How does Hollywood Always get the BDSM Scene so Damn Wrong?!

The BDSM community is all too often misunderstood and misrepresented in the world of Hollywood film and the sitcom. They really shoot hilariously wide of the mark sometimes, while other times its harder to draw amusement from their typecasting. Sometimes we’re Satanists, other times it is assumed that we’re all damaged or traumatised in one way or another. And don’t get me started on how they presented BDSM in 50 Shades of Grey! That was probably the most inaccurate portrayal ever, but at least it’s a good source of comedy. I mean, what the absolute f were they thinking?! So, based on observations from talking to people candidly about the BDSM world, noticing that many of their opinion were formed from the world of film, I decided to point out a few of the recurring inaccuracies that I noticed.

Only freaks and deviants enjoy BDSM.

Though this standpoint sounds like something only the super-religious would hold as an opinion, you’d be surprised how often this stereotype appears in television and film. Whether they’re using a BDSM enthusiast neighbour as the butt of a joke, or whether the BDSM enthusiast turns out to be the murderer at the end, we’re rarely represented as heroic, or even respectable. So why is that? Well, the assertion seems to be that BDSM and kink are subcultures fitting only for the weirdos who are attracted to ‘extreme’ subcultures, but the reality is in fact very different. As of yet there’s still no connection between people’s life experiences and their overall mental wellbeing and their interest in BDSM. The closest connection that we’ve seen posited so far is the connection between cat ownership and submissive tendencies (check out Leesha Lacey’s article on that!). It seems that people are attracted to BDSM for a plethora of different reasons, and at that they come from very different backgrounds. So where is our kinky superhero, Hollywood?!

All BDSM enthusiasts must be victims of some traumatic childhood event.

This one is probably the most commonly held misconceptions amongst the general population, which we still hear quite a bit from the vanilla demographic. Though that statement may sound like I’m having a dig or attempting to belittle them, I’m not – but at times it is hard to sit through yet another ill-informed opinion on why we do what we do. Anyways, the trope goes that if you’re engaging in the world of BDSM, you’re only doing so because you’re stuck in a loop of actively repeating said trauma in your adulthood. The suggestion is such that because of this (mostly) imagined prevalence of trauma, that we’re all somehow “wired wrong”, which goes to explain our “morbid” interest in mixing pain and pleasure. Okay, so in a tiny majority of cases this may hold true, but in a nationwide study conducted in the US, no more than the average amount of participants in any case study reflected on childhood trauma. Furthermore, while a certain amount of the BDSM community genuinely are victims of abuse, many report using BDSM to engage with and OVERCOME childhood trauma by first having a session and then by talking through their experiences with a therapist. In that regard, we stand as a group that actively promote and encourage mental wellbeing. Take that, normies! (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

All forms of BDSM are only about the sexual element.

While it’s true that there is a large sexual element to the BDSM scene, it isn’t accurate to reflect on it as one-dimensionally as that. There’s much more to it. We have vanilla interests like anyone else and actively enjoy meeting up on those terms at munch meetings and otherwise. Aside from that, historically, the BDSM/kink scene have always served the secondary but very important function as serving as a safe space for LGBTQ people to make familial connections with others of the same mindset. We probably won’t see that side presented in a Hollywood blockbuster or an HBO sitcom anytime soon, but we can live in hope.

You never know what’s lurking in someone’s sock drawer.

In addition to BDSM definitely not denoting any individual as inherently ‘deviant’ or ‘damaged’ in their everyday dealings, it’s actually proven to be way more of a feature in the average bedroom than even I would have guessed at. According to a survey by Smithsonian magazine, 36% of Americans incorporate some form of BDSM-related equipment in their sex lives, with a staggering 65% of American students fantasising about being restrained during sex. To me, this is particularly amazing as it doesn’t take in to account other forms of kinky play. If we were to include all of that, who knows how high that figure could rise to! So, why then are we still so prudish about it when it comes to including accurate BDSM tropes in television and film?

Written exclusively for Female Fetish Federation

2 responses to “How does Hollywood Always get the BDSM Scene so Damn Wrong?!”

  1. Yup, the BDSM guy is nearly always the murderer in films. Don’t know why they don’t just do a bit of research first.

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