A masochist in BDSM-terms is a person who enjoys pain being inflicted upon by a sadist. A masochist is not necessarily submitting to the sadist. (fighting can be such fun ;0)
A person doing something not pleasant is not a masochist (Example: I went willingly to the dentist, I must be a masochist.) Sometimes the term submissive is preferred to masochist, as masochism is used as a diagnosis as well in some countries.
Often the terms are mixed up. The problem here is the current use of the terms. If UN would be as kind as to tell the appr. 200 countries that still use/treat sadism/masochism as mental illnesses to stop doing it we could get back to the use of 'sadist/masochist' for the BDSM-minded and 'Dom/sub' for the ones that prefer the fun without too much pain and mostly likes the humiliation and/or handing over power.
But it is not politically incorrect to use the terms 'masochist' or 'sadist'. It is just preferred to use 'Dom/sub' in my little corner of the world because the connotations, at least in Danish, are as they are. Now here's the thing about male hom... ahr, you know the drill
The term 'top' used in a male homosexual relationship is not
the same as a Dom.
To be topping is just a term that explains that a person prefers to be the one penetrating his lover. A top can be a Dom or a sub or not at all interested in BDSM in the first place. To be a top do not
indicate any relation to need for Dominance or sadistic behaviour.
To be a top is solely a term that describes the preferred technique when having anal intercourse.
Well – it is fairly easy to figure out what bottom means, right?
Bottom: The one who prefers to be
penetrated. Not a submissive. A technical term.Top/bottoming is entirely independent of any BDSM-practise or need.Dominance outside the bedroom
A very important aspect was pointed out to me by kamion
: Because one is a Dominant in bed it doesn't mean that this is something that a couple takes outside
the bedroom. Most couples who enjoy BDSM or D/s live perfectly normal lives, argue like all other couples, fight and kiss and make up and clean and make dinner together. Very few people live in what is called a 24-7 relationship where the Dom is always a Dom and the sub a sub, it is rare, but it happens.
People! This is a game and playtime is over when the game is. That doesn't mean that a game can't take days, but it certainly means that a masochist can be the one who decides everything when it comes to the everyday relationship - or not.Pain
Pain is two different things in the BDSM universe compared to the outside.
A masochist would never think that a plain whipping as revenge or punishment would be nice.
Example: Harry is caught by Death Eaters and flogged by Bella. Not fun, not BDSM, just non-con pain.
A masochist would love a plain whipping if agreed upon.
Example: Harry thinks Bellatrix is hot (veeeery likely) and and he agrees to let her flog him. Much better now, even if the actions seem alike. They might even play the above scene if they were deviant enough or if Harry was as kinky as we believe him to be.
Difference: Consent.Definitions inside the BDSM-term
BDSM consists of many things: Bondage, various fetishes, humiliation, power games, pain coming in various levels, piercing, cross-dressing, spanking, training, golden shower, consented-upon-rape-scenarios (ravishment) and other elements.
D/s is just a part of the term, the part that plays mostly with games that centres around power (having a pet, ordering the sub to do various things. Humiliation.)
Bondage is the part where we tie people up. Chains, ropes, cages, restraints in any form. Most people connect the term bondage to the Japanese variety which is very pretty, but somewhat laborious.
BDSM is as mentioned a game between consenting adults. It cannot include children or animals or any person not able to express consent.
Any fic written describing non-consenting adults should therefore be labelled 'non-con/rape/violence'
As a last thing I would like to mention that Doms/Dominas are not always the powerful men (Lucius for example) or the bossy females (Bella). Submissives are not always the meek or whimpering neurotic young men or women (Draco, Neville).
Often it is actually quite the other way around, but there's no way to tell. And often a sub is actually the one who decides as he/she is the one setting the borders and limitations the Dom can act within. And more often than not people have both sides and switch between being submissive and dominant.
BDSM is not hardcore. It can be, but isn't always. BDSM can be anything from the line 'put your hands on the headboard/your back/whatever until I tell you to move them.' to heavy spankings, blood-play, branding, long term bondage... it is entirely up to the couple's common decisions.BDSM and Love
Of course people are able to play this game without love. But it is not so common, BDSM is often practised within a relationship. It is a game that starts with little things and evolves from there. It is highly unlikely that a couple would play with any hardcore practises without knowing each other well since the main focus in a game/ playing is trust. BDSM in Fan Fiction
I am not demanding that fanfiction should look like real life. Fan fiction serves a purpose for us as an outlet for, for example, rape fantasies, something many women have, not as something they long for IRL but solely as a fantasy. I have seen several rants over that subject. We allow Malfoycest, chan, violence of different kinds, and of course those subjects are allowed in our fandom as well. But they should be properly labelled with the correct warnings and, I direct attention to the first part of my essay, the proper warning for such occurrences is non-con or rape.
BDSM or D/s is something entirely different.