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Health & Spirituality

Who Says BDSM and Kinky Relationships Can’t be Healthy?

Written by Shawn Vee

We all strive to have a healthy relationship, but what does a healthy relationship look like and who gets to define that? Let me be real; healthy is subjective. What is “healthy” after all? I don’t consider myself overly sensitive, but when it comes to the subject of “healthy relationships,” I might be a little sensitive.

 

I Get More Than a Few Side Eyes

Because BDSM plays an integral part of my life and relationships, I often think about how those outside the BDSM/Kinky community might view our relationships. (BDSM/Kink describes bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.)

If I disclose information about my own experiences, I get more than a few side eyes and opinions that the dynamics of my relationship(s) aren’t healthy. So, I feel I must explain that when it comes to the dynamics of certain relationship types, healthy is definitely subjective.

Are Kinky Relationships Abusive?

People often see kinky or BDSM relationships as problematic and “unhealthy” because they contain elements such as dominance, sadism, control, masochism, ownership, degradation and/or humiliation among others.

 

For many, each of those words is automatically equated with abuse because in relationships outside of the community they would be abusive. As much as I’d like to blame popular hetero representations of BDSM for the public’s (often misinformed) opinion about BDSM/Kink, I must admit that those opinions have long existed.

The Key Difference Between BDSM/Kink and Abuse

However, here’s a key difference between BDSM/Kink and abuse: CONSENT. In an “unhealthy” relationship, one party does not consent or is not willing to be controlled or degraded as one might in a BDSM/Kinky relationship. In the majority of BDSM/Kinky relationships, there’s not only consent but also consistent communication and the setting of boundaries/hard limits to make sure each party remains safe and comfortable.

BDSM/Kink is Affirming and Necessary

I am not saying BDSM/Kink is for everyone, but as Black women, we face unrealistic expectations that come at us from nearly every direction on a daily basis. People attempt to define who and what we are before they know our names.

As Black women, society expects us always to be strong. We’re supposed to be the caretakers, of our own and others, as well as always in control of our emotions.

It sometimes feels as if we aren’t afforded the privilege to be vulnerable or submissive while being taught that wanting, NEEDING something like submission or dominance makes us less than.

 

For some of us, dominance, submission or other elements of BDSM/Kink are not only affirming but necessary in a way that has little to nothing to do with sex.

 

My inner circle will tell you that I am different with my Dominant than I am with anyone else. There are things she can say and do that no one else can. She’s earned that privilege because she has seen parts of me that no one else has, has seen me at my rawest, and not only safeguards and treasures that vulnerability but encourages it.

Stop Judging BDSM/Kinky Relationships with Vanilla Lens

However, if a stranger witnessed some of our (non-sexual) interactions, they may assume she was abusive. This is one of the reasons society (including black lesbians) need to stop judging BDSM/Kinky relationships should with a vanilla (non-kinky) lens; the dynamics of the two types of relationships aren’t the same.

It’s when outsiders judge BDSM/Kinky relationships with a vanilla/non-kinky lens that they can be misunderstood and labeled as “unhealthy.”

However, if it is done right, safe, sane and consensually, BDSM/Kink elements can fulfill a need and reinforce the kind of bond that vanilla (non-kinky) relationship might not.

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  1. MistressTJ

    This is spooky. I was just talking about this yesterday. As a black lesbian who also is fortunate to have connected with my current submissive totally out of the blue, there are many judgements.
    I also think that as black women and as lesbians we must be mindful of our history and openly discuss in a safe space with our peers how kink can sometimes make us feel shame/guilt and confusion as we grapple with healthy consensual power dynamics vs our history of slavery and degredation and working towards seperating the two in order to have fulfilling bdsm relationships with women of caucasian origin and the slightly less problematic kink connections with other women of colour.

    I would also love to see more POC in the kink community especially here in the UK.

    • Black Lesbian Love Lab
      Black Lesbian Love Lab

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your experience!

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