Rape, Sadomasochism and Slavery: They’re All About Power

I read an article this morning that made the assertion that about one fifth of Trump supporters believe that the slaves shouldn’t have been freed. As part of her recent project, Chelsea Handler interviewed some Southern women who explained that slaves had been viewed, and valued as, members of their owners’ families, and that abuse was rare. Like others, they attempt to justify the institution of slavery on the grounds that owned slaves were better cared for by their owners than freed slaves who became rented wage slaves often paid too little to survive.

Many people, especially those who weren’t properly cared for as children, want to be taken care of to some degree. Rather than working for themselves, they choose to be employed by others who collect their taxes, save for their futures, invest their funds for them, and provide for their daily living expenses. In the U.S., poor children are “educated” towards a slave mentality, a belief that their future survival depends on them gaining employment from someone higher in the social hierarchy. Overseers for the equivalent of modern plantation owners are now called “managers”.

Like rape, slavery isn’t about sex, but power, and power dynamics are linked to human sexuality. The degree of sadomasochism in the United States is apparent in its power structure. While the recent popularity of the badly written Fifty Shades of Grey might lead people to believe that Americans are just beginning to experiment with BDSM to spice up their monogamous love lives, in reality, American society itself is sadomasochistic. However, unlike the formal world of BDSM, in which slavery is consensual, the hierarchy of American society was created, and is maintained by, non-consensual force.

Most people would rather be a slave than be completely responsible for themselves. Owning slaves is an even bigger responsibility. Corporations that employ thousands are demonized when they down-size, no longer accepting responsibility for taking care of as many people. Corporate down-sizing is analogous to slaves being suddenly freed, with no land or source of income, to fend for themselves. People object to corporate down-sizing, yet never question the system of non-consensual slavery itself.

A sample contract between a master and slave in the BDSM world clearly illustrates that in many ways, those who consciously choose to be slaves enjoy more benefits than those who are merely born into a system of wage slavery without ever questioning their place within it. Conscious choice is the difference between agreeing to a master’s terms and conditions and negotiating some of your own terms. How often do job-seekers ask employers to sign contracts forbidding, for example, public humiliation or verbal abuse?

According to a 2014 survey, 27% of Americans reported having suffered bullying or other types of abusive behavior at work. We are still living in the dark ages of feudalism, in which those with superior weapons and systems of incarceration and other forms of terror charge space rent for existence. The concepts of private property and the nation-state have made non-consensual slavery nearly inescapable.

Therefore, I contend that people with slave mentalities should enjoy the same degree of respect from society as those with master mentalities. This is especially true because most humans play both roles within their lifetimes. Few are afforded, or seize, the opportunity to be a free individual, neither master nor slave. In the consensual BDSM world, there is set criteria for what constitutes a good master, and those who don’t fit that criteria quickly find themselves with no-one to play with. In the sado-masochistic world of capitalism, there is no such criteria, and threats of starvation, homelessness, and lack of health care are sufficient to retain slaves even under conditions of daily abuse.

Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest resulted in a collective belief that those with the most wealth must be the smartest and most deserving, when in fact, they are often merely the most violent and value human life the least. I contend that it would be a much happier world if the stigma were removed from consensual BDSM, and its rules applied to everyday life. People who wanted to be slaves and be taken care of could connect with those who wanted to be masters, and people could switch roles according to their needs at the time.

Currently, social respect is bestowed to individuals on the basis of how much money they have rather than according to how valuable their contributions are to society as a whole. Sports stars who entertain are paid millions, while trash collectors, who prevent disease epidemics, are paid a paltry sum in comparison, as well as shown less respect and appreciation. Those with higher intelligence are often treated with more respect than those with average or lower intelligence, even though they often contribute nothing of greater value.

Power dynamics can be fun to play with, but they should always be consensual, and never a matter of life and death. As the classic Story of O illustrates, it is possible to achieve, through the power of transcendence, the complete freedom of an ego-less state through voluntary submission to slavery. Masters enjoy another kind of freedom, the freedom from repetitive daily chores, which often results in creation and innovation. However, freedom for mankind is dependent upon the freedom for all to choose their roles and be respected for their contributions.

So long as borders exist — and space to exist is held for ransom at gun-point — no kind of real freedom to choose is possible. Without freedom to choose, there is no dignity in service as either master or slave. If it appears that modern man is racing towards suicidal self-destruction, it is because human dignity is the difference between survival and living. Without it, we as a species shall perish from the earth.

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