Demystifying The Taboo
The Beauty of BDSM
-A prohibition imposed by social custom
-Something that is not acceptable to say, mention, or do
Seeing as this is my first article I’ve written, let me introduce myself. My name is Josef Desade, I am an author and photographer whose artwork has a lot of focus in the world of BDSM. When you do photo shoots involving BDSM there are a lot of misconceptions about what you do. You face a lot of backlash from people out of ignorance and social taboos when you aren't afraid to show it to the world and hear a lot of really, really...let me say it again one more time...really bad jokes from people and this translates out of the realm of photography and into the scene itself. When I started my first project with a focus on the scene, I found a lot of people had no real concept of what BDSM actually was.
It is a taboo subject, spoken of in whispers or joked about in extremely ignorant ways. A lot of people have a hard time grasping that it isn’t purely sexual I have found. One of the biggest misconceptions I noticed was that a lot of people have the impression that the scene is people in secret clubs abusing women, or that one of the parties involved must be getting taken advantage of. Some people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea that it could be consensual and that an act or scene could go far beyond being purely sexual. The tiger stripes of the lash...the different shades of color left on a canvas of flesh by the paddle...to someone on the outside it may appear to be abuse, but to the people consensually involved it is a keepsake, held close to heart. A fading reminder of that moment of freedom; a moment of pure bliss.
When you tell someone that the social constructs of what is acceptable behavior may be wrong and that in their own communities there are people who find a sense of serenity and pleasure in the behavior that they are condemning or making jokes about, you tend to be met with disbelief. What I aimed to do with my project “I Want To See The Devil In Us All” was to challenge the views of these types of people. To show them a very vivid glimpse of beauty hidden in shadows. I aimed to work towards breaking down barriers and perhaps open the eyes of some and show them a glimpse of what people in their own communities were afraid to openly express for fear of judgment.
We live in a society that has become increasingly PC. One that has increasingly embraced censorship and would prefer to keep the blinders on to opinions or views that differ from their own. Granted being suspended from rope, or tied to a St. Andrew’s cross and flogged may not be everyone’s idea of a fun Friday night, but in the kink scene there is a hidden beauty. Not just a visual beauty, but the beauty of people from various backgrounds and lifestyles coming together in a meeting of souls. From the heat of the moment in a scene, to the intimate moments of aftercare, beauty is found not just in a physical aspect but in the deep connections that are formed. There is a level of vulnerability and trust in the different dynamics between people in the scene that breaks down social constructs that are forced upon us in the outside world and allow an individual to be themselves. It is a simple beauty found in emotion and simply being human.
Human. That is the key word there. In a world that at times seems incredibly manufactured and superficial, kink gives people a reminder of what is buried underneath all the artificiality and perhaps that is why it is labeled taboo. Because it is a reminder that beyond the news feeds and tapping of the computer keys, beyond the screens of our smart phones we can still feel that primal calling to feel. To feel the pain that reminds us that we are alive...to feel ecstasy that propels us to forgotten heights...to experience human empathy as we lay spent and sighing wrapped within tender arms, to experience a deeper connection between souls. The BDSM scene brings beauty to the world in unexpected places.
As one of my artistic inspirations, Robert Mapplethorpe once said, "Beauty and the devil are the same thing."
(Demystifying The Taboo - The Beauty of BDSM first appeared in print in Black Noise; Issue 3.)