The Domly One at It’s Just a Hobby responds to my film review in a thought-provoking post on the Story of O and how it would be portrayed in a way that would stigmatise BDSM if it was made into a film:
Category Archives: Spanking/BDSM
I just found this vampire test online from a truly stupid site that claims vampires exist. (I was looking for BDSM vampirism, which is a kink I discovered I possess the moment after I tried to cut Roland’s penis and drink a little of his blood. Anyway, this site may be ludicrously stupid and medically flawed, but it’s still not as stupid or harmful as the verbal stylings of the likes of Santorum or Rick Perry. So, here is the site’s vampire test and me answering the questions in bold like [this]:
The sole purpose of this page is to help you figure out if you are a real vampire or not. This is to be used with the finding a real vampire page on this site. After all if you don’t recognize yourself as a real vampire then you aren’t a real vampire. All of the traits below are accurate for more than half of all real vampires. All real vampires have at least 85% of them, in other words if at least 85% of them don’t apply to you then you are not a vampire. Assuming that you are a real vampire, the fact that so many of these traits are accurate for you may shock you.
Those are the traits that I am saying are 95% so that I don’t rule any real vampires out that the traits may not be accurate for. If you are convinced that you are a real vampire, yet have few to none of these traits you really need to read up on a term that is known as enabling and stop claiming to be one. You could even seem to have all of them but there is still no guarantee that you are a real vampire.
Copyright 2005 Steve Leighton, copying without permission is forbidden by law, and will result in a DMCAreport being filed against you and sent to your domain provider or to the owner of where ever you posted your copy of this vampire website.
“I didn’t draw blood at first, but I did get an overwhelming feeling”
If you can relate to that quote don’t waste your time reading any farther because you are definitely not a real vampire. You are, on the other hand, a classic case of Reinfeld’s Syndrome.
- 1. Do you have unusually pale skin? You don’t have to be white to be pale. [Yes]If yes then cook up one or two (depending on the size) medium rare steaks (the best way to do this) If, by the time you’re done enjoying the second one, you have a new pinkish color throughout your body that you haven’t had in a while, read no farther; you are a real vampire. Humans can’t digest blood let alone get color from it, real vampires do.
NOTE: The extra work involved in trying to eat medium rare or rare meat can cause a temporary pink color to the skin which is otherwise known as being flushed. Temporarily being flushed is not the color that is being referred to when a vampire gets color from the blood in the steak. It takes a lot less human blood than animal blood to get the same effect but animal blood is way easier to get.) If you were white before and still are you should see a doctor. Odds are you aren’t a real vampire, you’re just malnourished, and they can help.
- Have you ever been told by professionals that you’re lucky you survived an accident with only a few scratches or cuts? [Yes…but so have many people]
- Are you a naturally strong magic/energy user self-taught or self-realized? [????]
- As a kid, were you the strongest, smartest, or quickest kid in the class, and at around 16 years of age maybe all 3? [Yes, so? Lots of kids are top of the class or strong, and I excercised a lot by climbing in parks, walking in the Highlands with my mum, skipping, swimming, climbing trees…]
- Did your dad disappear from your life while you were at a young age? [Yes…but that’s quite common and I’m sure there can’t be THAT many vampires around!]
- (NOTE: 52% of vampires out of a large range of vampires have answered yes to this question. This includes people who believe they are real vampires however may not really be one.) Click for one theory on how this is vampire related: The Truth about the ”Vampire Community”.
- Do people often tell you that you look very young for your age, or that they would have never guessed how old you are? [I look younger now, but used to look older. But my family all look young so it’s simple genetics. Or are we ALL vampires??]
- Are you extremely energetic at night but around the time the sun comes up become extremely tired? [YES, most definetely! I even have to write most of my poetry at night and blog at night, or it wouldn’t be good.]
- Are you a slightly quicker healer than most, if not a much quicker healer? [Dunno. I never let injuries stop me, and don’t fuss ovder cuts so I’ve no idea.]
- Do you have an unusually high tolerance to alcohol and other poisons/toxins? [Alcohol – I can take 11-12 drinks without getting drunk. Poisons – don’t know.]
- Do you tend to switch between very social and antisocial frequently? [No, never. Not even in my teen years. It’s called hormones, being moody or mild bipolar disorder.]
- Do you rarely get sick, or when you get sick does your body recovers quicker than most people? [Yes, most definetly. However, that’s because I excercised a lot as a child/teen and eat a lot of fresh meat and fish. Optimistic people get sick rarely, and I’m extremely optimistic. I also take hair vitamins now.]
- Are your six senses more enhanced than most other peoples, i.e. vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and intuition? [Very much, especially smell and hearing; however my vision is actually not good at all]
- Do you have extremely good vision in the dark? How many times has some one said it’s too dark they can’t see while you were doing something like reading? [Yes, it’s been commented on; and 0 times, it’s not THAT good!]
- Do you tend to NOT be surprised or scared by the typical sudden loud noise in a movie or things like that because you sensed it coming? [Yes; definetly]
- Do you tend to react to things like catching a falling object or other normally unexpected things at an almost psychic speed? (As if you were expecting it to happen)? [debatable]
- Do you tend to get a high from human blood? [Sometimes – it depends it what context. Someone gets a cut? Ewww, gross, don’t get it on my sleeve!! Blood sprays everywhere in a film? Yummy, let me at it!]When drinking someone’s blood do you tend to find yourself being able to do something that they could do (that you couldn’t do) about 2 weeks after drinking it? [How would this be because of the blood? Blood is broken down by the digestive tract, that’s why you probably can’t catch HIV by drinking it! Blood is just red blood cells and plasma, it doesn’t have any magical quality/life force!]
- Are you sensitive to light [yes] or the heat from it? [no, I like heat and easily get cold] (Ranging from getting a bad headache from the glare to burning very easily.)
