What would you say to someone who thinks people who participate in BDSM and D/s (on both sides of the slash) have a need for structure/control because of anxiety or another mental problem? I’m not sure how to explain that it’s just a need, not a product of trauma or mental illness.


That’s a really great question. I use the analogy of gay people. I’m old enough to remember when it was “common knowledge” that gay people “became that way” because of some psychological or emotional trauma. The default go-to villain was their mother. The culture changed, people learned, and now it’s generally accepted that gay people are “born this way,” Dominants and submissives are no different – we are born this way. It’s not a reaction to trauma, nor is it a “mental illness.” The American Psychological Association said so just last year, when they removed “BDSM” from their list of “psychological derangements,” much the same way they removed homosexuality from their list of “psychological derangements” in 1972. Hopefully that analogy will resonate with them. It’s just who we are.


The great thing about being older is you remember bullshit like when moms were blamed for “turning” their sons gay.  (It was hilarious all the things moms could do to make those boys gay too!  Be too aloof.  Be too nurturing.  Be too strict.  Be too lax.  Pretty much if a woman could do it someone somewhere was going to say that was the problem.)

But then back then being gay was considered a kink!  Or when bland, vanilla oral sex between consenting heterosexuals was considered a kink!

Oh, extra credit?  Until as late as the early 1960s if a woman masturbated Anglo-American doctors would snip off her clitoris with a medical device designed for the purpose, or maybe cauterize it.  Possibly with carbolic acid.  To cure her perversion, don’t you see?

Anyway, this isn’t to say there’s no, zero, none environmental/experiential component to sexuality. Traumatic or otherwise.  Trauma can affect people’s behaviors and preferences to people, and sexual trauma can affect sexual behavior and preferences too.  Including, no doubt, living in fear of having your fucking clitoris burnt off.  

There’s certainly evidence that domestic and sexual abusers were themselves much more likely to have been abused than the general public.

But here’s the trick. Usually?  Yeah, usually things that happen to you don’t do anything.  Won’t make you gay.  Won’t stop you from masturbating.  Won’t make you an abuser.  Aaaannnndddd…. won’t make you turned on by being dominant or submissive.  Won’t stop you either.

Oh, and extra credit?  Evidently not having anything out of the ordinary will happen and people will still be gay.  Still want to masturbate.  Still like kinky sex.

I dunno!  You’d think that while environment probably has something to do with behavior innate aptitudes and inclinations might have something to do with it too!

Like just about everything else in life!  Now how could that be possible?  Who’da thought?