We need to change our views on BDSM

I met Tina in a popular pub which is usually busy by night, but during the day we were the only ones there. Tina is in her mid-twenties and is currently completing a Master’s Degree. She also happens to be in a ‘Daddy relationship’.

Most of us tend to associate BDSM with the stereotypes of PVC, whips and masks, but we don’t tend to focus on the actual relationship aspects. Daddy relationships involve a ‘Daddy’ and a ‘Little’. In simple terms, the Daddy treats theLittle as a child and the Little treats the Daddy as a parent. This can involve the Daddy choosing the Little’s clothing, having the Little do the chores, and the Daddy financially supporting the Little, although this is not always the case, unlike in ‘Sugar Daddy’ relationships.

Tina lives with her boyfriend, Hugh, and they have been together for about three years. A typical day for her involves getting up at six, making a full cooked breakfast and a packed lunch for him, getting dressed in clothes he picked out for her the night before and then, after he has gone to work, working on her thesis for her master’s and doing chores (such as cleaning the house, doing the grocery shopping, and doing the laundry). After Hugh returns home she makes him dinner.

Although this sounds a bit like a day in the life of a 1950s housewife and not that of a BDSM practitioner, Tina calls her boyfriend “Daddy”, acts like a child around him and they engage in ‘age-play’ which is when she roleplays being an actual child.

Tina began our interview saying that she absolutely did not want to be named (Tina is a pseudonym) because of the social stigma still surrounding BDSM practices. She says she once revealed her sexual lifestyle to a friend, who immediately told her she was mentally ill and needed psychiatric evaluation. This fear of persecution seems to be very common among practitioners of the more intense parts of BDSM.

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And whilst some might find this behaviour disturbing, Tina argues that she has never felt happier. Before this current relationship, she felt that she was bored of sex and considered herself to be “asexual”.

She met her boyfriend through mutual friends and after a month of dating, he suggested a Daddy relationship. Tina decided to give it a go and currently enjoys sex significantly more than before. Identifying as a feminst, she says, “This relationship helped me feel far more confident in both my personal and work life. Before I met Hugh, I would never have considered even applying for an MA but now I’m studying the thing I love and I’m getting better grades than ever.”

Because of the rise of books such as 50 Shades of Grey and the popularity of stores like Ann Summers, people seem to have become more aware of BDSM.I personally think it’s sexist that the only media depictions (and I include this article in that) are of submissive women and there are barely any of dominant women. However, I really don’t think that Tina’s lifestyle encourages misogyny, because it makes her feel happier and more confident in her life, allowing her to achieve her goals. What can be wrong with that?