Continuing from Part I of Kelly Thinks about BDSM at Nine Naughty Novelists, where I talked about BDSM and the importance of trust, and how BDSM intensifies the need for trust between partners and thereby deepens the relationship…
Now, I want to touch on fiction's portrayal of those in the BDSM lifestyle as people with psychological issues. In FSOG, Christian tells Anna he is "fifty shades of fucked up". I only read the first book of the trilogy in which there are vague references to what exactly happened to him in his past, but I gather it was something quite traumatic. I also recently read "Bared To You" by Sylvia Day, a book that is so similar to FSOG it was somewhat jaw-dropping. In that book, both hero and heroine have encountered abuse in their pasts — like Christian, in this first book Gideon’s history of abuse is only alluded to, but heroine Eva asks her therapist at one point whether two abuse survivors can ever have a functional relationship.
In my own book Power Shift, Gabe is a survivor of war. As a young solder in Bosnia, he was required to do things abhorrent to him, things that scarred him, things that caused him to carry a lot of guilt around all his life. He turned to BDSM because of his dominant nature, but also because of the control that is required of a Dom — with a woman's life in his hands, he wants to prove to himself that he can give her what she wants and needs but always, always stay in control, unlike when he was required to obey orders or else face horrific consequences.
I can see how this may cause readers to think that those who practice BDSM always have some kind of trauma in their pasts that has damaged them. But here's the thing: as storytellers, our characters always have to have something in their past that they learn to overcome. Even in my non-BDSM books this is the case.
In my upcoming release, Sweet Deal, which features TWO people and NO kinky stuff (okay, yes, still some hot sexytimes) hero Jake was abandoned by his mother and sisters when he was young. They left him with his not-so-nurturing father, and Jake grew up believing women would always leave him — so he always leaves first. When he did get into a relationship, and the woman he loved left him for his best friend, this only confirmed his belief that he's not worthy of love and women will always leave him. It takes a woman who willingly opens her heart (maybe too willingly!) to show him that love is worth taking that risk.
In real life, some of us are perfectly normal, some have hang-ups and obsessions and compulsions and baggage and scars. But to create a powerful story, writers tend to write about the characters with baggage and scars and how they overcome those, both in BDSM and non BDSM stories.
This week I shared a
smutty sexy excerpt from my BDSM book Rigger at The Good Smut Event on Tuesday May 22 - stop by to check it out, and I'm posting more about why I write BDSM there on Tuesday May 29.