- If, while your skin is white from lack of enough blood in you, do you bleed quite noticeably less than a person normally should, or more likely not bleed at all? [no]
- Are your nails clear like glass, yet very strong? [no, they actually break easily and so don’t grow super-long without the hair vitamins. Even with the vitamins, they still break easily.]
- Is your bedroom the coldest and darkest room in the house? [yes, so what?]
- According to multiple news articles easily found online, older adults can’t hear this sound. So far I haven’t found someone over 36 who is a non-vamp that can. click to try to hear it. Warning: if you can hear it, it will be loud. (ALWAYS FOLLOW THE WARNINGS ON THIS WEBSITE) My reference: yahoo homepage/news 6-21-06, and testing it on friends . [didn’t try this]
- A legitimate Vampire is able to safely digest more than 600% of the daily recommended amount of iron (RDA is 18mg. 600% of RDA is 108mg) when in the form of blood. (ALWAYS READ THE WARNINGS ON THIS SITE!)
- How often do you look at the person that almost bumped (or bumped) into you and think “you idiot” or “people are so stupid” because they didn’t know you were only a couple feet away from them, because you always know when someone is that close to you? (Which, when you think about it, you only know because you can sense when someone is that close to you). [Yes, I can ‘sense’ people near me, but in my experience, most people can. And most people including me can sense someone staring at them.]
Do you always feel a strong urge to travel? [YESS!! Constantly, every day.]
- How often does something smell so strong that you can literally taste it, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing? (NOTE: When most people say it smells so strong that they can taste it they only say it as a figure of speech. And the people that agree with you when you say it rarely can taste it. Think I’m wrong? Ask them yourself!) [All the time, which is normal as the nose and mouth are connected and, if you hold your nose, you can’t tell the difference between chocolate and coffee.]
Can you hear a whisper from across a room? [sometimes; so can everyone]
- Is there a dark colored ring around the iris (color part) of your eyes? All real vampires have this, however not everyone that has it is a real vampire. [dunno]
- Is there a noticeably different color surrounding the pupil? (Inner part of the color of your eyes.) [dunno]
Do the words “come on outside, it’s a nice bright sunny day, and there’s a lot of people out,” seem more like a bad thing than a good thing to you, as opposed to the guy who said it to you, saying it with a big happy smile? [No, I love sunny days and lots of people having fun! That’s a symptom of depression, or of being an emo or a goth.]
- Regardless of how normal you may consider yourself to be, do you tend to meet a lot of weird people that you quite often hit it off with relatively frequently? (Keep in mind, normal is just a politically correct term for people that have no creativity. And definitely is NOT something to be proud of calling yourself). [I’m not normal, most people aren’t. There’s a lot of weirdness beneath everybody’s surface.]
- Do you have a predator instinct that is so strong that it makes most people seem to act more like herbivores than the omnivores they consider themselves to be? [dunno]
Does sunlight/bright light in general hurt your eyes and head, in most cases to the point of a migraine? (But you can still go out in it). See point 17. [No]
Do electrical appliances generally tend to hate you? (Watches mess up often, computers malfunction for no reason, etc). [Yes, consistently]
- Are your dreams often extremely vivid and sometimes result in cases of déjàvu? [Very frequently]
Do people often find you very empathetic to how they feel? [No. Especially if they’re feeling sad. I can tell if someone is feeling sad, but I can’t always tell why, especially if I consider it to be attention-whoring, being oversensitive or immature, etc.]
Do people usually either trust you completely or not trust you at all? [No. It’s usually in-between].
When you will things to happen do they usually happen? [Yes.]
- Does your mood have an obvious effect on the mood of others around you? Only count this if it happens to the people that can’t see you. (Especially on babies and animals like cats). [dunno]
Click Here To Find Places Where You Can Meet Others Like You. For those of you who want to try to feel important by poking holes in this list Read this first and don’t waste your breath trying, because I know I’m right. This list only applies to vampires that need blood aka the only real kind of vampire, and your belief isn’t required nor do I care if you disagree with me. For those that wonder how I know I’m a vampire, or are asking themself who is this guy to judge me, this is how I know that I am a vampire.
Do you really need me to ask you more of these questions? All of these can be passed off as just a coincidence, although how many coincidences can happen at the same time for the same person? Synchronicity a word coined by DR. Carl Jung, which basically states that it is not just a mere coincidence for something like that to happen.
Yes all of these can be explained but for all of them to happen to one person, as well as the fact that they are all vampiric traits should make you wonder. Not to mention, if you only knew how many people that think they are vampires, give me hell because they don’t have any of these traits. Those people really should learn about something known as enabling and not complain to me about it. You would really think twice on the fact that as a vampire, you take these for granted. The only reason why I haven’t listed all the people and their statements on it is because regardless of what they think or tell me I really don’t care. Real vampires have had awakenings because of this page and wannabe vampires have bitched and complained to me about this page. All in all it is helping vampires and that is all that matters to me.
I dunno if I got 85%. I think this guy has stumbled on a medical condition where many individuals find that all of these traits are linked. I share quite a lot of these traits too; I think it is a medical or biological condition, or natural human variation. The traits are connected – having more energy at night of course relates to better night vision, which is connected to superior five senses, including sensing people standing behind you. This could be due to an evolutionary advantage of having some people awake at night to look out for predators. I frequently stay up all night when it’s not term time, going to sleep at 5am or 6am. This is the most natural sleep pattern for me. I’m also more creative/awake at night. All my blog posts have been posted between midnight and 5am. However I don’t think it’s because I am a vampire, it’s just natural human variation, or a possible undiscovered medical condition.
