Within the mainstream media, there are instances of pernicious uses of BDSM terms. Ignorant appropriations with reductive effects abound. Misunderstandings are the norm, rather than the exception. As most BDSM Professionals can attest, there are very few cases, if any, that present D/s dynamics in the proper light. In order to dispel many myths, I will personally go through a few situations, and correct them. 

Jian Ghomeshi.



This case happened in Canada. At first, it was reported (in the US, at least) as a classic case of discrimination. A man was fired because he engaged in consensual BDSM. This is how Jian Ghomeshi framed it. Then, it slowly trickled through that the one two three four women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment were doing so because they did NOT agree to the BDSM terms of the casual relationship he had forcibly tried to establish, with each woman. The media did a lot of hand-wringing and gymnastics - and in the end, so did the judge. Because the victims did not behave as expected by the uninitiated male non-femsubs, their experiences and testimonies were discredited and disregarded - Jian Ghomeshi is free and clear. If Ghomeshi had established before putting his hands on the women that they would be engaging in consensual BDSM play, there would not have been a reason to cry assault. Submissives are not known to rescind their submission and decide to become vanilla in the interest of ruining a man's life. It wasn't as though they gained a fabulous reputation by assuming the submissive role, in the media. They all received threats and further inappropriate treatment. At the end of the day, BDSM must be practiced with constant consent. Nothing initially, nothing during the practice, nothing during the dismissal - without absolute consent. This was not BDSM: this was abuse.

Fifty Shades of Grey.



 This book was essentially a consent violation nightmare. While Christian Grey was busy stalking, intimidating, threatening, and otherwise intentionally causing Anastasia Steele discomfort - the first mention of BDSM and consent didn't happen until Chapter 6, on a page number reaching the 60s. Then, negotiation was only mentioned with regard to this being the first time he had ever considered it. So a stalker with a history of consent violations isn't quite a respectable Dominant. 

50 Shades of Rape.



In this case a student blamed his rape of a fellow student on his reenactment of 50 Shades of Grey. Now, knowing what I do about that book, I can easily see how someone would get the idea that being forceful, refusing to negotiate, and throwing away safety and precaution may seem alluring to a (however) willing participant. But in real life, it's still rape. 

Fashion as Domination.

 

Just as a woman in a skintight latex dress bearing a red cross wouldn't be confused with a nurse, a woman in black leather shouldn't automatically be portrayed as a Dominatrix. Confusing D/s imagery is usually found in these spreads, as a woman may be tied up, shackled, or posing suggestively in a traditionally submissive pose - mainstream media is unable to shake its love affair with presenting women in positions of helplessness, to appeal to their demographics... even when they're supposed to be sexy and powerful. 

The Term "Sadist."



1. The article mentioned many more instances of paranoia, self-harm, delusions, and only mentions "sadistic fantasies" once, in passing, with no regard to substantiating those claims. This is an example of using the term "sadistic" to get draw readers, rather than emphasize the truth.

2. One cannot sadistically watch anything. Eyeballs are input-only. The emotional capacity of a viewer isn't something that should be assumed. A person who is not a sadist will likely experience very few moments of taking enjoyment of another person's pain or anguish, so sadistically watching wouldn't be an activity enjoyed by most vanilla viewers, even if you could sadistically watch something.

3. Here is an example of using the term "sadistically" when you actually mean "brutally." There is no evidence that the killers enjoyed themselves. That someone is killed in a torturous way does not automatically include a sexual or emotional gratification. It's this sort of reporting that makes Sadist a synonym for "psychotic murderer."

4. Quite often, the term "sadist" is used to mean "asshole." Not all sadists are assholes, so it is a bit confining to keep that term in such a box. Similar to using "gay" when you actually mean "stupid or frivolous" this is erroneous nonsense that contributes to the overall digust of sadists by the general populace.

5. Use of the term "sadist" to mean "frightened xenophobe." There is no room for intense fear in sadism - so making aggressive and unwise decisions out of panic does not equate to sadism. Womp, womp.

I can vouch for the beauty and brilliance of many sadists who do all of their pain-enjoying work under a relatively altruistic umbrella, since they only inflict pain and suffering on willing individuals. The above images and stories are examples that not only intentionally represent Sadists in a bad way, but are also incorrect uses of the term. One cannot throw the word "sadistic" at every behavior they personally dislike. Words have meanings, and sadism isn't an entirely useless term that is open to endless interpretation. It is a person who derives pleasure from the pain of others, most usually (and especially in BDSM) the counterpart to a masochist, who derives enjoyment from being physically or emotionally injured.

In conclusion, BDSM is not a loose excuse for assault, initiating aggression (especially sexual), or behaving in a fashion that vanilla folks would find abhorrent. The only time these things may occur is after a long and negotiating conversation about consent, interest, and flexibility. Hard limits and safe words are always to be discussed. A lack of any of these is a failure of a "Dominant," and their behavior cannot be accepted as "just weird BDSM stuff." If you are attempting to initiate a BDSM relationship, but are receiving extreme resistance, that is not a challenge; the other party is just not interested, and you should stop pursuing the idea immediately. Lest you'd like to become one of the awful examples outlined above.