I'm always amazed that people have the courage to rear children, given that once you have them, anything people don't like about your offspring's sexuality becomes your fault. I heard a new twist on this lately: Foot and leg fetishes stem from men sitting on the floor as infants, tugging futilely at the skirts of their (obviously) distant, unloving mother. It's odd how no one pathologizes guys for liking boobs.
But these are just variations on the sex-negative theme that BDSM in adult sexuality is a result of childhood abuse. Our families were dysfunctional, the theory goes, and thus we were twisted into this warped, unhealthy sexuality. BDSM people should work out our issues so we can have normal sex—whatever that is—instead of damaging ourselves with all this kinky fuckery.
It's not just conservative wackos who say this sort of thing, either. I've actually heard a few self-identified BDSM people say so. (Talk about carrying around some issues.) And the last person who tried this line on me was a dreadlocked Burning Man type wearing—I swear I am not making this up—a glow-in-the-dark cord around his neck with a baby pacifier on it.
I used to attempt to counter this canard by stating that, in fact, I was not abused as a child. It never worked. People whose entire education in mental health consisted of watching daytime talk shows would condescendingly inform me I was obviously in denial and repressing the memory of my abuse. Regardless of what I said, being kinky proved I was abused as a child, end of story.
If you're going to have stupid arguments with people, sometimes you have to get down to their level. "Says who? How do you know that's true?" That usually takes them off guard. "Well, you know, doctors. There's studies and stuff."
That's where Mr. Baby Pacifier and his Childhood Issues Orchestra fail, because doctors and studies have not proved any such thing. No one can cite an unbiased and reputable scientific source that supports the "BDSM is a result of childhood abuse" theory from anyone younger than Sigmund Freud, because there isn't one.
Don't believe me? I asked some experts. Psychologist Dr. Joy Davidson, author of Fearless Sex, says: "One of the largest and best-designed studies of abuse and kinky people clearly rejects the idea that being kinky stems from childhood abuse or that there is more abuse in the backgrounds of kinksters than any other groups... There is no more psychopathology among kinky people than in the general population."
Clinical sexologist Dr. Gloria Brame, author of Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission, says: "I have never seen a study showing that abuse leads to kinkiness. That's a fallacy."
You don't have to participate in my sexuality, but lay off the parents of kinky people, okay? You might wind up being one yourself someday.