The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sadists

Three heart-shaped chocolates
Image courtesy of Mascough, Stock Free Images.

One of my close friends is a sadist. Some of her favourite stories fall squarely into my definition of horror.

She is also terminally warm-hearted. She can’t finish reading some of my favourite stories because the ethical problems upset her so much.

And she used to worry whether she was evil.

This post is for her.

I am told that from the inside, dominance feels selfish, possessive, atavistic. As Raven Kaldera puts it, most people “don’t want to be the focus of the predator who wants to piss on them and declare them to be territory, to be hoarded and defended.” And sadism seems to add another dimension: it’s slavering at the end of the leash, you’re afraid it will eat the guests. Guy Baldwin describes the experience of topping as “this delicate balancing act on the razor’s edge between the urge to rape, pillage and destroy and the need for self-restraint”.

That is, and isn’t, how it feels from the other end. From an email I once wrote to someone special:

You know, love, I’ve been afraid to tell you how much I like it when you milk my fear and humiliation, when you draw it out so delicately with casual caresses and signals and the merest lick of your lips … it’s practically an art form how minimalist it looks. At first I didn’t know how to describe it – and then I was scared to tell you because I realised that there was a word for it, and it was sadism. But suddenly I realise that of course you would be glad that I love it, because ‘sadistic’ means enjoying every shading of my helpless responses to the subtlest finger-tap of your manipulations … and when you’re at your most sadistic we are at our most intimately connected, we live in each other’s minds.

Does it help to think of sadism that way – a form of intense attention? It’s not incompatible with caring and protection. Arguably, they’re complementary. Even as you are convincing your victim that they are less than the dust, sadism means you are cherishing them – and their every last shred of emotion.

And it really, truly goes both ways. When you’re with someone like me, it’s communion. There is nothing in the world more important than the person who’s torturing me. I want anything they want, I want it like a drowning diver wants air, I want it like pain hurts. We exist, your equal and opposite numbers. You are, literally, God’s gift to us. The longer you hesitate at the water’s edge, the longer one of us might be going lonely.

I know that not all BDSM interactions are like this. My email was about emotional sadism, but bodily pain works the same way on me. Then there is the peace of being given orders and (apparently) ignored. And that can also be a form of caring and protection. I actually get kicked out of a scene if I can’t hear an order clearly. I think it’s because I need the security of having orders; evidently I fear the responsibility for success so much that it’s an automatic turn-off. Taking all of that away from someone like me is an act of love and sacrifice.

Sadism is not about hatred or callousness. It is about love and intimacy. My cat, may she rest in peace, used to mourn deeply over mice who wouldn’t play any more. You’re smarter than a cat; you can have your mouse and play with it. Find us, and if we have respect, trust, and [cough] suitable escalation, you can cherish us and play with us again and again.

14 thoughts on “The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sadists”

    1. Thank you! I hope it’s okay that I removed the duplicated comment? I’m still figuring out this WordPress thing.

      Your comment is especially welcome because I had been worrying after one of my friends said my post triggered her. I thought maybe it was a bad decision to leave all the reasons why sadism doesn’t have to be abuse to a cat joke at the end.

      By the way, I like your icon!

  1. “Does it help to think of sadism that way – a form of intense attention?”
    This really struck me. The descriptions and words people often use regarding sadism/masochism often fall flat (as in only about the specific actions/violence), i love that you shared a glimpse into the emotional side of sadism and ventured to so the depth to something that is so hard to describe!

    1. Thank you! That is exactly the same sentence that two sadist friends of mine have picked out. Which is interesting to me because although it is the central thesis, my own favourite line is “we live in each other’s minds.”

      And I completely agree with what you say about people too often depicting actions/violence instead of feelings! I am reminded of Guy Baldwin saying that we are still lacking in fiction depicting the top’s point of view (which makes complete sense because after all, it’s the sub’s feelings which are the contested territory). I have a funny feeling that when dom authors try to depict the sub’s point of view and aren’t very good at it, that’s when they end up describing thud thud whack instead.

  2. This is wonderful. I especially appreciate the tension you acknowledged in this post, between the id’s impulse to pillage and the ego’s understanding of the need for restraint. It took me a long to let go of my instinctive fear that I had to protect people from the predatory / dominant portion of my nature. The notion that I could explore it safely and channel it effectively came in my early thirties and was a great relief. I wish I’d read something like this post when I was younger and struggling. Beautifully done.

    1. Thank you! Your comment means a lot to me. The dom’s point of view was all book learning for me, and it was a last-minute addition, so I’m really glad it rings true for you.

      And thank you for being honest about the fear. I hope someone younger and struggling finds this post and your comment. I wish my sources (Raven Kaldera and Guy Baldwin) were available online – right now it seems like the people who will find their books are the ones who have already confronted their demons.

      We still need a sadist to write about how to restrain oneself, though …

      1. I agree with you about more sources being needed on how to be a *good* sadist. Unfortunately, there aren’t many that emphasize the need for restraint, self-discipline and mental clarity. I wish there were.. maybe something to consider somewhere down the line :) And for what it’s worth, I thought your presentation of the sub / bottom’s perspective was beautiful – the cat / mouse analogy really got me.

        1. Restraint, self-discipline and mental clarity – YES. When you said this is something to consider, you meant you might consider writing this, right? Pretty please?

          Because goodness knows I’m not qualified. I can write a wishlist (a certain moral arrogance would be on it), but not a how-to. I guess what I mean is that you have homed in on skills that people can work on improving. Whereas from outside, all I see are character traits, and because they sound innate there is the danger that they would encourage faking or giving up.

          1. Do you know, I’d never really considered it, but you’ve given me some serious food for thought. There are so many how-to’s on the physical aspects of D/s, but relatively little on the mental discipline required of an excellent dom/domme or top. We ask *a lot* of the people who submit to us, and they trust us with a great deal. It’s vital that we cultivate a sort of converse discipline, so that everyone on both sides of the power dynamic is fundamentally safe.

            So.. I’m going to see what I come up with. You mentioned a wishlist of traits – I’d be curious as to what it is. I’ve talked about similar wishlists with other dommes and subs, so I suspect it’s different for everyone, but, if you’re comfortable telling me, it would be interesting to see how a submissive’s wishlist reconciles with a dominant’s natural traits. If you’re comfortable sharing, I can email you if you’d prefer. Either way, thanks for the suggestion!

            1. That would be GREAT. I’ll send you a draft of my wishlist once I have it. It might be a while. And this division between natural traits and mental how-to is really interesting. Looking forward to it.

What do you think?