Gagnon and Simon coined the term sexual script to describe the norms of sexual interaction and maintenance of relationships specific to each gender. While men are encouraged to enhance their skills via multi-partner experience, women are compelled to avoid this lest they are labelled promiscuous (Linsey 2011, Peplan and Hammen 1977; Radlove 1983). As a result of these gender-differentiated scripts in which the male is honoured and permitted to express his sexuality while the female’s sexuality is degraded, denied and ultimately forbidden to her, “Women may perceive themselves as sex objects, not sex actors” (Phelps 1979). Perhaps the adventurousness of s/m is a route to becoming a ‘sexual actor’.
The double standard necessitated a virgin/whore dichotomy which still exists in some form today whereby women’s choices are constrained because men wanted to marry sexually repressed women but sleep with less repressed women (Frith 1976:66; Lees 1983:51; Whyte 1943) which forced girls to accept the repression and monogamous submission.(Willis 1978:45; Wilson 1978:72). Boys demonized ‘sluts’ Lees 1983:51; Wilson 1978:71; Whitehead 1976:179).
The double standard stems from a sexist and biological-determinist Freudian view of human sexuality. Dinnerstein concludes that “What the double standard genuinely hurts in women is…self respect…” which ultimately leads to the crippling of “human pride” (Dinnerstein in Williams and Stein 2002). Dinnerstein’s article is of particular relevance to the issue of s/m as the typical sm-er is white and middle-class.
However sometimes women themselves may demonise and police their sisters. Wilson (1978) claimed that women policed the sex codes themselves, but only within the framework policed by men. A recent example of this occurring in the political sphere is Nadine Dorries MP’s Private Members Bill (due for a second reading in January 2012) to teach compulsory abstinence education in all schools to female pupils but not male pupils. By placing the blame for rape, intercourse and pregnancy on women and denying their sexual agency as well as their right to have sex, Dorries is perpetuating the double standard. Recent examples of this occurring in the social sphere are widespread and a part of our daily lives; gossip, bullying, the use of words such as ‘slut’or ‘tart’ occurs in high schools and offices on a daily basis. Since these women are enforcing the double standard, I will refer to them as enforcers to distinguish them from ‘patriarchal’ sexual repression.
The double standard is harmful to women (Dinnerstein 2002; Heidensohn 1996).The creation of the double standard in its contemporary form is partly due to a nineteenth-century confusion of sex and morality. At first glance this appears nonsensical, as morality and sexual behaviour are two radically different entities, and are also different fields of academic study. However this idea of confusing the two is not as controversial as it seems – after all, no reasonable individual would assert that rape or paedophilia are moral or ethical – ample evidence that, as a society, we do apply moral standards to sexual behaviour. The male-dominated Victorian society enlarged this moral distinction between sex and rape by making sexual repression synonymous with morality. The relevant issue here is that women were – and, to a lesser extent, are – indoctrinated into confusing morality/ethics with sex; and ultimately conditioned into believing sexual repression is ethical and sexual exploration unethical. Thus they are made complicit in their own sexual oppression; this is especially so in the case of enforcers.
This begs the question of whether female sm-ers are acting as if ethics and/or human rights have prevailed over sexual repression, or whether they have successfully escaped internalising the double standard and therefore are not sexually repressed; having thoughts which are pure, free from the taint of repression, are they free to explore s/m? My research has proved inconclusive on this point. Whichever it is, women who do s/m are more likely to be challenging gender than doing gender, as s/m is sexual exploration – precisely what patriarchal society has forbidden them. As middle-class women are less constrained with gender roles and, arguably, the double standard attached to gender roles than working-class women, they may feel free to do s/m which may be one of the reasons why s/m is a predominantly middle-class crime. This is reminiscent of Adler’s theory that emancipation causes crime, and suggests that class is a factor in s/m.
Mocking sexism through s/m
Millet (1970) rejected the biological reductionist theorists and argued that women are forced to accept unequal gender roles, with the family fostering patriarchy in society. One woman’s re-enactment of sexism as an s/m scene vented her anger at her personal experiences of sexism (Easton 2007:224). Therefore it appears that s/m is not only a vehicle to challenge oppression, but also a means of psychologically dealing with the injustice by experiencing the sexism through a narrative or drama. S/m may also resolve inner conflicts caused by the conflict between indoctrination of the code of sexual repression and the individual’s natural biological sex drive and/or sexually adventurous personality. Although femsubs could be construed as expressing passivity and obedience to patriarchal gender relations, as discussed above middle-class women are unlikely to subscribe to such notions and therefore it is probable that femsubs are mocking traditional gender roles, an opinion expressed in Califia (2002) and Thompson (1994); this is also similar to Weait’s (2006) assertion that s/m mocks the State and the legal system, which historically used torture to enforce laws.
The European Court of Human Rights has been instrumental in upholding fundamental rights and in the process has generated a large body of case law. In accordance with common principles of law, these judgements may be relied upon in future cases.
However, blindly following this principle to the extent of replicating mistakes or wrong judgements by the ECHR does not seem to be a sensible or justifiable path. The focus of this essay will be on one such particular judgement; the controversial case of Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom; and I aim to show that the case was wrongly decided and should not be followed or considered by the European Court of Human Rights in any future cases. It is not my aim to discuss in-depth the ramifications of this decision for UK public law and criminal law, nor consider questions of ethics. Instead, the reasoning of the judgement will be subjected to scrutiny and considered from a practical perspective.
Article 8 of the ECHR
Article 8 states:
“1) Everyone is entitled to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of…public safety…the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health and morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Art 8(1) simply states the right, while 8(2) then provides limitations for the right. However, the interference is subject to a two-prong test: it must be “in accordance with the law” and also “necessary in a democratic society.” Therefore, in order to show that the European Court of Human Rights decision in the case of Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom was wrong, it needs to be shown that the interference was either 1)not necessary in a democratic society or 2) not in accordance with law. As it was undisputed by both parties that the criminal proceedings constituted interference by a public authority and that it was in accordance with law, the focus of this essay will be on the question of whether the interference was necessary in a democratic society.
