– ZZ, billing assistant, submissive foot fetishist, 34, married: “My relationship with my wife is the best possible, in all senses. She knows about my attraction for feet, so much that she began taking more care of them and sometimes, when we make love, she spanks me with her slippers and I like it a lot. Since there is no physical or emotional damage to anyone and both agree on it, any practice is worth it, between a couple. The way society sees or judges my acts is not at all relevant to me.”
– JP, lawyer, sadist, 38, married: “I feel privileged for having certain sexual interests that are different from most people’s and for always being able to make them come true. BDSM is very complex, for there are different levels of SM and I’m in an intermediate one… some practices are indigestive for me, like coprophagy, public humiliation, cuts or burning, but as the word goes, “if done with their consent, the problem is theirs”…”
We may suggest that the people that took part in the researched sample, far from representing the totality of individuals with unconventional sexual practices in Brazilian society, feel in tune with their diverse sexual preferences, which are experienced as pleasant, and also feeling privileged for having a “differenced” sexuality from those who see in sex and in conventional roles the only form of expression for love, intimacy and fulfilling their sexual fantasies.
We cannot affirm, by the collected and reported data, that BDSM and Fetish practitioners who took part in this study may be called “paraphilic”. We would rather describe them as aware and well informed practitioners, and conscious of what we consider as variants in the complex adult human sexuality expression.
The use of the Internet is clearly important in the formation of a consensual BDSM subculture in Brazil, not only for communication and obtaining information among similar practitioners, but also as a mechanism of social inclusion, gathering thousands of people who share the same unconventional fantasies and practices. This study was made possible exactly because of the easy access, anonymity and the facility that the Internet provides to its users. Cooper et al (2000, p 6) states that the Internet offers the opportunity for the formation of virtual communities, in which the isolated and discriminated, like, for example, gays and lesbians, may communicate about sexual topics that interest this community.
When they realize the number of “equal” people, the sensation of isolation and of being “different” decreases or disappears and a new sense of “belonging” and identity appears for those who, before the advent of Internet, felt “abnormal” and “out of standard” for not having someone to share their longings and fantasies due to the prejudice and stigma regarding everything that deviates from the “norm” or “standard”.
We may suggest that the Internet may serve as a virtual “life-boat” for, when giving the opportunity to BDSM and Fetish practitioners and other sexual minorities to “come out of the closet”, it provides them an environment with no repression, prejudice, and where everything is possible in the fantasy world, and also giving the opportunity for those fantasies to come out of “virtuality” and be made true in the “real” world. According to Bader (2002, p 259), the question why some people act out their fantasies, while others do not, has no easy answer. In his theoretical perspective, it is easier to understand why someone develops some sexual fantasy or practice, but one can rarely affirm why this person acted it out or simply kept it in the fantasy level.
The world has gone through technological changes that are almost impossible to keep up with in the field of human life conception: the “test-tube” baby and artificial insemination are now current practices, once impossible to be imagined and made true, as is now the possibility of human cloning in laboratories. Novelty is frightening, provokes fears and feelings of unprotection.
But it is undeniable that changes in mentality are on their way, in this new millenium. Judeo-christian tradition, that has shaped the basis of Brazilian society for centuries, shows to be anachronic before the mentioned facts and what is yet to come.
The propagated “naturally heterosexual” animal life, that served as justification for the inprisonment of sexual desire and pleasure by religious institutions, begins to fall down with the latest scientific researches about the animals’s sexual life, which demonstrate that the “practices against nature” are also part of animal sexuality (www.subversions.com/french/pages/science/animals.html).
Where are we going to, since psycho-social, religious and cultural concepts and norms, that once defined the notion of “normality”, no longer apply to the pluralist society that we see? Our traditional sexual ethic, followed for a hundred years, no longer fits socio-cultural changes and the new challenges of the 21st Century. We live in a plural society, in which the most diverse expression of adult human sexuality are becoming visible and want to be accepted, recognized and legitimated. Sexual expressions that demonstrate maturity, respect and awareness among those who practice them. It is worth pointing out that feeling comfortable and in ego-syntonia with their sexual practices may have been the reason that took these individuals to take part in this study. The line that separates consensual BDSM practices and the so-called “perverted” practices is very thin. But is important that one knows how to distinguish one another.
And, based on that distinction, the present study has demonstrated that, in spite of its limited range, it is a human right to be “different” from majority and, consequently, to have that “difference” respected and accepted by all others.
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