Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« It Takes 1,047 Steps to Walk A... | Department of Municipal Theate... »

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Currently Hanging

posted by on April 30 at 10:44 AM


Sorry, but back to the prosecutor in today’s Globe and Mail story for just a moment:

“It is paradoxical to argue that a person who lacks consciousness is in a position to enjoy heightened or intensified sexual gratification,” Mr. Cole argued in oral submissions to the court.

He he. Oral submission—is that still legal in Canada?

Anyway, this statement is so willfully obtuse about BDSM that it makes me wonder if this guy got a fair trial. Again, I’m against breath play, and I’m not saying that what went down on that particular night between that particular couple was consensual. That was for the court to decide—which the court could have done without leaning on case law that criminalizes spankings.

Did anyone testify during this trial about the sexual and emotional dynamics of BDSM? Many people that enjoy BDSM—folks that cheerfully consent to eroticized violence and what might look like “bodily harm” to others—don’t enjoy the actual spankings, whippings, etc., in and of themselves. (Some do, of course.) What many BDSM players enjoy, what many find erotic, is the dread of what’s to come and, once spanking/whipping/whatever ends, the charged memory of what they’ve just endured. Someone can consent—foolishly, in my opinion—to being choked into unconsciousness and very much enjoy “heightened or intensified sexual gratification” before and after the act, just as someone that doesn’t enjoy the pain of an actual flogging, say, can enjoy the thrill of an impending flogging and the erotic charge they get knowing they made it through a flogging.

Sheesh. I mean, take the guy in the photo above—you can watch him endure bodily harm by clicking here. (NSFW—duh.) He certainly seems to be dreading and enduring and yet thoroughly enjoying himself in the process, no?

RSS icon Comments


"I'll be in my bunk."

Posted by Geni | April 30, 2008 10:54 AM

Sorry, but my spankings ended when I was a kid. After being hit with a hand, belt, frying pan, et al, I do not understand on any level why someone would want to go through that. I never will nor do I care to.

Posted by Dave Coffman | April 30, 2008 11:09 AM

OK, but I fail to see how the wife could consent to having a dildo shoved up her ass while she was unconscious.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 30, 2008 11:16 AM

Why would she report it, though? That's the shady part.

Is the judge saying that if a husband kisses/gropes his wife while she's asleep, even if she's ok with it, its sexual harassment? The idea that no one can consent to ANY sexual activity that happens while they're unconcious is ridiculous. That's separate from criminilizing choking someone into unconciousness, which can definitely cause brain damage.

Posted by hm | April 30, 2008 11:23 AM

I think #3 has it. You obviously can not consent to sex acts while you're unconscious, even if you may have indicated consent earlier; unconsciousness acts as a sort of implicit withdrawal of consent. I think that deciding otherwise would set a dangerous legal precedent, e.g. 'Oh sure, he/she consented to sex. Of course, then I knocked him/her senseless and had my way with him/her - but really, it's what he/she would have wanted.' I think that in order to punish rapes where the victim was rendered unconscious by intoxication or assault, we have to punish rapes where the victim was rendered unconscious by purportedly consensual choking.

And Dan, I think you have to differentiate between the two issues here- it's pretty settled legally that an unconscious person can't consent. Take issue with the 'people can't consent to violent sex acts' part of the decision instead.

Posted by Ursula | April 30, 2008 11:49 AM

oh. my.

such a big, strapping, healthy boy...

Posted by michael strangeways | April 30, 2008 11:58 AM

@5: That's fine for a default rule, but what if the person losing consciousness specifically indicates that their loss of consciousness isn't a withdrawal of consent? For instance, A enjoys waking up while being fucked, and B enjoys waking A up this way; A has specifically consented to allow B to fuck A while A is unconscious. Does this mean that if B does so, B is raping A, even though A wanted the sexual act to occur?

(By the way, writing a sentence like that without pronouns sucks. English needs sex-neutral pronouns).