The Facts…or, The Road to the ECHR
In 1978, a group of homosexual friends started meeting, in twos and threes, to have sex. Over the years they began to experiment with sadomasochism. In 1987, the police charged the friends under sections 20 and 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act: “the infliction of actual bodily harm and wounds” for one-off offences such as hitting each other with a ruler, caning, and dripping ‘hot’ wax on each other that had taken place over a ten-year period.
The trial judge, Judge Rant, ruled that consent was not a defence to assault. They were convicted on 19th December 1990; The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal and then confirmed by a split (three to two) decision by the House of Lords in 1992.
Mr Laskey, Mr. Jaggard and Mr Brown applied to the European Court of Human Rights. They complained that their convictions were an unlawful interference with their right to respect for their private life. .
The European Court of Human Rights held that there had been no breach of Article 8. It was held that the provisions of Art 8(2) were satisfied by the reasons given by the national authorities, for three reasons:
(1) The applicants’ sadomasochistic activities caused a “significant degree of injury”
(2) Sadomasochism is potentially harmful, so can be prosecuted even if no harm occurs
(3) The applicants were not singled out because of bias against homosexuals
If it can be shown that the three reasons given by the court for holding that Art 8(2) was satisfied were wrong – (that the applicants’ activities did not cause significant injury, that sadomasochism is not potentially harmful, and that the Court did not have enough information/evidence to decide that the applicants were not singled out due to bias against homosexuality)- then it shall be proved that Article 8(2) was not satisfied. This would mean that there had been a breach of Article 8 (and it would not be necessary to apply the proportionality test, which is only applied if a legitimate aim can be found). Since the judgement holds that there has not been a breach of Article 8, the judgement would be wrong, meaning that this case was wrongly decided, and therefore should not be considered as precedent by the ECJ in future cases. It is my aim to accomplish the above in this essay. Firstly, we will examine the assertion that the applicants’ activities caused a significant degree of injury.
(1) Injury in the First Degree
The Court distinguished the case from Norris v Ireland and Dudgeon v Ireland, two cases which held that criminalising homosexuality breached Article 8, on the basis that the significant degree of injury or wounding itself was the feature that distinguished the applicants’ case. The Court stated that the significant degree of injury “in itself suffices to distinguish the present case.”
From this, two facts are apparent: firstly, the Court considered that the applicants’ activities involved a significant degree of injury or wounding, and secondly it is only because the activities involved a significant degree of injury or wounding that the case was able to be distinguished, and thus the applicants could not rely on those precedents to have their right to private life protected.
However, if it can be argued that a significant degree of injury did not occur, it will be proved that the applicants should have been permitted to rely on the precedents.
The fact that none of the applicants over the ten year period even needed to visit a G.P. should have been enough evidence that a significant degree of injury or wounding did not occur. Arguably, the Court may be said to have fabricated the term “significant degree of injury or wounding” (which has no legal meaning) to stop the applicants relying on the precedents which could have resulted in the opposite judgement being reached.
Piercing the Body Beautiful
Activities such as tattooing, body piercing and body modification were legalised in the United Kingdom at the time of the conviction, the appeals and the ECHR judgement. These activities continue to be legalised in the United Kingdom and other EU member states such as The Netherlands, Germany and France. To elaborate, “body modification” is an umbrella term for various “mods” including bifurcation of the tongue and the insertion of silicone into a pocket created in the skin.
Likewise, piercing studios in the vast majority of British towns offer microdermal implants, which are permanent piercings created by inserting a metal plate called a microdermal anchor into a pocket cut into the wearer’s skin. If the piercing is successful, it can never be removed unless it is cut out from the skin by a doctor, which will leave permanent scarring. It is worth noting that permanent scarring did not occur in the applicants’ case.
Why then are the above more ‘violent’ and public practices legalised by UK law, but less ‘violent’ and private sadomasochism is allowed by the Court to be criminalised by UK law? This appears to be illogical. If the Court’s reasoning is imposed on the body modification/piercing/tattoo industry, (i.e. that a “significant degree of injury” has occurred even if medical attention is not required) then these industries stand guilty of having committed a significant degree of injury on every person who is able to wear earrings that do not clip on. The Court erred in not considering the legality of these industries. Additionally, the very fact that these industries are found guilty of wounding when the Court’s argument is applied shows that the argument is flawed.
Furthermore, the Court’s judgement did not disagree with the United Kingdom’s assertion that the applicants’ activities amounted to “genital torture” and holding that Art 8 had been breached would be tantamount to imposing on the contracting parties “an obligation to tolerate acts of torture.” However, the United Kingdom legalises genital piercing. It seems inconsistent for the Court to allow a member state to imprison individuals for hitting a consenting partner’s genital region with a ruler while granting licences to other individuals to ensure that the area is permanently disfigured by the piercing hole.
These activities are far more extreme and dangerous than any act that the applicants performed. But the defence of consent is available to a tattooist; more than that, consent is presumed because tattooing cannot be prosecuted under UK law. The consent defence is written into the statutes that regulate licensing; or rather, consent is presumed by the statutes. If the legal presumption of consent is available to a tattooist who commits a significant degree of injury, it makes no sense for the ECHR to uphold UK law which holds that the defence of consent is not available to a person who likewise commits a significant degree of injury.
The Problem of R v Wilson
A further inconsistency arises in the case of R v Wilson  where the defence of consent was made available by the UK courts to a man who cut his initials into his wife’s skin, resulting in an infection; an act far more ‘violent’ than anything performed by the applicants. Since the Court’s argument that a significant degree of injury or wounding occurs even if a visit to the G.P. is unnecessary, then the harm caused in Wilson, which required medical treatment, must be greater than a significant degree of injury or wounding. The UK court used the analogy of tattooing to decide that the state cannot interfere in individuals’ private lives. This precedent overturns the ECHR’s ‘significant degree of injury’ distinction.
