Friday, December 3, 2010

Leather Life vs Abuse

There are many misconceptions that people in mainstream society have about people who are in leather relationships. On the surface someone in a leather relationship and someone in an abusive one carry some very intense similarities. In both relationships there are limited rights, a dominant and submissive partner, and punishments for infractions real or perceived. 
However, as much as the surface interaction may seem the same, people in consensual leather relationships and people in abusive relationships are entirely different. In abusive relationships the limitation of the submissive partner’s rights are neither consensual nor negotiable. The dominant partner in an abusive relationship becomes the dominant partner through fear, coercion, and intimidation. Physical and emotional acts of violence in abusive relationships are used to further the control of the dominant partner, and to destroy any sense of self in the submissive partner.
In leather relationships the limitations of rights are pre-negotiated and agreed to by all parties, they are also reviewed and subject to change, as people grow and their needs are different. For example we have a friend who was in a Master slave relationship with his wife, over time, they both changed and she is now a switch (someone who tops and bottoms) and although he is still Master identified he seeks experiences with other partners. In leather relationships dominant partners are recognized by all people in the relationship as the dominant partner, and they are sought out as a dominant to specifically fulfill the submissive partner’s needs. There is no need for coercion, fear, or intimidation, because this type of relationships is desired in the first place. Punishment in leather relationships, if they occur at all, are predefined for a select set of behaviors. In general common rules for punishment in leather include: all punishments are not done in anger, they are intended for the other person to learn from and/or change behavior, and they may or may not include a corporal element. This also varies from household to household.
I am not saying that leather relationships can’t be abusive; there is abuse in all parts of every community. Leather relationships that include aspects of abuse without consent are subject to the same outcomes, this includes abuse that is directed towards the bottom or the top. As being a top does not exempt one from being abused. However just because someone is in a leather relationship does not mean abuse is a part of the equation. For the people who come to terms with their submissive side, and allow themselves to experience it, finding that submission can be self empowering, cathartic, and extremely fulfilling. The bottom line is that abuse is about non consent and destruction, and leather/BDSM is about finding out who you are and creating your life around those things that fulfill you even if one of those things is giving up power.

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