June 06, 2005

a re-surfaced entry

Letters to the Editor
Attn: mmaloney@vancourier.com

Re: Sadomasochism conference whips up criticism
(the original article I'm responding to is in the "extended entry" for this blog entry)

While I understand how very important Suzanne's particular style of social work is, I also think she may be suffering from being overlong in the trenches.

I fail to see why it's troublesome that timing of a BDSM conference co-incides with a movement against violence. Women often feel silenced in a world too-often run by men. Nowhere is it safer for a woman to speak up and be heard, and explore her sexuality safely, than in a community of people who have learned, and actively teach, the tenets of Safety, Sanity and Informed Consent.

I am profoundly insulted by the blurry-eyed sentiment that a woman in any sexual situation is relegated to being seen as a victim of sexual violence regardless of her own (oft strongly stated) positive opinion on the matter. I believe in strong women. I believe women do take control and make their own choices about their sexuality. That's political. How that sexuality of each woman is expressed is personal. It's not political. I can't tell someone that they must indulge in BDSM play, and no-one gets to tell me I can't.

Suzanne says she has no trouble with the individuals who practice SM, but goes on to state that BDSM players are "asking the rest of us to accept that this is healthy". This brings to mind the many similar statements made against the queer community. So BSDM players are okay as people, but BDSM activities are so heinous that they shouldn't be done in the first week of December. How's that again?

She's concerned that "women will end up as the unwilling partners of violent men turned on by fetish practices". Violence isn't done by men who, if not for pornography, would be gentle little lambs. It's done by power-hungry idiots who would be abusive in any year, and land, under any circumstance. And hey, if porn causes violence, look to your Canada Customs agents for the next outbreak, because I hear they have a nice collection belonging to Little Sister's Bookstore.

Suzanne goes on to say that "Women are being hurt and killed by this behaviour and people are trying to mainstream it."
Oh, Darlin'. Once we do manage to pull BDSM play out of the closet and all the way into the mainstream, the only people who are going to be hurt by it are those who don't attach their suspension points to the ceiling well enough. Haven't you learned from your clients what really hurts women?

Silence, fear and ignorance are tools of oppression. Information-sharing, pride in self, and really good sex... now those are my tools for a revolution.

Elaine Miller
Feminist, LeatherDyke, Columnist


Here's the original article:


From: Paul McEwan

Below is a prominent news item published in the Vancouver Courier that is
trying to stir up controversy by equating BIO with violence against women.
I am hopeful we can get support by way of letters to the editor's opinion
column. I hope you understand the benefit of women writing the letters. If
there is anything else you can think of to battle this type of press, it
would be helpful. Send the letters to, mmaloney@vancourier.com

It's odd that after 7 conferences, this is the first one to be noticed in
this way.

Thank you so much,

Paul McEwan

BIO Event Productions

778-882-7285

--------------------------------

Sadomasochism conference whips up criticism

By Sandra Thomas-Staff writer

A local rape crisis worker says the timing of an upcoming conference
dedicated to sadomasochistic bondage practices is disturbing.

Suzanne Jay, who works at the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter,
said she's troubled the Conference of Kink, produced by local group BIO
(By Invitation Only) is scheduled at the Maritime Labour Centre Dec. 3 and
4. She said the conference dates fall during the national 16 Days of
Action Against Gender Violence campaign organized by women's groups across
Canada. The conference also falls two days before the anniversary of the
1989 killings in Montreal of 14 women by a man who said he hated
feminists.

"I also find it disturbing that they're looking at this as a celebration
and asking the rest of us to accept that this is healthy," she said.

Reive Doig, a conference organizer and co-founder of BIO, said he
understands why Jay would be concerned but suggested she does not
understand his group's beliefs.

"People have been involved in this lifestyle for years and a lot of it was
underground," he said. "We've taken it upon ourselves to get involved in
the community and get the information out there."

According to the group's website, BIO is "a pansexual and sex-positive"
organization, holding regular educational workshops and social events. The
agenda includes a panel of experts from local health clinics discussing
safe sex for people involved with multiple sexual partners. The conference
also boasts "Vancouver's largest dungeon play-party ever," with activity
described by its proponents as "bondage and discipline." Scheduled
workshops include lessons on rope-bondage sex by "renowned rope master"
and Vancouverite Lew Rubens.

"It's really about play, but it's about playing safe," said Doig. "Before
a mountain climber starts out they have to learn the ropes. You just don't
start out mountain climbing, you need to know what you're doing and it's
the same with [sadomasochism]."

Jay said while she has no quarrel with the willing, adult members of
groups like BIO, she's concerned women will end up as the unwilling
partners of violent men turned on by fetish practices and symbolism.

"So many men use pornography as a training manual and they try to
duplicate it with their girlfriends, daughters and prostitutes," said Jay.
"Women are being hurt and killed by this behaviour and people are trying
to mainstream it. I've spoken to far too many [sex-trade workers] who are
trying to avoid this but men convince them this is reasonable employment."

Doig said the blame for violence against women should be aimed at
mainstream TV and media and not at people involved in an alternative
lifestyle. He also denied his group's events are male-dominated and said
many women participate as so-called dominatrixes.

"There are some women who take on a submissive role, but there's just as
many, if not more who enjoy being the dominant one in the relationship,"
he said. "There are a lot of men out there who like to take on
non-traditional roles of sexuality."

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter is hosting workshops and
videos to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Montreal murders. The free
event takes place Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Vancouver Public
Library.


From Donimo:

Right on, Elaine. Your letter is very clear and postive and takes on all her rants and misinformation. Here again, we see why Rape Relief represents fewer and fewer women. I know someone who worked there a couple of years back (she was new to town and we can't hold it against her) and R.R. told her she shouldn't wear "sexy" dresses to work. Basically, this is an organization of scared and misinformed women. Too bad they have the ear of the media and they bend it as often as they can.

Thanks for getting your words out there.

From Sarah Leavitt
Elaine-- I am in the middle of writing my Courier letter and have passed the article on to all my anti-violence colleagues. There are lots of us who are kink-positive. I cannot believe this latest ridiculous venomous crap from RR. Anyway, I am going to copy my Courier letter to the Rape Relief gals and I hope you'll do the same with yours. THey need to hear from people. Their email is info@rapereliefshelter.bc.ca .

Rock on.

Sarah

Posted by Elaine at June 6, 2005 01:14 PM