The ECHR claimed in their third reason (the issue of bias against homosexuals, an argument that revolved around Wilson) that this case was not similar to the present case. However, if R v Wilson is applied to the first reason (significant degree of injury), it is obvious that (at the very least) a significant degree of injury or wounding occurred; that the activity was held to be analogous to tattooing; that the defence of consent was allowed; and, finally, it was held that “it is not the role of the courts” to interfere in the private life of a couple. If considered with reference to the Court’s significant injury argument, R v Wilson acts as a non-binding precedent, negating the significant injury argument and promoting the opposite conclusion that injury does not distinguish a case from other cases where right to respect for private life was protected.
R v Wilson also proves that UK law does not criminalise ‘violent’ acts if consensual and carried out in private. This negates the UK’s argument that the state is entitled to prosecute kinky people, as the UK’s argument was based on the premise that sadomasochism was illegal in the UK, but R v Wilson confirmed that some SM acts such as branding are not illegal in the UK. One could argue that the premise was flawed as it assumed that all SM acts were illegal. Since the premise and therefore the argument were flawed, arguably the ECHR should not have accepted the UK’s argument in the judgement.
The Problem of Ambiguity
The United Kingdom argued that the injuries caused were not “of a trifling or transient nature” and used this view to justify state interference with the applicants’ Art 8 right and non-entitlement of SM couples to a consent defence. This view was upheld by the Court in paragraph 45 of the judgement, without definition of the meaning of the terms “transient” or “trifling” in this context. However, since the applicants did not require medical treatment, this suggests that the ‘injuries’ were of transient and trifling nature in the ordinary sense of the terms. Additionally, it is not clear if this is a two-prong test requiring injuries to be both transient and trifling in order for state interference not to be justified, or whether only one term need be satisfied.
It is also not clear how this test interacts with the “significant degree of injury or wounding” test, as the judgement refers to “a significant degree of injury or wounding which could not be characterised as trifling or transient”, effectively making the two tests interact. Likewise, the difference between significant injury and wounding, or even what amounts to a “significant degree” of injury is not stated. It is also unclear whether this “injury” test is a two-prong test or not. These ambiguities might cause problems or confusion if the ECJ was to adopt this case as binding precedent or consider/be influenced by this case in future judgements.
The Unknown Crime
Another practical problem with allowing the UK to criminalise sadomasochism arises when one considers the fact that sadomasochistic pornographic material was legalised, and, significantly, implements designed for sadomasochistic play were legally sold for this purpose in high-street stores such as Ann Summers and other licensed sex shops. Chain bookstores such as Waterstones sold sadomasochistic erotic fiction such as that published by Nexus. Sadomasochism legally appeared in mainstream films such as 9 1/2 Weeks; the BBC adaptation of Tom Sharpe‘s novel Blott on the Landscape was criticised by Mary Whitehouse due to a scene that depicted the caning of a man who was tied to a bed. The UK has continued to permit SM references in the media up to the present day; the sitcom Coming of Age, usually broadcast on the major, mainstream channel BBC3, includes two teenage characters in an SM relationship. SM acts were performed on-screen in one episode.
When the Court of Appeal reduced the prison sentences for the reason that the applicants had not known they were committing crimes, Lord Lane commented that a reduction would not be available in future cases, as the post R v Brown public should now be expected to know that sadomasochism was a crime. However, it is not clear that individuals outside the legal profession are, even now, aware that their actions in the privacy of their bedrooms may be criminal. It is a long-standing principle in the EU member states that the law must be clear and accessible; this principle can be seen in Art 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Unfortunately, it appears that many people may have committed crimes multiple times without ever realising it, such as the couple in R v Wilson; although their case had a happier ending, they did not expect to end up in court in the first place. The problem is compounded by the legality of SM equipment, clothing and pornography; how many people are aware that buying an implement from Ann Summers is legal but using it could result in imprisonment?
Recently, a UK documentary titled Kinky and Proud was aired on a major UK network; the individuals featured were filmed performing sadomasochistic activities in the UK. It is debatable whether they would have agreed to be featured in the documentary if they had understood that they were committing crimes on national television and that the film could have been admitted as evidence in a criminal trial against them. Likewise, it is probable that only a minority of viewers understood that it was legal for them to watch the broadcast but criminal to copy what they saw. Another problem is that the illegality of sadomasochism is not covered by the National Curriculum in sex education courses.
The Unknown Vendetta
The ECHR accepted the UK’s argument that states are entitled to criminalise sadomasochism to protect the public, but the above facts show that the UK was not taking the criminalising of SM seriously; everything facilitating, popularising, depicting or de-stigmatising SM was legal; only the act itself was now criminal. If the government was serious about criminalising such activities, it is unlikely that such significant oversights would have been made. Criminalising the sale of SM equipment such as whips, restraints, paddles etc would have reduced the ability of individuals to engage in sadomasochism. Illegalising SM pornographic material and SM scenes in fiction and films would reduce the popularity and acceptability of sadomasochism.
The Court should not have accepted the arguments of the United Kingdom on the grounds that criminalising SM would breach long-held EU principles regarding the clarity and accessibility of the law, and for protection of EU citizens against unknowingly committing crimes and being imprisoned.
The Court should also have rejected the United Kingdom’s argument on the ground that the United Kingdom was not taking serious preventative measures against sadomasochism, so the UK could not base their argument on the assumption or premise that the UK was trying to prevent sadomasochism. Furthermore, since the UK was not trying to prevent SM, the reasoning that criminalising SM was necessary in order for the UK to prevent SM is illogical.