Posted by AnonymousCoward | April 30, 2008 11:58 AM

I'm not saying that someone having said, "Hey, I'm into X" means you can knock that person out and perform X on 'em. But there are people who are into being knocked out and doing X, Y, and Z. And being knocked out is part of the thrill. That person should have the right to consent to being knocked out and having X done to them by, of course, a trustworthy partner blah blah blah.

Posted by Dan Savage | April 30, 2008 12:06 PM

Dan-- I don't know how it happened, but I somehow clicked an opened the movie you linked. I was shocked and appalled that you would post something like that on Slog. Even more shocked the second time I watched it. Slightly less the third time.

Posted by eclexia | April 30, 2008 1:17 PM

I was once drugged and raped. Whatever I was given left me semi-concious but unable to resist in any way. I never called the police- in those days it could have been deadly- so I confronted the guy at his
work and told his boss he raped me. Nothing more ever came of it. But I think about it every now and then when this subject comes up. It's not a nice feeling. But even still, if someone gave prior consent, I could see where it might be a kink. But still, too dangerous and skirting the edge of sanity, physical safety. All that said: Hot Video!

Posted by Vince | April 30, 2008 1:58 PM

So, what's the statute of limitations on the "crime" of giving spankings in Canada? If it happened 3 years ago, am I off the hook? Does the US extradite the accused?

I'm kidding... but, really.

Posted by miss_m | April 30, 2008 5:28 PM


I understand your point- yes, people can consent to a violent act that might result in unconsciousness. The thing is, legally, consent is an affirmative act. An unconscious person can't commit that act, and prior consent can't be binding or you do return to my scenario above. Of course it's a matter of reporting and enforcement; be good friends with your unconscious partner, and (knock on wood) they'll never report you, and the government can't prosecute a crime that's never reported. Beyond that, one could do, I don't know, an initiative to make enforcement of those charges a low priority, but circumscribing that not to refer to other cases of alleged rape would be tough...
Oh, heck. I want everyone to get off too, in whatever way gets them off. But legally, it's problematic.

Posted by Ursula | April 30, 2008 8:53 PM

@ 4, 5 and 7 - Let's just remember that being asleep and being unconscious aren't actually the same thing.

Posted by kt. | April 30, 2008 11:11 PM

Better not click the link to all the fun - a week from now I'll run the risk of getting arrested for looking at it! Yep, the UK is set to ban porn that features "An act which threatens or appears to threaten a person's life".

I expect to be arrested, labeled a sex offender, and get fired any day now.

Very thoughtful comments about BDSM, Dan.

Posted by FluffyyBunny | May 1, 2008 4:48 AM

@3: She couldn't give consent while unconscious, but she could give consent while conscious to have various things done to her while she was unconscious. If she couldn't, then all surgery involving general anesthesia would constitute battery.

Posted by christopher | May 1, 2008 6:07 AM

@12 You do realize, of course, that if no one can consent to anything once unconscious a lot of dentists and doctors are in for a world of criminal prosecution, right?

As for how the woman woke up to a dildo in her ass... Did she LIKE a dildo in her ass? Had she previously said "put that dildo in my ass"? Was it one of her limits, and clearly expressed as so?

What a lot of people seem to forget in an S&M relationship is that ultimately, the sub holds all the power. The Dom is there to inflict a specific range of sensations and episodes upon said sub. So both parties have an obligation to make their needs and limits clear. Certainly doesn't sound, to me, like this was a limit.

Letting yourself be choked into unconsciousness is stupid. Choking someone that long is stupid. My pet and I use breath play all the time. It involves a hand over her mouth and nose, or a hand lightly on her throat, because we don't consider anything else safe. But the world is full of stupid people; had this woman maintained the complaint, fine, it's assault. But she didn't. That in itself makes it consentual.

Posted by Nate | May 2, 2008 9:17 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).