The Court should likewise have rejected the reasons given by the United Kingdom on the ground that it makes no legal sense or common sense to criminalise SM while purchasing SM equipment, pornography and fiction is legal and extremely accessible (i.e. can be bought on the high street).
(2) The Cult of Violence
The second reason in the judgement given by the European Court Of Human Rights was the rejection of the applicants’ submission that they should not have been prosecuted as the ‘injuries’ caused did not require medical treatment. The submission was not accepted on the grounds that “in deciding whether or not to prosecute, the state authorities were entitled to have regard not only to the actual seriousness of the harm caused…but also…to the potential for harm inherent in the acts in question [emphasis mine].” In other words, sadomasochism is likely to cause harm and due to this fact, states have the right to criminalise it.
The Court gave no evidence for this assertion in the judgement, apart from stating “In this respect it is recalled that the activities were considered by Lord Templeman to be ‘unpredictably dangerous‘.” Apparently, if Lord Templeman says so, then it must be so. The Court was wrong to assume that SM is likely to be harmful without providing any evidence for this opinion. Therefore, it is the Court’s definition of sadomasochism as a violent form of gratification that will now be challenged, as if it can be proved that SM is not likely to cause harm, then the Court’s second justification will fall.
Pleasure from Pain: an Evil Thing or, Kinky People: Psychopathic Monsters
The judgement of the European Court of Human Rights judgement confused criminally dangerous, psychopathic sadists with sadomasochists, believing both to be one and the same thing. First, we will briefly look at those texts which back up the ECHR’s sadist-sadomasochism confusion, then explore how other authors have dismissed these views.
Robert Eisler promoted this confusion in his lecture delivered at a meeting of the Royal Society of Medicineand subsequently in his book Man Into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochim and Lycanthropy (1951). Eisler claimed “the sadist, including the murderer of the Neville Heath type, is…a-social…able to enjoy the most horrible sufferings inflicted upon others.”
This misunderstanding results from the misinterpretation of the work of early psychoanalysts; ironically, at the turn of the 20th Century a clear distinction was drawn between sadists and sadomasochists. Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) was clear that sadomasochism did not need to involve hurting others.
The Seven Signs
More recently, forensic psychologist Park Elliot Dietz reasoned that there are seven common features in sadists’ behaviour that distinguishes them from sadomasochists.
The sadists studied by Dietz meticulously planned their horrific crimes, stalking their victims before abducting them. For sadomasochists, the process of dating and finding a willing partner can be an enjoyable emotional journey. The second difference can be seen in the contrasting aims of these two groups. Sadistic criminals torture innocent victims to arouse themselves. In contrast, sadomasochists are concerned with arousing their partners and see no point in sadomasochistic activity if their willing partner is not entertained. A good example of this comes from Dale Patrias’ 1978 study, where a forty-year-old female masochist explained: “the man was really willing…but he thought it was kind of silly…he would have done it but he wouldn’t have received any enjoyment of it whatsoever. So I told him to forget all about it.”
The third distinction is that sadists are emotionally detached from their victims’ suffering, while sadomasochists receive pleasure from their play.The fourth contrast is less a psychological discovery than simple common sense: the injuries inflicted by the sadists in Dietz’s study group were designed to cause serious permanent harm or mutilation; they all brutally murdered their victims. Sadomasochists’ symbolic acts are designed to skilfully enhance arousal. Fifthly, the sadists’ most popular way of committing murder was by strangling, an act that does not feature in sadomasochism, which is concerned with the erogenous zones. Strangulation is also life-threatening, a direct contrast to SM activities, which are not.
Sixthly, a significant proportion of the study group had committed previous sexual assaults, including incest. The seventh difference: unlike many sadomasochists, sadists do not have a tendency to switch roles and take pleasure in being the victim.
The Wolf Rampant
The European Court of Human Rights assumed that masochists are misguided, vulnerable individuals being used by sadists. In fact, the sadist and the masochist are one and the same person.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), recorded the case study of a wealthy young man, whom he dubbed ‘the Wolfman’. Freud admitted that the Wolfman exhibited both sadistic and masochistic desires from childhood and decided that this was due to “contradictory pairs of partial drives”. Freud suggested that sadism can be turned on oneself to become masochism. However, if one remains unconvinced by Freud’s theories, then one must re-interpret Freud’s Wolfman case study and accept that the Wolfman is evidence that sadism and masochism appear in the same individual.
A contemporary of Freud, Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) conducted an examination of his own and Krafft-Ebing’s case studies which led him to conclude that “there is no real line of demarcation” between sadists and masochists, and even de Sade was not a pure sadist, considering his masochistic activities. Ellis also noted that sadomasochists always displayed the ability to switch between the role of the sadist and that of the masochist. This conclusion was accepted by the theorists of the time and even sparked a debate over terminology to describe the dual tendency. It is unfortunate that the true situation was recognised by professionals in the post-Victorian period, but the ECHR has yet to catch up.
.Iwan Bloch, (1872-1922) a Berlin physician who invented sexology was also convinced that “sadism and masochism may often appear in the same person; they are only the active and passive form respectively of the algolagnia which lies at the basis of both of them.”
Sexologists Charles Moser and Eugene E. Levitt confirmed in 1987 that many of their study participants regularly switched roles, depending upon particular partners or along gender lines, and most had tried both roles.
The Pity of Strangers
It is not completely surprising that the ECHR made the judgement it did, considering that sadomasochism has been stigmatised as the product of trauma and dysfunction, and sadomasochists regarded as problem people with psychological or emotional troubles.
Sigmund Freud promoted the view that sadomasochism is a perversion which arises from childhood trauma in his works Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1905), A Child Is Being Beaten (1919) and The Economic Problem in Masochism (1924). Freud believed that sadomasochists had been threatened with castration as children. All he achieved was the stigmatisation of sadomasochism at the very time others such as Ellis and Bloch were trying to make society come to terms with itself.
Robert Eisler described the masochist as “a person of subnormal emotional sensitivity” and more recently, Mollinger (1982) claimed that sadomasochism was a consequence of violent or neglectful parents, echoing Bernard Berliner (1958) who was convinced that the inclination was a pathological way of loving an abusive parent.
However, the truth is now visible. Anthropologist Paul Gebhard pointed to the widespread nature of sadomasochism in his 1968 essay Fetishism and Sadomasochism, and rejected the idea that sadomasochism is a pathology. Andreas Spengler’s 1977 study in Germany confirmed that the only feature that sadomasochists had in common was a high level of education, living and social status. His study also found that 90% of sadomasochists had never considered visiting a psychoanalyst; the 10% who had negative feelings towards their desires had not integrated into Germany’s extensive sadomasochistic subculture, so their problems may have stemmed from isolation or a refusal to accept their SM desires. Spengler’s study proves that sadomasochism is not a psychological problem as Freud and others believed.
Pleasure not Pain
Ellis believed that far from simply inflicting pain, the sadists were carefully responding to the masochists’ desires, and this was not felt as pain. The essence of sadomasochism was the overwhelming of the senses, which he described as “the joy of emotional intoxication.
Gilles Deleuze claimed “In sadism no less than in masochism, there is no direct relation to pain: pain should be regarded as an effect only” and more recently Anita Phillips criticized what she refers to as “the utterly mistaken belief that masochists enjoy and absorb violence.”
Sexologists Charles Moser and Eugene Levitt confirmed in 1987 that not all SM experiences involved pain; exposure games, obedience to verbal commands and name-calling were more common. Pain was only appropriate in certain situations and was not felt as pain.
Kamel toured the gay leather bars in Europe, posing as a potential participant. He found that most SM equipment used by homosexual sadomasochists, such as whips, were used only as symbols of the dominant’s role. The most common forms of sadomasochism were simply verbal abuse and obedience to commands.
Dale Patrias (1978) interviewed sadomasochists and discovered that sadomasochism was a game; the central factor was not pain, but instead the fiction of domination and submission. Most of the interviewees were not interested in pain and claimed that the purpose of the activities was pleasurable sensations, not the infliction of pain. He also found that the participants enjoyed high educational and income levels, and 40% regularly switched roles. The most common forms of SM were spanking, bondage, and wearing fetish clothing – hardly the nightmare image proposed by the ECHR judgement.
From the above data, two conclusions may be drawn: firstly that ‘pain’ is felt as pleasure, and secondly that ‘pain’ is not a central feature of sadomasochism and is not even present in most sadomasochistic activities. The Court did not even consider in its judgement that ‘pain’ is only one aspect of SM activity; as discussed above, the domination-submission roles are far more important, and it is from these roles that all SM activity, including the infliction of ‘pain’ stems. The Court also failed to note other SM activities such as enemas, cross-dressing, babying, use of nappies, scat, humiliation, exhibitionism, diaper discipline and desperation. Moser and Levitt’s 1987 survey listed even more activities, e.g. ice cubes, blindfolds and use of handcuffs. Sadomasochism appears to include much more than simply ‘pain’.
Lord Templeman stated in the House of Lords judgement that “Society is entitled and bound to protect itself against a cult of violence.” Weinberg, Faulk, Lee and Kamel conducted a seven-year study in America. They found that the infliction of actual injury was very rare, as the sadomasochistic subculture enforced strict rules and norms. The SM community had developed its own beliefs, language and techniques to ensure the safety of its members; these norms were promoted by the community’s organisations and publications. New members were taught safety techniques at initiation meetings; the resident ’doms’ (sadists) at the SM Club Doma in the Netherlands will train anyone interested in safety and arousal enhancement skills. When acts such as caning were used, the sadist was expected to have developed the skills necessary to effect excitation transfer and make the experience pleasurable, while each masochist had a pain threshold or ‘limit‘, beyond which the act would fail to be experienced as pleasurable. SM experiences, known as ’scenes’, would gradually approach the ’limit’ so that the acts never became painful. Experienced sadists could tell when a masochist’s limit was being approached, and the less experienced would make use of stop-words or signals. Individual sadomasochists tended to agree on the roles, equipment and clothing of the scene beforehand and anyone who went beyond the level of ‘pain’ that had been agreed to would be ostracised by the SM community. Thus it is obvious that due to these precautions there is not a great likelihood for harm inherent in sadomasochism.
Intellectualising Instinct: the call of the fantasy world
Far from being obsessed with pain, sadomasochists use make-believe, sometimes entire playscripts, to intellectualise our basic urges. They make use of stereotypical situations and cultural symbolism; while acting out a ‘scene’ they may pretend that an act, e.g. posing, is humiliating in accordance with moralists’ ideology, when in fact they do not consider posing to be humiliating. This ability to temporarily adopt their opponents’ beliefs proves that sadomasochism may be compared to a play or a film; just as the audience pretends that some of the characters in Avatar died, they are able to enjoy the film because they know that the actors did not really die. The same audience would be traumatised by watching a real violent death. Similarly, sadomasochists do not really get hurt or mentally submit to each other, they only play at it, and would be horrified by real submission or violence. Another comparison may be made to young children’s ‘bang-bang, shoot you dead’ shooting games, where they play at being gangsters. It would be ludicrous to suggest that these children will grow up to be serial murderers, and it would be insane to suggest that they would enjoy a repeat of the Dunblane killings. However, this is exactly what the European Court of Human Rights has suggested about sadomasochists. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whom masochism is named after, wrote a famous sadomasochistic novel, ‘Venus in Furs.’ In the novel, the masochistic main character claims “I am a supersensualist; with me everything takes root in the imagination.” This is further proof of the centrality of fantasy in sadomasochism, and that SM ‘scenes’ are enactments of that fantasy.
(3) Similar Facts?
The applicants claimed that the state authorities had been biased against homosexuality, and offered the similar facts of R v Wilson as evidence; the Court decided that the facts of R v Wilson were not similar to the applicants’ case and therefore the state authorities were not biased. It follows that all we have to do to illustrate that the Court’s third reason is flawed is to show that the facts in R v Wilson were indeed similar.
The facts of R v Wilson are that an individual branded his initials into a consenting partner’s buttocks which resulted in the wound requiring medical treatment. The facts of the present case are that these individuals hit consenting partners with rulers and canes, which did not require medical treatment. Both cases constituted assault. The only difference is that in R v Wilson the injury inflicted was more severe and required treatment. The Court of Appeal distinguished Wilson from R v Brown because the branding in Wilson was not inflicted for the purpose of gratification, as in the present case; however the ECHR did not argue this point, nor any other point, so cannot be presumed to have distinguished Wilson on this ground. Even supposing if the ECHR had used this reasoning, it seems unjustified to distinguish a case just because the purpose of the acts differed, especially since the act in Wilson was more serious. Therefore, it appears that the two cases were similar and as the Court offered no reasons as to why they considered the facts of Wilson to be dissimilar from the present case, they have provided no argument to engage with. As we do not have the Court’s argument, the only information available points to the two cases being similar; therefore I can come to no other conclusion than that R v Wilson was similar in its facts to the applicants’ case. Therefore the Court should not have rejected the claim of bias against homosexuality, as their only justification for doing so was that R v Wilson could be distinguished.
In the Introduction, I proposed that the European Court of Human Rights should not be influenced by the case of Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom, as this case was wrongly decided. In order to prove that the judgement was wrong, the three reasons for deciding that Article 8 had not been breached would have to be proved wrong.
The first reason (that the applicants had inflicted significant injury) was shown to be wrong by the analogy of body modification, the inconsistency of the ‘significant injury’ argument with R v Wilson, the problem of ambiguity, the problem of clarity of the law and the reasons why the Court should not have accepted the United Kingdom’s argument.
The second reason (that sadomasochism is inherently violent) was shown to be wrong by revealing that this reason was based on the Court’s misunderstanding of the nature of sadomasochism, by showing that sadomasochism is not likely to cause violence due to sadomasochists’ concern with safety, that sadists are not violently using masochists, the fact that violence is only a small feature of sadomasochism and the pain is actually felt as pleasure.
The third reason (that the facts of R v Wilson were not similar to the present case) has been shown to be wrong as the facts were indeed similar and the Court did not state any justification for believing they were not.
The three reasons for the judgement have been shown to be flawed. Therefore, the case of Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom has been proved to have been wrongly decided and thus should not influence, or act as precedent for, the future decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
Betten, Lammy and Grief, Nicholas, EU Law and Human Rights, Addison Wesley Longman, England, 1998
Deleuze, Gilles and Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von, Masochism, Urzone Inc. New York, 1989
Eisler, Robert (1951) Man Into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and Lycanthropy, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London
Foster, Nigel (2010) EU Treaties and Legislation, 21st Edition, Blackstone, New York
Freud, Sigmund, Totem and Taboo, Routledge Classics, Oxon, 2009
Freud, Sigmund, The Wolf Man, Penguin Books, 2010
Merrills, J.G. and Robertson, A.H., Human Rights in Europe 4th Ed. , Manchester University Press, UK, 2001
Ovey, Clare and White, Robin C.A. The European Convention on Human Rights 4th Ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2006
Phillips, Anita, A Defence of Masochism, Faber and Faber Ltd, England, 1998
Thomas, Neil, and Saux, Francois Unity and Difference in European Cultures, University of Durham Press, UK, 1998
Thompson, Bill (1994) Sadomasochism, Cassell, London
Steyger, Ellis, National Traditions and European Community Law, Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd, UK, 1997
List of Cases
Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom 109/1995/615/703-705
R v Wilson  3 WLR 125
A.D.T. v United Kingdom
R v Brown
Dudgeon v UK 23 Sep 1981
 The European Convention on Human Rights 4th Ed by Clare Ovey and Robin CA White p218
 Ibid p232
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom109/1995/615/703-705 para 35
 Sadomasochism by Bill Thompson p17
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom para 8
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom para 51
 Ibid para 48
 Ibid para 45
 Ibid para 46
 Ibid para 47
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom 109/1995/615/703-705 para 45
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom 109/1995/615/703-705 para 40
 R v Wilson  3 WLR 125
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom 109/1995/615/703-705 para 40
 Sadmasochism by Bill Thompson p 69
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom 109/1995/615/703-705 para46
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom para46
 per Lord Templeman in R v Brown  2 All England Law Reports 75
 Man into Wolf: an Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism and Lycanthropy by Robert Eisler p 11
 Sadomasochism by Bill Thompson p 111
 Sadomasochism by Bill Thompson p144
 Ibid p 111
 Ibid p 112
 The Wolfman by Sigmund Freud, p25
 The Wolfman by Sigmund Freud, p24
 Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of sex, quoted in Sadomasochism by Bill Thompson p 31
 Iwan Bloch, quoted in Sadomasochism by Bill Thompson p 38
 The Wolfman by Sigmund Freud, p22
 Man into Wolf: an Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism and Lycanthropy by Robert Eisler p 26
 Sadomasochism by Bill Thompson
 Masochism by Gilles Deleuze and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch p 121
 A Defence of Masochism by Anita Phillips
 Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom 109/1995/615/703-705 para 20
 Masochism by Gilles Deleuze and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch p178